Me and my No:1 Favourite Viking Historical Author - BERNARD CORNWELL!
This delightful meeting occured at 'An evening with' event as part of the Manchester Literature Festival this year. I only heard about his mighty appearence thanks to the information sharing of Twitter. And so of course I had to book tickets asap in order to meet and thank the guy who truly captured my heart and mind on the subject of Vikings.
I only ever came across his Uhtred Anglo-Saxon/Viking series many years ago when I was watching an evening long re-run of the BBC documentary Blood of the Vikings on what used to be known as the History Channel. In between all the usual adverts was a book advert displaying his first Uhtred book 'The Last Kingdom'. Of course I got it and was hooked! He created such a fantastically amazing world and so began my long lover affair with any historical fiction that featured Vikings. Which later introduced me to Tim Severin's Viking trilogy, Robert Low's Oathsworn series (whom I also saw at my first Huddersfield Literature Festival event - didn't get my book signed though silly me) and my newest favourite Giles Kristian with his Raven trilogy.
The over all evening with Bernard was very exciting even though I never got to ask him a question my hand was pounding hard with excitement and nerves as I kept going over in my heard all the questions I wanted to ask. Sadly no one spotted my hand waving frantically in the air but I did get some answers when others asked similar questions.
Turns out the the very character of Uhtred is closely and personally linked to Bernard who it turns out didn't meet his true biological father until the age of 57 (didn't know he had been adopted) and apparently it is from that side of the family that a family tree is shown to have relatives going back to being near enough Lords of Mercia at the time the story is set.
He also answered a suprising number of questions on writing - first he said "always write your story the way you want and the way that suits the story best. If a creative writing tutor says there are rules to writing don't pay him, he's already duped you. Always write the story you want to read first. Writing is a solitary process, there is only ever you doing it when you begin so just do what you think is right, not what other people tell you what they think is right"
Which we all agreed with and this was in response from an american asking whether's its ever ok to write in first person as his writing tutor has told him first person stories never make it. Bernard added "I would simply say, call me Ishmail, Moby Dick was written in first person and it's still a classic literature success. It's always ok to write in first person if you feel it suits the story you're trying to write."
There were many questions and many long and often hilarious answers to them but these two snippets that truly highlighted what a great and understanding guy he is.
When it came to getting my book signed I immediatly wished I had brougth my entire Uhtred series as there quite a few with nice piles of his collection. But he made up for it when he said "I like your t-shirt" I quickly gabbled out that I had made it, he said "I thought you might have done." Which I wasn't sure if that was a good remark or not so I mumbled "It's a valkyrie from my own writing." At that point we posed for a photo and my fifteen seconds of famous company was over.
It was a fantastic night and I went home on a high. Meeting him has only further made me feel guilty for not writing Soul Chaser as much as I should be doing so I'm going to try really hard to get back into the habit of doing 1k in words at least a day and then who knows I might actually hit the half way point by christmas.