Well, if my own novella is still in the works, I am proud to say that my mother’s work of historical fiction is still in publication and doing the rounds!

It is a novella based on the life of Lady Elizabeth Howard, mother of Anne Boleyn and it is told from her point of view. Those who are familiar with Tudor history will recognise Anne Boleyn as a former Queen of England and second wife of King Henry VIII. Alas, it would be most unfair for me to give a review of a novella written by my mother (five stars – obviously!), but I do recommend it as a more than worthy read for any fans of historical fiction or the Tudor period of England.

  • On Facebook, one can find Deborah Findlay @debswriting

It is a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I cannot think of anybody who has ever read my work, or any posts pertaining to it, that would honestly think that I would write a simple villain. Some magical dark-overlord type who strikes fear into the hearts of his / her enemies, perhaps? Indeed, there are a few of those who pop up in the story line from time but I find them hard to empathise with. I actually prefer characters from whom I can derive inspiration from through their personas as people.

Enter Eahlred Branderson of Hawk’s Rest. He is a perpetrator of vile acts of violence upon civilians and one to be written off (quite accurately) as a ruthless and malevolent individual. Bear in mind that he comes from a setting based loosely on our dark ages and he entered his profession at what we would deem to be a young age (15), but is actually a reasonable age in which one can enter a trade or profession. He is a man-at-arms in the service of nobility and at the time of the story, he is one who has taken part in conflicts in his homeland before.

Now the trick was to post content which is not too explicit and unfortunately, I don’t think that I can risk it with Eahlred’s internal monologue at this stage of the novella. We are talking about somebody who has been abused since childhood and has known mostly violence throughout his adult life. He has committed acts of sexual violence and murder, and some of his experiences and perspectives will come across as repulsive (I should certainly hope so!) to readers. Although, one must bear in mind that this behaviour would have been quite common amongst dark age peoples at war – such as the Anglo-Saxons or the Norse, or even people at war today in various parts of the world.

Where on Earth did I glean inspiration for such a conflicted, wrathful and violent being, one may ask of me? “Why, Planet Earth!” would be my answer.

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Well, it is a slow process, considering that I work full time and dad full time. That said, creative writing is a wonderful form of recreation. I have pretty much gone over the edited version of the second of three parts. Soon I am going to have to look for Beta Readers and assemble a capable launch team.

In this excerpt, I am going to share a battle scene from the perspective of one of the invaders as his company withdraw from the field. I don’t want to mix up a fantasy novella with historical fiction, but the battles of old – those fought with both close combat weaponry, pole-arms, bows and the old torsion based artillery machines were very very brutal.

Some scholars would argue that most casualties in medieval and ancient battles would occur when the loser took flight such as Boudicca’s forces at the Battle of Wattling Street. Other scholars could cite instances when an army in the ancient or medieval world suffered more casualties after being dangerously outmaneuvered such as the numerically superior Roman force being surrounded at Cannae. Even an example of an army suffering heavy casualties after falling victim to a deadly maneuver and losing many men in a related retreat could be cited (Stirling Bridge and the supply train at The Pows…) I would expect fantasy readers to be less picky than Historical Fiction readers in this regard though.

This blog, or more accurately, this story isn’t the platform for an historical debate. Yet although it is a fantasy story, it is still a form of narrative wherein I am still trying to capture the events through (mostly) human perspectives and see how it shapes character development and outlook. Also, one has to try one’s best to put the reader in the position of the point-of-view character, or so I feel. Therefore, I would like any battle scenes to be as practical and ‘realistic’ (the non fantasy elements anyways) as possible so that I can try and immerse the reader into the character’s reality.

Below is an excerpt from one of the battle scenes as seen from the perspective of Éahlred, one of the invaders:

Small fires still burned from the late morning’s deadly advance, spewing their oily, thick black shrouds of smoke into the air. The reek of pitch and charred flesh disturbed the veteran man-at-arms, even after all of these years, after all of the battles and wars he had seen and suffered through. It was the lamb smell mingling with the oil. Charred human flesh always reminded Éahlred of lamb on the spit, which was why he could never partake of a meal with mutton.

