Mastodon The Writing Desk: August 2016

31 August 2016

Book Launch ~ The Autumn Throne (Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy) by Elizabeth Chadwick

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

England, 1176:  Imprisoned by her husband, King Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of England, refuses to let her powerful husband bully her into submission, even as he forces her away from her children and her birthright.
Freed only by Henry's death, Eleanor becomes dowager Queen of England. But the competition for land and power that Henry stirred up among his sons has intensified to a dangerous rivalry.
Eleanor will need every ounce of courage and fortitude as she crosses the Alps in winter to bring Richard his bride, and travels medieval Europe to ransom her beloved son. But even her indomitable spirit will be tested to its limits as she attempts to keep the peace between her warring sons, and find a place in the centres of power for her daughters.
Eleanor of Aquitaine's powerful story is brought to a triumphant and beautiful close by much-loved author Elizabeth Chadwick

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About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Chadwick has written over 20 historical novels sold in 18 languages worldwide. Her first novel, The Wild Hunt, won a Betty Trask Award, and The Scarlet Lion was nominated by Richard Lee, founder of the Historical Novel Society, as one of the top ten historical novels of the last decade. Elizabeth's nineteenth novel, To Defy a King, won the RNA Historical Novel Prize in 2011. Find out more at Elizabeth's website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @Chadwickauthor.

30 August 2016

NEW Book Launch - Joshua and the Arrow Realm (Lightning Road) by Donna Galanti

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Joshua never thought he'd return to the world of Nostos so soon. But when King Apollo needs his help in the Arrow Realm, Joshua's will and powers will be tested in order to save him.

With Joshua's loyalties divided between our world and theirs, he wonders whether he alone can restore magic to the twelve powerless Olympian heirs, or whether he is being tricked into making
the one mistake that might cost them all.

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About the Author

Donna Galanti attended an English school housed in a magical castle, where her wild imagination was held back only by her itchy uniform (bowler hat and tie included!). There she fell in love with the worlds of C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl, and wrote her first fantasy about Dodo birds, wizards, and a flying ship. She’s lived in other exotic locations, including Hawaii where she served as a U.S. Navy photographer. She lives with her family and two crazy cats in an old farmhouse, and dreams of returning one day to a castle. Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. You can find her at and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @DonnaGalanti.

27 August 2016

Book Launch ~ The Napoleon Complex, by E.M. Davey

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Reporter Jake Wosley has seen things he never thought possible. After stumbling across secret documents showing Winston Churchill's interest in the ancient Etruscan civilisation, his life changed forever. Now he lies in hiding in Thailand, trying to put the past behind him. When a letter arrives, featuring genuine quotes from Napoleon about fate and destiny, he has no idea who it’s from but knows he is no longer safe. And when Jenny, his former lover and confidant reaches out to him, in terrible danger, Jake has no choice but to come to her aid. Unearthing secrets many want to get their hands on, can Wosley evade Washington and MI6? 

How was Napoleon able to coordinate his armies over great distances in an age before radio or the telegraph? What lay behind his string of astonishingly accurate predictions? And how did the son of a provincial Corsican family raise himself up to be the most powerful man on earth?

The second instalment of the epic Book of Thunder series catapults reporter Jake Wolsey into the seismic geopolitical events of the nineteenth century. But if Napoleon Bonaparte obtained the ability to predict the future, why was he ever defeated? And could the Etruscans’ sacred text have fired the growth of the greatest empire the world has ever seen – the superpower that flourished under the Union Jack?

Wolsey’s bid to uncover the secret history of Britain’s golden age takes in Sierra Leone, Israel, Egypt, Thailand, Austria, Tanzania and Burundi – and peers back into the smoky Westminster drawing rooms of leading Victorian statesmen.

