Mastodon The Writing Desk: Special Guest Interview with MJ Porter, Author of Pagan Warrior

11 April 2023

Special Guest Interview with MJ Porter, Author of Pagan Warrior

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Britain. AD632. Penda, a warrior of immense renown, has much to prove if he is to rule the Mercian kingdom of his dead father and prevent the neighbouring king of Northumbria from claiming it.

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

Tell us about your latest book.

Pagan Warrior is far from my latest book, but it has a fabulous new cover and an audiobook to go with it. But, the reason I wrote it was to tell the story of an alliance and a battle that occurred in the early 630s. It’s a great period to write about in Saxon England and certainly has some larger-than-life characters. There are really three main characters, Cadwallon, his foster brother Edwin, and the rising star, Penda, who we know today as a mighty pagan king. 

What could be more thrilling than two foster brothers trying to beat each other, and with a new, young scamp, and indeed, Penda’s brother as well trying to exploit the unease between the two men? It also allowed me to pitch Christian king against pagan king, and to question the way the relationships are portrayed in the only surviving, near contemporary (a hundred years later) source for the period, that of Bede and his Ecclesiastical History of the English People – Ecclesiastical history? I think you can imagine what he thought of Penda the pagan.

What is your preferred writing routine?

I have a number of routines depending on whether I’m writing that all-important first draft or hammering it into shape with some editing. But I have a strict routine. Get up at 7.30 am, hit my desk, write in the morning (or edit), and then in the afternoon, work on another project – which might be editing something else if I’ve written in the morning.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Don’t give up. Believe in yourself. Be prepared to admit you’ve made mistakes. And write, write, write. 

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

I wish I knew the answer to this😊 I enjoy using BookBub and blog tours, but I don’t know if it’s the best way to raise awareness. They’re just the process I find easiest to understand. Oh, and making use of my email marketing list.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

It’s not really unexpected, but I was fascinated by the discovery of the Staffordshire Horde, which is believed to date from about this period in time. Was it left by Penda of Mercia, was it left by Edwin of Northumbria, or a bit later on in the century, by Oswald of Northumbria? 

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

I think this was one of the first books I wrote with a pretty intense and extended battle scene. It was difficult to make sure I had everyone involved at the same time, and it was also difficult to determine what the landscape might have looked like, as it’s not believed to be there anymore, the marshy ground having been drained in the 1600s. 

What are you planning to write next?

I’m always busy writing. At the moment, I’m working on Book 5 in the Eagle of Mercia Chronicles and finishing the editing on the new Earls of Mercia series. You can see I’m a bit obsessed with the Saxon kingdom of Mercia. I’ve realised I’m just about retelling much of its history in my interrelated series of novels, which I’ve started to call the Tales of Mercia.

MJ Porter

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About the Author

MJ Porter is the author of many historical novels set predominantly in Seventh to Eleventh-Century England, and in Viking Age Denmark. Raised in the shadow of a building that was be-lieved to house the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia, meant that the author's writing destiny was set. MJ Porter has also written two twentieth-century mysteries. Find out more at and Twitter @coloursofunison

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for hosting MJ Porter today, Tony. A very interesting interview. x


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