Prince Wulfstan Book 1
Hurled twelve hundred years into the past, into someone else’s body, things could hardly be worse. And then the body’s owner wanted it back…
Museum curator Thomas and ten year old Anglo Saxon Wulfstan, have to cope with a fifty year age gap, a huge culture clash, and never knowing from one moment to the next who’s going to be in control.If that wasn’t enough, Wulfstan’s father, King Offa of Mercia, has given his son just a year to find and prepare a team of ten female fighters to take on the King’s champion. In the brute strength world of Anglo Saxon battle, he hasn’t a hope.
Thomas has a plan to help, but first he’ll have to come to terms with eighth century Britain, with all its colour, violence, ignorance, and a disturbingly cavalier attitude to hygiene! And amidst all of that, he has to find ten amazing women willing to attempt the impossible.
- Did or do you like to read comic books/graphic novels? Which ones?
I read a lot of comics as a child, my favourites probably being Uncle Scrooge. I didn’t discover Tintin and Asterix until I was about eleven I think, but they remain favourites to this day.
- Whom did you inherit your love for books/reading from?
Both parents I think. I grew up in a house filled with books and started adding to that at a very early age. My house today has well over 3,000 books in it. I have two on my bedside bookshelf right now that I’ve owned since I was six.
- When you need a murder victim or someone you can diagnose with a serious disease or someone who is involved in a fatal accident do you sometimes picture someone nasty you have met in real life and think ‘got you’ LOL?
No I don’t tend to do that. My characters become so alive to me that there’s really no need bring a real life person into my thinking process. Also, while I might drop a trait, or a manner of speaking from someone real into one of my characters, that’s very much a mix and match process. There isn’t a single character in any of my books that’s based on a real life person.
Well, I guess that’s not completely true because In Two Minds does have some real life characters in it. In fact, they give me the biggest challenge of all, because while we know their names, we know very little else about them. So in my books they might as well be fictional characters, but there’s a responsibility there to the real person.
For instance, I’m very conscious about the hatchet jobs that Shakespeare did on Macbeth and Richard The Third. Real life research tends to indicate that both these men were pretty good kings, but the public thinks of them as evil and warped because of those two plays.
Now, am I doing a hatchet job of my own on Archbishop Jaenberht? Possibly, but it’s not deliberate. We know from the few records that we do have, such as the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, that King Offa and Archbishop Jaenberht absolutely did not get on, but we don’t really know the details behind it. Also, the Chronicle was written by monks, and so what we’re reading is very much their side of the story. So Jaenberht isn’t a bad or evil person in my books, just someone who has a very different set of goals and priorities to the King, and of course, to Wulfstan and Thomas.
- How do you come up with the names for your characters?
In the Sally Mellors books (A Thoughtful Woman, and An Implacable Woman) the characters generally tell me themselves. In other words there isn’t a left brained, conscious process involved. The names simply arrive in my head.
In Two Minds is different because the names have to be proper Anglo Saxon names, not made up ones. I have a large list of names we know to have been used back then, and I try to pick ones a modern day reader won’t have to struggle with. Some characters however, are based on real life people, and of course there I have no choice in the matter. Even if you have zero historical knowledge about the Dark Ages, you can often tell who these real people are by the complexity of their names. For instance, Wulfstan, Kelsey and Deana are all fictional characters, but Ealfflaed, Cynethryth and Jaenberht were all real.
- Do you write other things beside books (and shoppinglists 😉 )?
I design and build training courses, and sometimes that can involve a great deal of writing.
I also write articles, some for my own website, others as guest posts for bloggers such as yourself
- If a movie or series would be made from your books, would you be happy with the ‘based on’ version or would you rather like they showed it exactly the way you created it?
Hmmm…… Given the choice, I’d prefer them to stick reasonably closely to what I’ve created. I’ve read and heard too many horror stories from other authors about what happened when they gave away too much control. For example, P.D. James was very happy with the first series made about her character Cordelia Gray, but profoundly displeased about the second where the series makers went very much their own way. In her Desert Island Disks interview with Sue Lawley, PD James said she’d basically lost her character as a result. So when it came to her Adam Dalgliesh stories, she took care to place limits on what the program makers were allowed to do, and absolutely didn’t let them create their own stories using her character.
You can take that too far of course. TV and film people are likely to know a great deal more than the author about what’s going to work on screen as opposed to in a book. So there has to be a bit of give and take on both sides.
And in case anybody from that world is reading this, of course I’d like my books to be made into TV series or films!
- Who would you like/have liked to interview?
Gosh… that’s a very long list…
Stephen Fry is probably my number one… I think he’s just astonishing. It’s rare to find such a fierce intelligence that is so accessible to the rest of us, and in so many different ways. He’s also a very fine human being.
But there are so many others on my list. For instance, I’d love to interview Sir Jackie Stewart, not just because of what he’s achieved, but because of how he achieved it. Here’s a man who was absolutely the best in the world at what he did, went on to develop a fabulous business career, and amongst all that success, all that wheeling and dealing, managed to keep his feet firmly on the ground, remaining the thoroughly decent chap he is to this day.
