I began my working life as an actor, before getting a job in a design studio, then becoming a self-taught computer programmer and serial entrepreneur. Maybe one day I’ll get a “real job”.
Now cue the wavy screen special effect while I go back in time...
I remember reading the same book far too often from the local library. I think it might have been the classic “King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table”, by Roger Lancelyn Green. That got me hooked, as it no doubt did for many other people.
This was reinforced by a selection of movies that were constantly played out on TV on a Sunday afternoon or a bank holiday Monday; Ivanhoe, El Cid, Jason and the Argonauts, Spartacus, and anything where ancient Romans or Greeks battled for supremacy were compulsive viewing in my house.
As I grew, I became fascinated with the landscape of Britain. The annual family holiday fortnight was a big event for all of us. No-one in my family could drive a car, so everywhere we went was by bus or train. Since my parents had a love of Devon, we went there many times, travelling down from Scotland on long, 500-mile coach trips that passed through spectacular scenery. I never tired of watching the landscape as we passed between hills and expanses of countryside.
Over the years, I memorised the various twists and turns on the roads, and town names that appeared on motorway signs. In Chapter 15 of The Blood and the Bear, the location of the tavern is nearby a place we would stop on the road. That’s kind of my tribute to those early travelling days.
When I was old enough to go places under my own steam (by befriending people with cars!), I already had a plan for the country I wanted to explore. Places that I had never seen, but knew of from books, films, TV programmes, and road signs.
The destinations all had one thing in common, a deep connection with the ancient history of the island. A landscape filled with castles, and ancient monuments, and natural features bearing the name of Arthur or some other link to the legend.
I’m not a historian. In fact, when I see the word “Education” on an application form I’m often tempted to just answer “Sometimes”. I think I share the desire to discover and learn about ancient history as a paid professional might.
And so, it came to my road trip, because now I had a girlfriend / future wife with a car (bonus!). We took off for three weeks in a battered but much-loved Vauxhall Cavalier. It had a sieve masquerading as a radiator and needed a bump start every morning (thank you fellow campers).
We toured from the ancient hillfort of Dunaad and the Templar graves of Kilmartin in the north, to Stonehenge, Avebury, and Tintagel on the beautiful Cornish coast. We drove about in a zig-zag pattern that followed the sun, not something that’s easy to do in Britain. After 20 days out of 21 that stayed dry and warm, I had experienced a large part of the land of King Arthur. I had also become quite good at starting and maintaining a leaky car that desperately wanted to retire.
As to becoming an author, well, that’s really taken its time. I’ve written regularly for many years, and with one exception, humour has always been a core part of my work. My (day-job) career has involved a lot of written work, mainly producing content for websites and interactive titles, but only a little of that involved creating storylines. In fact, I’ve spent a lot more of my time writing programming code and have often pondered on whether I could write a software to write my books!
When I finally began to write The Blood of the Bear, it was always going to be an irreverent version of Arthur’s story. I wanted to write about the missing years before he became king. I envisaged that the protagonist had come from an impoverished life, where humour would play a big part in getting through the daily grind. I also think it would have been less realistic to portray him without the sense of irony that the British are so famed for.
… But that’s just a small part of the story so far. For those who have enjoyed reading The Blood of the Bear and are interested in reading more, then the second book is under way. This time, it takes place between the North Yorkshire Moors and across to Snowdonia, continuing to travel in the footsteps of King Arthur and his knights.
That’s my small introduction. If you’ve enjoyed the book or even just what you’ve seen so far on the website, then please click to subscribe. You’ll be able to keep updated with the development of book two in the series and my otherwise random thoughts.
May your mead be plentiful!