Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

Mom’s Favorite Reads Book Catalog Spring 2019

Today, I’m delighted to highlight the Mom’s Favorite Reads Book Catalog Spring 2019. Featuring 105 pages, 30 categories and 637 books. Plus, big name authors and #1 bestsellers. Truly, there is something in Mom’s catalog for everyone. Read FREE and discover a new favorite author today 🙂

 

Hannah Interviews Paulette Mahurin

Welcome to Hannah Interviews the third in an occasional series where I interview authors I admire. The questions in each interview are based on the Proust Questionnaire and I hope they will offer an insight into each author and their books. For this interview I am delighted to welcome Paulette Mahurin. Paulette is an Amazon #1 author who donates her royalties to rescue dogs. Over to Paulette and I hope you enjoy the interview.

71leBqgTQ6L._UX250_

What are your favourite qualities in a man?
Honesty, sense of humor, good health habits, good communicator and listener.
What are your favourite qualities in a woman?
Same as in a man.
What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
Balance in give and take. Ability to communicate constructively, effectively, and honestly.

510K-+mwO6L._AC_US218_

What is your main fault?
I take things too personally. Oversensitive.
What is your favourite pastime?
Being with family and my dogs, quality time with friends, reading, writing, doing my professional job as a Nurse Practitioner, and volunteer work.
What is your idea of happiness?
Being okay with whatever is happening. Accepting the hand I’m dealt. I may not be able to change it but can I change my attitude about it and find something to be grateful about.

51i68Gzmu9L._AC_US218_

If not yourself, who would you be?
I’m okay with who I am and don’t dwell on being someone else. Like Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”
What is your favourite colour and flower?
Green and I love most flowers, especially natural and wild in nature.
Who are your favourite painters and musicians?
Too many to pick favorites. So many different categories, time periods in history, and ways of expressing. I appreciate talent in any field. And there has never been a lack of talent.

51FTdGSie7L._AC_US218_

Who are your favourite prose authors and poets?
Again, too many to enumerate on one, two, or a few. There is a lot of great talent out there from the well-known to the independents struggling to be read.
Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
The ones that are real, and balanced, and don’t necessarily overcome all the great odds but certainly give it their best. One I can relate to, one that I can read and feel he is organic and authentic.
Who are your favourite heroines in fiction?
Again same as in heroes. And I might add for both not a stereotypical cast character, one that has flaws and emulates the human condition realistically.

51KctENOdfL._AC_US218_

Thank you, Paulette. You can learn more about Paulette’s award-winning books and charity work by visiting her Amazon page.

 

 

Rebecca Bryn

I am delighted to feature Rebecca Bryn, a very successful and creative novelist, on my website. Here are some details about Rebecca and her books.

AUTHOR BIO

Rebecca Bryn lives on a smallholding in West Wales with her husband, rescue dog and a flock of sheep. She loves walking, gardening and painting. She write thrillers with a sprinkle of romance, mystery, heartbreak, and a twist. She also paints the stunning coastal scenery in watercolour and has work in private collections worldwide.

LINKS

Website: http://www.rebeccabrynandsarahstuart-novels.co.uk
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.bryn.novels
Twitter: http://twitter.com/rebeccabryn1
Pininterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/jandrcoulson/
http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/rebecca-bryn

REBECCA’S BOOKS

download (16)

Psychological thriller set in West Wales.
A reader wrote : ‘Gripping family saga set against the backdrop of a rural and very insular community. When Alana Harper inherits a cottage from an aunt she never knew, family secrets slowly begin to unravel, but only lies and half-truths emerge. Crimes from the past, including child abduction lead to present day acts of revenge. This is a book you will not want to put down until you know the truth of what went on all those years ago. Alana must face a past of which she was totally unaware and people she should be able to trust who want her to stay ignorant. Excellent storytelling.’
http://mybook.at/SilenceoftheStones

download (14)

WW2 thriller set partly in a Nazi death camp in Poland
A reader wrote: ‘Books about the Holocaust are never easy reading and it’s an emotive subject. From this comes a beautiful tale of survival and love. I shan’t give away too much but the pace of the story is constant, the characters are full and human with frailties like anyone else. The horrors of Auschwitz are terrible but love & humanity prevail. The conclusion is a surprise and expertly written. I thoroughly recommend this book.’
http://mybook.at/TouchingtheWire

download (15)

Dystopian thriller set in the High Atlas Mountains of Morroco
A reader wrote: ‘This is an inspiring, thought-provoking book unlike any I’ve read. Set far in the future, this is the story of clashing societies and their interpretations of the second coming. Some groups cover war, while others are peaceful by nature. It’s very dystopian, but incorporates interesting political, social, and spiritual elements into the story. At the heart of it all is a story of love. A couple fighting against all odds who end up kidnapped. Heartbreak and loss seem eminent, but beneath it all is hope.

There are many characters in this book, but they were so well developed and I found it easy to follow along, while at the same time getting lost in the story.

