England is in crisis. King Edward has no heir and promises never to produce one. There are no obvious successors available to replace him, but quite a few claimants are eager to take the crown. While power struggles break out between the various factions at court, enemies abroad plot to make England their own. There are raids across the borders with Wales and Scotland. Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex, is seen by many as the one man who can bring stability to the kingdom. He has powerful friends and two women who love him, but he has enemies who will stop at nothing to gain power. As 1066 begins, England heads for an uncertain future. It seems even the heavens are against Harold. Intelligent and courageous, can Harold forge his own destiny – or does he have to bow to what fates impose?
Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?
A) There was a castle built high on a hill, just outside of my home town. When I was a little boy, from my bedroom window on summer evenings, I used to watch the sun set behind it. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always been interested in history. It’s the subject I studied for my degree. The stories of who got what, where, why and when, have always fascinated me. When I had the inspiration, the inclination and the time to write a book, I jumped at the chance. It’s always been something I’ve wanted to do.
In the middle of the eleventh century, England was facing a crisis. King Edward the Confessor had promised never to produce an heir and there were no obvious successors – but there were quite a few claimants who wanted the crown. As time passed, tensions rose at home and abroad; family feuds, court intrigues, papal plots and a few assassinations paved the way to 1066, the year of three battles. One of them the most important ever fought on English soil. Most people know the outcome but how many know the many twists and turns that marked the way.
Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?
A) For one of my Christmas presents, my wife Alice bought me a book entitled, Harold: The Last Anglo Saxon King, by Ian W Walker. I found it a fascinating read and wanted to know more. I read anything I could find on pre-Conquest England and found it so interesting and exciting I couldn’t understand why I no one had made a film or written a novel about it, so I decided to write one myself.
The first thing I did was to make copious notes until I had the outline of a story and then I flushed out the main characters to make an exciting tale. I discovered I had to make up a few individuals to enable the narrative to flow more smoothly and in more detail. Once I had a final draft, I gave it to my family to read. I had quite a bit of feedback from them, most of it positive enough to make me want to take the next step and approach an editor. I sent her what I thought was a manuscript perfect in every way. After all, I’d checked it I don’t know how many times and the family had read it thoroughly. When the editor returned the manuscript came back to me I was amazed at the number of errors. So, after making the necessary corrections, I sent of the manuscript to my publishers. I brought 1066 out as an Ebook at first, just to see how it was received. It went down so well I bought out a paperback as well. Now I’m working on the sequel.
Q) Who are your favourite authors and what are your recommended reads?
A) My favourite authors – there are a lot. There are old favourites, like George Orwell, John Steinbeck, D H Lawrence, Thomas Hardy, F Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway but I also enjoy William Boyd, Ian McEwan and Carlos Ruiz Zafon and books I’d recommend, in respective order are, 1984, The Grapes of Wrath, Sons and Lovers, Far From the Madding Crowd, The Great Gatsby, A Farewell to Arms, Any Human Heart, Enduring Love and The Shadow of the Wind.
Q) What were your childhood favourite reads?
A) Any Biggles book by W E Johns. I read the lot when I was a kid and thought they were brilliant. When I’d finished reading them I wasn’t interested in any other children’s’ books and went straight on to Literary fiction – Animal Farm.
Q What has been your favourite moment of being a published author.
A) It’s a marvellous feeling to get a great review or even win an award but the moment I cherish is the moment when I opened a box full of books, fresh from the printers, and held in my had the book I had written. I think that’s the moment when you really feel like an author.
Q) Who has been your support/encouragement throughout the writing process?
A) My wife, Alice. If it wasn’t for her support the book would never have been written, let alone published.