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I was born and spent the first decade or so of my life in Bow, a district in East London. This was at a time when large parts of London, especially the East End, still carried the scars of wartime bombing and although we had the very large expanse of Victoria Park at the top of the road, most of our play time as children was inevitably spent on the far more dangerous but exciting bomb sites which littered our little world. Later my family moved to South Ockendon in Essex and my interest in history blossomed into a passion. A friend told me that the name of the village meant Wocca's Hill in Saxon and although we laughed at the time I now know that he was right. It is sometimes difficult now to imagine the lack of information generally available in those not so far off pre internet days but the central library was only a short bus ride away and soon I was spending a large amount of time there. This one small district, Thurrock, (Saxon - it means the bilge of a ship) contained such historical gems as Fobbing (a seat of Wat Tyler's rebellion) and one of the earliest Saxon sites at Mucking, on its terrace overlooking the Thames. The village next to ours, Aveley, had been the site of a large watering hole during prehistoric times and the bones of lions, crocodiles, hippopotamus and the famous 'Aveley Mammoth' had all been found here. A short bike ride across the border into Havering brought you to the old Battle of Britain spitfire aerodrome at Hornchurch and many summer holidays were spent reading and rereading my dog eared copy of 'Nine Lives' which described the experiences of one famous New Zealand pilot at the base during that hectic summer.
Later my love of history led me to historic sites all over Europe and America, from the still bullet marked buildings of Berlin to the desolate site of Eric the Red's hall in Iceland and the rattlesnake infested hills above the Little Big Horn.
One day I reread my old penguin copy of Beowulf and, in a eureka moment, I decided that the poem contained a virtual treasure house of Scandinavian history around the time that men like Wocca, Fobba and Mucca were moving their families across the North Sea and settling in Thurrock. Spurred on by my reading of both fiction and non fiction I decided to see if I could weave my own tale from the threads which the poem contained. I sat at the laptop and wrote 'The boy stood at the base of the tree...' and to my astonishment the story and the characters it contained seemed to come alive. Over the course of the following year I had completed the 'Sword Of Woden' trilogy, quickly followed by 'Dayraven'.
Thanks to the onset of the digital age, publishing your own work is now relatively straightforward, although the learning curve required by 'noobie' authors is almost vertical. In its purest form the author not only thinks of the story and writes the novel but must act as editor, publisher, publicist and cover designer. This is of course alongside their 'real life' of work and/or family raising duties. All of the hard work is quickly forgotten however when your work sells and attracts favourable reviews from customers.
This year, 2014, 'Monsters', the concluding part of the trilogy was chosen as a runner up in the Editors Choice section on the Historical Novelist Society website. I know that I am very lucky to combine my interests of books and history so if you are one of those who have read my work and taken the trouble to leave a review I take this opportunity to thank you. Like many of you I regularly read and enjoy novels by such worthies as Simon Scarrow, Ben Kane,Giles Kristian, Robert Low and Conn Iggulden and I especially enjoy the Warrior Chronicles of Bernard Cornwell. At present I am currently happily working my way through the writings of J.R.R Tolkien, George R.R Martin and David Gemmell.
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