Can Wolsey evade the attention of the Washington and MI6? Will he prevent the bid of a maniacal Prime Minister to help the sun rise on a new British Empire? And can he solve the Napoleon Complex once and for all?
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About the Author

E. M. Davey is a 32-year-old journalist at the BBC specialising in undercover investigative journalism. When not working he enjoys travel to far-flung and occasionally dangerous spots to research his fiction, and just for the heck of it. He has backpacked 47 countries (and counting), including somewhat hairy environs such as the Congo, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Burundi. Earlier this year he drove along the Afghan border with Tajikistan. He grew up in Bristol and lives in south London. He studied history at the London School of Economics and cut his journalistic teeth at the Islington Gazette. At the BBC he has written for the national website, produced programmes on the World Service and is currently an investigative reporter/producer at BBC London. History – particularly classical history –has been his lifelong passion. Find him on Twitter @EdDavey1.

26 August 2016

Guest Post by David Dunham, writing The Silent Land

Available on Amazon US, Amazon UK

‘Rebecca Lawrence reached a count of sixty in her head and slid her finger into the back pages of her mother’s diary. Mistaking the diary for a book granted her innocence the first time she’d opened it. She had no argument for innocence now.’

I admit, I’ve done it. In the early days, that is: the searching for novelists’ daily word counts. I felt dirty doing it, ashamed even, ashamed that I was comparing myself to others and matching my own average to that of the masters. And then I stopped, not through sudden disinterest, but because it was futile. My environment for writing The Silent Land was different to others’. 

At times, it was ideal in that it was quiet, I had an antique desk and there was a kettle close by. At other times, not so, in that my office was the laundry room at the back of the house where the noise from the building site was not as violent as at the front, and my desk was an ironing board, and there was no kettle, just an iron. And then there was the method. 

The Silent Land is set in the early 20th century and so I was to write as if I was in the early 20th century myself - with paper and pen. A good pen, mind you, not a Biro or one of those in the stationery aisle of the supermarket, a proper pen, one that had a nib with a crest, a sleek barrel and required cartridges (I prefer long, not short) that when changing deposits ink on your fingertip and gives you a little buzz as you push it down and you feel the subtle click. Me and my fountain pen. Best of friends, workmates, allies, and my means to an end: a handwritten first draft of my debut novel, all written on the finest of paper.

In my head, I pompously called it parchment for a while. Champagne in colour with a linen finish and summoning images of dripping candles and quills, it was the finest paper in all town and I live in a big town. It is also expensive and would have left me penniless had I not snapped out of my Dickensian romance. To the regular A4 pad I charged and released my fountain pen upon it. 

There were moments when I watched that nib stroking letters onto the lines (I’m a thin lines kinda guy and the pad has to be punched and 64 pages or more) and wondered who was doing the work: me or the pen. The word count was low. Very low. Ostensibly because of my method. I would write one sentence and then another, and possibly a third, and then stare at them, cross them out, huff and puff, and write them again. And I would do this for page after page until eventually a chapter would be finished and the moment arrived that I had dreaded since breakfast: the removal of the computer from the cupboard.

The computer always started with a protest, jilted as it was by my preference for the pen. Slowly, painfully so, it opened a document and begrudgingly allowed me to type my day’s work. And then once done I put it away back where it belonged. And so on and so forth this was the rhythm until one day, one happy, open a bottle of wine day, The Silent Land was completed.

The files are on memory sticks and a hard drive and other things that have drives and clouds, but the real copy, even more important than the copy with a spine on the bookshelf, is the one in a box under the stairs, being kept company by other boxes filled with lines of crossed out sentences and scribblings, and ringed numbers; the daily word count numbers. This is the copy I cherish. Perhaps I’ll do it again. Perhaps, I shan’t. But perhaps you should. Just get a good pen and put the computer in the cupboard.

David Dunham
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About the Author

David Dunham was raised in England and now lives in New Zealand. He has worked in the media industry as a reporter, sportswriter, deputy editor, chief reporter, senior producer and homepage editor. You can find David on Facebook at and follow him on Twitter @DDunhamauthor

21 August 2016

The Tudor’s Road to Bosworth Part 7: The Battle of Bosworth

In this series I have followed the progress of Henry and Jasper Tudor from Pembroke Castle to their long exile in Brittany and return with an army to Wales. Their long march, covering as much as twenty-six miles a day, ended when they encountered King Richard’s army camped at Ambion Hill, close to Sutton Cheyney.

