Historical Novelists’ 4 Day Book Fair – Derek Birks

bookfHi, if you’ve reached this page you’re either looking for my entry in the Historical Novelists’ Book Fair or you were expecting to find a post by me. I suppose it’s also possible you may have arrived here completely at random and not expecting to find either. In any or all of these cases, welcome to my blog. 

derek_birksI write historical fiction. Well, to be a bit more specific, I write historical fiction with a lot of action in it. If you are looking for characters contemplating the meaning of life in an historical setting then my book is not for you. I like something to be happening nearly all of the time. I write about what I’d like to read about: interesting characters driving non-stop action in an authentic historical background.

I’m a debut novelist and Feud is the first of a series of stories following the fortunes of the Elder family in fifteenth century England during the period of the Wars of the Roses.

This is the story of Feud:

September 1459. As the Wars of the Roses begin and the rule of law breaks down, some old local scores are being settled. The Radcliffe family strike hard with no warning against the neighbouring Elders. A father is executed, a brother is butchered and two sisters are abducted. Emma Elder is dragged from her home and forced to marry the Radcliffe heir. Her younger sister, the beautiful and unconventional Eleanor, is violently abducted and imprisoned in a nunnery.

In a day the Elder family’s world has been destroyed and nothing will ever be the same again… Only Ned Elder, a young knight, is left to fight back with the help of a few loyal companions.

As the Wars of the Roses unfold, Ned, his sisters, his companions in arms and the girl he loves are forced into a desperate fight to the death with their Radcliffe enemies. No one is safe as the bitter feud is played out to its brutal conclusion. All is in the balance and the fighting does not stop until the final page.

For more information about Feud and where to get hold of it – should you want to – click the cover image above and you will find yourself at my website. But here is a little taste of the three members of the Elder family who are caught up in the Feud:

Ned Elder is a young knight, but his training as a swordsman has not prepared him for what he encounters:

“He threw his weight forward, finding the strength to lift his sword again and stab it up under the knight’s armpit. It seemed to barely penetrate the joint in the armour, but it was enough. He sucked in a lungful of cool, damp air and drove the injured man back with blow after blow. As he stepped forward he felt a bone crack beneath his feet and realised with a sick feeling that he was crushing the fallen underfoot – friend and foe alike. How far removed this was from his boyhood training. Here in the sweated press of battle, brute strength counted, not finesse.”

His sister Emma is 17 and has managed their father’s household since the early death of her mother.  The feud rips her from her peaceful life centred around the family house and garden:

“Emma lay stiff and cold in her new bedchamber at Yoredale Castle. Her hair, normally so neatly tied back, hung in black tangles on her shoulders; her deep brown eyes were red rimmed and her cheeks streaked with tears. She had lain awake for hour upon hour, sifting through the chaos of the day… only dimly aware of the light changing as longer shadows infiltrated her room. For all her tears, she knew there was nothing to be done. She would submit to her guardian, she would marry Richard Radcliffe, she would play the dutiful wife, she would pray for God’s help and she would bide her time.”

Finally their younger sister, Eleanor, a fiercely independent and unconventional redhead -anything I say about her will be an understatement. Here she is taken on the day the Feud begins:

“She seized upon their doubts, running at them, twisting this way and that and turning her blade on any man who got too close. Several tried to disarm her but clutched handfuls of air as she moved rapidly around them, stabbing at them and using her swift, lithe movement to wrong foot them.
She snarled at her adversaries like a wounded she-wolf, blazing eyes frantically seeking an escape route. She looked desperately towards the river but the blows rained in upon her from all sides and, with a final, bitter scream, she succumbed.”

For those who have read Feud and want to know what happens next, do not despair: the second book in the series is due out in the summer of 2013. To keep up with progress you can always follow me on Twitter @Feud_writer.

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11 Responses to Historical Novelists’ 4 Day Book Fair – Derek Birks

  1. Thank you for taking part, Derek.

    Nothing wrong with historical action novels rather than those centred on navel gazing! I like the character names and look forward to reading Feud.


  2. Pingback: Historical Novelists 4 Day Book Fair | Suzi Love

  3. Anne Gallagher says:

    This is such a fascinating subject. And with sword fights! Yay!

  4. Kiru Taye says:

    Acton and intrigue. Yay, another for my TBR! I’m already exceeding my budget on this book fair tour.

  5. A man after my own heart! Now and then my characters do contemplate before being swallowed back into a maelstrom of action 😉 Sounds like a good read!

  6. I do love a good Blood Feud! Mine is also about a blood feud set in the 11thc. This is definitely one I want to get!

    • Derek Birks says:

      Thanks Paula. I have Sons of the Wolf firmly on my radar. 11th century is a period that interests me a lot but I think I’ve got my hands full for a while with the Wars of the Roses.

  7. Thanks for the extracts, Derek – I think my characters might have a less energetic life than yours though themes of loss and difficulty are universal. Richard

    • Derek Birks says:

      Historical fiction is a broad genre so there’s room for all I think. I like to ensure that readers are clear what they are getting as it’s not to everyone’s taste.

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