Posted by: Christine | March 27, 2013

Reading and Writing

On Monday I returned to the local hospital for an x-ray, which confirmed that my shoulder fracture had mended. I have now thrown away my sling and am free! I will need some physiotherapy as my arm is very stiff, but I can do a lot more. At the moment I am trying to get used to typing with two hands again – more difficult than you’d think!

So what have I been doing with all my enforced leisure? Well I think I mentioned that I have been making a lot of use of my Kindle – and have discovered some of the rubbish that appears in the Kindle Store special offers. In fact one book I read inspired me to post a customer review, for the first time ever (more later).

I have also been doing a bit of proof reading. My husband has been writing a book about the history of Rugby Radio Station, where he spent the whole of his working life. Anyone who has travelled up the M1, M6 or A5 will have seen the tall masts, gone now, visible for miles, especially at night with their red lights. Everyone wondered what went on there – now you will be able to find out (no, they weren’t connected with Daventry radio masts nearby!)

I am not qualified to judge the technical bits, but I have been checking the commas, apostrophes  and capital letters. And of course the spelling (although some would say that is a case of the blind leading the blind!). My favorite error was the reference to playing snooker with a queue – so was that what they did there?

I have also been doing a bit of writing myself. No – not my book about John Madder, but some fiction! It all started at Christmas. I decided to write a festive, genealogical ghost story, for this blog. I knew exactly what I wanted to write, but couldn’t get it down on paper (or rather the computer). This puzzled me – I chunter away here about all sorts of things – why not fiction? While I was pondering this, I picked up the Percival Guildhouse brochure and noticed they were running a nine week course called “Writing Fiction”, so, with trepidation, I signed up. (The trepidation was because I once did a dayschool there on creative writing – it was terrifying – live writing of poetry!)

My trepidation was unwarranted – the group turned out to be very friendly. It has been running for some time and the tutor is Gill Vickery. She writes children’s fantasy books (in fact her latest, The Opal Quest: DragonChild book 2, was published a couple of weeks ago, if you have any children in your family)

The classes consist of exercises and discussion and everyone seems to have their own book on the go. After a couple of false starts, I have now started “my novel”. So what is it about? Well obviously it is historical –  Something inspired by my family history research perhaps? All those Madders involved in the Napoleonic Wars? Perhaps Victorian servants, or that Elizabethan spy (I haven’t blogged about him yet!) or even John Madder (should I change my non-fiction book to fiction?). Or what about a genealogical detective story?

None of these – I’ve started writing about Byrhtnoth. He died in 991 at the Battle of Maldon (there was a famous poem written about it), where he was the leader of the Anglo-Saxon forces against the Vikings. Why? He is not a relative, although he was Ealdorman of Essex so I suppose that is possible. I went to the anniversary of the battle in 1991, but haven’t thought about it since. I was just trying to think about what to write about and suddenly, there he was. Others on the course have mentioned minor characters suddenly taking over their stories, so perhaps it’s something like that.

Statue of Byrhtnoth at Maldon

Statue of Byrhtnoth at Maldon

I am now deep into researching the Anglo-Saxon period.  Who was king ? What was happening at the time? – I’m starting from his childhood, of which nothing is known (conveniently). I’ve been planning what happens to him, and when. And Names….!! I don’t have time for this! I’ve only written about 3000 words so far and he’s taking over my life.

I’ve signed on to continue the course after Easter, and I’ll keep you posted on my progress. But don’t worry – I won’t inflict any of my fiction writing on you. Not until next Christmas, anyway!

And that iBook I mentioned above? I was searching Amazon to see if anyone else was writing about Byrhtnoth and came across a teen novel (not my usual reading matter) called Viking Sword Saxon Shield. It was less than £2 but I regret wasting even that amount on it. The only good thing was, it inspired me – I couldn’t write as bad as that – could I?


  1. Excellent! Welcome to the ranks of fiction authors!

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