Rebecca Bryn’s writing style is lovely, and there were so many deep, emotionally charged issues underlying the story itself. Although the tale is futuristic, it has this old worldly feel to it, and I loved the author’s ability to paint the scene and evoke powerful emotions from me as a reader. 5 stars.
http://getbook.at/WhereHopeDares

http://smarturl.it/YoureNotAloneAnth A charity anthology in aid of MacMillan cancer nurses.

Booktrailers:
https://youtu.be/HwKe9viyokU (Touching the Wire)
https://youtu.be/a_ENzGBApk0 (The Silence of the Stones)
https://youtu.be/0HpcNRzH3t0 (Where Hope Dares)

A1KpsIaWDxL._SY600_

Rebecca and Kes at home in Pembrokeshire

Q: How did you come to be a writer.

About twelve years ago, a friend had a serious accident. She’d always enjoyed writing stories as a child and I suggested she write while she was recuperating. She began sending me hand-written chapters by snail mail. I’d comment on them and return them. Her therapy turned into a desire to be published and, as I thought she had talent, I offered to proof-read for her. Paper and barely-decipherable squiggles of biro became e-mail attachments and, one day, quite out of the blue, I sat at my computer and typed Chapter One. Jem frowned and scanned the horizon. Nothing.

I was hooked and my first novel, Destiny, was conceived. Convinced it was the best thing since sliced bread, I sent it off to an agent, stating that I wanted to grab mankind by the throat and shake him. (I was passionate about my subject, as you will gather.) The agents duly returned it saying it wasn’t for them.

A reality check, one of many: the message was always the same. You write well and we really enjoyed your story but don’t feel it is something we can market. After ten years of this I found myself with several stories they’d really enjoyed, none of which they felt were marketable.

It’s frustrating to know you have a story people would enjoy reading, but marketing – profit – gets in the way. I wasn’t writing for money. I was writing to be read and enjoyed… to get across a message, to share my hopes and dreams, my passions – Not marketable.

Q: Is this what got you into Indie publishing?

Partly. About eighteen months ago, after a close brush with success with an agent, which frankly terrified me, I decided to take control of my own destiny and join the growing ranks of self-published authors.

It’s been a near vertical learning-curve, an immense amount of work (agents and publishers earn their cut) and a very rewarding experience. I’ve met talented and generous people, both authors and readers, and had fabulous reviews: a vindication of my determination. I’m one very tired, emotionally battered but very happy bunny.

Q: Have you had any rejections that have inspired or motivated you?

Oh yes. Every rejection was a motivation to improve. And those readers who’ve taken the trouble to give me feedback have inspired changes, new exciting paths, and improved characters. I take criticism very seriously. It almost always leads to huge improvements in my writing and my story. If nothing else, it makes me question everything I write and think more deeply.

Q: If you were trying to describe your writing to someone who hasn’t read anything by you before, what would you say?

That’s a hard one. I write about difficult subjects: things that matter to me and to others – injustice, loss, guilt, forgiveness – what makes people who they are. I like to dig inside a character, let them grow and flourish, and I like to think I make my reader aware of all the shades of grey that lie between black and white, lest they judge my characters too quickly. None of them are perfect, any more than I am.

Before you judge a man, walk two moons in his moccasins, a Native American Plains proverb, is a maxim I live by.

The Silence of the Stones is woven around injustice in the legal system and the devastating effects that injustice has on the convicted and their families. It also delves into injured minds and what drives people to do things they wouldn’t normally dream of doing.

Touching the Wire is partly historical, set largely in Auschwitz… need I say more, except that the research had me in tears and it was a story I was driven to tell. It was published to coincide with the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Where Hope Dares, my latest novel, is a rewrite of the novel, Destiny, the story that sparked my writing career eleven years ago. It kept me awake at night thinking about what man is doing to our beautiful planet in the name of profit and progress. Again, it’s a story I was driven to write. Jem is now Kiya: she no longer frowns, nor does she scan the horizon, and Abe has taken on a whole new and more dangerous persona. The story has evolved with me, and several of the events I foretold in the first draft have since come to pass. Most notably the present flooding in the North of England.

Q: The protagonist in Where Hope Dares is Abe. What ten words best describe him

Committed, driven, compassionate, gentle, lonely, religious, great-hearted, guilt-ridden, open-minded, courageous.

Q: Tell us a little about the major areas you had to research for this novel.

Where Hope Dares is set loosely in the High Atlas Mountains, because it was a region that satisfied the geography and probable climate I required to place both my protagonists and the scenario. Though not set in our time, I still had to research much about the mountain terrain, flora and fauna, the areas of Morocco that border the Oum Erribia and south of the High Atlas to the Grand Sahara. Kiya’s people originate in the Horn of Africa so I researched the customs, democracy, religion and history of the Oromo people, which is fascinating and should be a model for all countries’ governments. I collected images that inspired me and posted them on my Pininterest page. I also researched texts from the bible concerning original sin and the second coming. Berber dress and religion was another area plus Catholicism, poisonous plants, sailing a small ship in a storm, the coastal waters of West Africa, surviving a sandstorm and a blizzard. How to build a snow cave, surviving a desert without water, and climate change and sea-level rise, which is a minefield. Fortunately, I was able to call on someone who has done a lot of research on the past, present and possible future climate of our planet. One joy was the proverbs of the Oromo and Native American peoples. Why don’t these wise people rule the world?