“Back up slowly!” Barked a young nobleman–probably Éorbrun. “One rock on your helmet from those damn machines and you die in this field.” Parts of Stiartha’s skull and brain were still on Éahlred’s greaves and on his shield from earlier. The Crimson-Hawk-Upon-Silver was now even more crimson.

Look up, Éahlred, he coaxed himself. Don’t look down. But a groan forced him to look down and watch his footing, nevertheless. “Oh Fuck! Oh Fuck!” the weary warrior had just missed tripping over another man, and he backed over him. The black smoke was getting thicker! He tried his best not to look down for too long, but it was too late. A conical helmet was practically burned into a skull. Half a face had melted away and if on one side there was a beard, muddy pale skin and a half shut blue eye of an Orvinarr man, it was juxtaposed on the other side by exposed teeth, open bone and a bulging eye! ENOUGH ÉAHLRED! LOOKUP! He almost screamed aloud to himself. The sounds from further uphill were not reassuring…

(c) Alexander S. Findlay – Author

Progress on the Novella

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“The Redemption of Anaìr” has progressed since its previous publication as a short story.

I have found an editor for copy editing and proofreading and am currently negotiating prices with a fantasy cartographer.

Why am I paying for this instead of submitting it to a publisher for approval first?

  1. Well, novellas (between 10,000 words and 40,000 words) are a bit harder to impress upon publishers than novels due to their shorter length. I am looking into a series of novellas, based in the same fantasy setting, which focus on aspects of character development as well as plot twists. Works which a reader should be able to finish within two or three sittings – max!
  2. Because novels usually sell for more money, I would prefer to keep my returns on my novellas and reinvest the earnings into the next project. Now, I may sound confident in the story’s ability to sell itself and achieve positive reviews, but this is justifiable as I have had nothing but positive feedback since the publication of “TROA” as a short story – so I decided to go for it!
  3. It is actually a lot of fun!

Please enjoy an excerpt from one of the early scenes:

“And you are going to request to be discharged, I assume? To state before this council that you do not wish this honour and are unworthy?” Dorian enquired.       

Anaìr stared into the fire, his mind drifted to his last meeting with his father. The aging patriarch had stood at his door, requesting permission to enter the property of another citizen–a mark of respect coming from a parent–an acknowledgement of one’s independence and responsibility, despite Anaìr not having started his own household with a woman.

The two men had whiled the afternoon away over herrif and ale, as if the past was irrelevant and their shared history no longer held up any barriers between them. Anaìr remembered looking at someone who could almost be his twin, just shorter and thinner with age, the blond hair having turned to grey.

When the day had darkened, Aed had begun to open himself up about his marriage to his estranged wife, Lysa. He had beseeched Anaìr–not as a father to a son, but more in the manner of one man to another, to see things from his mother’s perspective and perhaps even one day, to find it within himself to forgive her. Anaìr had tried to smile then, but he couldn’t. Instead, had excused himself to prepare dinner. It was no longer a surprise to Anaìr, now that that meeting had occurred between the two of them. Aed was far more akin to his younger son than he was to his other two children – not only in looks, but also in personality and temperament, among other traits. Instead of the fireplace into which he was staring, Anaìr could almost see the Torgayl patriarch mounted on his horse at the garden gate again, ready to depart after his two-day sojourn. His father had looked down at him with a slight smile, shaking his head, almost beaming with a restrained pride:

“Ah my boy, such a fine Torgayl you are! For all of your sins and controversy, you have succeeded in achieving within you this… this harmony of beauty and strength, which so few have ever managed to amend within themselves! My son…”

Aed had clucked at his steed and dug his heels into the flanks of his mount. And then just like that he was gone, trotting down the cobbled lane on his mount as he vanished from sight, leaving his son all alone.

