Blog hopping! I was tagged by Nick Smith, author of “Gentleman of Fortune”, who also writes the Rogue'sNest Blog.
This blog hop is all about the main character of a writer’s novel, finished or still a work in progress, and offers the chance for the reader to hopefully find something that they might be interested in. If you like tales of pirates and adventure on the high seas then hop back and have a look at Nick Smith’s work using the link above; I liked it so much I bought his book!
After my main character has finished answering all the questions I will link you to another author in historical fiction and you can hop forward and discover something new again!
So let us begin to get to know my protagonist from 'The War Wolf'!
1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or an actual historical person?
My main character is called ‘Coenred’, he is a Saxon warrior. I needed someone who could link each of the three major battles of 1066 together so he had to be a warrior and fictitious as there are no known personages whose presence at each battle has been recorded.
2) When and where is the story set?
The story is set in 11th century England, mostly in Northumbria where the first two battles took place. The final part of the trilogy obviously moves to Senlatche Ridge near Hastings. The story is not just limited to the battles, however, I explore the events that led up them and the ramifications of the decisions made by the historical personages. Also, through Coenred, I try to give the reader the impression of what early medieval battles where like and how they impacted upon the everyday people of the time.
3) What should we know about him/her?
Coenred is a huscarl, a member of the Saxon military elite. He is following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps and even carries the latter’s sword. He owns an estate that is managed by his mother and younger brother but he spends most of his time with the sons of the now dead Eorl Aelfgar of Mercia. Huscarls are ruled by a strong sense of honour. They swear death-oaths to protect their lord’s life, if he dies on the battlefield then they either die with him or kill all of his enemies and recover his body for burial. That said they are also free men and they can leave their lord’s service at any time. Coenred is in the prime of his life when the summer of 1066 begins to slip into autumn and he finds life with the young eorls, Edwin and Morcar, very trying, even to the point of contemplating retiring from the life of a huscarl and becoming a theign living a more peaceful life at his estate in Holderness.
4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
Two things. Coenred has dedicated himself to being the best huscarl that he can be, and largely succeeding. He has gone without a wife and family of his own as he sees this as a distraction to a warrior who can lose his life at a moment’s notice. Just when he starts to think of retiring from his life by the sword the young widow Mildryth asks for his protection, something that he is honour bound to give. Much to his own surprise he finds himself falling in love with her. She is of the appropriate social status, beautiful, and blessed with a strong spirit that helps her survive in a world that is often hard on women. Mildryth only makes Coenred’s thoughts of retirement more attractive. However, King Harald Hardrada of Norway arrives in Northumbria at the head of the largest Viking army ever to set foot in England and heads directly for York. Hardrada has Tostig Godwinson for an ally, the younger brother of King Harold of England. He is also the murderer of Mildryth’s family. Coenred’s lord, Eorl Edwin, decides to ignore sound counsel to close the gates of York and defend the walls. He chooses to fight a pitched battle against the Norse army and Coenred finds himself thrown into a fight with the most famous Viking king of his day, The War Wolf, a warrior-chief who has never been defeated in battle.
5) What is the personal goal of the character?
Ultimately to survive. Although 1066 has been relatively peaceful it eventually erupts into deadly violence as the Saxons fight three bloody battles in quick succession; two against their ancient Norse enemy. However, Coenred is also driven by his sense of honour to protect the people who depend upon him, not just Mildryth, his mother and younger brother, but also his fellow warriors as their captain, his lords, Edwin and Morcar, and by extension all of the people for whom they are responsible. Only by defeating the common enemy can he realise his dream of settling down with Mildryth at Holderness.
6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it
I am planning on writing a book for each of the three battles and have the collective title of ‘The Sorrow Song Trilogy’ for them. The first book is called ‘The War Wolf’ in reference to King Harald Hardrada. The second is ‘For Rapture of Ravens’, which acknowledges the fate of the thousands of men left dead on the battle field at Stamford Bridge. The final book is ‘The Blade’s Fell Blow’ and this is inspired by the act of the killing stroke that cut down King Harold of England at Hastings (not the infamous arrow in the eye you might note). All three titles are actually quotes from the Old English poem of Beowulf. You can read more about them and the Saxon world that is the backdrop to the story here: http://petercwhitaker.co.uk/
7) When can we expect the book to be published?
It already is! ‘The War Wolf’ is currently available on Kindle and Kobo. I am hoping to get ‘For Rapture of Ravens’ out very soon.
In leaving Coenred to face his violent fate in 1066 we hop over to another author who works in a time a little more recent. Hugh Wilson has set his novel, ‘Caledonian Skies’ in 1930’s Britain and embroils his main character, a flying ace from the Great War, in the intrigues of pre-World War 2 espionage. To get a taster you can visit his Facebook page here: HughWilson - Caledonian Skies. Look out for Hugh’s main character's interview soon on the same page.
His book is on sale here.
Goodbye for now and many thanks for reading.