23 August 2020

Guest Interview with Stuart Rudge, Author of Blood Feud (Legend of the Cid Book 2)

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Castile. 1067AD: The clouds of war gather over Hispania, and Antonio Perez continues on his path to knighthood, under the watchful eye of his lord, Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar. Blood Feud is the stunning second instalment of Legend of the Cid.

I'm pleased to welcome author Stuart Rudge to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

Blood Feud picks up around a year and a half after the events of Rise of a Champion, and begins with the culmination of the War of the Sanchos. Antonio Perez continues on his path to knighthood, under the watchful eye of his lord, Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar. A peculiar invitation sees Antonio and his lord Arias in the den of their nemesis, Azarola, where they discover the truth of his marriage to Beatriz, Arias’s sister, and the years of suffering he has inflicted upon her. Arias vows to deliver Beatriz from the clutches of Azarola and restore his family’s honour – even if it means betraying Rodrigo, defying his king and threatening the future of his country.

Meanwhile, King Sancho of Castile sends his champion Rodrigo to Zaragoza, to renegotiate the terms of the parias tribute paid by amir al-Muqtadir to Sancho. But whilst in the city, Rodrigo and Antonio discover a plot to overthrow the amir, and face a race against time to stamp out the unrest before the political harmony of Northern Spain is shattered.

The book explores more of the early years of El Cid when he served the Castilian king Sancho as his champion, or campeador. It covers the years 1067-1068 at a time of rising tensions between Leon and Castile, and culminates with the Battle of Llantadilla in eastern Leon.

What is your preferred writing routine?

I don’t have a proper writing routine per se, mainly because I work shifts and have quite a hectic home life with the family, so I tend to just write when I can! I have been known to get up at 4am to write a few hundred words before starting work at 6am, or scribble well in to the depths of the night when everyone is in bed, providing the muse is with me. 

If by some miracle I have a day off with no distractions, I like to sit down around 10am and write for a few solid hours. And when I am not writing I am researching or updating my social media/blog. I would love to have a structure in place where I can reach an allotted word count every week, but until I start selling a thousand books a month and give up the day job, I will have to make do with the organised chaos I have. And I never edit until the whole first draft has been written and I have set it aside for at least a month. Only then will I decide to cut sections out that do not work, and add new bits which I feel would enhance the story. Regardless of what time I write, a cup of tea and a biscuit is essential to give a jolt to the brain and get it working!

What advice do you have for new writers?

Believe in yourself, and write the book you want to, not for what you believe will fit the market. Whilst writing my first book I had so many days where I didn’t want to contemplate what people would think of my writing, for fear of it being panned. But I am ecstatic with the reaction I have received so far, and have really been buoyed to crack on with the rest of the Cid series. What started as an attempt to turn a hobby in to a craft has transformed in to a second job for me, and hopefully the start of a long career as a writer.

As writing can be a lonely venture, connecting with others online and in person is essential. About 5 years ago, I joined a writing group where we swapped ideas and commented on each other’s work as we developed a story from the initial idea to the first draft. I fortunate enough to sometimes still chat with a few of them. 

Following other writers on Twitter and Facebook is a must, and liking and commenting on their posts will get people noticing your name. Find the ones who reciprocate your actions, and engage with those people. They will be the ones to help spread your posts. And it is nice to have a bit of banter with likeminded people!

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

I felt I could have done a lot better with the marketing for Rise of a Champion. My plan was to connect with people on social media and raise the profile that way, and whilst it had modest success, I wish I had read the advice of some better established authors and put it in to practise. Perhaps finding a few more reviewers to send copies out before the book was released could have raised the profile and built up a bit of hype towards the release. 

I am still exploring the best way to use targeted ads to find new readers, so that is still a work in progress. But I ran a free giveaway for Rise of a Champion a few weeks back, and was shocked at the response it got; downloads were roughly four times what had been sold in the previous three months, so that gave it a good boost. I am hoping that even if a tenth of those who liked Rise go on to buy Blood Feud, it will get off to a solid start.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research.

There was a Celtic tradition which survived in to the medieval period, whereby you would throw the last few dregs of your drink on to the ground; this was apparently an offering to the gods of the earth, to give thanks for the nourishment they received. As a beer loving Teessider, I can assure you the action is not reciprocated up North (the idea of wasting beer horrifies me).

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

Trying to piece together the Islamic city of Zaragoza, and expressing it in written form, was a particular challenge. There are different layers of the settlement, mainly the wide openness of what was once the Roman city of Caesaraugusta, to the cramped and congested Islamic city of Saraqusta, and blending them together with the archaeological evidence we have took a long time. 

The hardest part was describing the palace of the amir of Zaragoza; as none of the structure from the eleventh century still exists today, I had to research Islamic art and architecture, mostly from the Alhambra in Granada and the Alcazar in Seville, and try and conjure up an image of what it would have looked like. It was certainly fun, very challenging at the same time, but I am happy with what I put down on paper.

What are you planning to write next?

The third book of the Legend of the Cid series, Fall of Kings, has been written and is provisionally planned for release early next year, and I am currently two thirds of the way through book four and hope to finish in the next couple of months. Then it will be on to book five of a planned eight. I also have one or two standalone novels I have planned in my head, but have not had chance to commit to paper and explore just yet. I am hoping to have the Cid series wrapped up in the next five years, but have already started planning what I can write about next. The Late Roman Republic has always tickled my fancy!

Stuart Rudge
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About the Author

Stuart Rudge was born and raised in Middlesbrough, where he still lives. His love of history came from his father and uncle, both avid readers of history. By day, he works down the local dock, playing with shipping containers and trains. Rise of a Champion was the first piece of work he has dared to share with the world. He hopes to establish himself as a household name in the mould of Bernard Cornwell, Giles Kristian, Ben Kane and Matthew Harffy, amongst a host of his favourite writers. Find out more on Stuart's Website: https://stuartrudge.wordpress.com/ and follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @stu_rudge

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