I think this blog hop started shortly after the dawn of time but it’s provided a really excellent vehicle for quite a number of historical fiction authors to show off some engaging and interesting characters. The idea is that the author answers a series of set questions about a character who plays a prominent role in one or more of their books. Last week Matthew Harffy posted about his 7th century character, Beobrand, and you can find out more about Beobrand here.
My main character inhabits England over 800 years after Beobrand, more specifically during the period in the 15th century known as the Wars of the Roses.
1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historical figure/person?
My main character is called Ned Elder and he first appeared in my debut historical novel, Feud. Ned Elder is a fictional character but he interacts with real characters and real events, in actual times and places.
2) When and where is the story set?
The story begins in September 1459 in Yorkshire and concerns a feud between two baronial families: the Elders and the Radcliffes. As a consequence of this local feud the two families become embroiled in the larger conflict of the Wars of the Roses.
3) What should we know about him/her?
At the start of the story in 1459, Ned is 18 years old. He is a young knight, the younger son of a minor nobleman and the family have modest estates in the Yorkshire Dales. He is a powerful, but untried swordsman. He is brash and inexperienced and he needs to learn fast – before it’s too late.
As a reviewer recently described him:
“As for the hero, Ned Elder, don’t expect a strikingly handsome ‘knight in shining armour’ winning all and trotting off into the sunset. In fact, ‘hero’ doesn’t really cut it either. This is a man fighting for survival, his birthright and his kin. He has failures, faults and he is bloodied and wrecked – he is real.”
I couldn’t have put it any better myself!
4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
Feud begins with the Elder family under attack from all directions. Their powerful neighbours, the Radcliffes, revive an old feud with the Elders. Ned is forced to flee his home with only a few loyal friends and retainers. He finds that his enemies have the backing of the Lancastrians in the Wars of the Roses. Thus to match their power he is forced to join their rivals, the Yorkists.
It has always been important to me that the story, though fictional, rings true and is in tune with the period in which it is set. The battles must seem real and the characters believable. Ned is warrior and inevitably in the first book we find Ned in the thick of a number of battles. I like to bring the full horror of hand to hand combat to the reader and yes, it can be messy. Ned lives in an environment where people die – sometimes quite violently. I also like to keep the reader guessing about how events will turn out.
5) What is the personal goal of the character?
Though Ned wants to defeat the Radcliffes and recover his lands, his prime aim is to find and rescue his two sisters who have been abducted by the Radcliffes. During the course of the story Ned must learn quickly and negotiate a path of survival not only for himself but those around him. Ned is the main character,but only just, for the story is also about the trials of his sisters too.
The series title is called Rebels & Brothers. The first book is called Feud and the sequel is A Traitor’s Fate. You can find out a lot more about these books on my website at http://www.derekbirks.com
The character of Ned develops during the series as you would expect as he gets older and the series as a whole spans about 12 years of his life.
7) When can we expect the next book to be published?
Feud and A Traitor’s Fate have already been published. The third instalment, Kingdom of Rebels, will be released on September 1st this year, with a final book to come to complete the series in 2015.
I’m now tagging two other historical fiction writers, Matthew Lewis and Andrew Latham, who will post their blog posts on June 9th.
Matthew, like me, writes about the Wars of the Roses period and I am frequently astonished at the wealth of knowledge he has of this period. This is very much borne out in his historical fiction. Matthew was born and grew up in the West Midlands. Having obtained a law degree, he currently lives in the beautiful Shropshire countryside with his wife and children. History and writing have always been passions of Matthew, with particular interest in the Wars of the Roses period. His first novel, Loyalty, was born of the joining of those passions. You can follow Matthew’s blog here.
Andrew is working on his first historical novel, The Quest for the Holy Lance, the first in The English Templar Series, which will be published by Knox Robinson in 2015.
Andrew was born in England, raised in Canada and currently lives in the United States. He holds a PhD from York University in Toronto. Since 1997 Andrew has been a member of the Political Science Department at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he regularly teaches courses in Medieval Political Thought, International Security and Regional Conflict. His most recent publications include a non-fiction book entitled Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics: War and World Order in the Age of the Crusades. You can find out more about Andrew here.