Q: Regardless of genre, what are the elements that you think make a great novel? Did you consciously ensure all of these are in place?

A plausible, gripping tale, interesting settings, well-developed characters with whom the reader can empathise, an underlying message of some kind that might inspire or give the reader pause to think, good grammar and writing that flows. The reader should find themselves transported to the place, living the story. Re part two of your question: I try to ensure these things are in place, but my readers will judge if I’ve succeeded.

Q: In which ways was writing transformative for you?

Writing is cathartic. It allows you to put feelings into words, which most people find difficult in real life. There were many parts of my research that gave me cause for concern about our beautiful planet. I think writing about it has helped me come to terms with my own mortality and insignificance. As Raphel in Where Hope Dares observes, while waiting to be sacrificed, mankind is mere grains of sand. Writing has also given me confidence, as did my painting success.

Q: What is it about your novels that you feel make them particularly suitable for book clubs?

They raise questions about religion, society, justice, democracy and fear and hope for our future, but all packaged in stories of courage, faith, sacrifice, hope and, above all, unbreakable love. They also explore the way events shape people, and people shape events and each other.

Q: Do you find yourself returning to any recurring themes within your writing and, if so, are you any closer to finding an answer?

Yes and no, in that order. Recurring themes are the stupidity of war, the insubstantiality of religion, man’s greed and brutality to man (and woman), loss, courage, faith, hope and love, and what makes us who we are – nurture over nature. In a way, that answers the question. We are who we are and we keep repeating the same mistakes. Learn from history or others’ mistakes? If only.

Q: ‘I’ve always said there are two kinds of writers. There are architects and gardeners. Architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail, they design the entire house, where the pipes are running and how many rooms there are going to be, how high the roof will be. But the gardeners just dig a hole and plant the seed and see what comes up.’ (George R R Martin) Which are you?

If I were an architect, I’d have organic flowing shapes. If I were a gardener, I’d have some structure. On balance, I’m more a gardener. I love a garden when it’s slightly out of control, growing wildly and over-stepping its bounds, and I think that’s much how my characters behave. I have a general idea of a plot, my characters decide where that takes them and me.

Q: Do you write under a pseudonym? Do you think they make a difference to an author’s profile?

I do write under a pseudonym. I think when I began I had no confidence that readers would like my novels. I wanted to save myself and my family any embarrassment. As it happens, my readers’ comments have been amazing and inspirational, in fact one actually had me in tears, so, in hindsight, maybe I should have had the courage of my convictions. Does it make a difference to an author’s profile? I really don’t know.

Q: Do any of your books have dedications? If so, to whom and why?

Yes, of course. The notable one is my old botany and zoology teacher, Dr Schaeler, a gentle Polish Jew who lost his family in the holocaust: it was the pain in his eyes, etched into my teenage soul,which partly inspired Touching the Wire. Also, I have cause to be grateful to so many people during the vast learning process of becoming a published author, and far beyond. The Word Cloud, an on-line writers’ group, nurtured my early writing aspirations and I would highly recommend them to any writer in need of creative support. My friend Sarah Stuart, author of Dangerous Liaisons and Illicit Passion, has been a tireless support and inspiration. My elderly in-laws have been a role model throughout my life, my ex-husband wrote an afterword for Where Hope Dares, and has been very encouraging, my children because they say everything I do is rubbish and I love them to bits, my dog for taking me on thinking walks, and not least my husband for putting up with not getting his tea, or his dinner for that matter, mostly talking to a brick wall, generally doing all the things I forget to do, and loving me despite it all.

Q: Have you been involved in any other writing projects?

I contributed a short story for a charity anthology in support of MacMillan cancer nurses. A second anthology is due out sometime in 2016. The first one was called You’re Not Alone and was published earlier this year. My contribution Ooh, Air Margrit can be read at http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/rebecca-bryn if you download Ooh, Air Margrit. It’s an embarrassingly true story.

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

A project close to my heart. I’m 35,000 words into On Different Shores an historical love story inspired by the true story of my great-great-great uncle, James Underwood of Yardley Hastings, Northampton who was convicted of killing a gamekeeper in 1840 and was transported to Tasmania, leaving behind his new wife/girlfriend. (Haven’t discovered who she was yet or what happened to her) The research is fascinating as I’ve found newspaper reports of the inquest, committal and trial, conduct records on board the convict ship, HMS Tortoise, and probation records in Port Arthur. He died aged 93 and is buried in Hobart. I have a lot of research still to do at the Tasmanian end of the story as 70 years of his life are as yet a complete blank. I seem to enjoy writing journeys, and it looks like this is going to be another epic one.

