Stage One

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Niccolo Machiavelli

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Michaelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

Stage One of the research I need for my next book has drawn to its conclusion. I have been reading about Machiavelli and Caravaggio in search of the traits my new chief character needs. From Machiavelli comes intrigue and deviousness. From Caravaggio comes hotheadedness, raging against the world and murderous intent.

While I was reading about both men an idea for a working title sprang to mind – Good Never Triumphs.

As yet I still have to determine the gender of the character, and the time in which it will be set. Before you ask ; no it will not be set in the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries. I have also decided that he, or she, will be a sailor wandering the seven seas. This is where I can draw on my own life as I spent many years doing just that, first in the Pacific in the Royal New Zealand Navy, then the Pacific, Atlantic and Mediterranean in the Merchant Marine and much later on my own sailboat off New Zealand’s East Coast. What he or she gets up too is still undecided. Might he or she be a murderer one step ahead of the authorities? Perhaps they are involved in the drug or contraband or people smuggling game! At this stage its anyones guess.

I’m in no steaming hurry to begin writing. But mark my words, by hook or by crook it will be written. This will be the first time in twenty-three years that my main character will be thoroughly evil.

In the meantime I have a lot of thinking to do…

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Another teaser

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The following short extract from one of the thirty tales of the anthology, describes the real enemy of every living thing in Goblindom…

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Crellen the black wizard stood up, cleared his throat and addressed the assembly. “Aeons ago in the time before, after we had banished the humans, we placed a wall of magic around our part of the world to protect ourselves from everything beyond our borders. If these humans find a way through, we must destroy them where they stand by any and all means at our disposal. Magic still rules here, not metal! We cannot allow these accursed humans to invade. While we fight amongst ourselves, our squabbles are as nothing compared to the evil these creatures present to all living things in Goblindom. How many of them exist is anyone’s guess? There may be thousands of them. I have heard of their ways from other wizards further to the south, as you have too I think Morweth.”

Morweth and Brilith both nodded their heads in agreement. Crellen continued, “whenever humans encounter anyone passing for witch or a wizard in their land, they burn or drown them. In the part of the world humans dwell in, there is no room for magic of any kind, no matter that their ills are still cured by magic’s practioners in the form of healers. They plunder, slash and burn forests, laying waste to every living thing. They kill for food, or for pleasure. They make war on their own kind for land. They share nothing with all the other kinds who live where they dwell. They either kill or enslave all they conquer. Humans are truly evil. They must be driven from here. Then once we have rid ourselves of them, we must reinforce our wall of magic to hide our land forever. In time we may even need to travel to their homeland to annihilate them all.”

~~~

Crellen’s description of our species pretty well sums us up, wouldn’t you say?

More later,

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I just had to share this with you…

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Autumn 1066 isn’t even ready for publishing quite yet. But that didn’t stop one of its beta-readers Martin Bradley from feeling he had to not only write the pre-publication 10 – 12 word advertising review I asked for, but also a full length one.

Here is what he said:-

In Autumn 1066, author Jack Eason gives a great sense of ‘place’, of detail. The reader is right ‘there’ in that poignant year, marching, shivering with September cold (as ‘…no warming fires were allowed lest ‘enemy spies would soon spot their approach.’) From the very first few lines, Eason, practising his unique drycraft, begins to weave his particular brand of magic on his reader. Eason glamours with well-crafted dialogue, drawing his reader into the time and into the action. To accomplish this, the author proffers a gentle blend of informative nomenclature coupled with familiar speech, to ease the reader into his story without distancing with words too unfamiliar, which is a criticism frequently made of Bernard Cornwell’s epics. I long to read more.
~~~
If Martin’s reaction is any indication of how history buffs in general will hopefully receive it once its published. then maybe Autumn 1066 will become my magnum opus. Who knows?
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Here are all three of the pre-publication advertising reviews that will appear on the rear cover:-

The events are insightfully brought to life. Prepare to enter Dark Ages Britain . Andrew French, author of the Michael Prentiss series

A new look at a series of battles that changed Britain forever. Colin Noel-Johnson

Great sense of ‘place’. The reader is ‘there’, in that poignant year. Martin Bradley

 

I’ve just added the final elements to my historical novella before I sent it off to be professionally formatted, prior to publishing. Hopefully by the time the bill for the service arrives, PayPal will have stopped playing silly beggars. Some moron in Djakarta tried to gain entry into my account with them. Because I no longer have a telephone I had to email them. Nothing ever goes to plan does it? If it’s not one damned thing, it’s another.

PS – Grrr! It’s the following day and I’ve still heard nothing back from PayPal!!!

More later

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I’m in a bit of a quandary at the moment…

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As far as I’m aware until I wrote Autumn1066 in 2017 no one else had ever written a book encompassing the three final battles, two of which were fought between the Anglo-Saxon nation and the Viking invasion force, led by Harald Sigurdsson, alias Hardradå – the battles of Fulford and Stamford Bridge. Then just over a week later, the battle of Hastings when the force led by Duke William of Normandy, (also of Viking descent), finally ended Anglo-Saxon rule in 1066.

