It’s been a while since I’ve done a little author spotlight..lets rectify that now as I welcome author Steven A. McKay to my blog. Keep reading for my lastest review as well!!
Steven is author of the brilliant Forest Lord series and now The Warrior Druid of Britain series. Not to forget if you are a fan of Audible you should check out his Roman slave tale Lucia!
Let’s get on with the Q&A.. Welcome!!
So I’ve a few questions I hope you won’t mind answering.
After the success of the Forest Lord series it must have been quite daunting starting a fresh new series. Did you worry at all and how has the new series been received?
Yes, it was a bit of a wrench to leave behind my Forest Lord series. Not just because I had really grown to know and love the characters, but because it had done so well for me in terms of sales and reviews. There’s always a chance any new series won’t garner as much interest so, yeah, I was a bit apprehensive of starting a new book with all new characters. But then I began writing The Druid and I realised I was enjoying it immensely – that’s always a good sign! If a book is fun to write, and the characters really entertain you as the author, well, readers might enjoy it too.
I’d say most of my readers like the druid books even more than they did the Forest Lord ones, although some, like you I believe, prefer the latter. As a writer you always want to improve, and create better stories, but it’s also nice to know your previous work has also really touched someone and given them a few hours of entertainment.
N.b – I love them both for very different reasons but without the Firest Lord series we may never have seen you develop and produce The Druid… 5* books every last one!
For those who don’t know about your latest series what would you say to entice them to pick up a copy?
I think it’s set in a period of history that isn’t really that well covered in fiction – post-Roman Britain. It was called the “dark ages” for a long time, but people are now beginning to realise that civilisation didn’t just completely collapse when the Romans left this island. Things changed, of course, and quite drastically, but everyone didn’t become a mad savage overnight – they still had culture and religion and so on and it’s interesting to explore all that. Then of course you add in my main characters like the giant warrior druid Bellicus, little princess Catia, the former centurion Duro, dangerous Saxons Horsa and Hengist, and all the various kings of the time (even Arthur makes a small appearance in the first book) and, well, they’re the perfect guides to Britain in the fifth century.
Apart from all that, the books are free on Kindle Unlimited so if you have a membership why not check them out? They are a great way to escape all the lockdown bleakness just now.
Now I can’t ignore the obvious going on around us. The dreaded COVID19. How are things for you? Many may think this is an ideal time for writing but I know you’ve an important day job.
Important day job? It depends on what you mean by important. It pays my mortgage, but even in these times when so-called “unskilled” workers are finally gaining recognition, I don’t know if a part-time gas and electric meter reader would be classed as that important, ha! But my company told us we weren’t to go out working about 5 weeks ago now, so me and the family have been staying home. Yeah, there’s lots of free time to write, but when there’s so much fear and uncertainty going around, it’s extremely hard to get into the right frame of mind to sit down and work on a novel.
Last week, I decided to write a new Warrior Druid of Britain short story to give away to my email list subscribers and, honestly, that was great. There was no real pressure, I just had to write something fun and entertaining with the specific idea of entertaining myself and my subscribers and the result was “Over The Wall”. My readers enjoyed it and I thought it was good too, so I’ve expanded and polished it and since it was set at Beltane, I’ve decided to make it available on Kindle this May 1st – Beltane! Complete with a professional new cover.
It was really enjoyable to write and kinda focused my mind so I’ve been able to get back onto the novel writing again this week and book 3 in the druid series is coming along nicely.
N.b – All jobs are important if they pay the bills! Ha and look out for my review of Over The Wall… Keep scrolling!!!
Giving the current situation I’ve seen authors have release dates pushed back by their publishers. What’s your take? Me personally I’ve been looking for more books than ever and really do see these luxuries a way to keep us indoors safe.. Ebooks even more so.
Yeah, I agree, it seems a bit strange NOT to publish a new book if it’s all ready to go. Personally, I’ve had a Kindle Unlimited subscription for a long time but I’ve only started to really use it in the last month. I’ve read lots of books on things like ghosts and the unexplained, purely to take my mind off all the scary stuff in real life just now. So, when everyone is stuck at home, looking to be entertained, why not give them new books to read? It seems like publishers are shooting themselves in the foot in that regard, but then hardly any of my sales come from actual print books. About 95% of my readers do it via Kindle so I’m thinking of it in that sense – maybe the big publishers would lose out on a lot of business if they couldn’t have a launch party for a hardback? I don’t know. I suppose, if there’s less books coming out, there’s more chance people will find my back catalog so…
Whats your plans for the next book.. Will we see Bellicus return? he’s got plenty fight left in him?
He’s still in his twenties, so I think he has many years left to kick ass. Duro is older, although, sadly, even though he’s the veteran centurion, he’s a few years younger than me! But yes, Bellicus and Duro are both back in the next book and they’re facing a very tough time. I don’t want to give away too much, but the plot so far has been influenced by what’s happening in the real world just now so it’s pretty bleak in places. But, as anyone who’s read my previous books will know, I always like my characters to live in hopes of prevailing, no matter how dark their circumstances. So, I’m about a third finished and I don’t know how it will end, but I’m sure the gods won’t abandon our heroes!
