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Andrew's historical fantasy novel based on an ancient Welsh tale, 'The Fairy Wife' (working title) is accepted for publication!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Future Plans

So, with the euphoria of ‘The Wood’s’ publication little more than a happy memory, what am I up to writing-wise at the moment?

Well, ‘The Wood’s ’ prequel is in its final stages, being reviewed as I write. It’s an erotic flashback to Kath’s first love that didn’t make the final cut in ‘The Wood’. It’s probably passable as a stand alone longish short (or a short novella?), though. I hope tying it in to an already published novel will increase its changes of publication. Any foray into erotica, though, is likely to be a one-off. Boy, do I find writing erotic scenes difficult!

Another novella, ‘The Well’, is already in the queue for a Critters review. It’s a tribute to Richard Laymon’s style and type of subject matter, about a woman who wakes up from a drugged sleep to find herself a prisoner in a dried-up well. Her story entwines with a teenager who is stuck up a tree.

I’m also tidying up a couple of older novels. “The Mound’ is a tongue-in-cheek story about a football (soccer, to some readers!) team who sacrifice away supporters to the gods in order to secure a win. I put some opening chapters through Critters, and got a better reception than I’d expected. I’m finishing this, and will put the whole thing through Critters.

‘The Doe and the Dragon’ is a story set in North Wales in the mid-fifth century. This time and place are, of course, thick with Arthurian myth. While Arthurian characters and events play a part – it’s almost impossible not to include them – I categorically don’t see this as an Arthurian story (even if it’s early working title was ‘Pre-Arthurian Fantasy’!). I love the time and place, which I studied at university, and I hope this affection comes through in the piece.

‘Doe and Dragon’ has been through Critters, and the feedback will be useful. I need to focus much more on the characters, especially the growing relationship between my hero and heroine. The hero in particular needs more work, feedback suggests. That’s fine, as I wasn’t certain the plot worked, but people seemed to endorse it. It’s a relief as if the plot didn’t work, that would have been terminal!

There's also a slasher set in a remote Scottish castle, mixing ghosts and serial killers, but I'm having trouble getting it to work so have put it to one side for a while after about 20k words. Maybe Critters will be able to tell me where I'm going wrong.

Also, I’m thinking about the next new work and I’ve even drafted a tentative first chapter. I’m having difficulty working up enthusiasm while there’s still a lot of older stuff needing attention, though. ‘The Bog’ is set in Celtic Ireland, and involves dark things like bog bodies, human sacrifice, Samhain (Celtic Halloween), ghosts and the like. It should be great fun to write, but at the moment it’s still being planned. It’s unlikely to be more than a novella, but I’m considering bringing it up to novel length by adding a sequel-type thing based in the modern day.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Goldie and the Three Bares

Most people who know me will be aware that I studied archaeology at university. I specialised in fifth to seventh century Britain, and worked on a handful of digs, including one in Scotland.

Fellow Eternal Press author Kat Duarte’s June release, Goldie and the Three Bares, is about an archaeologist working on a site in Scotland, in what I think of as ‘my’ period. There was no way I was going to let this one pass without being read!

The story is en erotic romp through history, focussing on Goldie’s – the archaeologist’s – hunt to decipher the Pictish language – a real-life problem for historians. Things don’t quite go to plan, with Goldie’s adventures being played out in an enjoyable romp through the period, that reflects the title brilliantly.

I have to admit that I don’t really know the erotic genre well enough to pass critical comment on quite how good it is compared to other stories. I did, though, love the comedy that runs throughout, particularly in the early part of the story. Kat has given Goldie a deliciously naughty sense of humour, and this had me grinning in several places, and made the book a very relaxed read. I’d even suggest this is a fun book as much as an erotic one!

And the history? Well, the period specialist may raise an eyebrow in a couple of places, but, even coming from the history angle, I don’t think it matters. The book is such a fun read that I was immersed in Goldie’s world and stopped looking for the history after the first few pages.
In summary, I thoroughly enjoyed Goldie and the Three Bares.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Too Much Research?

I’m back off holiday now. We (me, wife and child) had a really relaxing week in our favourite haunt, north Wales. We climbed Snowdon (well, we got part way up until fatigue and my thing about sheer drops defeated us), had refreshments from an award-winning ice-cream shop in Beddgelert, and we generally unwound.

As an aside, writers might enjoy the legend of Gelert, which gives the village its name – it’s got a great plot!

Anyway, a bonus reason for going to north Wales was so I could do some more research on my 5th century story I have set there (working title: ‘The Doe and the Dragon’). Having lived in the area I know most of the places I’ve used pretty well, and my background in the place’s history and archaeology gives some confidence that I can get the background right.

The only place in the story I’ve not visited is Carn Fadryn, a little-known hillfort on the Llyn Peninsula. I need the hillfort as it’s associated with Sister Modrun, (legendary) granddaughter of High King Vortigern. She plays a prominent role in the story, so I wanted to get Carn Fadryn in there!

I had assumed the fort would be similar to Tre’r Ceiri, another fort in the area. Tre’r Ceiri has been described as the best preserved hillfort in Britain. This is mainly because everything is of stone. In one place, you can even walk through the rampart through a gateway, under the original lintel – and this is two thousand years old! Also, some of the huts survive to about waist height, again due to them being made of stone, as opposed to the turf/wood combination in the lowlands.

Sadly we didn’t make Carn Fadryn’s summit – a combination of my sunburn and wife’s wobbly legs, both results of the assault on Snowdon the previous day. It looked vary steep. And imagine my concern when from our distance we saw no ramparts, and a very steep, uneven slope – not the smooth, easy-to-run-across fort I’d hoped for, based on several walks up Tre’r Ceiri.

Would this scupper my story? “Do American publishers know the topography of obscure Welsh hillforts?” I asked wife and child, in a panic.

Both assured me that it was unlikely. And I decided that maybe I was doing a little too much research, and would allow myself some license…

The good news is, that I’ve looked on Google Earth and surfed for pictures. Thankfully, the view of Carn Fadryn from below is deceptive, and there are huts and ramparts, even if it’s a little rougher than my ideal. I got some good pointers, though – I need to change my draft to take into account the steep approach, for example. And the way the hill just sticks out of the ground in an area of otherwise gentle hills makes it visible from miles around.

We go up to Wales again in August, and this time we won’t attempt Carn Fadryn the day after Snowdon. And in future, I’ll do my research before writing.