Interviewing my Character – Wulfstan

We have reached the final straight of the AtoZ April Challenge. I am glad that I am not taking part in the full event , I am not sure how some bloggers manage it.

I have been particularly impressed with Helen Hollick’s interviews with other authors’ characters (so much I borrowed her format). Sometimes getting other people to write something is worse than doing it yourself. It has introduced me many interesting characters (and authors).

Today the challenge has reached the letter W and I am interviewing Wulfstan. He is a very important character, Byrhtnoth’s friend. I thought I had invented him, every hero needs a friend; a contrast, someone to talk to, to give advice, even to argue with. Byrhtnoth is tall, fair and a warrior. Wulfstan is small, dark and… what?

Preparing this I had one of those strange coincidences that I have encountered while writing the book. I knew that there were many people about in this period named Wulfstan  (It means wolf stone – a good solid name for a boy.) I knew that there was someone of the name, an Archbishop of York, who is buried near the remains of Byrhtnoth in Ely Cathedral. I looked him up.

This Wulfstan was consecrated Bishop of London in AD996. He became Bishop of Worcester and Archbishop of York – at the same time! He was famous for his writing and died in 1023. Nothing is known about his youth or his life before 996 – five years after Byrhtnoth’s death!  So did I invent him? Let’s see what MY Wulfstan has to say.

 

Q : Would you like to introduce yourself – who you are, what you do?

A : My name is Wulfstan, failed warrior, nearly monk. But more important, friend of Byrhtnoth

 

Q : Where and when are you? Are you a real historical person or did your author create you?

A : I live in the Monastery at Ely, where my friend was buried after the Battle of Maldon in AD991. My author thinks she created me – someone to tell the tale of Byrhtnoth. I have written two introductions for her, but I suspect she will discard them.

However she has allowed me access to the teachings of your time, a document written by scholars that she calls “wikipedia”. There is a Wulfstan listed there amongst the Bishops of London and Worcester and Archbishops of York. It is said that he was consecrated Bishop of London in AD996, so it seems I might have more work to do. That Wulfstan is buried at Ely. His bones lie close to those of Byrhtnoth, so perhaps…

 

Q : In a few brief sentences: what is the novel you feature in about?

A : If you have read the previous interviews, you will know our book is about Byrhtnoth. We meet, as children, on the very first page. He is bigger and braver than me and we become friends for life.

 

Q : How did your author meet up with you?

A : As I have said, she needed me. Every hero must have a friend, a sidekick, it is sometimes called.

 

Q : Tell me about one or two of the other characters who feature with you – husband, wife, family? Who are some of the nice characters and who is the nastiest one?

A : Like others I have no family. I had a sister once, when I was young, but she died. It was my fault she died. They say I could not be blamed but it haunts me still.

I have met many nasty people, but the first was a man called Egbert. He was there at the first; one of the group of boys. Later I beat him in a competition. I humiliated him, for which I am sorry, but it was fun at the time. He took revenge, I nearly died and things changed forever.

 

Q : What is your favourite scene in the book?

A : I suppose that must be the competition with Egbert. It was on horseback. I rode Sleipnir – and before you ask, he doesn’t have eight legs! Sleipnir is not a pretty horse, but very clever. We ran rings around that Egbert, and when his horse..     but I mustn’t say too much.

 

Q : What is your least favourite? Maybe a frightening or sad moment that your author wrote.

A : When I nearly died. I don’t remember much and I don’t want to.

 

Q : What are you most proud of about your author?

A : She has stuck with us. We have all encouraged her to keep at it. I keep remembering events for her to write about. If there are any mistakes you can blame my erratic memory.

 

Q : Has your author written other books about you? If not, about other characters?
How do you feel about your author going off with someone else!

A : I have started feeding her new ideas, so I hope there will be more books. After all, we have only got to AD 946 or is it 947? So long ago! Forty years or more until he dies.

 

Q : As a character if you could travel to a time and place different to your own fictional setting where and when would you go?