“No, I will not,” Anaìr said softly after a while. The wound of his father’s death still causing his soul to bleed.

“Will not what, Anaìr? Become a Warden?” Asked Dorian

“I will not refuse an ordainment if it is offered to me,” Anaìr answered softly.

(C) Alexander S. Findlay – Author

Hope that you enjoyed it! It is not from the final copy and I intend to keep my readers posted with teasers as I progress 🙂

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I do not think that the question is: “Will it ever happen?” but “When?” I for one, am comfortably mired in the “How” of my Novella, “The Redemption of Anaìr.” I had printed out the rough draft a few weeks ago, but upon reflection found it to be quite a haphazardly structured collection of junk which I could not attach my name to.

At present, I am drawing a close to my first draft of the first part of the book, finding a better clarity with regard to instances such as structure and point of view. My goal is to tell this story – which can be finished in a sitting or two – in the standard novella format of three acts from the perspective of my protagonist, Anaìr.

Anaìr, as a character, contrasts the military veneer of the story, as he is not a soldier by choice, instead, he wishes to pursue a career as an artist. He is also a form of anti-hero and is (or at least was up until the current storyline) quite a flawed man as readers will later discover. I feel that character development and growth – although a challenging topic – should be a central aspect of any good story and I have had quite a bit of fun writing about somebody who is different to myself, if not completely in outlook, then in personality and habit. Anybody who is familiar with the Myers and Briggs 16PF  should know that I am using the ISFP type as a basis for Anaìr’s personality. Though an individual and an artist Anaìr has been conditioned into a highly competent military commander by his experiences and being a highly innovative and creative individual actually compensates for his dislike of organizational structures. As a writer who has served in a military which prizes and encourages innovation and ingenuity from the earliest stages of command, I feel that this combination of experience and character help make my protagonist a highly formidable adversary in his theatre of war.

The country which Anaìr hails from, “Solatus,” is invaded by foreigners who appear to be a collection of societies, mostly based upon the feudal system of old. This stands in quite a stark contrast the more state-orientated socialist matriarchy (which expressly prohibits heads of households from holding land or title) which my protagonist was raised in. The theme then puts the traditionally “fantasy / medieval” society of Nobles, Knights, Men-at-arms and their levies – in the form of the “Orvinarr” against a small nation of civic militarists in the form of the “Solati.” One must also point out that the invading feudalists consider themselves more of a group of “warrior nations” than the defenders, who tend to see civic militarism as an obligation to the State and the rightful duty of all pure-blooded Solati Citizens. Still, the common soldiers on both sides are conscripted or levied to fight, yet I feel that one can definitely call it a clash of cultures as well as a clash of nations.

In addition to this, I have added the points of view of two minor characters whom I hope will fill major roles in future novellas of the series. These scenes are not as extensive as those of the Protagonist as I feel that it is unwise to deviate points of view within the brevity of a 30-40k word novella as opposed to a longer novel.

There is also supernatural / fantasy element of course. There is a reason that people have been so unwilling to invade Solatus over the centuries and as the story unfolds, one realizes that it is not mere superstition which has deterred invaders in the past…

A link to the previously published short story of the same name can be found here. I hope to have a novella ready by the time the rights revert back to me in another five months.

This post is an introduction to my website as an author. I have recently pulled a historical fiction novelette of mine from a publisher and am in the finishing stages of a fantasy novella. The time has come to place my writing blogs and any updates related to my publications on a separate website.

finphoto.net is still active and I am posting fairly frequently regarding my photographic exploits and endeavours, having now moved over to being a Sole Proprietor of “Findlay Photography and Digital Services.”

I decided to re-post and brand my publications separately for both my own convenience and for that of exploring surfers, hence the purpose of this site which I will be developing over the coming months.

Watch This Space

Do as the title suggests, because this site is about to get a lot more interesting…