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Seven Steps to Becoming a Writer

                                                                                                                   Seven Steps to Becoming a Writer

 

  1. Read everything regardless of whether it’s any good, even adverts on the tube and newspaper headlines when passing by.
  2. Read a whole lot more, try out all sorts; absorb everything, gradually it will become yours, your style I mean.
  3. 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).
  4. Throw out your fear and
  5. Write, write and write again. Don’t be frightened of rejection and ridicule, they’re no more than staging posts along the way.
  6. 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.
  7. Enjoy your journey.

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Twitter: chrisoswaldbks

 

 

Five Reasons I set my Historical Fiction in Dorset

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  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.
  5. 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.

www.chrisoswaldbooks.com

All to the Sword – Coming Soon

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.

 

All to the Sword

All to the Sword, Book 5 of the Dorset Chronicles – the history and drama surrounding the emergence of our modern nation. Launch Date 25th May 2021. Preorder coming soon!

Thomas Davenport receives an invitation to design a magnificent new house. When his sister, the Countess of Sherborne, hears where it is to be, deep in the Highlands of Scotland, she extends it to include much of the wider Davenport family.
They depart in the summer of 1691, not realising that they will get engrossed in the Glen Coe massacre, one of the most horrific acts of a government against the people in British history. They find themselves fleeing for their lives and their liberty.
Meanwhile, back in Dorset, Parchman has free rein to loose his evil on the hated Davenports and their family, friends and possessions. Will the travellers return to ruin and desolation or be in the nick of time?

The Mix of Fact and Fiction

I was tempted to write this as a recipe, take a tablespoon of history and add a dash of fiction, heat while stirring, that sort of stuff.

But then I thought that might trivialise what is a wonderful thing and I’ve come to enjoy creating so much. I started writing other genres and still do – alternative history, thrillers, even a crime novel, albeit somewhat different in that the crime happened, conviction and all, some thirty years earlier (Life, the first in a new series, should be out later this year). Then I visited my cousin, the best-selling author, James Oswald (https://jamesoswald.co.uk) and he suggested writing a series and writing about a locality I knew well.

Brilliant advice! Thank you, James.

My choice was Dorset and the series became the Dorset Chronicles. Being historical fiction, I could also choose a period and I went for the tail end of the 17thCentury.

Why the end when so much happened in the middle? The killing of a king is about as momentous as it gets, isn’t it? Ask the French, although in truth we got there first.

The answer is, I believe the late 17thCentury is a totally underappreciated period. It’s when we set up a constitutional monarchy, it’s the last time we fought a battle in England (we have to wait for Culloden to say the same of the whole of Britain). It’s when we created the Bank of England, when the Royal Society really started flourishing, Isaac Newton was in his element and this period marginally predates the union that created, for better or worse, Great Britain.

It’s when we started looking outward rather than inward. It’s when our modern nation came about.

But I digress. The reason for this post was to rant about the beauty of historical fiction, whether written by me or some other bod. It’s the wonderful combination of fact and fiction that boosts a story, adding spice and adventure to the actual events. And because the actual events are often thrilling in themselves, you get a crescendo of action and suspense, while also staying (somewhat) true to history.

For more of my own brand of historical fiction, please go to https://chrisoswaldbooks.com/books/

All to the Sword

Coming Soon:

 

All to the Sword

Book 5 in the Dorset Chronicles

 

Release Date: Tuesday 25thMay

 

A letter comes for Henry, Earl of Sherborne. It contains an invitation. Grace, the countess, takes it upon herself to extend that invitation to her wider family. The party take ship from Southampton in the summer of 1691, bound for the beautiful coastal strip of North East Scotland.

 

Little did they know that it would be eight months before they returned to their homes in Dorset.

 

And in that time that they would witness one of the most shameful massacres seen in Britain. Shameful, not only for the murder of their hosts, or the way women and children had to flee out into the snowbound mountains that frown upon the glens below. But doubly so, for the government stood squarely but secretly behind the murders.

 

“You are hereby ordered to fall upon the rebels, the MacDonalds of Glencoe, and put all to the sword under seventy. You are to have special care that the old fox and his sons do upon no account escape your hands. You are to secure all the avenues that no man escape.”

 

Some MacDonalds did escape and lived to tell a tale of wickedness and hate. But equally, some of the Davenport Clan from Dorset found themselves in the deepest of danger, fleeing for their lives, condemned by the authorities as murderers themselves.

 

Will they escape or will they be massacred like the MacDonalds?

 

And who will bring to light the government’s heinous crimes, thus forcing a reckoning?

 

Book cover to follow soon

 

 

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