Tag Archives: Robin Hood

Athour Spotlight – Steven. A. McKay plus review!

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!!!

over the wall medium

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

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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

Beltane, AD425
Northern Britain

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.
Isn’t it?

Review

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.

5* Novella!

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

The Forest Lord Collection by Steven A. McKay. (@SA_McKay)

Any follower of my blog with have heard the name Steven A. McKay, the brilliant author of the fantastic Forest Lord series. The series follows one of my favourite characters ever.. Robin Hood!

What really sucked me into the series is it felt real and fresh and that mainly came from the change in setting for the series, namely Barnsdale. I asked the author about this and this is what he had to say

When I started researching the Robin Hood legend I realised the original ballads were actually set in Yorkshire, not Nottingham. I knew I had to stick pretty closely to the well-known tales, but somehow stand out from all the other modern retellings – moving the setting away from Sherwood was the ideal way to do that while still remaining faithful to the earliest ballads.

McKay continue..

I wanted The Forest Lord series to be familiar to fans of Robin Hood, yet, at the same time, new and fresh and exciting and not just another rehash of the same old story.

I’ve previously reviewed the books separately but now the box set is out I thought it high time to update/combine my reviews 🙂

Here we go..

So we’ve all heard of Robin Hood yes? Of course we have. As a boy Robin Hood was always one of my favourite characters. This was one of my reasons for buying this series and I’m so glad I did! McKay gives us the Robin Hood we never knew we wanted.. and damn it’s good!

McKay has decided to revamp the whole Robin Hood tale, moving the location to Yorkshire when England was under the reign of Edward II. This makes the book quite refreshing as it’s moved away from the well-known tale set in Nottingham. From the authors notes you can see a lot of thought and hard work has went into this series and it shows.

The story starts with Hoods early life and the events that led him to become an outlaw. We see him climb the ranks to eventually lead this band of outlaws.

Along the way we see him deal will conflict not only with the rich people of Yorkshire but also himself and the outlaws where personalities clash.

Even though the setting has changed we still have the heroes we all know and love, Little John, Friar Tuck, Will Scarlet & Much.

Chapter after chapter you see the tension grow as McKay takes you from one characters journey to another, friendships are made.. and broken… this isn’t a tale of merry men.. but desperate men who want only to live life or care for their family..it’s a struggle. There’s plenty of humour within the tale but the underlying struggle to stay alive keeps you on the edge of your seat!

We see Robin beaten, men killed, imprisonments, executions the works

The word that springs to mind about this series is “Growth” Not only does each storyline improve on the previous one but McKay has managed to grow his characters superbly throughout the series. You can really tell the author has put a lot of time and energy into his work.

What I really enjoyed about these books is that the author takes risks, the heroes don’t always live, it was gobsmackingly refreshing.

This series is dark, gritty and downright engrossing.. You never know what will happen next and when events play out your heart is in your mouth it’s pumped that fast!

The end of the series is a true highlight. Not only does it do the series justice but it also leaves fate to the reader.. read into that what you will 🙂

I strongly recommend the series..I bought 2 paperbacks of each book just so I could share with my dad who I knew would love it just as much as me.. do yourself a favour and get the 4 book set for £9.99… bargain price!

 

The Rescue And Other Tales: includes The Escape and The Prisoner by Steven A. McKay – Review

Title – The Rescue And Other Tales: includes The Escape and The Prisoner
Author – Steven A. McKay
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 80 Pages
Publication – Sept 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Three short tales from the bestselling Forest Lord series, two of which are in the exclusive Kindle Singles Program, published in paperback for the first time.

THE ESCAPE

All he wanted was a quiet drink…

It’s spring, 1323 AD, and John Little, notorious outlaw, seeks to forget his troubles in a Barnsley alehouse. He didn’t count on the place being packed to the rafters with drunk, belligerent Scottish mercenaries though. This stand-alone Forest Lord tale sees one of England’s favourite sons in a battle for his very life that will hugely entertain all lovers of action and adventure.

“A short tale of Little John that packs a wallop as vicious as his quarterstaff!” – Parmenion Book Reviews

THE PRISONER

When two lawmen – fabled former outlaws themselves – are sent to a snowy English village to arrest a rapist it seems a straightforward task, but is all as it first appears?

Can Robin Hood and John Little complete the mission they’ve been given, or will their own innate sense of justice lead them down an unexpected path?