My extremely short novella Autumn 1066, is in essence a historical account of the last few weeks of England in the hands of the Anglo-Saxons. I compiled it from second-hand accounts written fifty years later in 1116 – chiefly The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, which at best can only be regarded as political spin by the religious community of the time, in an attempt to curry favour with the new masters of Britain, the Normans. Unfortunately there are no creditable eyewitness accounts to be had.

Now here’s my question – did I treat it as purely historical or not?

In several places I added small details to flesh out what I believe may have taken place from inferences made by those responsible for writing the accounts. When you read it, you can decide if I’ve taken liberties or not.

Meanwhile, I’m busy adding the involvement of the few fictional characters I’ve employed where relevant, as their involvement throughout is minimal.

When I hand it over to the two gentlemen who offered to be my beta-readers – Colin Noel-johnson and Andrew French, I’ve no doubt they will have something to say about whether or not they consider the fictional characters as being relevant. At the moment, I’m in two minds on the subject of their inclusion…

If anyone does know of any such book, apart from the one I’m currently writing, I would be most grateful if you could give me the title, and the name of its author. So far I only know of one extremely badly written book from back in the nineteen nineties. But that one only ever concerned the battle at Stamford Bridge…

More later

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At last I’ve got the historical characters almost sorted.

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As I’m now on the home stretch when it comes to the historical side of my current WIP Autumn 1066, I now have nearly all of the actual historical characters sorted. There may be one or two minor ones I’ve missed. Only further research on my part will determine that.

The whole story has led to one specific date in the history of my homeland, England. That date is October the fourteenth 1066, and the battle that determined our fate as a nation for many centuries afterwards. As I’ve mentioned previously (that’s if you have been bothering to read my past updates) it actually occurred seven miles northwest of the coastal town. Even so it is still referred to quite incorrectly by historians as the Battle of Hastings.

When I downed tools yesterday morning I had begun to assemble the players on both sides, led by Harold and William respectively, on the site in Sussex where it took place nine hundred and fifty-one years ago. This morning I begin writing about the battle itself, after I’ve posted this for you to read that is…

But what about your fictional characters, I hear the more inquisitive among you ask? You’ll just have to be patient won’t you. In other words wait until you get to read it for yourselves, when I publish it as a paperback.

Am I having fun with this one? Duh – what do you think? Of course I am. I can’t wait to begin the fictional side of the story. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

More later

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Shock horror probe! I haven’t written anything for a whole…

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…until today that is.

Do I feel guilty? Not a bit of it! What I have been doing is more research into what happened on the journey south from Stamford in the East Riding of Yorkshire, first to London and then to Senlac hill for the Saxon’s final battle as England’s dominant nation. The battle later became known as the Battle of Hastings, even though it took place approximately seven miles northwest of the coastal town. It’s a sobering thought when you realise that the 13th of October 1066 was Saxon England’s last day. The following day, England had new Viking masters.

The ultimate irony is that after the battle, the British Isles were ruled by French speaking descendants of yet more Viking invaders, hell bent on taking our islands. They ruled for almost two centuries after the battle, starting with William, Duke of Normandy (William the bastard), descended from the first Viking ruler of Normandy – Rollo, from 1066 – 1087, through to Stephen of Blois 1135 – 1154.

So when will I write the third phase of my WIP Autumn 1066? I’ll begin on Monday morning, all things being equal. Once I’ve arrived at the end of the historical background story, I’ll take another short break before I begin to write the fictional one woven throughout the whole. The reason I’m taking my time with the historical background is simply to dot the I’s and cross the T’s. If I don’t, the slightest inaccuracy will stick out like a sore thumb to the anoraks, pedants and armchair critics of this world!

