Author Archives: findlayauthor

About findlayauthor

I am a 34 year old photographer and author who lives in Israel.

The New Series – Historical Fiction

The first draft of my fantasy sequel has been placed on hold. I am unsure as to what has come over me but I have had an insatiable urge to read and cover history. My goal for my next work is to open the series of my “Memoirs of the Veturii” series with a novel set in Roman Britain.

                My aims in this project are to produce works between novella and novel length which are unique unto themselves. So, like any genre, Roman HF has its tropes to avoid:

  • Sword and Sandal ‘boy novels’ – I do not wish to gloss over historical facts and write pointless and repetitive action scenes full of gore and dialogue littered with modern colloquialisms. Instead, even though the first novel takes place in the Boudicca uprising, I wish to portray the protagonist, Gaius Veturius Drusus as a believable and relatable human being.
  • It’s not 100% relatable – One must bear in mind that my characters are a mix of Stoics, Roman Pagans and British Pagans among others. Their rituals are alien, different and perhaps something more akin to fantasy novels; HOWEVER these were real people and I find the ancients and their ways of life quite fascinating.
  • Info dumping – Still, despite the copious amounts of history books which I am delving through on a nightly basis, it is important to avoid TMI / History information dumps. It just has to somehow be part of the story. So, in my quest to avoid the stereotypical image of thousands of Legionaries (no auxilia) armed to the teeth and equipped with flashy segmented armour as they hack through hordes of barbarians without sweating or getting covered in blood, I have to show mid- 1st century Romans, getting together in their mail suits and doing their thing… BUT WITHOUT IT BEING ANOTHER SWORD AND SANDALS AFFAIR.
  • Women!? – This is a hard one to work on in a war novel as Romans were not very PC by modern standards. In contrast, they were very patriarchal, therefore in a novel about Roman soldiers, most of the characters would be men. The sequel (which I think is probably more original than this first work) shows the aftermath of the Boudicca Rebellion through the eyes of an Iceni woman taken as a slave. So, for this particular work, there are female characters but the male characters take the lead. In later works, I intend to cross genders and cultures and show a variety of different perspectives of the ancient world.
  • Characters – Too many people, too many names. Some characters go by more than one name (their praenomen by their wives, nomen by their superiors and cognomen by their mates) and I have to figure out how and why to simplify the elegance that is Roman nomenclature. Bringing in lots of characters can help set the scene for future books, but one should not overdo it.
  • Historical Characters – It is best to avoid these because a) it is overdone with people speculating on how famous historical figures behaved and b) it is more my goal to show readers a world through the eyes of the regular folk and not exclusively through the perspectives of the rich and famous.
  • Historical events and Plot Structure – Yes, I know that there are all sorts of ways and plot structures to follow like every other novel HOWEVER, the beauty of HF is that I want it to be Historical FICTION and not FANTASY. I will not be changing the timeline of the Boudicca rebellion in the hopes of creating a richer plot, instead my characters will have to fit in with the tragedies as they unfolded within the grander historical context.
  • Language – My protagonist, Gaius Veturius Drusus is an educated son of the Veturii (plebeian branch) whose father owned property in the Aventine Hill and in Ostia. He may not have gotten as far as being able to afford to educate his sons in Rhetoric, yet Gaius studied from age 6 with a Literatus and from age 11 with a Grammaticus named Demetrius. Gaius speaks Latin quite elegantly and is well versed in Greek, having studied works in both languages in his youth and still being a scholar of the Stoic philosophy of life. Gaius, being married to Brigid, a woman of the Dobunni tribe, at the time of the story (by right of connubium) and having served most of his adult life in Britannia is fluent in the Dobunni Dialectic of Brythonic. Sorry then to any swords and sandals fans who expect more modern and colloquial jargon from my MC. NOTE: Swearing in Latin (rusticitas) will be evident in the book as the Romans had it down to an art form. I do not believe that I can truly show people the full picture of Roman culture by excluding their magnificent array of creative profanities.
  • **For example: The dreaded F- you in English was more of a jibe with Romans, yet to say to another man ‘pedicabo ego vos’ (lit. bugger you) is tantamount to fighting words. Gaius will swear on occasion, yet he often succeeds in maintaining his composure under duress. Other characters will be less conservative when using the more colourful elements of Latin vernacular (as accurately translated as possible of course)

Lastly, I need to touch upon the tense. After reading Atwood’s “A Handmaid’s Tale” I felt that the best way to portray trauma and anxiety is actually through the first person perspective. I believe that this will help create a certain empathy with the narrator – thus allowing readers to see him as more than just a generic Roman soldier in a novel. I choose to write in the present tense because I want to expose my readers to the G. Veturius Drusus – Centurio Primus Ordinus et Pilus Prior, Cohortes Evocatus, Vexilatium Veteranorum, Legio XX, Valeria Victrix, Anno 813 Ad Urbe Conditum – as accurately as possible without losing them in the lingo, jargon or lost culture that was Roman Britain.