N.B – I’ve always felt Bellius as a little older… I guess it’s the respect he commands and his presence…certainly he’s far wiser than I was in my twenties! ha
Any chance of any more Robin Hood themed short tales? You have quite a talent for the novella I must say?
Thank you! Yes, I like writing the shorter things as there’s not so much to keep track of, it can all be a bit more linear. My last one, Faces of Darkness was really well received – I think it has the highest average rating of any of my books on Amazon UK, so, although novellas and novelettes never sell as well as novels, it’s great to know that readers appreciate them. It spurs me on to create more in a similar vein so yes, there will be more Forest Lord novellas. I already have a basic outline for another Friar Tuck/Little John mystery, again, like Faces of Darkness based on a real criminal case which I heard about on a podcast. I would expect it to be published in the autumn or winter, all being well with the next druid novel coming out before it in the summer.
If you’re anything like me I’m sure you’ve not had much downtime since lockdown but what have you been doing to keep yourself and the family busy? I know you like your guitars? I’ve never learned to play… I really should.
Oh yes, my guitars have been a really good way for me to escape reality. There’s been a few times, particularly at the start of the lockdown, when I started to feel quite stressed and fearful, and I’d pick up one of my guitars and just start playing along to Metallica or some old death metal song and I’d completely lose myself in the music. Not for very long, but enough to let me relax and really chill out. I’d recommend you start learning an instrument given all this free time we have!
Other than that, my family keep me busy – there’s always another meal to cook, or clothes to be washed, or stories to be read, and there’s the home-schooling thing too just now. I’ve actually never been bored at all, which is pretty incredible. Any time I do feel like quiet time, like I say I’ve been reading stuff on Kindle or browsing the creepy r/unresolvedmsyteries pages on Reddit.
This post is of course a way for me to highlight your awesome books but if you had to pick someone who you think is on fire at the moment in the book world who would it be?
Well, I don’t read much fiction anymore since I have to spend most of my reading time on research for my own books – even in lockdown I’ve been mostly reading non-fiction. I have been really impressed, and pleased, with Matthew Harffy’s rise though. His newest book, Wolf of Wessex, was a cracking read which I was happy to endorse and now he’s even got a TV series in the works which is probably every writer’s dream. I won’t deny I’m jealous of that success, but not in a bad way – he’s a good guy and supports other authors and he likes Iron Maiden so good luck to him!
Lastly, If Bellicus was here today.. would he have any words of wisdom?
I tend to think of Bellicus and Friar Tuck in a similar way, since they’re both hard, fighting men who represent a higher power. I think Tuck’s wise words to Robin in my second novel, The Wolf and the Raven are particularly appropriate for all of us in these frightening times. I wrote that book when I was going through a very tough period in my own life since our second child had just been stillborn, and this particular line of Tuck’s was as much for me as it was for Robin, who’d been beaten, imprisoned and was very close to breaking point:
His eyes welled up, but he angrily wiped them, not giving in to the self-pity that threatened to overwhelm him and he remembered Tuck’s words from not so long ago: “Never give up hope!”
He clenched his fists and forced a smile into the oppressive darkness. It would take more than this to break Robin Hood.
Never give up hope everyone, and stay safe.
If you’d like to sign up for my email list and receive a FREE Forest Lord short story, “The Rescue”, along with regular chances to win signed books, posters, mugs and Audible downloads click here: http://eepurl.com/bqatb5
I’d like to give a big thank you to Steven for appearing on my blog today and what better way can I do that then with a review for his lastest book Over The Wall..
Here’s the blurb
Midnight approaches and in Dun Breatann’s great hall the Beltane feasting continues, with stories and songs and as much meat and ale as anyone could wish for.
On the western side of the towering fortress however, ten small figures make their way up the shadowy rock. Armed to the teeth, and hand-picked for their particular, deadly skills, these warriors have travelled far across the sea from Dalriada and are utterly focused on their mission, despite the fact most – perhaps all – of them will die this night.
High above, guards patrol the fortress walls as usual, but they expect yet another quiet shift for, as everyone knows, Dun Breatann is impregnable.
Over The Wall is a 31 page novella, part of the author’s Warrior Druid series. Written during the lockdown of 2020.
As night falls and drink is flowing King Coroticus’s enemies approach..
Will these dark assassins manage to carry out their plan? it’s almost certain death for them.
What they don’t know is that Bellicus and his trusty hound Eolas are in attendance in the great hall.
31 pages isn’t a lot to fit a story in to but McKay manged it perfectly leaving me eager for the next book in the series to come out.
The plot was fun and the story linking with the Trojan horse fit perfectly.
McKay always manages to give life to characters, even in such a short space of time and I loved the interactions with Gavo, the captain of the guard.. I love that guy.
A fun novella which any fan will be excited to read.. and if you are anything like me it will have you rereading the series.. I need another Bellicus fix and fast.
To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon