Books, Characters, On Writing

Beautiful Books – Destiny, Rewrites and Rotten Apples

PAPERFURYI’ve decided to join the Beautiful Books link up, hosted by Cait and Skye.

1. How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

Oh it was yonks ago. My youngest brother wanted a book written for him, about a man snatching bloody vengeance. I took the idea, chopped it into a trilogy, made the protagonist a pacifist and gave the first volume to my brother for his birthday. Believe it or not, I think he enjoyed it.

Since then, years have passed and now it is time to revisit and rewrite it.

2. Why are you excited to write this novel?

Because I’ll be revisiting and revamping the first book I ever truly finished. The characters – oh the characters! I love them to death and treat them rather horribly. Robert – the protagonist – is rather battered, bruised and broken during the course of the tale, poor thing.

3. What is your novel about, and what is the title?

What’s it about? Like a house of falling cards, his life collapses about him. He seeks vengeance and finds an adventure – one which will change the course of his life.

Yes, this is what it looked like. No, I have no regrets. Yes, it was worth it.  No, you may not laugh.

There are conquering kingdoms, near hangings, spies, missing princes, friendships – wonderful, glorious friendships – sword fights, plots and the ever-present storm cloud of potential death and dastardly danger.

And the title?

Very well, I’ll admit it: it was entitled Knight of Destiny, and the story I’ll be rewriting was called Knight of Destiny: Beginnings. It had burgeoning prose and somewhat overtly dramatic moments.

Now, for reference I’ve somewhat tongue in cheek called it: The Many Trials of a Blacksmith: Part 1. (Because Robert becomes a blacksmith and he has many trials. I know, I’m a genius.)

4. Sum up your characters in one word each.

Oof. That’s hard. Er … Robert: solid. Timothy: loyal. Custer: fierce.

5. Which characters do you think will be your favourite to write? Tell us about them!

Robert. Something awful happens to him in the beginning and his world is turned upside down. He has one thought: vengeance. As he grew up on a farm, he uses plenty of farming analogies which drives the people about him to distraction.

The Duke of Fordio – who is one of my favourite villains. I might change his name. It might be too poetic to be evil. Or perhaps it suits him. He’s evil but not for the sake of it, he has goals and woe betide any who get in his way – he will crush you with his booted foot and sip the finest wine whilst doing it.

6. What is your protagonist’s goal, and what stands in the way?

Robert wants vengeance. But soon he sees the bigger picture – why cut out a piece of a rotten apple when you can throw it away all together? Naturally, the government, the ruling nobility and the powerful army of his nation’s oppressors have a little to say about this.

7. Where is your novel set?

In the green land of Cade, in large cities and narrow alleyways, in dark inns and a blacksmith’s forge, in palaces and forests, in healer’s huts and along winding lanes.

It is my ambition to read/re-read all of these books before November. I might be a wee bit overambitious.

8. What is the most important relationship your character has?

At the beginning? His brother. Their parents have long since passed and Ethan has practically raised him BUT THEN … [dun dun dunnn]

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

He is older, more mature, more weathered. The protective bubble of his boyhood has burst and at the end of this tale, he’s learned that the world is a bigger, harsher place then he ever realised. Also, he has finally accepted that he is awful at using a bow and arrow. Awful I tell you!

10. What themes are in your book? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?

Hmmm … triumphantly wistful?

11. BONUS! Tell us your 3 best pieces of advice for others trying to write a book in a month.

  • If you set boundaries in your mind and tell yourself you can’t get passed them – you won’t. So be positive. Disgustingly, sickeningly positive. It’s the only way.
  • Don’t be frightened or in awe of the story you are going to tell. They are just words and it is just a story and you can do it. You are a writer and therefore you write.
  • Take it one step, one hundred words at a time. You can do it.


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On Research

The Disillusionment of Ness

Raise your hand if you are a person who likes castles.

Brilliant – I like ’em too.

I visited a castle recently. At least I thought it was a castle. It looked like a castle and had walls, parapets, a keep-kinda-thing (actually known as the ‘Little Castle’), courtyard, and view over the surrounding countryside to see the incoming enemy.

I mean look at it:

model of said castle

Upon seeing it you would think: My word! That’s a castle if I ever saw one.

Hah. No.

It was a Castle with a capital ‘c’. But then after falling into ruin it was bought and rebuilt by a certain Sir Charles Cavendish and later by his son, William.

To defend the realm? To protect their people? No.

It was built for comfortable living. Elegant living. Pleasurous* living.

Sacrilege I say! They turned a castle that was built for defense and for, for sensible things into a place solely for comfort!


introducing Bolsover Castle
introducing Bolsover Castle

The parapets are waist height. And – correct me if I’m wrong – but aren’t they supposed to give protection for the defenders.

only useful for protection when kneeling

It was built as a fairy tale type castle. The greater part of it is in spectacular condition (particularly the ‘Little Castle’) …


… which was fascinating, but what I enjoyed most were the ruins … and the staircases – who doesn’t love stone staircases?

To be honest, I much prefer the history of Bolsover Castle before Sir Charles rebuilt it. But … if he hadn’t built it and if it hadn’t been preserved in such good order by the English Heritage I would have only visited ruins and would have missed out of having an almost surreal experience of visiting a castle which was built to be a ‘fairy tale’ castle.

What are you complaining about? That question may be asked, but to be honest it was quite bewildering. When you visit a place you go with certain expectations.

It was like Red Riding Hood visiting her Grandma, only to find out to her astonishment that her Grandma wasn’t her Grandma – it was the Big Bad Wolf.

And with that perfectly wonderful comparison I will leave you with the wiki page of Bolsover Castle.

*spell check doesn’t accept the word ‘pleasurous’ … surely this is a word? I know it’s a word. Why isn’t spell check accepting it?

DISCLAIMER: I am not a historian. Sometimes I fancy myself a bit of one but … I know that 1066 was the year in which the battle of Hastings was fought, 1945 was the year World War Two (in Europe) ended and 1966 was when England won the World Cup. That is my knowledge of historical dates (which seem to be a Very Important Part of being a historian). I like reading about history, watching ‘stuff about history and walking around historical sites, I cannot, however, claim an all-knowing knowledge about history. So if this article (or any future one) gets you going, “Wait a minute – that’s not right …” please do leave a comment and I will listen with ready ears.