Monday, 29 June 2015

Fascinating Facts: Richard III

    Richard III is the king whose body was dug up in a car park and was recently reburied with great pomp and ceremony.
    He is also the king to whom Shakespeare gave the famous words, “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!”
    The discovery of his skeleton settled once and for all the long-debated question of whether he really had a hump back, or it was just an invention of Shakespeare. The skeleton's spine was indeed twisted. I saw a TV documentary where they found a young man whose spine was twisted in exactly the same way, and proved that he could be formidable on horseback, but handicapped on foot. So Shakespeare's cry was indeed feasible.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Intruders Rewrite Time!

Kestrel 1
It’s time for news about the first Flight of the Kestrel novel, Intruders.
I wrote back in February that my professional edit had been returned and I had a lot of work to do. The edit was really comprehensive and took three different forms: line edits, comments, and an overall report.
Since then I have been launching my new history book The Magna Carta Story, which has meant I have not spent as much time as I would like on the edit.
There are facilities in modern word processors (like Microsoft Word – I use Libre Office, a free version) to track changes in a document and make comments. It’s a great way of making suggestions for changes that previously would have been scribbled on a paper copy. I wrote a blog post about it on my other blog, which you can read here.

Monday, 22 June 2015

The French King of England (Nearly)

Did you know that King John's barons offered the English throne to Prince Louis of France?
The barons threatened King John and forced him to agree to the rules set out in Magna Carta, but John had written to the pope. When the pope heard about Magna Carta, he promptly anulled it. 'Under threat of excommunication we order that the king should not dare to observe and the barons and their associates should not insist on it being observed. The charter with all its undertakings and guarantees we declare to be null and void of all validity for ever' he wrote. On 5 September 1215 the pope's representatives excommunicated the rebel barons.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Kestrel Crew Summary

The past few weeks I have introduced you to the members of the Kestrel crew.

Unlike in many spaceship stories, the crew is subject to change. Some members leave and new ones come, even during the novel. So I can't just give you a crew list, it depends where in the story you are!

At the beginning of Intruders we find that the Kestrel is two crewmen short, and with no replacements available, the captain takes on a Trainee. To further complicate things, the Trainee is a girl, whereas the rest of the crew are men.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Fighting the French – Two Anniversaries

Today is the 800th anniversary of the imposition of Magna Carta on King John. There are events on all year to mark the occasion. When John broke the conditions of the charter soon afterwards, civil war broke out again.
To legitimise their cause the rebel barons offered the English crown to Prince Louis of France, who was married to the granddaughter of Henry II. When he arrived, they threw open the gates of London to him. He conquered much of south-east England.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Meet Matthew Ky, Temporary Medical Officer on the Kestrel

Ky (Sanjeev Bhaskar)
Matthew Ky is an older man, with caramel-coloured skin, a round face, and straight black cropped hair going grey – a bit like actor Sanjeev Bhaskar. He had been working on T'Lon space station, and was looking forward to coasting down to his retirement, so he is not well pleased to be drafted in as emergency replacement for the injured Dr Robinson.
He is not so fit as Robinson, carrying some extra weight. He has been letting himself go a little in anticipation of his retirement. He had a different perspective on getting older when he talked to Tofi Dathan, the Kohathi. He learned that the Kohathi value the learning and experience of the older ones, who never retire, but take apprentices to pass on their knowledge.

Monday, 8 June 2015

The Three Estates: a Model for Society

This is an excerpt from the book Knights by Andrea Hopkins, page 30:
Together with the development of feudal society and the ethos that it fostered, there grew up another important and influential concept – that of the three estates, which together formed the natural order of society. This was an idea with a pedigree going back to classical times, and it was taken up again in the Middle Ages as the ideal social image. The three estates were the clergy, the workers and the warriors, or, in medieval terms, the Church, the peasantry and the knights. The Church’s function was to pray and to care for the spiritual well-being of the people, the knights’ to defend and protect the other two estates, and the peasants’ to work the land to provide food for everyone.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Meet Nathaniel Parks, Temporary First Officer on the Kestrel

When First Officer Mike Holland is promoted to captain of his own ship, he is replaced by Nathaniel (Nate) Parks, a tall, wiry Scandinavian, and an old friend of the captain. My idea of an actor to play Parks is Viggo Mortensen.
Parks (Vigo Mortensen)
Captain Darrow asks for him especially, as it is an emergency and there is no one available. He knew that Parks was available because a damaged shoulder made him unfit for active duty.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Fascinating Facts: Edward IV

For TV addicts out there, this is the king at the centre of the BBC series The White Queen, based on the book by the same name by Philippa Gregory. The TV series actually covered all three books in the set called The Cousins’ War. You can find an enormous amount of detail on the TV series on Wikipedia here.

Fascinating Facts: Edward IV [1461-1483]