“A delightfully crafted, deceptively simple little glimpse of life in early 14th Century England.” – 5 Stars, Steve Denton of Speesh Reads

THE RESCUE

When a faithful friend goes missing from an English village it’s up to an unlikely hero to find out what’s happened in this action-packed tale.

“Once again Steven A. McKay delivers a story that, although short, hits like an arrow in the guts.” – Stuart S. Laing, author of Jezebel’s Chains

Review

I’m a big fan of Steven’s work and I’ve read each of the stories included in this bundle in kindle format previously. Why I’m I reviewing this bundle? Well I purchased 2 signed copies from the author, 1 for me and 1 for my dad (he loves the books too and Christmas is fast approaching). I can honestly say I’ve got all Steven’s books as paperback and always felt the collection wasn’t complete..This was a collection of tales I’ve been hoping would be released.

I’m going to try hard not to cover old ground..instead I’m going to focus on this version of the tales rather than the single editions and give an overall option.

What we get is a very neat and tidy looking book packed full of adventure. These are the kind of tales that really get me pumped up, short and full of action.

The tales themselves go side by side with the authors Forrest Lord series and are a perfect introduction to the author if you’ve never read his work and want to have a taster first.

One thing I particularly liked is the author included a suggested reading order, perfect for a long series if you are just starting out.

As much as I loved the main novels from McKay I think the shorts really show his talent. Providing such good stories in very few pages that really suck you in.

The Escape features our big friend Little John as the main character, it was a tale I’ve been bloody well waiting for but it was so worth it. 19 pages.. but that’s 19 pages of action and adventure. Little John has such a pleasing personality and the plot was perfect for the character.

The Prisoner again features Little John but this time Robin is here too 27 pages but you get a wallop of an ending!

The Rescue is the author’s way to let others have the limelight again as the focus shifts away from Robin once again, this time the girls play their part in an action packed, gory tale. I’m not going to spoil if for you but this tale shows the girls are just as tough as the boys.

The main thing a like about these tales is the author doesn’t lose any of the humour I’ve become used to from his longer works, if anything these books give a bit more dimension to the characters as the author focuses on individuals rather than Robin and his whole band of outlaws.

Short stories can easily go wrong, not enough plot, no real development and sometime you just find yourself thinking did this story really need written? Well that’s not this book. This collection hits the mark just as Robin’s arrow do!

Fantastic little collection that can be yours in time for Christmas, it’s the perfect quick read..let’s hope my dad agrees, he’s not tech savvy so I’m not worried this review will spoil the surprise on Christmas day ha.

Let’s hope we see some more shorts from the author..I want to see The Abbey of Death in paperback too 🙂

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

The Abbey of Death by Steven A. McKay – Review

Title – The Abbey of Death
Author – Steven A. McKay
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 97 Pages
Publication – 26th Sept 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

He wanted to find peace in prayer, but some men serve God best with a sword in their hand.

Will Scaflock wants only to live in peace. He had more than his share of adventure when he went by the name Will Scarlet and fought corrupt authority alongside Robin Hood. Now widowed and alone, and estranged from his adult daughter, he has taken holy orders and sought refuge in a remote Benedictine abbey.

But even there, trouble and violence follow him. The abbot, John de Wystow, is a good man but a weak leader, and easily undermined by a faction of dissident monks. When the rebels, led by Brother Robert de Flexburgh, run riot in the local community—stealing, drinking, fornicating—Scaflock’s old instincts return. Reluctantly taking charge of the abbey’s moral defence, he finds himself embroiled in a series of fierce clashes with de Flexburgh’s rowdy gang.

As the abbey’s tranquillity is shattered, its cloisters stained with blood, Scaflock is forced to reconsider the direction of his life. Has he really left Will Scarlet behind him—or has he simply been running from reality?

Review

I’m a big fan of Mckay and as much as I knew the end was neigh for the Forrest Lord series featuring Robin Hood I couldn’t help but feel a little down.. I loved the every bit of the series and it was just a shame It had come to an end….Luckily for me the author knows what his readers want and gives them another short that sits alongside the series.

This short is set years after the events of the main Forrest Lord series, Will Scarlet has moved on.. he’s older now and as the world moves on around him he struggles to find his place.

Will ends up turning to religion and is now Brother Scaflock.

We all know Will though don’t we? If he doesn’t find trouble..trouble will find him.

