AD 636. Anglo-Saxon Britain. A gripping, action-packed historical thriller and the fourth instalment in The Bernicia Chronicles. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell.
Beobrand has land, men and riches. He should be content. And yet he cannot find peace until his enemies are food for the ravens. But before Beobrand can embark on his bloodfeud, King Oswald orders him southward, to escort holy men bearing sacred relics.
When Penda of Mercia marches a warhost into the southern kingdoms, Beobrand and his men are thrown into the midst of the conflict. Beobrand soon finds himself fighting for his life and his honour.
In the chaos that grips the south, dark secrets are exposed, bringing into question much that Beobrand had believed true. Can he unearth the answers and exact the vengeance he craves? Or will the blood-price prove too high, even for a warrior of his battle-fame and skill?
My Q&A with Matthew Harffy
Matthew Harffy lived in Northumberland as a child and the area had a great impact on him. The rugged terrain, ruined castles and rocky coastline made it easy to imagine the past. Decades later, a documentary about Northumbria’s Golden Age sowed the kernel of an idea for a series of historical fiction novels that became THE BERNICIA CHRONICLES.
Matthew has worked in the IT industry, where he spent all day writing and editing, just not the words that most interested him. Prior to that he worked in Spain as an English teacher and translator. He has co-authored seven published academic articles, ranging in topic from the ecological impact of mining to the construction of a marble pipe organ.
Matthew lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their two daughters.
Describe yourself using three words?
Irreverent, focused, creative.
What inspired you to write your first novel?
I saw a documentary about an archaeological dig at Bamburgh Castle. They talked about how important Bamburgh had been in the Dark Ages when it was the capital of the kingdom called Bernicia. I had lived in Northumberland, where Bamburgh is, as a child and knew nothing about Bernicia or the history of the area. As soon as I’d finished watching the documentary, I fired up my computer and started writing. That was the beginning of THE SERPENT SWORD, the first novel of the Bernicia Chronicles.
What time of day do you like to write?
I can write any time of the day, but find I am usually more inspired when I’m not tired, so trying to write very late at night isn’t always a great idea.
What is your favourite book and why?
It’s very difficult to select just one! But if pressed I’ll say, Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry.
How did you pick the title of your book?
Each of the books in the Bernicia Chronicles has a title that is alliterative. This started with THE SERPENT SWORD and was a nod to Old English poetry. For each of the titles after that I have stuck to my self-imposed convention, which means I have to find words which alliterate and that have some bearing on the story in the novel. You’ll have to read each one to understand how the title fits with the contents!
Are the characters in your book based on real people?
Some of them are, yes. All of the books in the Bernicia Chronicles are set against the backdrop of real history, so they feature real Kings, Queens, bishops, as well as real battles, historical events and places. The main character, Beobrand, and his closest allies however, are fictional.
What’s your favourite word?
If you were a colour what would it be?
Green. The colour of envy, and also of growth.
Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?
I plan the plot of each novel in advance, but allow the characters and situations to change the plan to some degree. That’s where the real fun happens!
Who is your favourite Author?
That’s such a difficult question! I love Stephen King, David Gemmell, J R R Tolkien, Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden, Justin Hill, Robert Lautner, Patrick O’Brian, and many more. It really is impossible to choose just one.
You are attending a dinner party with four fictitious book characters who would they be and why?
Augustus McCrae from Lonesome Dove, Jack Aubrey from the Master and Commander series, Druss the Legend from David Gemmell’s books and Roland from the Dark Tower series. I’m not sure that dinner would be a relaxed affair, but wow, would it be interesting! Those are some of the strongest characters in any books I’ve read. You’d have to hope that they didn’t get too drunk over dinner and start a fight!
What book are you reading at the moment?
American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It’s great so far.
Where in the world is your happy place?
I’m happy many places, as long as I’m with friends and family. My favourite place is Dunstanburgh Castle, situated on a cliff overlooking the North Sea.
If you had one superpower what would it be?
I already have a superpower! I’m a writer. I create things from nothing!
If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?
I can’t think of any villain who deserves a happy ending.
Are you working on a new project?
I am currently deep into the first draft of book 5 of the Bernicia Chronicles, Warrior of Woden.
Do you have any upcoming events our members can attend?
Not at the moment, but I might be speaking at some events later in the year. If your members would like to keep up to speed with what I’m doing, and even have the chance of winning signed books and other goodies from time to time, they can sign up to my newsletter on www.Matthewharffy.com
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