by Chris Oswald | Mar 22, 2022
Talk Talk Talk
It’s what writers do when they’re not writing.
And I’m doing just that at Blandford Forum Library at 2pm on Saturday 26th March – describing the thought process and planning behind the Dorset Chronicles. Book 5 of the Dorset Chronicles, All to the Sword, has just come out – come and listen to the chilling recounting of the Glen Coe Massacre, while back in Dorset, things are going awry.
The Dorset Chronicles depicts real and fictitious people during the late 17th Century – building my contention that this is the period in which our modern nation emerged.
I’d love to see as many people as possible!
by Chris Oswald | Jan 26, 2022
Most are indifferent.
Some cause damage inadvertently.
A very few are actually spot on, doing the business, delivering for the people.
While a handful of governments are evil.
That was the case in 1692 when the governments of England and Scotland colluded in a massacre of Scottish citizens.
MacDonalds to be precise.
Yes, they were awkward so-and-sos, the MacDonalds of Glen Coe. But does that give the government the right to wade in with swords slashing? Especially when the culprits were staying in the MacDonald homes in Glen Coe.
Talk about abusing hospitality!
The more I researched Glen Coe, the more I realised how downright bad and evil the governments of 1692 were. To order the soldiers to turn on their own people, their own hosts, and slaughter them, putting “All to the Sword under Seventy”. Of course it had a lot to do with the Jacobite movement and making William III’s backyard secure so that he could concentrate on his European goals. There’s a wider context but that can’t obscure or justify the evil committed.
That evil lingers, at least that’s how I see it. Glen Coe has an atmosphere even now, 330 years later.
“It was as if the dead crowded out the living…” These are the opening words of All to the Sword, Book 5 in the Dorset Chronicles, the history and drama surrounding the emergence of our modern nation.
All to the Sword will be released in mid-February 2022, a little delayed but better late than never!
More about All to the Sword here: https://chrisoswaldbooks.com/all-to-the-sword/
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by Chris Oswald | Sep 4, 2021
Seven Steps to Becoming a Writer
- Read everything regardless of whether it’s any good, even adverts on the tube and newspaper headlines when passing by.
- Read a whole lot more, try out all sorts; absorb everything, gradually it will become yours, your style I mean.
- Take a few great books and consider what it is that makes them so (for example, Pride and Prejudice for its humour, Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy, again for the humour written into an all-encompassing, so clever story. Then there’s George Orwell, Thomas Hardy, H.E Bates, Agatha Christie, Ken Follett, whatever you fancy).
- Throw out your fear and
- Write, write and write again. Don’t be frightened of rejection and ridicule, they’re no more than staging posts along the way.
- And remember, it’s a journey without end. Sure, there’s going to be remarkable achievements but a storyteller is all ears and eyes for listening, looking and learning. And that learning is lifelong.
- Enjoy your journey.
by Chris Oswald | Aug 31, 2021
- History runs through the county – from the Jurassic coast through the bronze age and on to much more modern times. Everywhere you turn you see the past infusing the present whether burial mounds, ancient earthworks or tiny churches, each with their own story to tell, making it the perfect place to set my own stories. For example, Thomas Davenport has no idea as to his future, wanting just the freedom to roam the fields and woods of his native North Dorset. By chance he gets involved with the building of the bridge at Sturminster Newton in A New Lease on Freedom (Book 1). He never looks back. It’s a practical occupation that allows for travel. Hence in All to the Sword (Book 5) he’s invited up to the north east of Scotland to design a magnificent new country house. On their travels, they get hopelessly tied up in the infamous Glen Coe Massacre.
- The Duke of Monmouth landed at Lyme Regis on 11th June 1685 on his daring but doomed-to-fail mission to steal the crown from his uncle, James II. It could never succeed because of Monmouth’s personality, the makings of disaster literally built into his character. Yet he evokes a certain type of nobility in a strange way; more so because he loses his head soon after. The picture I hold onto is of Monmouth hiding in a ditch after fleeing from the Battle of Sedgemoor, detailed in A New Lease on Freedom. I imagine him being dragged out by farmworkers and prodded to nearby soldiers with pitchforks. That’s part of the reason I find history so enthralling; people carry within them their destiny and often drag thousands down with them. Luke Davenport, famous preacher, is one of them. Although fictitious, he too carries the seeds of destiny within his fragile character and you just know he won’t survive.