The Battle of Bosworth is poorly documented, with no first-hand accounts surviving. Anything we read about the battle therefore has to be looked at closely to see who wrote it and when. One of the best summaries of the often conflicting accounts is Chris Skidmore’s book, Bosworth - The Birth of The Tudors. Even as Chris was writing the book, news emerged of a new location for the battlefield site, and the bones of Richard III were discovered in a car park as he completed the first draft.

I visited the at Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre for the special anniversary weekend events, which now attract visitors to the area from all over the world. As well as a re-creation of the march to Bosworth, there was a full scale re-enactment of the battle, complete with the hundreds of archers and the artillery of the Wars of The Roses Society.

It was also fascinating to visit the ‘living history’ encampment and see the soldiers preparing for battle. I spoke to several of them and they take great pride in achieving historical accuracy – even to the extent of sleeping in their flimsy canvas tents overnight, despite the strong winds.

There was a poignant moment as we all held a one-minute silence in memory of the men who died at Bosworth Field.  I’d be interested to know what Henry Tudor would have to say if he knew the battle was still being re-enacted 531 years after his amazing victory!   

Tony Riches 

See Also:

About the Author: 

I am an author of historical fiction and non-fiction books. I live in Pembrokeshire and specialise in the fifteenth century, with a particular interest in the lives of the early Tudors. For more information please visit my website and find me on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.

18 August 2016

Guest Post ~ A Harvest Passion, by Emily Murdoch

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Boy meets girl, girl likes boy, boy loves girl, trouble, boy gets girl. That’s how it always goes, doesn’t it? Not in real life of course, but in almost every single romance the ending is pretty formulaic. Now, I love a good happy ever after ending as much as the next person, but as a romance writer sometimes writing that perfect last chapter rings a little hollow. Because when boy gets girl, there’s often a third person in the story who doesn’t get their happy ending – and often by definition, because they are not the hero or the heroine. They are not allowed their happy ending.

For those of us who read and write romances all the time, this starts to become the norm and it is hard to pull it out as a negative trope. Of course there’s only one happy ending – and the hero and heroine were made for each other. How could you drag them apart? But just as in fiction as in real life, things are rarely as clean up as that. Some people can fall in love twice; others never have their affection returned; some meet their perfect partner and discover that they are already married. This is the complexity that I love to pour into my books.

I used this device in particular in one of my latest Regency romance novellas, A June Wedding, but the more that I thought about Hestia Royce, my girl who didn’t get the boy, the more I realised that the next story that I wanted to tell was hers. What happens when you don’t get the boy, and he goes off into the sunset with the other girl, the girl that he loved more than you?

This is the story of A Harvest Passion. During the Regency period, the idea of a girl returning to her home town unmarried about her own wedding was a deep source of shame, and the speculation about exactly why her intended had decided in the end not to marry her would have been rife. Gossip and intrigue were two of the most essential facets of good society during that time, and so poor Hestia Royce was thrown into the deep end somewhat when she returned home.

Being able to hold up a mirror to this strange world of tittle tattle was my aim with another character, Leo Tyndale. After spending five years in India, Leo has a much more different approach to the people of the town, and as the two outsiders in the community, neither one fitting the expectations of their society, they cannot help but be drawn to each other. I found exploring Regency era India far more exciting than I could have imagined, and I can’t help but feel as though I will return to it before long.

Exploring the slightly darker and sadder side of a romance has been a fascinating experience for me as an author, and it’s certainly made me think twice about how I leave/abandon my secondary characters in future novels! Sadly though, there is only ever one happy ending to go around, and so far Hestia Royce hasn’t found hers.

