The union of England and Scotland under one crown is not even a half century old, and the Parliamentarians already threaten the very fabric of the nation.
These are the adventures of highwayman Capt. James Hind who, in Robin Hood fashion, steals from the Roundheads to help fund the royalist cause.
When Cromwell comes to power, James, the Prince of Prigs, must be careful whom among his treacherous “friends” he trusts.
The fount of my inspiration
I was going to write about whatever it was that inspired me to start writing. But you know, I’m not sure ‘inspired’ is the right word in my case. It was more of a sequence of events.
I had written before; back in the eighties and nineties I wrote an autobiography to try to understand myself during a particularly dark period of my life, and later, a comic novel combining a random series of strange events I had experienced. Neither were ever published, but they did teach me that I enjoyed writing. However novelising events you’ve experienced yourself is one thing; writing historical fiction is quite another.
Then in 2009, I sold my business with the aim of semi-retiring, got bored, decided to research a local character I’d heard about, liked his story and decided to write it.
But don’t imagine for a moment that writing Historical Fiction is just a case of writing. At every step there’s something else you have to research, more to learn and I found that I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of trying to find out about all sorts of things. It’s not just a case of using Google, you have to do research to find out where you can do the research! What was happening in the world back then, what did they eat, what did they wear, what did they drink, what did they eat with, where was that character at that specific point in time, does this character have any descendants - the list is, quite literally endless. On top of that, you have to keep building ever-larger bookcases to hold all of the reference books. I’m very good at D.I.Y. now. Ask Tony, he’s been writing far longer than I have and I can guarantee that he spends at least as much time researching as he does writing and editing. And it’s fun. Challenging. Exciting.
At the end of it, you find you are something of an expert in that brief period of time. However, unless you plan to continue writing about that particular segment of time, you then have to set aside all that you’ve learned and start again.
This happened to me; the character in the first tale, George Davenport, lived towards the end of the eighteenth century and was in fact one of the last highwaymen. But I followed that with a character set in the middle of the seventeenth century - ironically one of the first and certainly the first highwayman of note.
“The Prince of Prigs” recounts nine critical months in the life of Captain James Hind, highwayman, Royalist officer and all-round roguish good egg. He enjoyed life to the full, and would rob you with panache and humour. But if you had the misfortune to be a high-ranking official in the Parliamentarian Government, your treatment would be less benign, although he still eschewed killing. The poor, especially Royalists, would often come out of the robbery with more money than they entered it, and it was this generosity which turned him into a folk hero.
Indeed, it was this trait that first endeared this character to me. I found it inspiring that even when the chips were down, he still would give to the poor and maintain his good humour. I did also appreciate his reluctance to kill - a tendency which marked him out, for the more usual approach was to rob then kill. Even with the Regicides - those responsible for the beheading of King Charles I - he retained his sense of humour, although in their case he made them the butt of the joke. He beat preacher Hugh Peters in a war of quotes from the bible, John Bradshaw was made to look an idiot... but they all lived to tell the tale. Although they preferred not to actually tell the tale, the coachmen were always perfectly willing to do it for them.
Numerous complimentary reviews have told me that I achieved my initial objective; to write a broadly historically accurate book with lots of action and great pace. The book is published by Bygone Era Books and is available at all good bookshops and online as paperback or e-book.
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After a lifetime of balancing books, Anthony turned his hand to writing them in 2009. His first book, The Other Robin Hood, is available as an ebook. An Englishman still living in England, he married a Russian doctor in 1999 and will be moving to rural France after reaching retirement age — but the writing will continue. He is already working on the sequel to The Prince of Prigs, tentatively titled Dark Days, Dark Deeds.