More later…

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Two down, one to go…

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Saxon Scramaseax, halfway between a knife and fighting sweord.

~~~

Two? Two what I hear you cry? Two of the three pivotal battles that occurred in 1066, resulting in the end of Saxon rule of these islands, which I’m currently writing about. Do please try to stay awake!!!

In this case I’ve been working my way through the battle of Stamford Bridge on the eastern edge of The Vale of York. While students of history will know that amongst the dead that day were two key historical figures, In my WIP Autumn 1066 I’ve had a little fun killing off a particular nasty fictional individual of my own creation.

Some scholars would have you believe that there never was a bridge at Stamford back in the day, and that the only way to cross from one side of the Yorkshire hamlet of Stamford to the other was via a stone ford across the river Derwent. But I see no logical reason why a wooden footbridge was not erected. It makes perfect sense for the safety of those trying to cross the river when it floods. So during the battle I installed a wolf-coat on it.

If you remember the BBC television series ‘Dad’s Army’ about the Home Guard in a fictitious town on England’s channel coast, you will recall Private Jones, played by Clive Dunn. Being a veteran of the Battle of Omdurman in Sudan (1898), Jones was fond of recalling the battle. He had a particular saying – “They don’t like it up em sir!” referring to being bayoneted. My wolf-coat would tend to agree…

Apropos of killing him off, I began thinking about an idea for anyone interested in crime writing. Imagine that your main character is a writer, just like yourselves. What if they wanted to creat the perfect undetectable murder? How would they go about it? What if they discover that whatever they write, people do? So all your character has to do is write about murdering someone, wait for a day or two, before deleting the words, leaving absolutely no evidence pointing any investigator in their direction.

So crime buffs, feel free to explore the idea. If you do write a book using it, please add the words – from an idea by Jack Eason. Hey ho, it’s back to work, writing about the Battle of Hastings and the few days before it awaits.

More later

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Been doing some thinking

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I’m still working on the first draft of my work in progress Autumn 1066. More specifically, the second of the three battles apposite to the story that occupies each and every moment of each and every day for me.

That does not mean endless hours spent writing. Rather the complete opposite. A story like this requires a lot of reading and forethought before hesitantly offering up words. If you want to do a story like this justice, writing a historical fiction based on actual events is not as easy as you may imagine.

While I’m now in no doubt whatsoever that the story will be short, the thing I’m really loving is looking at whats going on in the minds of my fictional characters from their eleventh century perspective. Despite the nine hundred and fifty one years that separate us, when comparing the Saxons and us, we’re not so different.

While I’m writing the book in present day English, not its eleventh century equivalent, I am using Saxon names, types of weapons and titles. For me this is fast becoming less about writing a book as much as conducting an intellectual exercise, purely for my own edification. While that may sound strange, even perhaps selfish to you, writing a book like this one is just that – an intellectual exercise governed by rules and regulations, unlike the freedom of writing an ordinary fictional story.

Now I’d better get back to where I left everything in abeyance in the second battle yesterday…

More later

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How much artistic license do I employ?

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That is my current conundrum

I’m at the stage where I’ve begun writing about the second of the three battles in my latest historical adventure Autumn 1066.

While I have the facts, or should I say what is assumed to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I’ve mention previously, the only account was written by a scribe fifty years after the battle – someone who in no way could ever be classed as a reliable, let alone impartial eyewitness.

At best the facts are sparse. At worst, woefully inadequate. While the fate of the historical figures involved is largely accepted by historians, what isn’t known is the fate of the ordinary participants in the battle. Because of the lack of written documentation, I now have to use artistic licence to give a flavour of what I believe they went through. This is the time where I begin the story within the story. For it to work, both the fictional and the historical stories must now blend into one, yet be separate in my mind as I write.

Surely that is a given I hear you smugly cry. I agree – it is. But, and its a big but, what I must be careful about is that the inner story does not wind up taking over at the expense of the historical. That is not so easy to do, and will require a lot of discipline on my part.

Why did I choose to wait until the second battle? In truth I don’t know. Except, the first battle occurred before my fictional characters enter into the story proper. Maybe once I’ve reached the conclusion of the first draft, that may change.

Well I’ve got a battle to write. More later

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Employing new characters

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To my fellow writers I do apologize for what I’m about to say. But for the sake of the non writers among you it needs to be said, if only to confirm your thoughts (if you had any that is) on the subject of fictional characters.

~~~

If there is one thing all writers love to do, it’s to come up with characters specific to their book’s needs, as and when required. In my latest work in progress, the historical adventure Autumn 1066, I have a mix of characters from the historical events that actually occurred, together with fictional ones.

While once again working my way through what I’ve written so far, the one type of fictional character I didn’t have need of until now was a villain, or in this case a pair of them. So its time to add a scheming priest and a wolf-coat to the mix. If you want to know what a wolf-coat is, I’m not about to explain it to you here. Instead I suggest you look it up. Whether or not you the readers think they are the type of individuals I’m suggesting here, is entirely up to you to decide.

I have yet to decide whether or not either of them will survive. Because they’re fictional, only the storyline will determine their ultimate fate…

What you have to remember is that when writing any story, the author has the ultimate power of life and death over his or her characters. We determine our character’s fate, who they are and their purpose for being. Regarding the two new characters, like all of my other fictional characters in the book, their part will gradually unfold as the story progresses. And before you ask – no I’m not going to reveal what I have in store for either of them, nor for that matter will I divulge anything about any of the other fictional characters. In other words – THERE WILL BE NO SPOILERS.

On a more serious note, the one thing I must not change in the book, no matter how tempting it might be, is to alter what actually happened to the historical characters. To do so would be foolish in the extreme.

The time for all of you to find out what happens will be when you purchase a copy and read it for yourselves.

I’ve decided that this book will initially be published as a paperback. Why? Read Derek Haines’ blog post for an explanation of the subject here.

To give any new work of fiction a fighting chance, means that those who normally harshly criticize any book that appears solely in ebook form, must initially be denied the chance. As Derek says, a paperback version of any new book always stands a far better chance of gaining favourable reviews. When the time comes to publish the ebook version, they can always be included as a promotional tool. After that, what the trolls say about the ebook version will be seen as nothing more than sour grapes on their part by the general public.

Well, If you will excuse me, the story won’t write itself you know…

More later

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