Q: Is your writing plot-driven or character-driven?

Character driven. I have rough idea of a storyline when I begin, but it’s the characters who take it on its devious, twisting, heart-rending route. I let the characters deliver the message and ponder the morals in my stories. I fall in love with them, even the evil ones, and I don’t think I ever really let go of them. They all dwell still, deep inside me, and I deep inside them.

Rebecca Bryn
E-mail: jandrcoulson@outlook.com if you need further info.

Erin S Riley

Erin S. Riley is the author of the Sons of Odin Series, Viking historical fiction with a heavy dash of romance, adventure, and suspense. Odin’s Shadow, A Flame Put Out, and Oath Breaker follow Selia, a young Irish woman, as she’s forced to marry a Viking warlord and is drawn into a perilous world of obsession, betrayal, and madness. As dark secrets come to light, Selia must make a heartrending choice that might well destroy everything she holds dear.

12360270_504888979682307_7359780298040436638_n

Erin Riley has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a graduate degree in clinical counseling. She is also a board certified lactation consultant and has had extensive training in maternal-child health. Since Erin was a child, she has been fascinated with human nature and what motivates behavior. She enjoys writing stories that reflect real life: Erin’s books feature complicated, imperfect characters who love deeply, make reckless decisions, and try again until they get it right.

A lifelong lover of books, Erin taught herself to read at the age of four and hasn’t been without a book since. She is an equal-opportunity reader of fiction and non-fiction, and her shelves are filled with books on archaeology, anthropology, and general history. The social history of women and their place in society across the ages is a favorite reading topic of Erin’s.

12346329_504889516348920_5335153502789391148_n

Erin has a bit of an obsession with all things Viking and owns an embarrassing number of reference books on the Viking age. While reading about berserkers she had an epiphany and realized that the crazed, shield-biting men of sagas were actually suffering from a mental illness. On that day the character of Alrik Ragnarson was born.

Erin is drawn to any creative pursuit, from making hand-stitched quilts to producing mini-movies for family and friends from home videos. But writing has always been her passion. When Erin isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her two wonderful children, reading anything she can get her hands on, watching football, and renovating her house with her husband of 18 years. Who just happens to look like a Viking!

12363047_504109563093582_3843073159947410490_o

BOOK ONE OF THE SONS OF ODIN SERIES

Odin’s Shadow Obsession. Treachery. Revenge. Redemption. Certain themes resonate across the centuries.

In ninth-century Ireland, Selia is a girl on the verge of womanhood, frustrated by the confines of her gender and resentful of the freedom her brother boasts of. Intelligent and resourceful in a time when neither is valued in a female, she longs for an escape from her sheltered existence. Fascinated by the tales of Viking raids told by her maidservant, Selia’s hunger for independence is fed through the stories of heathen ferocity she hears at the woman’s knee.

A decision to sneak to the city’s harbor to view the Viking longships leads to an encounter with Alrik Ragnarson, a charismatic Viking warlord whose outward beauty masks a dark and tortured mind. With the knowledge that her father is about to announce her betrothal to a man she doesn’t love, Selia marries Alrik and within a day is on the longship bound for Norway and a new life.

While Selia’s relationship with her new husband grows, her friendship with his brother Ulfrik grows as well. And as Alrik’s character flaws come to light and tension mounts between the two brothers, Selia begins to have misgivings about her hasty marriage . . . especially when a secret from the past is revealed, one that threatens to destroy them all.

12356908_504892383015300_7264952874802261915_o

A Flame Put Out (Sons of Odin Series book 2) Selia’s saga continues in Book Two of the SONS OF ODIN series . . .

As Selia struggles with the harsh reality of existence as the wife of a Viking berserker, a devastating loss pulls Alrik deeper into madness, while a secret Selia desperately wants to keep hidden comes to light, threatening everything she holds dear.

Is Selia’s love for Alrik enough to keep her in Norway? Or will the protection offered by Alrik’s brother Ulfrik sway her to leave?

12366190_504893016348570_4447339135345535751_o

Oath Breaker (Sons of Odin Series book 3) Releasing 12/30/15. The exciting conclusion of the Sons of Odin trilogy:

Sometimes the right man has been there all along…
Selia has fled Norway and her Viking berserker husband to protect her children from his rages. His brother Ulfrik, having long loved Selia from afar, offers his protection. As Selia uncovers the man he is, love blossoms in her heart where there was only emptiness. But will their newfound love survive when Alrik returns to claim what is his?