There’s a good plot involving some unruly monks and town’s people who are at their wits end but when things turn violent one night and the stakes are raised Will becomes gods tool. You really do feel like he was sent to the abbey for a purpose in life.

Will has his internal battles. He’s convinced he has no place in this world and he can’t seem to shake his old life.. but let’s be honest we don’t want him too!

What I really like about the book is it gave me a little closure..it’s what I needed to really say goodbye to the character. The end of Will’s tale just felt right and I was left with a big smile at the end.

What the author gives us is another cracking short that builds on his larger works. It’s got the edge to it that makes it dark and gritty at times but over everything else it’s just fun and riveting. As a young kid I grew up on stories of Robin Hood and these books keep the little boy inside me giddy with anticipation every time I read them.

I’m really looking forward to what the author comes up with next as he moves away from Robin Hood and his band of outlaws.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

The Escape by Steven A. McKay – Review

Title – The Escape: A Forest Lord Short Story
Author – Steven A. McKay
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 19 Pages
Publication – 3rd April 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

All he wanted was a quiet drink…

It’s spring, 1323 AD, and John Little, notorious outlaw, seeks to forget his troubles in a Barnsley alehouse. He didn’t count on the place being packed to the rafters with drunk, belligerent Scottish mercenaries though.
The locals all respect – even fear John – but the strangers from the north only see in him the chance to claim a great bounty.
When the hard stares and furtive whispers turn into explosive violence the chase is on. Without any of his famous friends to help him though, will it mean the end for the giant outlaw?

This new stand-alone Forest Lord tale sees one of England’s favourite sons in a battle for his very life that will hugely entertain all lovers of action and adventure.

Review

So this is a super short fun tale that fits in with McKay’s Forest Lord Series. It slots in nicely between books 2 & 3 so I’d advise not reading this until you’ve finished book 2 at least.

McKay’s Forest Lord series mainly focuses around Robin Hood as you’d expect so this short is a good chance to shine light on Little John.

It’s short at 19 pages but does offer an action packed little tale to read. The plot is really good and it was a really nice change of focus Robin not being involved. Little John gets to show how much of a formidable opponent he is and the image McKay paints is spot on with how I’d imagine the character myself.

I do hope we see more short tales as I think these are the perfect accompaniment to the series.

As usual with McKay you get great writing and can expect a bit of violence but it’s not overly gruesome, which is one of the things I like about this authors books. I know it sounds weird but he manages to add fun to the fight.. That makes sense right? Ha

Overall this is a good short from McKay and it ticks all the right boxes but it really does highlight how much I miss the series. *Sighs*

Definitely one for the fans of the author and let me tell you that ending is what makes it 5*

To find out more head to Amazon or Goodreads

The Prisoner: A Forest Lord Novelette by Steven A. McKay (@SA_McKay) – Review

Title – The Prisoner: A Forest Lord Novelette
Author – Steven A. McKay
Genre – Historical Fiction
Publication – 20th December 2016
Pages – 27 Pages
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

When two lawmen – fabled former outlaws themselves – are sent to a snowy English village to arrest a rapist it seems a straightforward task, but is all as it first appears?

England 1325 AD

As Robin Hood and Little John take the criminal into custody they find the people of Stapleford accommodating enough and the terrified victim’s bruises are plainly visible. Inevitably, as they set off on the journey back to Nottingham the lawmen’s disgust at the captive’s crime colours their opinion of him and Little John has to be restrained from brutally assaulting the man.
The harsh winter conditions slow their progress though, and eventually the prisoner’s protestations and desperate violent actions have the lawmen questioning what’s really been happening in Stapleford…

Can Robin and John complete the mission they’ve been given, or will their own innate sense of justice lead them down an unexpected path?

Fans of the bestselling Forest Lord series will love this exciting new stand-alone tale, set just before Blood of the Wolf, that explores the themes of morality and justice in medieval England.

Review

The Prisoner is a short story in the absolutely brilliant Forest Lord series by Steven A. McKay which brings fresh life to the tale of Robin Hood.

This short is 27 pages long which isn’t much but you get a good little story for your 99p.

If like me you’ve read the rest of the Forest Lord series you’ll be needing a fix of McKay right about now and this does the job nicely.

What I really enjoyed about this tale is once again how the author manages to give an ending I didn’t see coming. You really never know with McKay what twists and turns he’s going to throw at you.

For me the story ticks all the right boxes for a short tale. If you’re familiar with the series you’ll love being back, and if you’ve not read the series yet this would a be a great insight to McKay’s Robin.. you can’t go wrong for 99p in my opinion.