A : Such a difficult question. Byrhtnoth is happy in his own time, but I have always questioned thing, wanted to know more, about the past and the future, and foreign lands. Your time appears interesting – so much information, so much ease of travel. Perhaps my author will let me tag along with her occasionally, in exchange for my knowledge about my time, about my adventures with Byrhtnoth.

 

 

Remains interned in the 10th century Saxon church, reburied in the present Cathedraland moved several times. Byrhtnoth is on the far right and Wulfstan on the left.

Remains interned in the 10th century Saxon church at Ely, reburied in the present Cathedral and moved several times. Byrhtnoth is on the far right and Archbishop Wulfstan on the left.

Interviewing my Character – Saewynn

The official A2Z Challenge has reached the letter S,  so today I am interviewing another of my characters. This time it is a woman, well a girl really, she’s only about 12 or 13 and very shy.

Q : Would you like to introduce yourself – who you are, what you do?

A : Why would you want to know about me? I’m not important.
All right, my name is Saewynn. I am a slave, servant to the Lady Elfflaed. Her sister is married to the King, so she’s very important. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather talk to her?

 

Q : Where and when are you? Are you a real historical person or did your author create you?

A : I’m in the same book as Byrhtnoth. Isn’t he wonderful? I fell in love with him the first time I saw him. Not that he noticed me, with my mistress making eyes him. No one else notices me and no one would dream of recording my life, so I suppose my author made me up

 

Q : In a few brief sentences: what is the novel you feature in about?

A : It’s all about Byrhtnoth of course. I’m just there to get rescued, then they dress me as a boy to protect me. That was fun – I think I could get used to that. Men have so much more fun than girls.

 

Q : How did your author meet up with you?

A : I’m just a minor character, but I think she felt sorry for me.

 

Q : Tell me about one or two of the other characters who feature with you – husband, wife, family? Who are some of the nice characters and who is the nastiest one?

A : Apart from Byrhtnoth, you mean? Well there’s Wulfstan, he’s nice, he looks after me when Byrhtnoth is busy doing noble deeds. I like riding his horse, he’s very clever – the horse that is – well Wulfstan is as well.

I don’t like Elfgar. That’s my mistress’s father, well I suppose he’s my master. He can do anything he wants, and he likes young girls. That’s why they dressed me as a boy. I’ve managed to stay out of his way so far.

 

Q : What is your favourite scene in the book?

A : That was the day Byrhtnoth rescued me. I tried to hide when the Vikings attacked and got stuck under a thorn tree. He came along and got me out. It was just me and him. When I remember him carrying me to safety, I go all shivery.

 

Q : What is your least favourite? Maybe a frightening or sad moment that your author wrote.

A : He went away. I don’t know why, something political I think. I don’t know whether I will ever see him again.

 

Q : What are you most proud of about your author?

A : I’m glad she thinks about me. And the other women that live in my time. All those big violent men ignore us and what we have to do to survive.

 

Q : Has your author written  other books about you? If not, about other characters?
How do you feel about your author going off with someone else!

A : No more books yet but she says I might have a bigger part in the next one. Just as long as I can be with Byrhtnoth sometimes. Together we’ll protect him from that nasty man who tried to take over last week.

 

Q : As a character if you could travel to a time and place different to your own fictional setting where and when would you go?

A : My author says that most women don’t have much of a life in any other time or place, except where she lives. She says women there can dress like men if they want. And men can dress like women, although I don’t know why they’d want to. Byrhtnoth wouldn’t. I wouldn’t mind seeing him without his clothes though. Oh dear, I shouldn’t say that. Please don’t tell him. I think I’d better go now.

 

Thank you Saewynn.

Next week Wulfstan will be here to tell us what he really thinks about his best friend, Byrhtnoth.

 

Thinking About Covers

Since I completed my first draft and started editing (coming along nicely, thanks for asking) I have started to think about the future.

I now know that I will continue the story of Byrhtnoth in a second book. Perhaps a trilogy. More? Who knows. That brings with it a problem, A Title.

So far the book has been called “Byrhtnoth” or just “My book” (My Precious!). I need an overall “Chronicles of Byrhtnoth” or “Byrhtnoth’s Saga” type of thing. I’ll talk about that another time.

