26 January 2016

Guest Post ~ Writing The Madog Trilogy, by David Pryce


Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

It's 1171 and in search of a New World, Prince Madog and his band of adventurers strike out for a new life, away from bitter sibling rivalry and infighting. On the way they will encounter an arrogant and dangerous lord, an ambitious bishop, a future king, an Irish hating giant psychopath, and a vindictive Icelandic chieftain, whilst all the while being trailed by a deadly Welsh mercenary. Will Prince Madog and his fellow travelers make it to the mystical land far to the west? Can they even make it out of Europe? 

Prince Madog ap Owain, illegitimate son of the great Prince of Wales, Owain Gwynedd and destined to be consigned like many of his siblings to historical obscurity. However Prince Madog had other ideas, because legend has it that some three hundred years before Signore Colombo, he led a group of intrepid travelers across the Atlantic Ocean, finally ending up in Mobile Bay, Alabama. Potentially quite a story to be told.

For me it all began with an e-mail from my brother-in-law Nigel, himself a keen local historian back in Northop, North Wales:

“Had I heard of the Welsh prince who had discovered America?” 

I hadn’t, but that was all about to change. Perhaps what struck a particular chord with me was the fact that I too was a Welshman that now lived in the United States. Whatever it was, I voraciously dug into the research. 

I must confess that at the time my ambitions stretched no further than a couple of factual articles, perhaps a modest blog on the subject, but the further I got the more I felt that Prince Madog deserved more, and I began to write…in first person. I was reading Bernard Cornwell’s excellent Saxon Chronicles series at the time so it seemed natural to do so. Oh and I was using Microsoft Word - ah if I knew back then what I know now.

Some 3,500 words into the process and I began to have doubts about the whole first person thing, I consulted my English graduate, ex-teacher sister, and after much agonizing (after all 3,500 words seemed a lot to me back then) I began again, this time in third person. I’ll not lie and say it was easy, although the fact that my ‘day job’ has me working remotely out of a home office was a help.

I scoured the internet for tips and advice and discovered a whole community out there for budding authors. I started a spreadsheet to track my daily word total – highly recommended by the way – and began hitting between 7,000 and 9,000 words per week, I think that I peaked at 12,000 one week. 

Every day I lost myself in 12th century Wales, my characters took on life and writing allowed me to disappear from the everyday mundane. I tend to write without a very tight planned structure, so when I sat down in front of the keyboard every day, I was excited to discover where the story would lead me and what my characters would get up to next.

Several months later and I had finished, I’d written a book! Exciting right? Well to be honest, I felt a little flat. I think that I started to have withdrawal symptoms, what was I going to do without my daily fix of Madog, Cynwrig, Fergal, Ioan and the rest?

So if you think that writing a book will be the hardest part, you’d be mistaken. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy, but then along comes the editing…  In the interim, I took a trip back home to Wales visiting my mum and sister and naturally, I took time out to visit locations that had played a big part in my novel; places that I’d visited many times growing up, but which now took on a whole new meaning.

When I got back, I rewrote parts of the book, taking inspiration from my travels around Gwynedd and Anglesey. I also got invaluable feedback from my best friend Jon out in Florida, who had been doing work on a series of books that hit the NYT Children’s Bestseller list. Taking out my scalpel – or was that meat cleaver - my initial draft (which had just over 100,000 words) was trimmed down to 75,000 and it was off to Amazon.com!

Although as a child I liked to write short stories, I left that behind when I went to university, got a degree and ended up working underground in the gold mines of South Africa. It was many years and several countries later that I rediscovered the passion. 

Would I have advice to anybody wanting to write a book? Go for it, just start and get some words down, you can and will end up editing them later. Don’t listen to any inner voices that tell you that you can’t do it or that “people like me don’t write books.”

Oh and don’t use Word!

David Pryce

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About the Author


David Pryce was born and bred in North Wales; after graduating from The University of Leeds with a Mining Engineering degree, he spent the next seven years living and working in Southern Africa, which gave him ample opportunity to indulge in another of his passions – wildlife photography (www.stripephoto.com) After living in California for a couple of years, he moved back to the UK working for a specialist Africa travel company in London. He currently resides in Colorado, but returns to North Wales on a regular basis to visit family and rediscover his intrinsic ‘Welshness’ This also affords him the opportunity to get some proper fish and chips and a decent cup of tea! You can visit David online at www.wales2america.com and connect on twitter @Madog1170. 

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