2 July 2020

Guest Interview with Sam Taw, Author of Pagan Rage (Tribes of Britain Book 4)

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Three Perilous Journeys.
Two Treacherous Captives
One Dead Leader

Wise woman, Meliora blames herself. She did all she could to treat her nephew's fractured skull. How could she have known that it would leave him open to an evil spirit?

His volatile mood swings and confusion leave her exhausted and upset. His raids into enemy territory risk their only chance to call a truce with their neighbours. Now her whole tribe's in danger.

Can they rid him of his affliction and finally achieve a lasting peace?

I'm pleased to welcome author Sam Taw to The Writing Desk

Tell us about your latest book

The thing about writing pre-Roman historical fiction is that you are wholly reliant on sources written long after the era has passed. This has its advantages and disadvantages. On the downside, the lack of historical documents leaves you floundering about looking for proof that certain people existed, especially in the British Isles where my Tribes of Britain series is set. It’s not such a problem across the seas in spectacularly exotic places such as Mesopotamia.

The upside is that I can create rich characters from my own imagination and give them situations and circumstances based on archaeological findings from the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age. Many people think that tribal cultures from that far back must have been akin to cavemen. That couldn’t be further from the truth. They were experts in weaving, dying and making good use of all that nature had to offer.

New digs and findings from this time occur almost daily and each of them challenge previous assumptions. That’s brilliant for my future stories, but can prove problematic when a new research paper contradicts the book I’ve just published!

My latest novel, Pagan Rage, is the fourth in the series. It follows the life of tribal elder and healing woman, Meliora. She’s the great aunt of the young and headstrong Chieftain for her tribe. Her noble blood gives her a unique relationship within the ruling family, allowing her to witness the conflicts first hand and influence the outcome of inter-tribal relations and power struggles.

Each of the books follow on from each other, usually spanning one season, starting around 700BCE, but they’re not for the faint of heart. As a healer, I can give Meliora all sorts of gruesome surgical or primitive cures to administer, drawn from the osteological or anthropological studies of that time. It’s immense fun to write.

What is your preferred writing routine?

I’m utterly useless in the morning. It’s probably something to do with a caffeine threshold or something similar. I tend to get administrative tasks and plotting done in the morning and begin writing in the afternoon. If I’m on course to hit my word count that week, I’ll get half my daily quota done prior to my evening meal and then write all evening until I hit my target. If I’m behind, then I will do word sprints until I can catch up. That’s the aim, but it often gets disrupted by other commitments.

Plotting out every story thread and outcome for the whole book, plus outlines for the rest of the series, allows me to break the chapters down into manageable sections. If I know what comes next, it’s easier to stay inside the character’s head and keep the story flowing.

I’m best when I set a deadline and stick to it, but recent world events have knocked me off kilter somewhat. It’s hard to get that focus back and return to a strict routine, but I’m determined to be more productive in the second half of this year.

What advice do you have for new writers?

Practice your craft and read the work of authors in the same sub-genre. Writing is both a calling and a profession and like any profession you need to put the hours in to improve your skills. The role of author is a multi-facetted one. You might be an expert in a particular subject, but not great at story telling or vice versa. Similarly, you might write eighty-thousand words of a novel and find you have no way to end the story.

Some people are lucky enough to have these skills naturally, but most of us need to learn and hone those aspects of the process over time. The more you write, the better you will be, especially if you are constantly willing to learn from others. The point is, as many have said before me, never give up. Write because you want to, learn along the way and publish when you are ready.

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

I’d love to say word of mouth and social media, but the truth is it takes paid advertising to get noticed. You could have the greatest book in the world, but unless you can get it in front of fans of that type of novel, it will only ever be seen by friends and family. It also requires a cover that makes it obvious what kind of book it is and a strong hook in the blurb. Building your own fan base helps, but that takes time, effort and commitment. If you are willing to put in the work, having your own list of supporters is invaluable. They are the people who make the late nights and countless hours at the keyboard all worthwhile.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

The discovery that anthropologists had found evidence of rudimentary brain surgery from the Stone Age using flint tools was my most surprising find. Best of all was that the bones had regrown, showing that the patient survived. That little gem gave me the confidence to add it to the storyline running through the series. If they could cut a perfect circle in the skull of a man in that era, I knew I was safe to include it in the transition period between the Bronze and Iron Ages.

There are so many other surprising discoveries I made while researching my Sci-fi thrillers, written under my real name, Sam Nash, but the skull find was my favourite.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

It has to be the scene when I sacrificed a beloved main character during a ritual at the Callanish Stone Circle. I’d grown so attached to this person that I cried the whole time before, during and after the death. Don’t tell my mum though, she still hasn’t forgiven me. The character was her favourite too. I remember putting off writing it for days in the hope that I could skew the story to avoid killing them off. In the end, it had to happen. No regrets.

What are you planning to write next?

I’m currently part way through the first draft of Pagan Siege, book five in the series. When that’s done, I need to write one of my Sci-fi thrillers for a new series. I’m also researching an idea set in ancient Babylon, but that idea is still in its infancy.

Sam Taw

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About the Author

Sam Taw is the pen name for fiction author Sam Nash. Sam is committed to delivering novels in two distinct genres, historical thrillers set in Late Bronze Age Britain and a unique blend of science fiction and international espionage stories. She lives in a small market town in the south of Leicestershire, close to where she grew up, but dreams of owning a woodland on the Cornish coast.  For information regarding the work of Sam Taw, please visit: https://www.carantocpublishing.com  For information regarding the work of Sam Nash, please visit: https://www.samnash.org. You can find Sam on Facebook and Twitter @samtawauthor

Sign up to Sam’s VIP readers’ group and receive Pagan Rites, a prequel novella to the Tribes of Britain series as a welcome gift: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/xtep8jo9wu 

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