Coming to a library near you…

…assuming you live in West Dunbartonshire…

I’ve been told my local libraries will be stocking paperback copies of Wolf’s Head and I’ll be able to do a promotional evening in support of the book in Balloch Library.

This might not seem like big news to anyone, but it’s really a huge thing for me. My gran used to tell me to hurry up and get a book in the library, but she died before it could happen. 

Hopefully she’ll be able to borrow a copy somewhere… (although I’m not sure if she’d approve of the swearing).

If you live near Glasgow, please keep checking the updates here and on the Facebook page – it would be great to meet as many of you as possible!


Why did a Scot choose to write about an English hero?

A few people have asked me, a Glaswegian, why I decided to write a novel about Robin Hood, the legendary – and very English – outlaw.

To be honest, I don’t think I had a choice – Robin Hood chose ME, not the other way around.  Let me explain…

In my day job (for G4S) I spend a lot of time driving around the streets of Glasgow and the surrounding areas, visiting properties – commercial, industrial and residential.

One particular day around three years ago I was working in the posh Bearsden area (usually described as “leafy” by the local press). I’ve been reading historical fiction for years, ever since I discovered Michael Jecks and Bernard Cornwell, and, as I was close to completing my Open University degree I decided I wanted to write a historical novel to fill my spare time. Something like Cornwell’s King Arthur books ideally. But I needed a hero. Who could I write about?

I sat in the car for a wee while, thinking about it, but nothing really came to mind so I decided to get back to work and think about it later. I started the car, drove into the street beside me and there, right next to me, was a house.

This particular street didn’t have numbers on the houses (posh, see?) – they all had names. And this house I’d just pulled up beside was called…SHERWOOD.

That’s the reason I decided to write “Wolf’s Head”. What else could I do? When you’re sent a message like that, you have no choice but to follow it.

The book will be released around July the 22nd, this year – I hope you’ll check it out (even though my Robin Hood resides in the forests of Barnsdale, not Sherwood!)

Check out my Wolf’s Head Facebook page and PLEASE GIVE IT A LIKE.

Cover ready!

The cover design – including eye-catching spine and back – for my book is complete and I’m really pleased with it. I’ve had to ask for a word to be changed on the back cover blurb or everything would be ready to go.

Once that’s sorted, I’ll be able to have a test paperback made up to check it all looks good, then…all systems go.

I also have some really exciting opportunities to promote the book lined up. The next few weeks should be very exciting.

Roll on July 22nd 2013!

Mad Medieval Religious Relics

While writing the sequel to my medieval novel Wolf’s Head I had to do a little research on religious relics. Bernard Cornwell’s latest book, 1356, used a sword as such a holy artifact, but I was interested in something a little smaller.

I was surprised at the bizarre things people used to venerate in the middle-ages.

We live in a (mostly) less superstitious time, where religion (rightly or wrongly) affects our daily lives a lot less than it did back in 1322 when my novel is set. Back then of course, villages and their inhabitants were much more isolated than they are nowadays. So if your local church had one of St Peter’s fingers, there was a good chance you wouldn’t know about the dozens of other churches in Europe claiming the same thing!

John the Baptist apparently had at least five different heads scattered about the place.

There were thorns from Christ’s crown, hairs from his beard, various saint’s body parts, some of the table on which the Last Supper was eaten, even some of the clay Adam was made from!

That sort of thing was interesting enough, but some of the relics were even weirder.

The Virgin Mary’s breast milk? This appeared around the world in both liquid and dried powder form.

What about Jesus’ foreskin? One medieval nun, Agnes Blannbekin, claimed to have EATEN this holy prepuce in visions. I don’t even want to get into the issues a modern reader might have with that…

The logistical nightmare of acquiring and storing items like that don’t seem to have bothered pilgrims, who flocked to see them, always paying handsomely for the privilege.

The middle-ages were a hard, grim time for the common people though – it’s perhaps understandable that they wouldn’t question the appearance of a seemingly impossible/ridiculous relic in their local church.

Hell, for all I know, the people knew these things were fakes but simply DIDN’T CARE. Maybe we’re not giving them enough credit. I’m a guitar player – I own a cheaper copy of a very expensive brand of guitar. I know it’s not the real thing, but it’s a fine instrument and it’s given me a lot of pleasure over the years, which is all that matters to me.  Perhaps those thick medieval yokels weren’t as stupid as we assume, and they viewed the more outlandish relics with the same “who cares if it’s real or not, if it’s making people happy?” kind of attitude I have towards my guitars.

Anyway, for the purposes of my novel I settled on one of the tiny relics – maybe even smaller than the infant Christ’s many alleged foreskins..!

You’ll have to read the book to find out what it is though…

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