Emily Murdoch

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About the Author

Emily Murdoch is a medieval historian and writer. Throughout her career so far she has examined a codex and transcribed medieval sermons at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, designed part of an exhibition for the Yorkshire Museum, worked as a researcher for a BBC documentary presented by Ian Hislop, and worked at Polesden Lacey with the National Trust. She has a degree in History and English, and a Masters in Medieval Studies, both from the University of York. Emily has a medieval series and a Regency novella series published, and is currently working on several new projects. You can follow her on twitter and instagram @emilyekmurdoch, find her on Facebook and read her blog at

16 August 2016

Book Launch: Time and Regret, by M.K. Tod @MKTodAuthor

New on Amazon US

When Grace Hansen finds a box belonging to her beloved grandfather, she has no idea it holds the key to his past—and to long-buried family secrets. In the box are his World War I diaries and a cryptic note addressed to her. Determined to solve her grandfather’s puzzle, Grace follows his diary entries across towns and battle sites in northern France, where she becomes increasingly drawn to a charming French man—and suddenly aware that someone is following her…

A few years ago, my husband and I travelled to northern France to visit the battlefields, monuments, cemeteries, and museums dedicated to World War One. We went to Bailleul, Lille, Amiens, Ypres, Mont St. Eloi and other towns and villages, and to memorials at Vimy, Courcelette, Thiepval, the Somme and Passchendaele. We visited the shops, stayed in a former chateau, enjoyed wonderful French cuisine in all manner of restaurants and cafes. Those places and the landscape of the region engaged every sense and, along with the hundreds of pictures taken, have fuelled descriptions of meadows, villages, windows, tastes, gardens, houses, and other parts of my latest novel Time and Regret.
But of most significance to the story is the night we spent at a café in the small town of Honfleur across the mouth of the Seine from Le Havre. Shortly after the waiter poured our first glass of red wine, I wrote a few words in a pocket-sized notebook I had in my purse.
“What are you writing?” my husband said.
“An idea for a story,” I replied.
Refusing to be put off by my cryptic response, he persisted. “What’s the idea?”
“Nothing much. Just thought it might make a good story to have a granddaughter follow the path her grandfather took during World War One in order to find out more about him.”
Ian took on a pensive look and no doubt had another sip of wine. “You could include a mystery,” he said.
Now, you should know that mysteries are my husband’s favourite genre. Indeed, I suspect mysteries represent at least eighty percent of his reading. So I played along.
“What kind of mystery?”
And that was the birth of Time & Regret, as ideas tumbled out and the plot took shape. Needless to say, the bottle of wine was soon empty.
I’d already written two historical novels, but a mystery is a very different beast. Mystery lovers have expectations, specifically the expectation that you will keep them guessing until the last possible moment and equally the expectation that the smart reader should be able to figure it out. They expect clues strategically sprinkled throughout the novel, many red herrings, a few plot twists, and more than one potential culprit. They expect the excitement to build and build, and the protagonist to have his or her own life problems to add depth to the story.
To make matters more complicated, I decided to structure the novel using two time periods: one quasi present day (1991) and the second during World War I which meant I had two main characters to incorporate plus all the expectations of historical fiction fans. I didn’t appreciate how difficult the task would be until I had completed three drafts and the mystery still didn’t hang together or have enough complexity.
My solution was to map the clues and red herrings against the chapters in both timelines. No doubt such a solution will sound obvious to a seasoned mystery writer, however, I thought it was brilliant. This map helped me examine the placement of elements critical to the mystery against the overall story, to create balance in terms of pacing, to add a few twists, and to validate that I hadn’t given too much away too early.
Did it work? Time will tell, however, I can say that several readers have told me they didn’t anticipate the ending or figure out ‘who dunnit’ until the very end.

M.K. Tod
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About the Author

M. K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter @MKTodAuthor and on her website

15 August 2016

New Audiobook - OWEN Book One of The Tudor Trilogy

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

England 1422: Owen Tudor, a Welsh servant, waits in Windsor Castle to meet his new mistress, the beautiful and lonely Queen Catherine of Valois, widow of the warrior king, Henry V. Her infant son is crowned King of England and France, and while the country simmers on the brink of civil war, Owen becomes her protector.
They fall in love, risking Owen’s life and Queen Catherine’s reputation—but how do they found the dynasty which changes British history – the Tudors?
This is the first historical novel to fully explore the amazing life of Owen Tudor, grandfather of King Henry VII and the great-grandfather of King Henry VIII. Set against a background of the conflict between the Houses of Lancaster and York, which develops into what have become known as the Wars of the Roses, Owen’s story deserves to be told.

10 August 2016

Book Review: Henry VII The Maligned Tudor King, by Terry Breverton

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Terry Breverton’s passion for the subject shines through in his much-awaited new book on King Henry VII. I was fascinated by the fresh perspective of this weighty book (at over 400 pages). With a good collection of colour illustrations, this is a ‘must’ for anyone with an interest in the Tudors. Terry has taken the interesting approach of examining Henry’s life through a narrative of where he was at each point in time, and addresses the many errors often repeated about Henry Tudor.

Henry’s path to the throne of England is an amazing story, told with Terry Breverton’s well-informed and engaging style. How could this unassuming man, who had been imprisoned one way or another for most of his twenty-eight years, lead a rebel army to victory at Bosworth? Terry describes Henry as ‘a good man in bad times, always thankful to God for his good fortune and never vengeful.’

I recommend reading this book in conjunction with Terry’s other work, Richard III: The King in the Car Park and his excellent Jasper Tudor: Dynasty Maker (both of which have pride of place on my bookshelf).  I have set out to collect every published work I can find on Henry VII and, in my view, this is the definitive account. My only quibble is with Terry’s choice of title, which I completely understand, although readers are likely to agree that while Henry is the most unlikely King of England, he is also one of the most important in British history.

Tony Riches 

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About the Author

Terry Breverton is a former businessman, consultant and academic and now a full-time writer. Terry has presented documentaries on the Discovery Channel and the History Channel.and has written over forty books, with his main focus being upon Welsh history, heritage and culture.

9 August 2016

Book Launch: Story Genius, by Lisa Cron

New on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Following on the heels of Lisa Cron's breakout first book, Wired for Story, this writing guide reveals how to use cognitive storytelling strategies to build a scene-by-scene blueprint for a riveting story

It’s every novelist’s greatest fear: pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into writing hundreds of pages only to realize that their story has no sense of urgency, no internal logic, and so is a page one rewrite. 

The prevailing wisdom in the writing community is that there are just two ways around this problem: pantsing (winging it) and plotting (focusing on the external plot). Story coach Lisa Cron has spent her career discovering why these these methods don’t work and coming up with a powerful alternative, based on the science behind what our brains are wired to crave in every story we read (and it’s not what you think). 

In Story Genuis Cron takes you, step-by-step, through the creation of a novel from the first glimmer of an idea, to a complete multilayered blueprint—including fully realized scenes—that evolves into a first draft with the authority, richness, and command of a riveting sixth or seventh draft.

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About the Author

Lisa Cron is a story coach and the author of Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers From the Very First Sentence. Lisa has worked in publishing at W.W. Norton, as an agent at the Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency, as a producer on shows for Showtime and CourtTV, and as a story consultant for Warner Brothers and the William Morris Agency.  Since 2006, she's been an instructor in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program. Find out more at Lisa's website and follow her on Twitter @LisaCron.

7 August 2016

The Tudors’ Road to Bosworth Part 6: The Tudors Land at Mill Bay in Pembrokeshire

After following the long exile of Jasper and Henry Tudor in Brittany I have now returned to Pembrokeshire in West Wales.  The Tudors had made an unsuccessful attempt to invade England in 1483 but learned from this near disaster. On Monday the 1st of August, 1485 they sailed again from the mouth of the Seine with their mercenary army of some four thousand men to challenge King Richard III for the crown.

It seems the sea voyage led by the Poulian De Dieppe, flagship of their capable captain, Guillaume de Casenove, was uneventful and had the benefit of favourable winds. They made landfall at Mill Bay, a secluded, pebble-strewn beach in the far west of Wales just before sunset on Sunday 7th August. 

Mill Bay, Pembrokeshire
On going ashore, Henry Tudor kissed the ground and recited a Psalm in Latin. Some accounts suggest it was Psalm 23 but the consensus was Psalm 46: ‘Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.’

I also read that Henry’s French mercenaries were reluctant to come ashore – and had to be tempted with offers of ale and fresh bread. The ships were unloaded in the fading light and Henry’s army made the short trek to the nearest town of Dale, where they camped for the night and made preparations for the long march through Wales to confront the army of King Richard.