REVIEW: Online Book Club

If you have a friend who is an author, ask them how important reviews are to them. You will find – if they wish to be successful authors – that they welcome feedback and the criticism just as much as they welcome the ranks and ratings.

I am no different. I received a 3/4 star rating recently from The Online Book Club and the feedback was incredibly helpful. In addition to this, it is rather fun to see that someone else who I have never met in my life enjoyed my story:

As a fantasy reader who has always been captivated by world building, I was taken by The Redemption of Anaìr immediately. From the beginning, readers are launched into Anaìr’s world—both the physical setting and the inner world that torments Anaìr—as Findlay vividly describes Anaìr losing himself to his art. Findlay then takes his audience on a trip through an entirely new land with distinct cultural and religious customs, social hierarchies and expectations, and racial tension. We even get a look into how Solati customs clash with those of the invading forces, the Orvinarr, including their views on gender equality and Solatus’s female warriors. Findlay knows every inch of this land as well as, if not better than, our own, and his ability to create such a fantastic world down to the last detail seems to be his greatest, though not his only, strength here.

Developing alongside this setting and its intricate societies are well-rounded characters, particularly Anaìr. Anaìr is complicated right from the beginning, a talented artist but also a reluctantly cunning warrior, someone looked down upon for his past behavior but revered for his work on the battlefield and, while not everyone will admit it, his artwork. Everyone around him is just as layered, even if the author couldn’t go into their backstories and personalities in as much detail, from worldly warriors to the enigmatic Matriarch. Most importantly, the invaders are not completely one-dimensional, depicted as the more morally corrupt side of the conflict and in league with something evil but not without their human traits. Considering it can be so easy to draw antagonists as completely evil, it’s a relief to see both the heroes and the villains through gray-colored glasses.

It is a relief to see that readers around the world are getting the message which I am trying to portray and is incredibly important to me.

To read the full book review click here.

The Release of the Print Version!

Dearest Readers and Potential Readers

It has been an interesting foray into self-publishing as of late and the adventure is only beginning! The time has finally arrived for me to release my first self-published (and self-formatted) novel in print format.

 “The Redemption of Anaìr” is now available as a print novel through amazon for only $6.99 along with the e-book which is priced at $0.99. Both versions are on sale until the end of 2019.

In addition to this, I have also compiled a mailing list for whoever is interested in following my progress as a writer and reading the various stories which I hope to release in both the Historical Fiction and Fantasy genres.

Those who wish to be removed from this mailing list need only to reply to it and tell me to remove them. One can also follow updates by subscribing to the blog on the website http://alexfindlayauthor.com

As always, reviews and feedback are always welcome and will be a real help in my quest to one day becoming a successful author. For now, please enjoy the updated book trailer and if you have not already purchased “The Redemption of Anaìr” I recommend the glossy covered paperback from this link: https://www.amazon.com/Redemption-Ana%C3%ACr-Alexander-S-Findlay/dp/9659277504

Alternatively, there is always the e-book link: https://www.amazon.com/Redemption-Ana%C3%ACr-Alexander-Findlay-ebook/dp/B07Y2KQP7Z

                Lastly, if you have yet to enjoy the book trailer (edited by yours truly) here is the updated link on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JssOhXCViJE

Yours Faithfully

Alex Findlay

THE E-BOOK LAUNCH: “The Redemption of Anaìr”

The day has finally arrived!

My e-book version for “The Redemption of Anaìr” is now available from amazon from this buying link below:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Y2KQP7Z/

If you are a reader of fantasy and a supporter of Indie artists, please download it and give it a read and a review on amazon and/or Goodreads.

I am sure that you will find it an entertaining story!

The Cartography of S.E. Davidson

I knew that when the time came to put forth my world onto paper, it would need some sort of map to help people develop an idea of the land itself. Solatus is a small island nation, the mainland is barely fifteen thousand square kilometres and the population numbers something like half a million people if one were to include pure blooded Solati, half-blooded Solati and permitted residents.