Erin S Riley on Amazon

The Writers’ Cooperative

Introducing a new venture. A group of leading independent authors and authors who publish through small publishing houses have got together to form the Writers’ Cooperative.

shutterstock_304276730_kindlephoto-45653605

The Writers’ Cooperative represents the cream of independent publishing. The authors in the Cooperative publish their books independently or through small publishing houses simply because they choose to do so. Independent publishing is not a modern phenomenon – Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol independently so that he could retain full artistic control – and the authors featured in the Cooperative, one of whom has been compared to Dickens, are proud to follow in the great man’s footsteps.

If you are looking for a quality book, professionally written and professionally produced, the Writers’ Cooperative is for you. The Cooperative’s authors cover a wide range of subjects, from history to fantasy, from mysteries to romance and I feel sure that there is something there for everyone. So please feel free to visit their website. Hundreds of reviewers have written glowing reviews, thousands of readers have enjoyed these authors’ books. They look forward to welcoming you among their number.

“Feel as though you’re reading the same tired story over and over? Break away from the rigid formula of the big publishing houses and read a true original! These authors deliver the goods.”

Welcome

Jana Petken

Today I’m delighted to welcome award winning author Jana Petken to my website. Jana recently won the silver medal at the Readers’ Favourites Awards. Jana writes wonderful historical novels with strong characters and a great sense of time and place. Her books are top quality and an excellent read.

12240872_925012634219863_6601540663263648226_o

Q + A

Tell me about your past careers.

I joined the (British) Royal Navy at the age of seventeen. I was a leading Naval Policewoman, equivalent to a sergeant in the Military Police. After the Navy, I went to work for a travel company as an overseas representative. During the first Gulf War I was a security guard at the BBC World Service radio station. After I left the BBC, I spent twelve years as a bodyguard for a Saudi Princess.

My final career outside the house was with British Airways. I was a cabin crew member on the worldwide fleet, which allowed me to travel extensively to every corner of the world, at least two or three times. Unfortunately, I had an accident on board a flight. The aircraft, a Boeing 747, was flying at 39,000 feet above Africa when it was caught in clear-air turbulence. As the plane dropped my body flew upward causing my head to hit the cabin’s ceiling. As a result of this accident, I have had three major operations on my spinal cord and am now retired. I missed the busy and interesting experiences that my job had brought me, thus turning my attention to writing.

I’ve lived in so many countries, I’m dizzy. I’m a jack of all trades but master of none. I’ve made so many mistakes in life that I often wonder how I managed to survive all these years – But, I feel blessed to be able to call writing, my last stand. Long may it last x

Why historical fiction?

I can still picture the day my passion for history was ignited. I was a little girl, sitting with my mum in a cinema watching a re-run of, Gone With the Wind. Whether it was the costumes, dialogue, accents, or horses that caught my attention, I don’t know, but that was the moment my love affair with the past began.

Do you stick to the same historical period, and do you have a formula?

No. I don’t really have a favourite historical period, or event. I’m a Gemini, and as changeable as the weather. It will be impossible for me to cover all the historical periods that I would like to write about, in my lifetime, but I’ll get through as many as possible, because I want to share as many historical stories as I can. There’s an old saying: We are only passing through. That’s so true when you think about thousands of years, full of historical events that we can only read about.

When choosing my books’ themes, I think about where I’d like to be and what I’d like to be involved in. When I write, I see, feel, and go with gut feelings. I enjoy the journey, and rarely plan ahead. There are no outlines, notes, or list of characters. My preparation is negligible, and I rarely follow rules. Right or wrong, this is my method, and I guess I’ll continue adhere to the proverbial saying, ‘going with my flow.’

Reviews

10469564_925012297553230_3845707218234769125_o

The Guardian of Secrets

“An epic in every sense, The Guardian of Secrets is War and Peace for a new generation. Jana Petken is a natural storyteller and in The Guardian of Secrets she weaves an engrossing, passionate tale of family life, of love, of betrayal, of war and redemption. These are classic themes and they are combined here to produce a classic tale in the finest traditions of historical fiction.”

10473399_925010797553380_7895731154765289821_o

Dark Shadows: Mercy Carver Series

“Dark Shadows, is the first five-star book in Jana Petken’s exciting Mercy Carver series. This meticulously crafted and riveting tale had me captivated from the very first page.”

12238335_925013220886471_9038489590834164574_o

Blood Moon: Mercy Carver, Book Two

“The author did a fantastic job weaving this story. I admit I was surprised at some twist and turns. Many times, I found myself holding my breath!”

12247922_925014360886357_6755599207248713627_o

The Errant Flock

“A glorious read, I was totally captivated by this story. Her descriptions of the people, the country and the history put me right in the picture and I couldn’t put it down. She is a great storyteller with lots of depth to her writing.”

Links

Amazon page
http://www.amazon.com/Jana-Petken/e/B00I2WAUVC/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1447360579&sr=8-1

Twitter @AuthoJana

FB https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJanaPetken/

Website
http://janapetkenauthor.com/

Tangwstyl

Welcome to a new feature on my website. From time to time I will be featuring talented authors from The Writers’ Cooperative. These authors cover a range of genres and styles so I hope some, if not all, will pique your interest. I start with historical novelist, Mansel Jones, and his wonderful romantic mystery, Tangwstyl.