I visited Mill Bay on a bright summer’s day and was pleased to see a bronze plaque commemorating Henry’s landing there. I also found a post placed there by the HistoryPoints Website which celebrates Welsh History. The bay is far enough from Dale for them to have landed undetected, although the path up the hill is steep. The Tudors had brought artillery and ammunition from France, so it must have been quite a haul, despite the number of men.

The final stop on this journey in the footsteps of the Tudors is to Bosworth Field, where there is an Anniversary Battle Re-enactment Event on 20th & 21st August. See for more details.

Tony Riches

 See Also:

About the Author: 

I am an author of historical fiction and non-fiction books. I live in Pembrokeshire and specialise in the fifteenth century, with a particular interest in the lives of the early Tudors. For more information please visit my website and find me on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches. 

5 August 2016

The Tudors’ Road to Bosworth Part 5: Jasper Tudor at Château Josselin, Brittany

In this series I have followed Jasper Tudor and his nephew Henry’s escape from Tenby in Wales to their long exile in Brittany. Young Henry Tudor found himself deep in the forest at the remote Forteresse de Largoët, outside of the Breton town of Elven. He would have missed the company of his uncle Jasper, who was now in a far grander place, the Château de Josselin.

Originating from the year 1008, the château overlooking the River Oust has changed many times over the centuries. Olivier de Clisson, Constable of France, became Lord of Josselin in 1370 and rebuilt the fortress with eight high towers and married his daughter Beatrice to Viscount Alain de Rohan. During the religious wars of the seventeenth century Duke Henri de Rohan commanded the Calvinists and his 
château was sacked by Cardinal de Richelieu. Only four of the original towers remain today but the château is still home to the fourteenth Duke Josselin de Rohan.

When Jasper Tudor arrived in 1473 his main concern would have been for the welfare and safety of his nephew. Duke Francis of Brittany gave his word to protect the Tudors but also promised King Edward’s ambassadors he would treat them more as prisoners than honoured guests.

As a consequence it seems Jasper began what must have been a frustrating three years in Josselin, with no visitors and no communication with Henry. Duke Francis might have sent messages reassuring him of Henry’s welfare, but the Tudors lived under the threat of abduction to England by Yorkist agents of King Edward.

It is likely that Jasper, a fluent Breton speaker, would have become close to the men guarding him and used the last of the money he’d brought to Brittany to pay for information on Henry. I’m sure Jasper would also have worried about the situation in England, where Edward IV was raising a formidable army to reconquer France in an alliance with Duke Charles of Burgundy. I imagine he tried sending letters to Henry, as well as Lady Margaret Beaufort, although there is no record of any correspondence at that time. Here's a short excerpt showing how I dealt with all this in my novel:

  Jasper stood at the window, watching the bridge over the river. An endless procession of people made their way into the walled town, yet none were leaving. Something unusual was going on. His attention shifted to muffled noises from within the courtyard, of horse’s hooves, shouted commands, the sharp clink of steel and the buzzing of many voices, like bees in a hive. The bolt on his door scraped and the door swung open to reveal one of his friendlier guards.
  ‘What’s happening?’ He spoke in Breton.
  ‘The King of England has landed at Calais with an army.’ The guard seemed surprised Jasper hadn’t heard. ‘And the Duke of Burgundy has invaded France from the north.’ He scowled at the thought.
  Jasper followed the guard down the narrow stone steps. Groups of armed soldiers gathered in the usually deserted courtyard, some waiting in line for the kitchens, others sleeping or playing games of dice. The duke was obviously taking the threat from York seriously. Jasper had never seen so many horses crammed into the château stables and guessed they were preparing to defend themselves.
  He sought out the captain of the guard, who was being helped to dress in his armour. The pieces looked mismatched and a poor fit, some showing the scars and dents of ancient battles. The captain questioned the parentage of the unfortunate man helping him, telling him not to pull the straps so tightly, as Jasper entered.
  ‘Is Duke Francis supporting the English, Captain?’
  ‘As you can see, Sir Jasper, he is moving men to defend the border. My orders are to take as many men as I can to him at the Château de l’Hermine.’
  ‘What is to become of me?’

