The Best Weapon

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Loyalty!

Some readers may recall I decided to condense and release new editions of The White Hawk, my series following the adventures and misfortunes of a family of Lancastrian loyalists during The Wars of the Roses. The shiny new version of Book One, retitled Revenge, was put out a couple of months ago, and now the next episode is ready.

Previously released under the title 'Restoration', The White Hawk II: Loyalty has a brand new cover, and is now available on Kindle. The paperback version will follow shortly.


At the start of Loyalty, the surviving members of the Bolton clan are on the run and all at sea in the company of the Earl of Warwick, later known as the Kingmaker. Things look grim after the victory of King Edward IV at Empingham, and the Lancastrian cause hangs by a thread. James Bolton is despatched to the court of Margaret of Anjou, Henry VI's exiled Queen, with orders to try and cobble together some kind of alliance. Trouble is, a whole vat of bad blood exists between Margaret and Warwick, and it will take some pretty smooth talking from the former chaplain-turned-secret agent to broker a deal...

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Q&A

Today I'm hosting an interview with Martin Bolton, co-author of our epic fantasy novel, The Best Weapon, which is released today. 

I gave Martin a series of questions to answers on one of the characters he invented for the novel, Husan al Din, the fearsome Caliph of the Fifth Army of the Seven Sands. Below the interview is a link to my answers to Martin's interview questions.


Husan enjoys beating underlings with a belt, smoking, eating and planning his next conquest. Find out more about the rotund desert lion below!



Husan, or someone like him...

1) What was your inspiration for the character of Husan al Din, Caliph of the Fifth Army of the Seven Sands?

I wanted Husan to be a reluctant hero. He would rather be left alone to smoke and drink and live an easy, debauched life. He'll do enough to keep his army content and The Southern Sands a peaceful, uneventful place, and he'd rather not be interrupted by any life-threatening or arduous endeavours. Unfortunately for him, he is not given that choice.

He's not a bad person per se, but he would rather do nothing at all than go out of his way to do a good deed. Most of what he does he is either given no choice, or he sees some gain in it for himself.

I think humour is important in fantasy, even dark fantasy, as it balances out the inevitable scenes of death and destruction. My intention was that Husan provided a bit of that as he was forced from his hammock and made to raise an army against his will, despite his terrible constipation.

2) How much of your own personality is reflected in his character?

The desire for a quiet life and the love of boozing and smoking, not to mention his stomach troubles and persistent flatulence, all come from me – these are my best points.

3) Husan has a very blunt way of dealing with subordinates - usually with the aid of a belt. Do you envy him his ability to do this?

In a manner of speaking. That's to say that a certain amount of my own pent up rage is exorcised by Husan giving someone a good whipping with the buckle-end. Have some of that, you mangy dog!

4) Will we be seeing more of Husan in future instalments of The World Apparent Tales?

We will meet Husan again, I enjoy disturbing his much needed rest far too much to let him sit in his palace and get fatter and drunker. Like many of the characters in The Best Weapon, Husan al Din's story is not yet finished. 

Not only that but I spent too much time dreaming up his people, the Sharib, and their glorious but distant past, to leave it there. Husan's true destiny awaits him, and if he knew about it, he'd be bloody annoyed.

5) How did The World Apparent develop?

The World Apparent developed during a beer-soaked ranting session with David Pilling in a pub in St James' Park in London. This culminated in his scruffy drawing of a map on the back of a beer mat with a pen borrowed from a kindly barmaid who looked at us with a mixture of pity and revulsion. I took that beer mat home and drew a neater version. I've drawn it about twenty times since then.

The main characteristic of that early scribble was The Girdle Sea, an idea of Pilling's that split the world roughly in two. We then built the world around it.

6) How do you see the series developing in general - do you think there is scope for exploring new characters and story lines in the same world?

The World Apparent is a vast world and we have only explored a small part of it so far. There are many more races and cultures to discover yet, and more diverse and varied characters than you can shake a stick at.

The Best Weapon is just the beginning of a chain of events, spanning a further two books, that will bring The World Apparent to the brink of annihilation. And that is just one of the many stories yet to be told.

We are also working on a separate story with a whole new host of heroes and villains, and some characters who don't fall into either category. There are many more World Apparent Tales to come.

7) Do you feel it is important for writers to try and progress with each book?

Personally, I would like to think each time I write a book or short story, my writing improves.  Not only that but hopefully I grow and learn as a person and get to know myself better, and thereby try to become a better person.

8) What are your writing plans for the immediate future?

I am currently working on another World Apparent Tale (with Pilling), which is about half way to completion (or maybe a third) and I will be concentrating on getting that finished in 2015. Although we've written a fair chunk it, the actual title of the thing is still in the beer-soaked ranting stage. Where's that barmaid when you need her?

I also write a short story every month for The 900 Club: a group of four writers (including Pilling's dad) who each post a 900 word short story on the 900 Club blog on a monthly basis. 

Those two things take up most of my time, but at some point I will write a more substantial piece of work of my own.


Thursday, 5 February 2015

Release day!

