New Week, New Book

What more can a fellow want? New book, new pen and fresh beer!

What more can a fellow want? New book, new pen and fresh beer!

After a real struggle this year, and losing almost two months to failing computers and other issues, I have at last finished the book.

This one is the third in the trilogy about a vintaine in the Hundred years War. It’s been a fair amount of time in the planning. In fact, I would say that I started thinking about this series before I embarked on the Templar Series all those years ago. I read Desmond Seward’s excellent history of the Hundred Years war in the early 1980s (I think) while I was living in Surrey, and the story of the wars and the three key battles really caught my interest. Later I bought Jonathan Sumption’s first book about the wars, “Trial By Battle” and was hooked. I had to learn more and more. Luckily there are plenty of stories about the wars, and they influenced me to a greater or lesser degree, but Seward and Sumption were probably my key sources.

But stories of the rich and famous don’t grab me so much. I’m much more interested in the lives of the ordinary soldiers. That came from “Quartered Safe Out Here” by George MacDonald-Fraser. After reading that, I knew the direction I had to take with my own books.

Originally the series was going to a two-book deal covering Crécy and Poitiers, but the more I looked at the period, the more I was convinced I had to write about the siege of Calais and the other events of that tumultuous year. So the series grew to three books. And now they’re done.

It leaves a hole in an author’s life when his series ends.

While writing, I feel more alive than any other time. While writing, I am living up to six lives as well as my own. I am imagining conversations, meetings, conflicts, deaths, relationships, and all at high speed, each from the point of view of other people. I am living inside other people’s minds and seeing the world from their perspective; I am dealing with the problems that they encounter and seeing how they would resolve their issues. Many people scoff when they hear an author complaining about how tiring it can be, writing, but basically writing means concentrating for hours a day on how other people react and behave. Getting inside a number of different heads and trying to remember what the world looks like through their eyes is incredibly tiring when you are doing it every day over several months. And then the odd gremlin creeps in and you realise that your characters are no longer acting in accordance with their basic makeup, and you have to go back and analyse (as best you can) what it is that doesn’t seem to be right.

Atoma notepad ready for planning the next story!

Atoma notepad ready for planning the next story!

But now that book is done. And that means I have to think about the next one. I have some ideas for this, but today the main job is to look at the basic characters I will have in the story, how the story will develop, and where the main plotline will head over the course of the book. This, I always find, deeply frustrating. It means tons of writing, changing, amending, fiddling and discarding. Still, it is an essential part of the writing process. The more scenes and character traits that I scribble down, change, put a line through, throw away and curse while doing so, the closer I am getting to the final storyline. It’s a horribly process, but without it, there is no story.

So, wish me luck. And if you hear me swearing loudly, you have my apologies!

Meanwhile, I have been working with the BBC recently – Radio Devon, my local station. I’ve been interviewing some interesting people. I had the idea a few months ago, and spoke to a very pleasant guy who gave me a recording device on loan, and I took it with me to a few meetings. Having completed a series of trial interviews, I think I (and the BBC) have an approach that works, and I’ll be getting my interviews on the radio before long. As soon as I do, I’ll have the link put up here as well as on my YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

Now, a friend on the internet has asked me why I don’t mention my own works more. After thinking about it, I’ve been forced to the reluctant conclusion that she is right. So, if you haven’t seen it before, I can recommend a visit to this link: where you will see not only all my books, but also a link to a short story called THE BOY’S REVENGE, where you can get some of my work for free. It’s a little piece to explain a bit about the background of one of my characters in the Vintener series.

So, do please read that, and I hope you enjoy it. That’s all for now, but happy reading!

13 Responses to “New Week, New Book”
  1. annswinfen says:

    Yes, Michael, I do agree – being absorbed in writing is enriching and exciting, but it’s both physically and mentally exhausting, something non-writers simply don’t understand. As for your new project, shall we meet for a mug of spiced ale at Walsingham’s house in Seething Lane? See you there!


    • That would be fun! One day, early in the New Year, perhaps! Happy writing. Amazing, as you say, how tiring it is, and how little other folk understand just how an author can get exhausted by sitting at a desk all day!


  2. Jack Eason says:

    As always Michael – the very best of luck and success with it. :)


  3. congratulations on finishing the book (and getting yet another new pen ;) ). An interesting insight for me to ‘see’ how a writer works. I will look for The Vintner series once I’ve got through the templars (nearly finished No.5 now), is that series over now?


  4. Clive Mullis says:

    Good luck, I’m looking forward to it!


  5. Kay Samuelson says:

    Congratulations on finishing the third in your most excellent series. I am looking forward to its release, and this time I won’t be so slow to acquire it. I had to join a waiting list for “Blood on the Sand” because it sold out so quickly here in the US, but the wait was well worth it. All the best to you on your new book.


    • Sorry to hear it sold out so quickly in the US. As always, it’s a fine art trying to work out what is the optimum print run for a book, but I’m really glad you liked it!


  6. D.G.Kaye says:

    Congrats on the book! I can relate to life’s obstacles getting in the way of our writing and publishing. I recently published my latest book which was almost in 6 month delay due to life’s interruptions. Perhaps there’s been something in the air? :)


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