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

Saturday, 31 May 2014

The World Cup and Writing

So, my favourite sporting event gets underway in just under two weeks.

I remember running home from school to watch the opening match of the first tournament I can remember.  I arrived home part way through the first half.  As our television took a long time to warm up in those days (didn’t they all?), my mum turned it on early, so it was ready for me to watch.  I may have mentioned to my parents every day for the previous month how much I was looking forward to the tournament!  The preview magazine my dad bought me was already falling to bits by the time the first match started.

I’ve greeted each World Cup since with the same childlike enthusiasm.  There have been changes; money has become comparatively more important compared to what happens on the pitch; television has made the game global, so there’s no longer a thrill of watching a team of unknown and naive players from an obscure corner of the planet.  The plethoa of games on television, and the Premiership’s pull, means anyone can watch the world’s greatest players every week instead of once every four years.

But, as far as I’m concerned, it’s still the World Cup.  The greatest event on the planet.

So, what has this got to do with writing?

Well, I’ll be glued to the television for nearly five hours a day, for a month.  That’ll have obvious effects on my output.

Secondly, one of the first things I ever wrote out of school was a ‘future history’ for a future tournament.  I’ve always had a soft for Peru, and I remember they went on to win!  I also had some feel for marketing, and realised England would have to do well if anyone was going to be interested in reading it.  So, it was an England v Peru final.

My efforts never made print, of course, and as FIFA own the rights I’d possibly have been sued anyway.

To keep this post focussed on writing, I do have one football-related novel I’ve been working on.  I put it down a while ago as I wasn’t convinced by the ending.  Other than that I was happy with it, and I keep meaning to revive it.  It’s a tongue-in-cheek horror about supernatural goings-on at a football club.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Who is Gilfaethwy?

I’ve written quite a bit about ‘Footholder’ recently.  Much of it has focussed on Goewin, my heroine.

There is, though, a second viewpoint character who I’ve grown  equally fond of – Gilfaethwy, one of King Math’s nephews, and brother to Gwydion and Arianrhod.

Like Goewin, Gilfaethwy is a minor character in Welsh legend, and we don’t know much about him.  He is, though, key to the ‘Footholder’ story.  Like Gowein, again, this drew me to him and made him an obvious character to use.

So, what do we know about Gilfaethwy?

He only appears in The Mabinogion to advance the story of his higher profile brother Gwydion, so scholars tell us.  It is Gilfaethwy who falls hopelessly in love with Goewin and so allows Gwydion so set in motion a chain of events that…well, you’ll have to either read The Mabinogion, or wait for my book!

We know Gwydion is a warrior; to differentiate between the brothers I made Gilfaethwy a skilled administrator, and a sensitive thinker rather than a soldier.  While Gilfethwy is probably the nearest the Celts would have come to a pacifist, I’ll stress he’s not a coward.  He is willing to fight when he has to, but sees it as a last resort, rather than a first – which leads to conflict with his brother. 

These days, ‘my’ Gilfaethwy would probably have a successful career in the civil service.  Or, he’d become a James Bond to his brother’s Rambo!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Who is Goewin?

With ‘Footholder’ being accepted for publication by Rebel ePublishers, I thought I’d give a little bit of background on Goewin (the main character), and how I view her. 

It’s a change to be able to do this without readers having to wait for the book.  As this story is in the public domain as part of The Mabinogion, I’m in the unusual position of being able to talk about characters and plot in advance.

King Math of Gwynedd is a king who will die unless he keeps his foot in a maiden’s lap.  Goewin becomes his current Footholder, and, eventually, his queen.  So, what do we know about her?

Well, not a lot.  Goewin plays a minor role in the Welsh story so isn’t really ‘fleshed out’.  All we really know about her is that she was the daughter of an otherwise unknown man called Pebin from the Nantlle Valley, was a maiden (obviously), and was the most beautiful woman in the kingdom.

A few experts in Welsh literature have tried to fill in some of the void, to speculate she was originally the same character as Arianrhod, the king’s niece, or that because her name means ‘strength’ she portrays the strength of womanhood, etc etc.

In summary, though, Goewin is a shadowy character.  For a writer wanting to write her story that gave me a lot of blanks to fill in, and so a lot of mouth watering possibilities.

When I first planned the novel I made Goewin a schemer, who became Math’s bride by manoeuvring and manipulating other characters.  That made her unlikeable, and also meant her making some choices I (and probably publishers) would find unpalatable.

So, I decided on a Goewin who was quiet on the outside – maybe even intimidated by her role amid royalty – but with an inner strength.  That made her shy and insecure when she first started holding the king’s foot, but willing to stand up for herself against bullying, and to shape her own destiny.  That’s enough for me in any heroine, and Goewin was a very satisfying one to write.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Rebel ePublishers

So, contracts have been signed (or, rather, names and dates typed) so I’m delighted to announce that ‘Footholder’s’ publisher is…

Rebel ePublishers

It’s a house I’m very pleased to be working with, and I’m confident in entrusting ‘Footholder’ to Jayne et al.  Thank you for taking it on!

At the moment ‘Footholder’ is the working title – we’re still discussing what it’ll be called on release.

To recap, ‘Footholder’ is a retelling of a Welsh story about a king who needs to keep his foot in a maiden’s lap. 

Monday, 5 May 2014

Acceptance: ‘Footholder’

I’m delighted to announce another novel acceptance!

Footholder’ (title under discussion) is a retelling of a medieval Welsh story from a collection known as ‘The Mabinogion’.  It’s about a king who needs to keep his foot in a maiden’s lap.  Despite that unusual premise it’s a wonderful story of love, power and war.  I can’t claim any credit for the plot but I hope my version does justice to my favourite Welsh tale.

‘Footholder’ is in the spirit and style of my previous Welsh-based historical fantasies, ‘Andraste’s Blade’ and ‘The Doe and the Dragon’.  My version focuses on the Footholder, Goewin.  I’ll give a brief synopsis and some background on the characters and locations in a later post.

‘Footholder’ is pure historical fantasy and a change from the horror I usually produce.  It does have one or two darker elements I think my horror background helped with, though.

Many thanks to several proofreaders, particularly Philip McCormac, who as usual read an early draft.  Phil’s suggestions appear in the revised version.  An acknowledgement also to my wife, who tolerated stunning walks around north Wales’ breathtakingly beautiful scenery while we looked at locations.

As usual, I’ll refrain from naming the publisher until contracts are signed, but it is a house I’m delighted to be working with for the first time.  Publication is tentatively pencilled in for 2015.

‘Footholder’ will be my fifth published novel, and my tenth stand-alone, including novellas and novelettes.  (My full publication list is here.)

And now, the editing process begins.  That’ll keep me quiet for a while!