I stayed in a gite by what is now the Nantes-Brest canal, with a view of the château from the window. On the opposite bank was a small public park with impressive arches, the remains of a house from the fifteenth century and in the walled town are narrow streets of traditional half-timbered buildings, offering a good impression of what Josselin might have been like in Jasper Tudor’s time.

Josselin Town
The present day château is still an impressive fortress towering high over the valley and dominating the sleepy town. There are guided tours several times each day but the de Rohan family don’t allow any photography of the interior. There was little to see inside from the fourteenth century, as most of the decoration dated from nineteenth century restorations, although there is an amazing life-sized statue, created in 1892, of Olivier de Clisson mounted on his horse.

It is possible Jasper might have been held in the original keep, now replaced by an open courtyard overlooking the deep Oust valley. I stood looking out over the forested countryside and realised the scene has changed little since Jasper’s time. He could have had a view from his window of a narrow bridge, close to the château, which still provides the main crossing point for anyone entering or leaving Josselin from the south.

At some point in 1476 Duke Francis, whose health was failing, decided to reunite Jasper and Henry. For the next six years, they lived at the Breton court until the unexpected death of King Edward IV, (either by poisoning or excess) and the rise of his ambitious younger brother Richard. The Tudors had made an unsuccessful attempt to invade England in 1483 but learned from the experience, and in 1485 sailed with their mercenary army for Mill Bay in West Wales – the next stop on my own journey.

Tony Riches

2 August 2016

Special Guest Post by Katy Haye: Why I tell stories...

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

City is the last civilised place left on a drowned Earth, a floating town built from metal and plastic from the Time Before. It’s the only home doctor's daughter Libby Marchmont has ever known or wanted – until her father helps the wrong patient and she's forced to flee...

Storytelling is an integral part of being human, I’m sure it’s what sets us apart from other animals. All human relationships are navigated through stories – “Do you remember when we...?” I love stories and I’ve wanted to be a storyteller since before I could read. There is, of course, a story behind that: my mum was reading me a bedtime book and I asked, “If you write a story, do you have to pay someone to make it into a book?” Mum explained that, no, the publisher will pay you, and that was it – I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up.

The publishing landscape has changed significantly since I was four, but I’m still happiest when I’m creating stories. My most recent release, Rising Tides, like most of my stories, evolved over time. Aspects of the story were prompted when different things crossed my awareness. First was an article on the provisions left behind when Scott’s Hut in the Arctic was abandoned after his ill-fated expedition. 

A more recent explorer brought back a tin of rhubarb and made a perfectly edible pie out of it – after nearly a hundred years. Because doomsday scenarios ricochet around my head, I started to think of scenarios where we might be compelled to eat 100-year-old supplies. And so, the drowned world of City was born, floating above abandoned houses and supermarkets packed with imperishable goods.

While I was writing other projects, this idea circled around and was fleshed out. The character of Cosimo was next, although he started out with a different name and backstory – I simply had a desperate boy on the doctor’s doorstep needing to undertake the nautilus operation (the implant of mechanical “gills”) that would transform his future.

More environmental doomsday followed – I read an article about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a floating rubbish dump in the middle of the ocean (and when they say “great” they mean it – estimates range from as big as Texas to as big as the continental USA - being the sea, it does tend to move and change). With a bit (a lot!) of artistic licence, that became the Wastes, home of the reamers and boundary around the known world for my characters.

My heroine, Libby, joined the party then. She's the polar opposite of Cosimo - ferociously intelligent, but insecure, rule-bound and socially hopeless. I knew putting the two of them together would make sparks fly, and I loved putting them through all sorts of catastrophes.

Katy Haye

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About the author

Katy Haye spends as much time as possible in either her own or someone else’s imaginary worlds. She has a fearsome green tea habit, a partiality for dark chocolate brazils and a fascination with the science of storytelling. Katy writes fast-paced fantasy for YA readers. As well as Rising Tides she has written the Chronicles of Fane, the first of which, The Last Gatekeeper, is currently free on Kindle. Find out more at Katy’s website: and find her on Facebpok and Twitter @katyhaye.