The other thing a book needs is A Cover. This is something I have been thinking about for a long time – I wouldn’t say before I started writing, but close to it. I have ideas for covers to books I haven’t even written.

I have been reading recent posts by Derek Birks about what he looks for in a cover on his blog here . And just looking at other authors books and deciding what I like. More important what I don’t like! My first conclusion is that you need a professional. However good you are, or think you are, an amateur cover always looks just that. People judge a book by its cover. So, by extension, if your cover looks amateur, the contents must be.

Many of the covers that I have liked have been produced by the same designer, Avalon Graphics.
Books by Helen Hollick , Richard Denning and Madalyn Morgan (the latter a previous student at the same group, I attend – see here)
They also do web graphics and advertising materials.

All this was swirling around in my head when I saw a mention by Helen Hollick that Avalon Graphics was having a special April Offer on web advertisements. This was too good to miss, so I got in touch.

I had an immediate reply from Cathy Helms (always a good sign) and we decided on three banners – for this blog, Twitter and a Facebook page I was thinking of starting. I sent her a couple of pictures of background I had come across online and liked.  I  requested a sword (Books of this period have to have a sword, don’t they?). I hadn’t found an image of a sword I liked, but I was specific in my request. It had to be the correct period (early to mid 10th century), It had to have a pattern welded blade and some gold on the hilt. The Battle of Maldon poem mentions Byrhtnoth’s “golden hilted sword”.

Cathy did her best. She also found it difficult to find the right sword, we had to abandon the pattern welding, but within a few days she sent me three potential designs. There was a bit of discussion: background from number one, font from number two and sword from number three. Then, back to original sword. That was it!

Within a week I had the perfect image to put at the top of this blog. I had to change the colour of the blog to match – do you like it? The same image is on my twitter account @YoungByrhtnoth (please follow if you don’t already), and my brand new facebook page www.facebook.com/ByrhtnothAuthor

Every time I look at them, my heart swells with pride.

Thank you Cathy, I’ll be back. All I need to do is make my book worthy of what I am sure will be a wonderful cover.

Interviewing a Character – Jack (a Pirate?)

For the letter J in my intermittent hijack of the AtoZ Challange,  I am not interviewing someone from my book, but a character who has been around a lot longer, although he is a few hundred years younger than Byrhtnoth.

 

Q : Would you like to introduce yourself – who you are, what you do?

A : Captain John Madder at your service, but you can call me Jack. I am first mate on the ship Worcester

 

Q : Where and when are you? Are you a real historical person or did your author create you?

A : Not sure where I am at present – I died yesterday. At least it was on the 11th April 1705 that they hanged me on the sands at Leith, between the high and low water mark. They said I was a pirate. I am/was a real person, reviled by history – at least in Scotland!

 

Q : In a few brief sentences: what is the novel you feature in about?

A : I feature in no novel but my author has written much about me; in journals and blogs and a few chapters of a sadly neglected book of non-fiction. We started a novel but were interrupted by that uncivilised boy with the unpronounceable name He’s nowhere around at the moment, is he?

 

Q : How did your author meet up with you?

A : We met in archives when she was researching family history. We share a name but, as far as I know we are not related

 

Q : Tell me about one or two of the other characters who feature with you – husband, wife, family? Who are some of the nice characters and who is the nastiest one?

A : I had a wife – and sons, but they died. I have a daughter, Isabella, but she will not long survive me. I hardly know her, I have been at sea so long. She, the sea, is who I love.

The worst man I know is Mr Roderick Mackenzie, secretary to the Scottish Company Not only did he bankrupt Scotland with that expedition to Darien (I’m told that place is now in Panama – I’ll say no more!) but he boarded our ship under false pretences and seized the crew. So who is the real pirate?

 

Q : What is your favourite scene in the book?

A : I remember a voyage to southern Spain. We sold a load of fish and bought a barrel of wine at Malaga. We drank the whole lot. At least I think I remember it.

 

Q : What is your least favourite? Maybe a frightening or sad moment that your author wrote.