- Dorset manages to run both with the modern world and in defiance of it. It’s full of contrasts. From the hustle and congestion of the urban south to the tractor domination of the north, much the same in the 17th It’s one of only a few counties in Britain without any motorways. It’s a pass-through place (on the way to Devon and Cornwall) and a holiday destination in its own right. It’s a county relatively undominated by huge country estates giving leeway to the imagination in creating fictitious landed families who fight and support, hate and love. Yet it’s also sufficiently out of the way for people to get lost in its panoramic landscapes and heavy woods. Thus, Penelope, Duchess of Wiltshire, is able to find the solitude to carry on her lifestyle with her maid-come-lover without fear of exposure. They first discover their love in It Takes a Rogue (Book 2) but then she knows nothing of the equal measures of defiance and sacrifice that will be required of her in One Shot in the Storm (Book 4).
- I came to Dorset as a compromise and now wouldn’t move for all the tea in China. We were looking for an English base while living in America. We couldn’t afford Hampshire and disliked the traffic which has multiplied many times over since my childhood. We chose Dorset thinking it was next door therefore the next best thing. And then we fell in love with the place! Of course, writing about the county produces an extra bond. Every time I drive through Winterbourne Stickland on towards Winterbourne Whitchurch I’m visiting the Great Little estate of the Dorset Chronicles. The name derives from the post-Norman occupiers, the Little family, who, worn down by debt and despair, finally sell to Sir Beatrice and Lady Roakes in 1688, just as the William of Orange was making his bid for the throne that Monmouth had so singularly failed at (It Takes a Rogue). Every time I go to Blandford, I look in on the shop where Simon Taylor based his illicit and highly damaging operations against the Roakes, the Davenports and the Merrimans.
- Finally, I live in North Dorset. I feel I owe something to the county where I’ve found so much happiness. I love writing about Bagber Manor and Dorchester three hundred years ago. My Historical Fiction writing is firmly based in Dorset but from there my characters go out to Ireland (A Simple Mistake – Book 3) for the Siege of Londonderry and again to Ireland in One Shot in the Storm for the Battle of the Boyne, which also sees action in the North American colonies. And now in All to the Sword they journey to Scotland. From Dorset every major event in our development is within easy reach. But the characters keep coming back to Dorset, just like me. Ultimately, that’s why I chose to set my Historical Fiction in Dorset.
by Chris Oswald | Aug 30, 2021
All to the Sword, book 5 in the Dorset Chronicles, is coming very soon. It’s been delayed by several other projects but is finally in last pre-publication stages and due out in late September. Reserve your copy now and, in the meantime, check into the rest of the Dorset Chronicles series, presenting the drama and excitement behind the forging of our modern nation.
Here are the opening words:
It was as if the dead crowded out the living, creating a world without balance; just a small world, for in the next glen there was no such feeling, no sense that life-gone was in the ascendancy, that what had happened could never be dispelled by either present or future, leaving nature and time as spent forces.
It was as if the dead would hang there forever, never moving on, never finding that better place.
Forty-eight hours earlier, when Bridget Davenport had first arrived, it had been different. Not alone at all buttravelling with a party of friends and relations, riding carelessly into Maryburg and staring at the mass of Ben Nevis rising above the little town, recently named for King William’s wife, Mary Stuart. They had left the Oldmoor estate of Percy Blades-Robson, just outside Alness, eighteen days earlier, making a leisurely transit along the Great Glen and arriving at the bottom of Loch Lochy on 11th February 1692. One hundred miles in eighteen days, plenty of time to stop and converse with people along the way. Bridget had led those conversations, explaining her purpose and opening a new page of her notebook each time.