Wednesday, 28 August 2013

News, Views and Interviews

My new book Broken Reed: The Lords of Gower and King John, is now a reality!

Ann Thomas Lords of Gower_Front Cover

I went to the printer's this afternoon and inspected the proof copy, agreed it, and gave the go-ahead for the print run. They let me bring the proof home, and told me that it was accidentally printed on heavier paper, so it's more substantial, and I treasure it.

In the last two days I have uploaded the ebook version to both Smashwords and Amazon, and successfully passed the vetting. The Smashwords versions are available now on their site, and will be sent out to the major distributors over the next week or two. The Kindle version is being processed at Amazon.

I have also produced a new ebook edition of the first book Alina, The White Lady of Oystermouth. I've worked out how to do endnotes and added them in, as well as changing the ebook to mirror the print version. This has also been uploaded to both Smashwords and Amazon.


I have booked my book launch, at the same venue as last time, the Oxfam Bookshop on Castle Street in Swansea - actually only a few yards from the ruins of Swansea Castle. The launch is on Tuesday 17th September at 7pm. Now I have to prepare the publicity.

As part of the online publicity I updated my Smashwords profile and discovered that they now do interviews. You can read my interview here. I also did an interview recently for the Welsh-American Bookstore, which has some of the same information, but some different things too.

Now I have to post the new book in the same online places as the first one, and contact all the stockists of the print version. Lots to do!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Review of The Lost King books by Martin Lake

My local history books look at characters descended from the Normans who came to England with William the Conqueror. Consequently, I was very interested when I came across a trilogy of books on Kindle by Martin Lake about events right after William's victory at the battle of Hastings.

Like most people in Britain, I knew about William, the outcome of the battle, and King Harold getting shot in the eye. But I knew nothing about any resistance to the new self-appointed king, nor who should have been king on Harold's death.

Martin's books, collectively called The Lost King, tell the story of Edgar Atheling, the thirteen year old descendent of Alfred the Great. As William marches on London, the great council of the kingdom chooses Edgar to be the new king. The inexperienced youngster has to rely on his friends and learn quickly if he is not only to save his own life, but lead an uprising to defeat the invaders.

Resistance coverThe first novel, Resistance, tells of the early struggles, including Edgar's time as a 'guest' of William. The second, Wasteland, tells of his attempt to form an alliance with the Vikings, who control the north of England – and have their own agenda. The third, Blood of Ironside, has just come out, and I can't wait!

I gave both the books 4-star reviews. They are really good historical novels. Having tried to write historical fiction from my first book, I know how hard it is. These are well written, with believable characters, especially as we watch the young Edgar grow into maturity. I recommend them, not only to those interested in the history, but for those who like an exciting read and a well-told tale. Links to the books on Amazon UK are on their titles above.

Martin writes other books too. You might want to check out:
  • Outcasts, about the fate of the commoners who were knighted in an attempt to save Jerusalem during the Crusades 

  • Artful, the further adventures of the Artful Dodger 

  • Mr Toad's Wedding, the winner of the 2008 Kenneth Grahame Society's international competition to write a short story in the style of the Wind in the Willows 

  • The Big School (Our Eric), about the trials of school with a big brother who is always plotting and getting into scrapes 

  • Nuggets, a collection of short stories 

  • For King and Country, three stories about courage and cowardice in the first world war 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

King John's Castle at Limerick, Ireland

Limerick Castle (Wikimedia)

At the end of June Limerick Castle re-opened after a €5.7 million redevelopment. They are now offering a three-hour tour of the castle and grounds, and it is set to be a tourist attraction that will rival the Titanic centre in Belfast.

The site uses multimedia technologies for visitors to interact with, with CGI and 'ghostly projections', and costumed guides to act out castle life. In all it now has a staff of twenty-two.

The project has been four years in the making and includes the display of an archaeological dig in the grounds and a glass entrance hall housing the tourist centre. The work has been done in time to capitalise on Limerick City of Culture in 2014. You can find out more on the Shannon Heritage website King John's Castle page

John's first contact with Ireland was inauspicious. John was made Lord of Ireland by his father Henry in 1185, hoping that he would be satisfied with that portion of the kingdom. He shared the rest out between his other sons and hoped they would rule as a coalition after his death. It was not to be. The older sons wanted it all, and they wanted it now.

As for John, his father spent a huge amount of money equipping him with ships, trappings and a huge retinue befitting a king. The Irish nobility came to meet him, and instead of regal behaviour, they got a court jester. John pulled the beard of one noble, and his friends set about making fun of them and playing jokes on them.

The nobles, who had decided to accept John in order to keep peace with King Henry, promptly kept away from him and paid him no homage. John was called home a few months later, having made enemies of all those his father had worked hard to win.

Once John became king in 1199, things changed. Between 1200 and 1212, he planned and built Limerick Castle. It used many pioneering techniques that were unique in its day. There was also a mint there, where John had his own coins minted as Lord of Ireland. In 1211 he mounted a successful campaign to subdue the barons in Ireland who were defying his authority.

Of course, King John is most famous for Magna Carta, which he was forced to sign on 15 June 1215, by the barons of England who had had enough of his misuse of power. The thing that finally drove them to such an extreme was his cruel treatment of William de Breos and his family. This story is told in my new book Broken Reed: The Lords of Gower and King John, out soon.