This isn’t a Christmas tale but it does have an ending which can bring a smile to your face and give you a bit of joy which is exactly what you need at this time of year. Justice will be served.

Everyone is busy with the holiday season so this is the perfect tale for you, it’s not a big commitment and it’s got a strong story which builds on the series and characters we’ve grown to love

Top notch for a short story

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

Blood of the Wolf by Steven A. McKay – Review

Title – Blood of the Wolf
Author – Steven A. McKay
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length –  386 Pages
Publication – 14th October 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

ROBIN HOOD RETURNS!
And this time the legendary wolf’s head is working for the sheriff…

After winning his freedom in Rise of the Wolf, Robin – with his faithful lieutenant John Little at his side – now spends his days travelling around northern England dispensing King Edward II’s justice.
When a new band of outlaws appears in Barnsdale, Sheriff Henry de Faucumberg sends Robin and John to deal with them. Before the lawmen can track them down though, Will Scaflock is attacked and another of their old companions murdered in his own home by the outlaws whose leader seems to have only one thing on his mind:
Bloody vengeance!

Will Robin’s reunited gang be enough to defeat this savage new threat that seeks to wipe them out one by one? Or will another old foe provide the final twist that sees England’s greatest longbowman dead and buried?

This stunning conclusion to the bestselling Forest Lord series will delight and entertain readers looking for action packed historical fiction in the mould of Scarrow, Kane and Cornwell!

Review

Robin is back! And this is the best yet. Dark, gritty and downright engrossing.

After the last book I had no idea what would be coming next but not in a million years did I imagine him working for the sheriff, and that he has grown to like/respect the man.. neither did I expect to feel the same way!

Characters are turned on their head at the beginning of the tale, Robin isn’t the man he was..he’s changed and we gradually learn why..Robin can’t help everyone and some people will always take advantage. It was an interesting twist to Robin to see him grow and understand this after his time as a wolf’s head.

Quickly this new Robin makes a few enemies and old faces come back to haunt him. I won’t give the game away but these new outlaws have a brutal and familiar leader..and I hated him so so much…McKay’s storytelling is very emotive..it was so easy to form my opinions of the characters.. so much so I could have been right next to Robin in the action I was that taken in by the tale

Robin has to bring his old gang back together one last time to stop these outlaws but a lot has changed over the years. They are older..some settled. Will they all make it out alive? Well let’s just say it’s not McKay’s style to have everyone survive is it..but even I was shocked at the brutality of this tale.. it’s the darkest of the series so far and brought something extra to the tale. With the other books in the series I always felt Robin would win.. this one I just wasn’t sure he had it in him..this feeling kept me reading until the early hours as I had to find out if he could make it out of this one.

Growth is the word I’d pick to describe this book, I honestly feel not only did Robin grow but so has the author.. this is his best yet and this plot left it wide open for the author to really use his imagination.. and boy has he!

This is the dark and gritty Robin I’ve been waiting for all my life since I heard about him as a little boy. It’s the perfect mix of the hero we all know about with added darkness and determination to really make the tale believable

I’m never one to give away an ending but this one was done to perfection..leaving the reader to contemplate events and really look back at the journey our hero has taken

McKay has delivered when I thought the series had come to a natural end and has given us his best tale yet.

My favourite little scene in book was when Robin had been playing with his son and Little John visits. While the men talk Arthur goes quiet and the author hints it’s when kids go quiet you have to be worried not when they are making noise.. as a dad of two I really understand this ha.

McKay’s true talent lies in the development, he makes everything come alive and as a reader you can really get to grips with the tale.. become a part of it.. lose yourself in the moment.

Top notch!

My thanks go to the author for the review copy and i’m very pleased to say i got my pre-ordered copy delivered to my tablet first this this morning 🙂

The book is out today! to find found more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

10 Questions with… Steven A. McKay

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Today i bring to you an interview with the awesome Steven A. McKay author of the brilliant Wolf’s Head which is book one of his Robin Hood series.

The series is currently made up of 3 novels and 2 novellas. If you’ve not had a look at them please click the images below to be directed to my reviews 🙂

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Now on with the questions!!

1) For anyone who follows my blog I’m sure they will be aware of your work but for anyone who’s not read any of your books yet what would you say to them to get them to give them a go?

