Mastodon The Writing Desk: Special Guest Interview with David Pilling, Author of The Champion (III): Blood and Faith

27 November 2021

Special Guest Interview with David Pilling, Author of The Champion (III): Blood and Faith

Available for pre-order

from Amazon UK and Amazon US

1297 AD: the kings of England and France have struck a truce, but elsewhere conflict still rages. In Scotland, the armies of Edward Longshanks have been driven out by a mysterious champion named William Wallace. Meanwhile, on the continent, the the Holy Roman Empire is torn apart by civil war.

I'm pleased to welcome author David Pilling to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book 

My latest is the third in The Champion series, a series of tales loosely based on a real-life 13th century Spanish knight called En Pascal de Valencia. We know the real Pascal was a mercenary who fought for Edward I in Scotland and probably elsewhere. He was called the 'Adalid', which translates as 'the champion', hence the title of the series. This was a traditional military rank awarded to especially skilled fighters in the kingdoms of Aragon and Navarre.

I have used the bare details of the historical Pascal's career as the basis for a series of fictional stories, in which the character is transported all over Christendom. In this, his latest adventure, he is dispatched on a secret diplomatic mission to Rome, where he encounters a certain famous Scottish hero. He also meets the Pope, and has several close shaves in Scotland and France. It's quite a packed story!

What is your preferred writing routine? 

I am at my best in the morning, when I am fresh and full of energy and ideas (and caffeine). In the afternoons I prefer to concentrate on my blog and social media.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? 

The main thing – unless one is exceptionally lucky – is to be prolific. Unless you are fortunate enough to write a hit bestseller, or get snapped up by one of the handful of major publishers, the only realistic path is to churn out material on a regular basis. It also has to be of high quality, of course. Work hard, do your research, and employ decent graphic designers and editors/proofreaders!

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

I started writing full-time in 2013 and throughout have discovered that the most efficient way is to keep producing quality, well-presented content. Everything else – social media, blogging, online promotion etc – is helpful, though I do sometimes wonder how necessary it is. There are so many authors competing for attention now, there is a danger of creating a 'white noise' effect, whereby we all cancel each other out. On the other hand, readers are now spoiled for choice and the market is not restricted to a handful of publishing houses. These trends can only be a good thing, since they allow more opportunity and freedom of expression.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research 

I am constantly surprised by the sheer volume of surviving source material for this era. The details of Pascal's own career are quite bare – which enables me to fill in the gaps – but in general there are stacks of surviving documentation, so one can pluck out all kinds of juicy details to add colour and conviction to the story.

What was the hardest scene you remember writing? 

For this book, it was the death of a particular supporting character. I was in two minds about the scene at first, but it definitely added an edge to the narrative. Obviously I won't reveal the details...

What are you planning to write next? 

I have several projects in the pipeline. These include a short 'novelette'  that fleshes out some of the background and context to the Champion series, and a nonfiction book on Edward I and the Anglo-French war of 1298-1303. I am also engaged to write the second and third parts of a series for Sharpe Books, based on the English condottiere in Italy in the time of Sir John Hawkwood. Busy, busy!

David Pilling 

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About the Author

David Pilling is a writer and researcher, addicted to history for as long as he can remember. The medieval era has always held a fascination for him, perhaps because he spent much of his childhood exploring the misted ruins of castles in Wales. David also has a keen interest in the Byzantine Empire, the post-Roman period in Britain and the British & Irish Civil Wars. Find out more at David's website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @RobeH2

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