A : That would have been my death. There were three of us; the Captain, the Gunner and me. They hanged me last, because they said I was a Scotsman. I was born there, but left as soon as I could – like most intelligent Scots!

 

Q : What are you most proud of about your author?

A : She’s doing quite well at this writing lark, but it was me that got her started. We were doing quite well with that non-fiction book she planned to write. Then she insisted on trying fiction and while my back was turned that young lad jumped in and flattered her with talk of swords and battles – I could tell her few tales of battles…

 

Q : Has your author written other books about you? If not, about other characters?
How do you feel about your author going off with someone else!

A : Just the blogs and things. I got a bit upset when she went off with that boy – she’s old enough to be his mother (I was going to say grandmother but then she’d abandon me all together!) I’m not that bothered. She’s only using him to “hone her craft” as she says, and then we’ll be together – she needs a proper man.

 

Q : As a character if you could travel to a time and place different to your own fictional setting where and when would you go?

A : Well, don’t tell anyone, but that’s what we’re planning. First she’s going to rescue me from the rope and then we’ll be off travelling – visiting relatives in time and space. Time travel meets genealogy; or Dr-Who-do you think you are? as she calls it.

 

Oh, and just for the record, I’m not a pirate – well not much!

Read more about Jack on my other blog https://maddergenealogist.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/remembering/

 

Interviewing my Character – Eadric

Today is the letter E in the April AtoZ Challenge. I’m not blogging every day, but there are several characters to choose from today – or do their names really start with something different? When writing about the Anglo-Saxons you soon come up against that awkward letter Ӕ. I don’t know where it comes in the A to Z challenge, but it rules out  Ӕlfred,  Ӕdger and even  Ӕlhere (even though I call him Elfhere in the book). I could interview Edith, but I don’t want to say too much about her.

So today meet a minor, but as he tells us, important character:

Q : Would you like to introduce yourself – who you are, what you do?

A : I am Eadric, a servant. Long ago, I served the hearth companions of Lord Byrhthelm, father to Byrhtnoth. I looked after their weapons, cooked their food when they were on campaign – everything. They are dead now and I am steward in the hall that now belongs to Byrhtnoth. I am getting old, but I have a task to complete before I can die.

 

Q : Where and when are you? Are you a real historical person or did your author create you?

A : My author created me. I am a minor, but important, character in Byrhtnoth’s story.

 

Q : In a few brief sentences: what is the novel you feature in about?

A : I don’t know what happens to Byrhtnoth when I’m not there. My job is to guard Byrhthelm’s sword until I decide his son is worthy to receive it. I showed it to the boy, long ago – he was angry he could not have it. Only I know where it is – he will not have it until I think he should.

 

Q : How did your author meet up with you?

A : I am always lurking in the background, ready to serve.

 

Q : Tell me about one or two of the other characters who feature with you – husband, wife, family? Who are some of the nice characters and who is the nastiest one?

A : I have no family. I serve the sword, she is beautiful. Nothing else matters.

 

Q : What is your favourite scene in the book?

A : That will be the moment that I take the sword away from the young Byrhtnoth – you should have seen the look of loss on his face! Then, for once, I had power.

 

Q : What is your least favourite? Maybe a frightening or sad moment that your author wrote.

A : After Lord Byrhthelm went, Lord Toli looked after us all in the village. He was ill for a long time. I kept him alive, but he died. I blame Byrhtnoth for that.

 

Q : What are you most proud of about your author?

A : I don’t know about proud. I like to shock her sometimes with what I say – I think she is afraid of what I will do.

 

Q : Has your author written other books about you? If not, about other characters?
How do you feel about your author going off with someone else!

A : No other books. I don’t care about other characters – I know my place.

 

Q : As a character if you could travel to a time and place different to your own fictional setting where and when would you go?

A : I want to go back to when I was young, serving my lord as he fought with King Æthelstan, creating the kingdom of England.

Do you think, if I’m nice to her, my author will write a prequel?