Most of the Mainland is inhabited by the upper caste of Solati society: The Pureblooded group. This is an ethnically and culturally homogeneous group which could roughly be divided into five sub cultures which have developed over the four hundred years of Solatus’s existence as a nation.

The differences between groups vary slightly, mainly in nomenclature, willingness to allow marriage to certain foreigners or into certain other Solati households, war-paint and variations of some religious rituals in each of the five sacred groves.

The Norreians occupy the north eastern section of the Mainland, mostly in Mother City Norreia, but also in the surrounding mountains, mining communities and rural settlements.

The more rural Westfold folk occupy the north-west of the Mainland, having no cities of their own. People who dwell in communities in the Western Range and the Noldair Forest also tend to identify as “Westfolders.”

The people of White Sands and the only accessible coastline into Solatus are referred to as “Coastal Folk.”

Marshmen in the Eastern Frog Marsh are referred to as “Marshfolk.” They are probably the most reclusive of the Solati purebloods, preferring to fish and hunt the Solati wetlands. They trade mainly with the “Farmfolk” and maintain an almost semi autonomous hold over their small portion of Eastern Solatus. Nevertheless, they fulfill their obligations to the State and to the Matriarchy in the forms religious obligations, taxes to the regency as well as muster to the Solati Guard.

The residents of the rural communities spread out across the Fenlands, Plough Lands and Mannien Moors are referred to as the aforementioned “Farmfolk.”

The other map which I felt that I HAD to have in my story was the battle map. I remember watching Braveheart as a kid. When I got older and read up on Scottish history, I felt that Braveheart didn’t really do as much justice to the facts as people think.

To name but a few of those facts:

1) During the battle scenes, feudal Gaelic speaking Christians are prancing about in wode. This is a blue dye which was either painted or tattooed onto the bodies of the ancient Picts who once inhabited the south eastern parts of what is now Scotland, were pagans and probably spoke a language closer to Brittonic.

2) Kilts? In the late 1200s? I think that they only popped up later…

3) And then there’s the battle of Battle of Stirling Bridge… Where the hell was the BRIDGE??? Come ON Hollywood!!!

Nevertheless, My protagonist seemed to be of like mind to both William Wallace and Andrew Moray with his approach to the Battle of Thane’s Bridge. Though, I think that my Chief Warden had far more time to prepare and fortify in the manner by which a Republican General of Rome (Caesar perhaps?) would have done.

Given that Anaìr did train through the large Imperial War Academy of Teyrras-Lene far to the east of Solatus prior to the events which take place in the novella, the newly appointed Chief Warden had to mix and match and make do with what he had.

I would like to thank Ms. Davidson for putting things into a geographical perspective so wonderfully for my readers! I would also advise anybody perusing this blog to check out The Sketch Dragon website.

Lastly, I think that the best way to experience the whole story – and not just The Battle of Thane’s Bridge – is to actually buy the book from this link.

Cover Reveal

Oh My! But this cover from the talented Fiona Jayde Media was totally worth the investment!

Fiona was prompt and professional when it came to answering questions and adjusting a design to my needs. I am really happy with the results and I encourage any other Indie Author reading this, regardless of the genre, to browse Fiona’s website and portfolio.

Cover and Updates

Okay, so this site has been inactive for a while. This does not mean that I have stopped writing or given up at all!

I am waiting for the last round of editing to arrive from Thoth Editing, a battle map to arrive from Sarah Evelyn Art and I am in the finishing stages of my Print Cover with the talented Fiona Jayde of Fiona Jayde Media (as soon as I know the page count it’s all good to go). Two ISBNs have been paid for and registered – one for an e-book in English and the other for a print copy in English.

Now, that said, an e-book cover is actually ready! However, I am still figuring the ins and outs of the art of a good “cover reveal” so all that features in this post is a skeleton…

In Conclusion to this brief post. I would like to state that this experience has been a more arduous (and expensive) process than I had anticipated and I am waiting for the culmination of the project – the book launch on amazon so that I may finally see it through. That said, I am lucky to have had such talent working on my project (seriously, do yourselves a favour and click on their links) – not to mention my awesome beta readers who will get a mention in their own right in later post – and it has been a tremendous learning curve. I suspect that with the market as it is and the world of indie author book marketing looming, my learning curve is only just entering the early stages…