Tangwstyl is a medieval romantic mystery based on historical fact. The printed book runs to 536 pages and is available from all leading bookstores and Internet outlets as a paperback and as an eBook. An audio book is planned for the new year.

From 28.10.2015 to 3.11.2015 the ebook will be on offer for £0.99/$0.99

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mansel-Jones/e/B0044RKLZO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

http://www.amazon.com/Mansel-Jones/e/B0044RKLZO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

The blurb

Tangwstyl is a story of love and murder, of loyalty and betrayal. Set in the medieval town of Kenfig in the year 1399, the story centres on a prophecy made by Merlin and the birth of a girl, named Tangwstyl. Based on historical fact, Tangwstyl tells the story of King Richard and a plot to assassinate him, of Owain Glyn Dwr and his struggle for personal and national justice, and of the medieval Church and its desire to suppress all forms of heresy. Tangwstyl also tells the story of the common men and women of Kenfig, ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events, events that would alter long held beliefs and reshape lives.

The Prophecy: From an English Chronicle – The Welsh habit of revolt against the English is an old-standing madness…and this is the reason: the Welsh, formally called Britons, were once noble crowned over the whole realm of England; but they were expelled by the Saxons and lost both the name and the kingdom. The fertile plains went to the Saxons, but the sterile and mountainous districts to the Welsh. But from the sayings of the prophet Merlin they still hope to recover their land. Hence, it is that the Welsh frequently rebel, hoping to give effect to the prophecy.

The Main Characters

Euros – Euros is a lord who returns from a pilgrimage to discover that revolution is in the air and that the common men and women of Wales are poised to take up arms against the English Crown in their fight for justice. Born of an English father and a Welsh mother Euros must reconcile his loyalty to the English Crown with his love for Anest, a woman who believes in Merlin’s prophecy and the need for revolution.

Anest – Anest is a healer. While the men and women of the castle indulge themselves to excess, Anest has to tend to the needs of the wider community. Despairing at the degree of suffering she encounters she realises that drastic action needs to be taken. When she is told of Merlin’s prophecy – that the man who fathered Tangwstyl is to be their saviour – she sets out to find that man.

King Richard. Mistrusting his friends and suspecting his enemies, Richard is on his way to Ireland to quell a rebellion. As he journeys he discovers that treason resides at the heart of his court and that soon a usurper will claim his crown.

Owain Glyn Dwr. Loyal to the Crown, yet not welcome at Richard’s court, Owain Glyn Dwr is made aware of Merlin’s prophecy. Denied justice by the Crown, should he stand by the king or should he lead the rebellion?

Biography: Mansel Jones was born in Glamorgan, Wales, home to numerous castles, folk legends and tales of King Arthur. His words have appeared in publications as diverse as Country Quest, Dragon’s Tales and the Seaside News. He has a profound knowledge of Kenfig and is the author of A History of Kenfig. His views on the medieval town have been sought by leading scholars and have featured in academic publications.

Contact details: http://jonesthebook.com/ and http://manseljones.com/

tangwstyl

Extract From Tangwstyl – Chapter Seven of Sixty

13th March 1399 – Tangwstyl is born

“In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, Mary gave birth to Christ, Anne gave birth to Mary, Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist. Mary gave birth to Our Lord Jesus Christ without shame and without sorrow. In his name and through the merits of St Mary the Virgin, his mother, and of St John the Baptist we ask you to come out, child, whether you be male or female, from your mother’s womb, without dying or causing her death. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

Anest intoned the prayer, hoping that her words would find favour with St Margaret of Antioch and that she, a patron saint of childbirth, would intercede and smooth the passage of Tirion’s labour.

The healer had already decided that if a cut were necessary then Tirion would require some form of sedation. Prepared for such an eventuality, Anest possessed a beverage called dwale, a mixture of lettuce, briony, opium, henbane, juice of hemlock and the gall from a sow, all mixed in a measure of wine. From her medicines, Anest produced this concoction, handing the phial to Madog.Then, she proceeded to wash her hands, along with the belly and the genitalia of the pregnant woman.

The preparatory stage over, it was time to assist in the birth of Tirion’s baby.

Tilting Tirion’s head forward, Madog was about to administer the dwale when the young woman’s eyes opened. She stared wildly at her clothing: “The dagger…you must ensure that Payn de la March gets the dagger…promise me…promise.”

Mystified, Anest moved to Tirion’s side. “Does the dagger belong to Payn de la March?”

Crying out in pain, Tirion was unable to answer. She gripped the straw as yet another contraction consumed her. This was swiftly followed by yet more blood loss. The intensity, and the regularity, of the bleeding proved to be far greater than anything Anest had ever seen before. This forced the healer to reconsider her options: dangerous at the start, the cut seemed impossible now; any incision and subsequent blood loss would surely drain Tirion of all life. In conclusion, Anest decided that the dwale would not be required; she would have to find another way.