Then there’s Gilles Villeneuve, Professor Brian Cox, Professor Alice Roberts, Catherine The Great of Russia, Somerville and Ross (authors of The Irish RM), Winston Churchill, Jimmy Clark, Leo Marks (author of Between Silk and Cyanide), Professor RV Jones (author and scientist), Bernd Rosemeyer and his wife Elly Beinhorn, Hedy Lamarr (Heavens! What an amazing woman she was!), Goldy Hawn (also amazing – so much more than an actress playing ditzy blondes), Dame Judy Dench, Jack Lemmon, Tom Hanks, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, James Herriot, Michael Parkinson, Robert Hook (scientist), Norman Thelwell (cartoonist), James Burke (TV presenter), Bill Bryson, George Washington Carver, Goscinny and Uderzo (Asterix), Hergé (Tintin)…
I’d probably better stop now… like I said, it’s a very long list and I’m nowhere near finished!
- Do you have certain people you contact while doing research to pick their brains? What are they specialized in?
Absolutely I contact people when I’m doing research and I need specialist knowledge, or if I need to understand the reality of something as opposed to what we might imagine it to be. One of the latest is a gentleman called Neil Clarke who’s a local historian, specialising in things Shropshire. The sequel to In Two Minds spends quite a bit of time in the area of Welshpool and Shrewsbury back in the Dark Ages, and Neil’s excellent slim volume, Crossing The River, has been incredibly useful in helping me get things right. Or at least I hope he thinks I get it right! He was extremely helpful one on one, and he made it possible for me to be able to buy a copy of his book. It’s sitting next to me as I write this.
- Is there someone you sometimes discuss a dilemma with?
I assume you’re talking specifically about dilemmas I’m having while writing? I don’t actually have any… Things might go in a number of different directions, characters might or might not do certain things, but that sort of stuff all sorts itself out organically. At least it does for me!
Now, having said that, sometimes a book will have something in it that jars with my beta readers, and then I have the dilemma of whether or not to change it. In those cases, there are a couple of key people in my life who’ll help me work out what to do.
- What is more important to you : a rating in stars with no comments or a reviewer who explains what the comments they give are based on (without spoilers of course)
From the point of view of selling more books, they’re both important. Some people go just off the number of stars, others look at the comments, so you really need both on a site like Amazon. (On an individual’s own website, it’s a little different because you, theoretically at least, should have a lot more consistency in the way the stars are awarded.)
If I’m looking for a book to read, I personally will pay more attention to what someone writes than the stars they’ve awarded. A comment gives you so much more information, not just about what this individual did or did not like about the book, but also about the reviewer, so you know whether to take them seriously or not.
As an author, it’s always a buzz to get a high star rating, but the comments give you stuff you can use. For example, they’ll tell you what it is about your work they’re really liking, and what will bring them back for more. That tells you exactly who your audience really are and what it is they want.
Thank you, K.T. Findlay and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Ever since I first saw James Burke’s wonderful Connections series, I’ve been fascinated by the way a single new idea can change the course of history. The more I learned, the more intrigued I became about how some ideas stuck while others initially sank without trace, only to resurface perhaps hundreds of years later to change everything. The first Prince Wulfstan book, In Two Minds, explores this idea not just by introducing new ideas into a medieval society, but by showing just how difficult it would be to pull that off in practice.
I’m equally fascinated by the justice system. People expect it to be fair, which is why we allow it to resolve our disputes instead of simply taking revenge ourselves. But watch an individual case play out in court and it can seem more like a high stakes game between lawyers than the pursuit of absolute truth. And if you think it’s a game, do you still accept the result if you lose? Is that still justice? At what point will a perfectly normal, perfectly decent person snap, and what happens when they do? Is it possible to plunge into the darkness of revenge and remain the normal, decent, happy person you were before you started? Enter Sally Mellors, who’s going to give it a damned good try in A Thoughtful Woman.
I live on a small farm where I fit in my writing alongside fighting the blackberry, and trying to convince the quadbike that killing its rider isn’t a core part of its job description.
WHAT I ENJOY AS A WRITER
I love the moment when an idea jumps out at me. The trick then is to catch it, because I could be dreaming in bed, walking the hills, trying not to kill myself on the quad bike… Anywhere in fact, except in front of the computer. Obviously. Slowly the whole thing coalesces and I begin to write it down, fleshing out the gaps, understanding why these people do what they do. I’m the first person in the world to “hear” their story, and I get to write it. That’s exciting! It’s what Terry Pratchett called “The Valley Filled With Clouds” technique and it’s huge fun.
I also love the research needed to make my fictional worlds as real as possible. It could be learning about the first mountain bikes, or exactly how medieval clothes were made and worn, or the limitations of police radios, or how to blow glass, draw wire, or a thousand other things. I learn new stuff every single day, and that’s fun too.
WHAT I TRY TO ACHIEVE
First and foremost I want to entertain, to make you want to turn that next page instead of doing whatever it is you should be doing! I also want you to enjoy the journey. Even in their darkest moments, I like my books to have an underlying vein of humour that will make you smile, or even laugh. There’s nothing wrong with dark, gritty tales, redolent with unrelenting misery. They’re just not what I want to write. I want you to finish my books and return to the world with a spring in your step.