The dreaded “F-word” in historical fiction – what’s your opinion on it?

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Okay, as you probably all know, I’ve finished off my Forest Lord series* and am now working on a new novel starring a warrior druid rampaging through post-Roman Britain. That will be the first in, I expect, a trilogy but who knows…?

 

Now, I remember writing my debut novel, Wolf’s Head, and wondering if I should leave in all the swearing. At that time I was particularly enjoying books by guys like Anthony Riches who uses the f-word rather a lot. It didn’t ruin the enjoyment of the story for me – quite the opposite in fact: it made the characters more realistic. I’ve spent a lot of time with groups of hard working class men and, trust me, swearing is very common. And the women often have even filthier mouths on them!

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Chock f**king full of sweary words and stuff

Anyway, I messaged Anthony on Facebook and asked his advice (he’s a very approachable guy as well as a great storyteller). He told me to do what I felt was right, not to make a decision on what I thought would sell or what anyone else might want.

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“Do what you feel is right. Now f**k off and leave me alone!”

 

So I left in the swearing, despite the fact my biggest influence was Bernard Cornwell who never uses the “harder” swear words like f**k or, God forbid, the dreaded C-word (I think I used that once in my entire series, to punctuate a particularly harrowing death scene).

Recently though, Amazon accepted a couple of my short tales into their Kindle Singles Program. I am really honoured to be in there (Friar Tuck and the Christmas Devil was the first, followed lately by “The Prisoner” and “The Escape”) but I started to wonder if maybe the audience for the Kindle Singles might be put off by the swearing. My Amazon contact thought I was probably right and so we agreed I’d take out the worst of the language. Anyone who read the original draft of “The Escape” which I gave away FREE to my Email List subscribers will see the difference in the version that’s now on sale as a Kindle Single.

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I didn’t really think toning down the language diluted the stories so I’ve stuck with it while writing the final Forest Lord novella, The Abbey of Death (publication date still to be announced).

The thing is, over the years, I’ve had a few 1-star reviews by people who say they liked my stories and characters but were so offended by the swearing that it ruined the whole thing for them. Now, my instinctive, defensive reaction to a review like that is to think, “Well, f**k you mate. Go and read a Hardy Boys story.”

But, is it really adding that much more to my books to have swearing in them? Like I say, Bernard Cornwell is the guy that made me want to write British historical fiction and the worst you’ll read in his books is a “turd” or “shit”. But his books, particularly the early Uhtred ones and the King Arthur trilogy, are fantastic and more than gritty enough.

I’m torn on this and I’d dearly like to hear your opinions on it.

Some people ARE turned off my books when they see the swearing and that’s the last thing I want. I want to reach the widest audience I possibly can and I want as many of them as possible to enjoy what they’re reading.

So – do you think my books would suffer if there were no f-bombs in them? Or would it not make much difference as long as the stories were good?

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PLEASE – let me know! Leave a comment at the bottom of the page here or use the CONTACT button at the top or message me on Facebook or Twitter or whatever.

This is hugely important to me so do share your thoughts – you, the readers, are after all who I’m writing for…

Cheers

Steven

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*The Abbey of Death is all finished, just waiting to find out what will be happening with it but it should be published soon. I put a LOT of work into this and early indications suggest it’s been worth it. I hope you all LOVE what I’ve done with Will Scarlet!

 

 

The Escape – out NOW on Kindle!

My short story, “The Escape” is now available as a Kindle Single, for just 99p/99c (if it’s still showing as £1.99/$2.99 then hold off for a day or so and the price will come down)*. It can be read as a stand-alone tale but for my regular readers it is best enjoyed between The Wolf and the Raven and Rise of the Wolf.

Here’s the link –

getBook.at/TheEscape

Please share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter etc and, if you enjoy it, please leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads etc!

All he wanted was a quiet drink…FINAL

My final Forest Lord novella, The Abbey of Death is in the final polishing stage but is just about ready to go. It clocks in at over 30,000 words so a fair bit longer than either Knight of the Cross or Friar Tuck and the Christmas Devil. Look out for it soon, and find out how Will’s time as a Benedictine monk pans out!

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Finally, don’t forget Wolf’s Head is FREE for Amazon Prime members in the USA for a time, so tell your friends about it!

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* As “The Escape” is part of Amazon’s Kindle Singles program I don’t have control over the pricing the way I usually do, so it might be more expensive in places like Canada and Australia. Sorry!

Forest Lord birthday cake, check it out!

It was my 40th birthday a couple of weeks ago and, as a very cool surprise, my wife had this cake made for me. Just thought I’d share it with you all, I was really chuffed with it!

 

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And look out for my latest Kindle Single, the short story “The Escape”, which should be out within the next week or so! Some of you might have read an earlier version of this, but for the rest of you, here’s the blurb. I expect it to be 99p/99c. Cover reveal in a few days!

All he wanted was a quiet drink…

It’s spring, 1323 AD, and John Little, notorious outlaw, seeks to forget his troubles in a Barnsley alehouse. He didn’t count on the place being packed to the rafters with drunk, belligerent, Scottish mercenaries though.

The locals all respect – even fear John – but the strangers from the north only see in him the chance to claim a great bounty.

When the hard stares and furtive whispers turn into explosive violence the chase is on. Without any of his famous friends to help him, will it mean the end for the giant outlaw?

This new stand-alone Forest Lord tale sees one of England’s favourite sons in a battle for his very life that will hugely entertain all lovers of action and adventure!

A brand new Forest Lord tale published today!

Today sees the publication of “The Prisoner”!

That’s right, a completely new Forest Lord novelette, “The Prisoner” has just been published. This is part of Amazon’s Kindle Singles Program and, for the first time, I didn’t have to pay for a cover! Amazon designed the cover themselves after I gave them some pointers (“How about some snow and a sword?”) and I really like it. They also copy-edited it for me.
Only 99p/99c! It is also FREE on Kindle Unlimited.
If you read and enjoy it, please leave a review!

“The Prisoner”

When two lawmen – fabled former outlaws themselves – are sent to a snowy English village to arrest a rapist it seems a straightforward task, but is all as it first appears?

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As Robin Hood and Little John take the criminal into custody they find the people of Stapleford accommodating enough, and the terrified victim’s bruises are plainly visible. Inevitably, as they set off on the journey back to Nottingham the lawmen’s disgust at the captive’s crime colours their opinion of him and Little John has to be restrained from brutally assaulting the man.
The harsh winter conditions slow their progress though, and eventually the prisoner’s protestations and desperate, violent actions have the lawmen questioning what’s really been happening in Stapleford…

Can Robin and John complete the mission they’ve been given, or will their own innate sense of justice lead them down an unexpected path?

Fans of the bestselling Forest Lord series will love this exciting new stand-alone tale, set just before Blood of the Wolf, that explores the themes of morality and justice in medieval England.

Buy here, worldwide (tomorrow, or now if you really can’t wait!) —>>> http://getbook.at/ThePrisoner

On a different note, the audio version of Blood of the Wolf is almost finished! Only a couple more chapters to go before it hits Audible, so look out for that if you enjoy the Audible versions.

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I also have the cover art for my Will Scaflock novella The Abbey of Death but I’ll reveal that another day…