Leader of Battles (III): Gwenhwyfar is now available on Kindle! The paperback should be available early next week, and I will be hosting a free giveaway competition and possibly a blog hop or two to promote the book.

Once again the cover was done by the talented people at VisualMedia, who (as always) have done a splendid job in evoking the theme and 'feel' of the book.


I wrote a blog post back in November about decision to make Gwenhwyfar - better-known as Guinevere, the ill-fated Queen of Camelot - the focus of the third part of the series. You can access the post at the link below:

Gwenhwyfar

Below is a potted description of the story, and a link to the Kindle version. Happy reading! Please feel free to send me any comments and feedback etc.

“Gwenhwyfar, daughter of Ogyrfan Gawr,
Bad when little, worse when great...”

Britannia481 AD. Artorius has reigned as High King for two years. After his shattering victory at Mount Badon, an uneasy peace reigns over the land. The squabbling British kingdoms cling on in the west, while to the east the Saxons under Cerdic lick their wounds, waiting for a new generation of warriors to grow to manhood. 

Artorius is still unmarried, and faces increasing pressure from his nobles to take a wife. When civil war threatens, he finds a bride in the person of Gwenhwyfar, eldest daughter of the King of Powys. In return for his promise of protection, Gwenhwyfar agrees to marry the High King and live with him in the new British capital at Caerleon.  

Wolves circle the royal couple. Britannia is threatened by Scotti pirates ravaging his coasts, plundering at will and carrying off treasure and slaves. Artorius raises an army and sails to Hibernia, where he plans to defeat the Scotti tribes and capture the fabled Cauldron of Annwn. With the aid of Bedwyr, Gwenhwyfar is left to rule in his stead, and must survive assassination attempts and savage barbarian invasions.

Book Three of the Leader of Battles series chronicles the rise of Gwenhwyfar, better-known as Guinevere, Queen of Camelot. Drawing on Welsh folklore, the glory and tragedy of Britannia are seen through the eyes of a woman who struggles to control her own fate even as darkness begins to fall over her husband’s kingdom. 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Goodreads giveaway

I haven't done one of these Goodreads giveaways in a while, so I clubbed together with my friend and co-author Martin to set up a giveaway competition for three free paperback copies of THE BEST WEAPON, currently on pre-order and due for release on February 19th.



If interested, just click the 'Enter to Win' button on the page below, and a free copy could soon be winging (or posting) its way to you after the competition closes on the 19th!

Giveaway link on Goodreads

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Best Weapon

A few years ago I co-wrote a novel with my good friend (and then work colleague) Martin Bolton. In a change of gear from my usual historical meanderings, it was a fantasy tale roughly in the traditional style of Tolkien/George RR Martin etc, but with a few twists. It was called THE BEST WEAPON and published by Musa Publishing, garnering a few nice reviews and spawning a series of mini-sequels.

Our contract with Musa has now expired, so we are re-releasing the book under our own steam via Amazon, and have plans to compile and release the sequel (provisionally titled SORROW) as a single volume. The story takes place in a made-up universe named The World Apparent, a physical dimension much like our own world, but one that may or may not exist entirely inside the heads of gods and demons. Below is a map of the world as Martin, a skilled artist, recently drew it.


The Best Weapon focuses on the trials of two young men, Fulk the No Man's Son, and Naiyar, a teenager raised in the steamy jungles of the distant Southlands. While the world threatens to collapse around them, they are drawn together by forces beyond their control or understanding...

THE BEST WEAPON is now available in paperback and for pre-order on Kindle, with a release date for the latter of 19th February. Below is the link, with the shiny new book cover, to the Kindle edition on Amazon, along with some reviews of the previous edition kept for reference.




Monday, 12 January 2015

Who gets to meet Robin...?

...and the answer is...

...Alison Bahmuller!

With thanks to everyone who entered their names. A free Kindle edition of the novella, The King's Pardon, Part IV in my Robin Hood series, will be winging its way to Alison just as soon as its ready! I'm currently about a quarter of the way through it, and with luck and a following wind Robin should be springing back into action next month.

Alison, say hello to Robin
Apologies to all for my silence over the Christmas and New Year period - I was busy with family 'stuff', as many people were during the festive season, and suffered another loss of my internet connection: that's the price for living out in the wilds of West Wales!

I have lots of plans for 2015, including the re-release of The Best Weapon, the fantasy novel I co-wrote with my good friend Martin Bolton, the rest of The White Hawk series, and a (very) long-delayed sequel of sorts to The Half-Hanged Man...

Happy 2015 everyone!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Robin Hood IV

I've had a few queries lately about my Robin Hood series, and when the next installment is due. I've been busy with other projects recently, but will soon be starting work on Part IV of the series, provisionally titled Robin Hood (IV): The King's Pardon.

I've also decided to offer readers a (small) part in the story - just leave a comment under this post and you get to appear as a character! No name is too bizarre, I'll fit you in somewhere :)

You also win a free copy of the book when it's ready: paperback or Kindle, it's your choice.

Leave a comment, and get to meet this man...
I'll choose a winner after Christmas to join The Hooded Man in his next adventure - and in the meantime, happy holidays!