It’s historical fiction without the “gadzooks” or “prithee” bollocks. I wanted to write stories set in medieval times but with people you and I could relate to. Normal people, rather than high born knights and ladies. Of course, I’d like to think the tales are exciting and keep you on the edge of your seat but I’ll leave your reviews to deal with that…

2) After reading your Robin Hood series you’ve left me needing more, you’re going to fill that void with a Christmas novella staring Friar Tuck. What made you decide to give the good Friar his own story?

I wanted to write a Christmas tale because I love the season so, really, who else could star in it? It’s a Christian holiday, whether you celebrate it in that way or not, so it was obvious the bold friar should take the lead.

3) I personally love a good novella; I feel it can give a great insight to an author’s writing style while also giving the author a great chance to elaborate on characters or events touched on in other books. I know not all readers agree. What are your views?

Some stories aren’t made to be told in 100,000 words. One of my favourite writers is HP Lovecraft – can you imagine ANY of his stories stretched out to novel length? They’d be awful! They work perfectly as novellas, and I’d like to think my two shorts work as well.

In terms of writing them, they’re great fun, it’s almost like a holiday! You don’t have to worry about side-plots or extra characters, you can just concentrate on one storyline and keep it simple and I really enjoy that because my full length novels tend to have lots of other stuff going on.

Amazon clearly agree – they have the Kindle Singles Programme which is described as “Compelling ideas expressed at their natural length” and Friar Tuck and the Christmas Devil was accepted into that exclusive programme so that says it all for me.

4) Looking back at my reviews for your books so far I note a common theme. Namely you’re not afraid to kill off characters. Were you not worried your readers might not like the direction you took?

No, when I’m writing a book I don’t think about how readers will view it. Don’t get me wrong, once it’s done and it goes out I shit myself wondering if anyone will enjoy it! But in the writing process I do whatever I think will work. When it comes to killing off characters, I feel like if I DON’T kill characters it would be unrealistic and readers would see them as superheroes which is not what they are at all.

They are, as I said earlier, normal people, and normal people die.

5) One of the best things about your Robin Hood series is that you’ve put a new twist on the old tale. Why did you decide to move away from the well-known tale we all know and move away from Sherwood Forest?

The original, very first Robin Hood stories were set in Yorkshire. When I started to research the legend my idea was to make it as close to the first stories as possible so I was surprised – and pleased – to find that fact out. It gave me something new right from the off. Who else writes about Robin Hood the Yorkshireman?! That old story has been done to death and even now there’s new novels about him coming out every few months but as far as I know I’m the only one placing him where he was originally, in Barnsdale, in the time of Edward II.

6) Who have been your biggest influences within the writing community?

The two guys that inspired me to actually do it were SJA Turney and Gordon Doherty. I saw their books doing so well, even without the backing of a publisher, and it gave me the confidence to do it myself.

In terms of my actual writing, it’s hard to say. Bernard Cornwell is an obvious influence but I take bits from whatever I’m reading that strikes a chord in me, such as the aforementioned HP Lovecraft, or John Fowles whose The Magus I recently revisited. It all goes into the old brain box and comes back out in my writing in some way!

7) To give your readers an insight in to the writing process how long does it usually take to get from an idea to publication? Do you have many rewrites?

I couldn’t really give an answer to that for the simple reason I have an 8 year old daughter and a 2 year old son! When I wrote my debut novel, Wolf’s Head, and the follow up The Wolf and the Raven, I only had my wee girl and she would be in bed at 8pm every night so I could get to work. But now, my boy is up to all hours being wild hahaha! It’s meant I’ve not been able to work as much as I’d like on my new book and even the last one took longer than it should have.

In general a novel takes me about a year from start to finish. I don’t really rewrite anything much. I tend to ADD things rather than rewriting them.

I seem to be really lucky in that respect – a lot of writers can spend all day working on a chapter then bin the lot because it’s crap! If I write a chapter it ends up in the book pretty much as I wrote it in that first sitting.

8) How important is feedback from your readers?

It depends. I really appreciate constructive criticism that I can do something about – for example someone said in a review that my new Rise of the Wolf audiobook had a line that repeats. So I’ve been working with ACX and my narrator this weekend to get that sorted. That was invaluable feedback.

I do read EVERY review that appears on Amazon and I take in what’s being said. I’ve adjusted plots or even just character traits as a result so yes, I do take feedback on board. I’d be daft not to.