Interviewing my Character

There’s some sort of A-Z challenge happening this month. I’m not taking part, but started reading some interesting posts on Helen Hollick’s blog Let us Talk of Many Things

She is interviewing characters from other writer’s books: Aurelia from Alison Morton’s book of the same name and Dan Foster from  Bloodie Bones by Lucinda Boyce have appeared so far – see the full list here

What an interesting idea this is. You can learn a lot from questioning your characters – putting them in an unusual situation or asking them to explain themselves. I decided to have a go – and since the name of my main character begins with ‘B’ I had to make a start. I hope Helen doesn’t mind me using her set of questions – why reinvent the wheel?

I sat Byrtnoth down last night with a horn of mead to get him relaxed, but everything got out of hand, so I abandoned the interview until this morning. This explains some of the grumpy responses.

 

Q : Would you like to introduce yourself – who you are, what you do?

A : My name is Byrhtnoth. I am a warrior – at least that is what I was trained for. I did something very bad. I don’t know what I am now.

 

Q : Where and when are you? Are you a real historical person or did your author create you?

A : At the moment I am living in a small village in the English fens, near Ely. It is the year 946 or thereabouts. I am a real historical person – my author says they wrote a poem about my glorious death in battle that is still sung by the scops in your time.

 

Q : In a few brief sentences: what is the novel you feature in about?

A : It’s all about me. My mother died when I was young, I don’t really remember her. I was sent to the King’s court to train as a warrior – that would be King Athelstan, grandson of King Alfred who you call “The Great”. I grew up with the other boys. Some became my friends. Others I thought were friends, are not. I am sixteen now, a man. I have killed Viking raiders and rescued women – the usual things warriors do. And I am searching for a sword – it belonged to my father. I need to discover if he still lives

 

Q : How did your author meet up with you?

A : I was very crafty. She had no idea what she was doing, searching for a subject to write about. I dropped her a few subtle hints and before she knew it, she was hooked.

 

Q : Tell me about one or two of the other characters who feature with you – husband, wife, family? Who are some of the nice characters and who is the nastiest one?

A : As I mentioned above, I am an orphan. No wife, not even a girlfriend, although there is this girl I really fancy.
My best friend is Wulfstan, we meet right at the start of the book. I have to look after him, he is smaller than me and nasty things happen to him – he’s much brighter than me, but don’t tell him I said so!
Elfhere was another boy in our gang. Very friendly to start with, but he changes. He’s a bit posh – he has relatives, unlike the rest of us. He is good at fighting, but not as good as me. I’m the best. You’ll have to wait until the end of the book to find out what happens to him.

 

Q : What is your favourite scene in the book?

A : That has to be the scene when I discover a relative. It’s good to have friends, but suddenly to find family, after thinking you are alone in the world…

 

Q : What is your least favourite? Maybe a frightening or sad moment that your author wrote.

A : I was alone and injured; lost in a dark forest. Death seemed certain. I don’t remember much about it, but I’m sure there were monsters in the darkness.
My author decided my life was too easy – she really laid on the misery!

 

Q : What are you most proud of about your author?

A : She’s not bad for a woman. She does what I tell her to, even if she does think the ideas are hers. Sometimes she suspects I’m in charge, but I tell her how brilliant she is and she soon calms down.

 

Q : Has your author written  other books about you? If not, about other characters?
How do you feel about your author going off with someone else!

A : This is my author’s first book. She has started planning a second one about me, perhaps it will be a trilogy. I’m still young and apparently I have a long life before that glorious death. How many books has that Bernard Cornwall chap written about Uhtred? His character got onto television (whatever that is) as well. Uhtred is getting old – it’s time for a younger, better looking Anglo-Saxon warrior.
I sometimes catch my author thinking about someone else. A pirate called Jack (not that one!). He’s probably a Viking and we know what to do with those, don’t we?

 

Q : As a character if you could travel to a time and place different to your own fictional setting   where and when would you go?

A : It would be interesting to go back and find out more about those Romans who left so many ruins scattered around the land. They must have been giants.
I think though that I’d better jump ahead eight hundred years and get rid of that pirate chap – don’t want him distracting my author.

If we’ve finished now, can you pass the mead?

 

Look out for interviews with some of my other characters another time. Perhaps even Jack!

(Not if I have anything to do with it! – Byrhtnoth)