Sobbing, Tirion took hold of Anest’s cloak; her fingers, white, translucent, gripping the cloth with surprising force. “The baby…will be a girl…and she is to be called Tangwstyl.”

In compliance, Anest nodded. She would carry out Tirion’s instructions. But she had so many questions: where was Tirion‘s home? Why was she trying to reach Ty Maen? And in relation to the baby: what was the father’s name? And how did she know of its sex? When Tirion subsequently spoke, Anest considered that, maybe, some of those questions remained, etched upon her face.

“The seer…he told me about the baby…believe, and you will all be saved.”

Consciousness had once again deserted Tirion leading Anest to fear that all hope might soon be lost. She was aware that action had to be taken swiftly, or the baby would not take its place in this world. But what to do? Looking at Madog, she was struck by an idea.

“Can you lift Tirion and stand above me on that straw?” Anest pointed to a series of bales, akin to a set of grain steps, arranged neatly, placed near the undercroft door.

Madog nodded vigorously: “That will be no problem. Stand clear, we will see this child born yet.”

Anest watched as Madog raised Tirion by her armpits, the stump of his left arm supporting, the strength in his right arm taking the strain. He climbed the straw steps until he found the third level. There, he sat, holding Tirion, dangling her legs over the edge, in a position where the baby’s weight would take maximum effect; Anest had come to realise that there was little more that Tirion could do; the baby would have to find its own way out of the womb.

Panting, but unable to respond to the contractions, Tirion remained cloaked in perspiration; lucent, her skin shone like glass in the moonlight.

Anest realised that she too was perspiring. She looked up at Madog, wondering: how much longer could he take the strain. But the ease upon his face told her that, in this quarter at least, she had no need of worry; the labour could go on all night if necessary and he would remain there, as solid as a rock, as secure as the Pope’s faith.

However, Tirion could not wait, and so it was with relief that Anest saw the first sign of the baby emerging: the bulge of its head pressing against Tirion’s pelvic floor. The head itself followed, moving forward with each contraction, only to slip back a little, before making more progress. Then, Anest saw that the umbilical cord had looped itself around the baby’s neck and so, carefully, she slipped her fingers under the cord and hooked it over the baby’s head. With the head now fully engaged, Anest manoeuvred the baby backwards until first one shoulder, and then the other, appeared. Two more contractions saw the delivery of Tirion’s baby and, with only a mild measure of astonishment, Anest noted that the seer had been vindicated; Tirion had indeed given birth to a girl: blue, crying, streaked in blood, Tangwstyl was born.

The birthing process over, Anest took the knife and cut the umbilical cord. Then, she washed Tangwstyl with fresh water before covering her in salt and honey, the better to dry up her humours and prevent any premature loss of moisture. Next, Anest dipped a finger into the honey, rubbing this over the baby’s mouth, both to cleanse and to encourage suckling. Finally, she swathed the baby in swaddling bands, offering support to Tangwstyl’s unformed and malleable limbs.

Taking the baby, Anest placed her in Tirion’s arms. The young mother opened her eyes, smiled and kissed Tangwstyl before lapsing into an everlasting peace.

“She needs to be shriven.” Madog climbed down from his position upon the straw. As Anest took Tangwstyl into her arms, so the steward attended to Tirion’s body, wrapping her lifeless form in the blanket, providing her with a degree of grace and dignity, showing total respect for her sacrifice. “The child needs to be baptised; I will seek a priest.”

“She should not have died.” Anest felt a sense of grief, a sense of contrition; she had failed. Yet, had not the Holy Spirit failed them also? After all, had not Anest invoked the support of St. Margaret of Antioch? “I offered up prayers,” she complained.

“Sometimes, our prayers contradict God’s wishes. And being wise to those wishes is the ultimate belief.” Stoically, Madog walked over and placed a comforting hand upon the healer’s shoulder. He smiled at the baby, who lay oblivious, content in Anest’s arms. “You should not reproach yourself. After all, you saved the child’s life.”

Anest cast her eyes down to the ground; she knew that Madog was right but, in that moment, she found Tirion’s passing hard to accept. She was reminded of her limitations, reminded that her skills could have only a finite effect.

“Who will care for the baby?” Madog patted Ci upon the head, calming the animal; he had been present at the birth, occupying a place near the undercroft door. Silent at first, Ci now appeared agitated, excited, as if knowing that he had been privy to a special event.

Considering her answer carefully, Anest found an image of Ceinlys, Meredydd and their baby presenting itself. What was it that Meredydd had said: “If at any time we can help you, you will make use of our labours?” Maybe now was the time to hold him to his word. Not that Ceinlys would be burdened by such a request. Anest had learned through her dealings with Ceinlys just how keen she was to surround herself with children: she would be overjoyed at the prospect of tending a foundling as well as her son. “I will take Tangwstyl to Ballas.” This solution sat comfortably with Anest, allowing a shaft of optimism to filter into her mind. “She will be safe there. She will be well looked after.”