9) So far you’ve stuck with writing about Robin Hood and the other characters within the series. Do you ever think you’ll move away from them onto something new?

Oh aye! I’ll write one more Robin book to finish his story off, with perhaps another novella using those characters, but then I’ll move onto a completely new series. I’ve got loads of ideas for it – a main character, titles, plot lines, even the books I’ll need to research the period!

10) Linking in nicely with the previous question.. Future plans? I’d definitely like to know what you’ve got planned for us next

I’ll be sticking with Britain as the setting but going a few hundred years further back in time from my Robin Hood books…I plan on making the next series about a druid but he’s more like a cross between Little John and Friar Tuck than the old white-beard from the Asterix stories! This guy will be a hardman who’s a real product of his time, so possibly something of an anti-hero…

I can’t say more because I’ve not really planned anything out. I need to tie up the Robin Hood series

first so, next year, 2016, keep your eyes peeled!

Thanks for this Steven! Very much looking forward to reading more books from you in the near future 🙂

If you didn’t know Steven’s latest novella is available now! and it’s perfect for Christmas. Click the image below to head to Amazon where you can get your copy!

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Rise of the Wolf by Steven A. McKay – Review

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Title – Rise of the Wolf
Author – Steven A. McKay
Genre – Historical Fiction
Publication – Expected 31st July/1st August 2015
My Rating – 5/5

Synopsis

Sir Guy of Gisbourne is back!

Bent on vengeance against Robin Hood and with a turncoat new lieutenant in tow, an unlikely new hero must stand up for herself…

YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND – 1323 AD

The greenwood has been quiet and the outlaws have become complacent, but the harsh reality of life is about to hit the companions with brutal, deadly force thanks to their old foe, Prior John de Monte Martini.

From a meeting with King Edward II himself to the sheriff’s tournament with its glittering prize, the final, fatal, showdown fast approaches for the legendary Wolf’s Head.

New friends, shattered loyalties, and a hate-fuelled hunter that threatens to wipe out not only Robin’s companions but his entire family will all play their part in the RISE OF THE WOLF.

Review

This is the third book in the series and i can honestly say the books go from strength to strength. If you’ve not  read my reviews for the first two books have a look here at Wolf’s Head and here for The Wolf and the Raven

A word that springs to mind about this series is “Growth” Not only has each story line improved on the previous one but Steven has managed to grow his characters superbly throughout the series. You can really tell the author has put a lot of time and energy into his work.

In my previous review for The Wolf and the Raven i commented on how i felt some of the characters only played small parts… not in this book. Steven managed to give a lot of the characters the word count they deserved and ended up with a cracking story!

This book draws a line under the fight between Robin and Sir Guy and how the story plays out was brilliant. I even had my mouth open wide as i read as the story was that good i couldn’t believe what i was reading

Again Steven took risks as with the previous book, things happened i didn’t see coming but everything worked and there was a very interesting tale that developed with Robin’s sister that i thought brought something extra to this book. It was nice to have more of a family connection throughout this tale.

If you’ve read my previous reviews you know i’m not one to give away plot details but for me all the events that Steven portrayed fitted so well together i can’t think of anything i didn’t like. I can imagine it would have taken quite some time to plan the events of this book and i don’t think Steven could improve on it one bit, he has made a story that is by far the best I’ve read in a long time.

I’ll definitely be buying these books as a gift for my dad, they are just brilliant and i think anyone who likes Robin Hood or just even enjoys a good tale would love to read them.

My advice.. buy the books.. and keep an eye out for Steven’s next book. I for one can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

The book hasn’t been released yet so keep an eye out on the authors Amazon page

The Wolf will Rise…Friday July 31st 2015!

Excited to be reading this book shortly 🙂

STEVEN A. McKAY - Historical Fiction Author

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Yep, I’ve been waiting on feedback from beta-readers, changing things, tightening this and that and now I can tell you, Rise of the Wolf will be published next Friday, July 31 2015. Assuming I get the files all sorted and uploaded in time of course…

Obviously there won’t be a long pre-order period for it. I’ll hopefully have it listed to go on Amazon on Thursday night (GMT) – my reasons for this will be made clear in a blog post about it very soon. Ultimately, I’d like as many people as possible to buy the book the day it comes out, or as soon as they can, so it gets a good chart placing.

I’ll be offering prizes to everyone on my mailing list that buys Rise on day one – signed copies of each book, including the new one; free downloads of the audio books; Amazon gift cards… If…

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