21 July 2020

Blog Tour: The Last King: England: The First Viking Age (The Ninth Century Book 1) by M J Porter

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

They sent three hundred warriors to kill one man. It wasn’t enough. Mercia lies broken but not beaten, her alliance with Wessex in tatters.

I'm pleased to welcome author M J Porter to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book.

The Last King is set in AD874, in Mercia, and tells the story of Coelwulf and his war band as they battle against the Raiders (Vikings) following the abdication of King Burgred (King Alfred’s brother in law). It’s a relentless, blood and gore fest action story, as Coelwulf sets out to drive the Raiders from Mercia, even as they try to hunt him down to put an end to his attempts to keep Mercia independent. It’s sweary and brutal and not for the faint hearted, but Coelwulf and his warriors are a delight to travel with (honest).

What is your preferred writing routine?

I prefer to write in short, sharp spells, but during my ‘writing’ phase of a book, I aim to write 5000 words a day. This seems like a great deal, but I’ve discovered that to craft a book, I need to get the words down, fast, and then spend my time editing and further developing the story. I can’t edit a blank page, and it’s during the edit that all the details are added into the characters and the storyline. I’m what’s known as a ‘pantser’ not a planner. I ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ and then draw the strands together. I don’t go back and read what I’ve written until the end, and sometimes it can be a bit of a surprise.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Write, write, write and write some more (and maybe do some reading as well). For ‘newbies’ I would recommend taking part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November each year, because it will allow you to develop the habit of writing each and every day. It’s surprising what an eye-opener that one little thing can be. Even a thousand words a day, will soon make it feel as though you’ve made a good start on a new story.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

This is the part of the ‘job’ that I struggle most with. I have a fan base who read my books whenever I release them (thank you), and I really wish I knew how I came by them, but to find new readers, I have come to rely on BookBub campaigns and on Netgalley to gain reviews for new books. This is my first blog tour, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research.

I love the research element of writing. While writing The Last Warrior (Book 2 of the Ninth Century), I learned all about the crossing points on the River Trent in the UK, and that one of them, at Littleborough, dates back to the Roman period, when flagstones were laid across the river.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

I don’t remember a specific scene that I found really hard, but what I do find really hard, and it happens more than you might realise, is writing the death scene of a character that you’ve really become quite attached to, but have to ‘kill off’ because their death is recorded as occurring then. My beloved Leofwine, Ealdorman of the Hwicce, from the Earls of Mercia series, was not a character I wanted to give up on.

What are you planning to write next?

I plan to work on a story I want to write about Lady Estrid, the sister of King Cnut, who had a very eventful life, even from the few ‘facts’ I can find out about her.  I also have a book that I want to finish – a Tudor-esque fantasy.

M J Porter

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About the Author

M J Porter is an author of historical novels set in Seventh, Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh-Century England, and now also a little further afield, in Viking Age Denmark, and Tenth-Century East and West Frankia. Find out more at www.mjporterauthor.com/ and on Twitter @coloursofunison 


  1. Thank you for having me on your blog, Tony.

  2. What a fabulous interview. Thank you so much for hosting the blog tour for The Last King.


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