“And what of Tirion’s vision?” Madog continued to soothe Ci, continued to prevent him from leaping up and so lick the child. “Is a prince’s daughter held within your arms?”

Anest smiled at the notion. “Do you believe in such prophecies, Madog?”

“I believe in what I can see, in what is real.”

“This baby is real.” Anest held Tangwstyl on high, as if to confirm that fact. Adding her voice to the discussion, the baby emitted a soft gurgle; the talk of a princess, or the talk of a commoner, there could be no sweeter sound.

“What you say is true,” Madog replied, soberly.

“Tirion’s words were real.”

“That also is without question.”

“Then who are we to disbelieve her?” Anest spoke with conviction and, she would have to admit, with no little hope, for, whatever the truth of the matter, this much was clear: Tirion believed in the seer’s prophecy, for she had been in no condition to invent such a story. If omens were required, Anest could point to the comet, seen burning in the sky earlier that night. Still, more than anything, Anest held on to her intuition: her intuition was her best friend, her greatest ally. Furthermore, her intuition told her that there was something special about Tangwstyl, it told her that the man responsible for this baby’s being held a quality, held an aura that few other men could possess. It told her that he might well be the new Arthur. And that thought sent a shiver down her spine.

A thoughtful silence ensued, the peace eventually broken by Madog’s deep growl: “If that is so, and there is a truth to Tirion’s story, then the child is in danger.”

Anest nodded in agreement. “And that is why we must keep the secret to ourselves.”

Ci’s whimpering caught Anest’s attention and, understanding his disquiet, she knelt so that he could take sight of the newborn child. This pleased the dog greatly, for he sat, mouth open, panting his approval.

“My lord, Euros, he will return from his pilgrimage shortly.” Madog stared to the east, as if anticipating his lord’s appearance; he was overdue and it could be only a matter of days before he arrived. “He is wise, learned; he will know what to do. We will share the events of this night with him.”

Anest complied with the steward’s wishes, once again nodding her agreement. Whilst comforting Tangwstyl, she glanced into the undercroft, catching sight of Tirion’s clothing and her purse, considering the fancy brooch, held within. That brooch was the link to Tangwstyl’s father. And a man who could bestow such a beautiful gift would not wish to be ignorant of such a beautiful daughter. He would learn of her being, and he would appear before them, maybe as himself, maybe in disguise. Nonetheless, Anest would be waiting and, if necessary, she would challenge him, learn of his hopes and his dreams for his child. Learn of his hopes and his dreams for his country, for all his children.

Q + A

“Where do you get your ideas from?”

“I start with the basics of the story: the theme, the time period, the location, etc. Then I develop the characters until they are in a position to suggest a storyline. Research adds more detail along with observation and my general knowledge of a subject. So, basically, it is a mixture of imagination, observation and research.”

“What was the inspiration behind Tangwstyl?”

“The initial idea to write Tangwstyl came when I was reading about Gerald of Wales and his journey through Wales in 1188. The first thought was to have Tirion steal the sacred cow. The cow features in the story, but the plot developed in a totally different direction as more characters were added, including Richard II. My portrayal of Richard II was praised in a Welsh Books Council review, probably my highest compliment to date.”

“Why are you so fascinated with Kenfig?”

“Because it is a beautiful, natural place steeped in history. I believe that local and family history are the cornerstones of history and the stories they have to tell are far more revealing and fascinating than tales of kings and queens.”

“Do you know what is going to happen at the end of a story before you sit down to write?”

“Before I start to write a story I make sure that I know the characters as well as I know my family. I write a profile of each character, which can be five or more pages long. Also, I map out every chapter in detail, so I have a good idea of where the story is going and where it will end. Of course, if fresh ideas suggest themselves during the writing process then I will use them, providing they fit the framework and the theme of the story.”

“What is your favourite period of history?”

“I am a medievalist, though I also enjoy the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and have an interest in the Second World War.”

Selected Reviews

From Amazon…For once I found that Tangwstyl portrays a true medieval village. The weather, scenery and characters, all resemble a true Welsh village at this era in time. The divergence between the Welsh and the English, as was the case during this period, is also made clear. The characters are believable, and it shows a side to King Richard that is not often seen. The plot is brilliant, and is filled with twists, as each page reveals a new piece of it. The timeline of Tangwstyl is perfect, as it stretches over only a few days. This helps the story feel more realistic and keeps the reader’s attention throughout.

From The Welsh Books Council…Mansel Jones has well imagined the details of life in the period. He obviously knows the landscape well and the evocation of this adds greatly to the book.

From The Kenfig Society…Tangwstyl is…a riveting story…moves along at a terrific pace…holds your interest from start to end and is a real page turner…offers a vivid insight into what it must have been like to live in Kenfig all that long time ago.