Tag Archives: Wolf’s Head

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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Proofs have arrived! – Blog Post by Steven A. Mckay

STEVEN A. McKAY - Historical Fiction Author

The first proofs of the Rise of the Wolf paperbacks arrived today. Looking good, I’m very pleased with the whole set!

I still have some changes and revisions to make so haven’t got a firm release date yet. I am hoping to get it out there within the next two or three weeks though, so keep an eye open for it. Sign up for the mailing list (see the button at the top of the page) if you haven’t already, as I’ll be offering signed copies along with other prizes for anyone buying a copy on day one!

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Rise of the Wolf, the blurb.

STEVEN A. McKAY - Historical Fiction Author

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 friends but his entire family will all play their part in the RISE OF THE WOLF.

What do you think? Comments welcome!

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The Wolf and the Raven (The Forest Lord #2) By Steven A. McKay – Review

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Title – The Wolf and the Raven (The Forest Lord #2)
Author – Steven A. McKay
Genre –  Historical Fiction
Length –  327 Pages (Kindle)
Publication – 7th April 2014
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

In the aftermath of a violent rebellion Robin Hood and his men must fight for survival with an enemy deadlier than any they’ve faced before…

1322. England is in disarray and Sir Guy of Gisbourne, the king’s own bounty hunter, stalks the greenwood, bringing bloody justice to the outlaws and rebels who hide there.
When things begin to go horribly wrong self-pity, grief and despair threaten to overwhelm the young wolf’s head who will need the support of his friends and family now more than ever. But Robin’s friends have troubles of their own and, this time, not all of them will escape with their lives…

Review

First off… have you read the first book in the series? If not, why??? Get it now. Click here to see my review of Wolf’s Head!

Okay so here goes.. book number two.. high hopes after the first instalment. The pressure was on to deliver!!  And boy did this book do that!

So from the synopsis you can gather the revolt didn’t go well. We are thrust straight into the action with Robin and the other rebels fighting against the king’s men. When Robin sees the war is over he orders his men back to the forest.

We see Robin beaten, men killed, imprisonments, executions the works. There is a lot of meat on the bone in this book and it makes it a very good read indeed.

Personally I feel this book is much darker than the first and even though I gave the first book 5* the author raised the standard!

Now I guess you want to know a little about the story.. well honestly if I told you anything I think it would spoil it. There’s so much happens that I want to tell you but you need to read it for yourself.

By far the best thing about the book is the development. The author has clearly developed the characters since the first book. Yes some characters only play small parts in this book but you can’t have everything.

Another thing I really liked about this tale was that things don’t always go Robin’s way. He’s beaten and broken, physically and mentally and there are a few moments you feel Robin may just give up.

The author had me wondering if even Robin would survive to make it to book number 3!

In this book we see the addition of Sir Guy of Gisborne.. turns out he’s more of an evil b*****d than I thought he would be! Wow. Ruthless doesn’t cut it.

We also see a very interesting tale with Sir Richard the Templar knight develop with the action moving from one point of view to another.

I think Steven took some risks with this book, certain characters meet their end and I honestly thought no way would he kill those characters off…. But he did.. and it works. It meant more development of Robin could happen as you can see him struggling with the events that unfold and you see another side to the man.

As a fan of audio books I also listened to this book while reading along. I guess this would be my only comment for the author. I didn’t much like the narrators voice. He didn’t emphasize words enough or put emotion into his voice. Overall I thought he was just too quiet for my liking but saying that, it’s just my opinion. It wouldn’t put me off audio at all… I just wanted more from the narrator.

Overall this book is top notch. The whole setup of the book is well planned to keep the reader engaged and it surpasses all expectations after the first book and I’m looking forward to seeing the direction Steven’s work will take after book 3 is released.

For more reviews or to purchase the book head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Author Spotlight – Robert Southworth

Robert Southworth is the first author on my new “Author Spotlight” blog feature

Rob has released four books so far which are all historical works of fiction, three focus on one of my all-time favourite subjects Spartacus.

Spartacus has always been someone I’ve been very interested in, the slave rebellion is a fascinating subject for me.

The three tales follow Spartacus after the rebellion has been crushed. Many say Spartacus died in the final battle but the body was never recovered. As an author Rob seized on this and has decided to write tales with idea that he survived.

To give you an idea what the first book is like below is a review from another great author Steven A. McKay –

This, Robert Southworth’s debut novel, is billed as an “alternative history” tale. That’s not really a genre I’ve read much of, other than the odd Philip K. Dick or Harry Turtledove novel. However, Spartacus, Talons of an Empire can quite easily be read as a “straight” historical novel so don’t be put off by the “alternative” tag. The idea here is that Spartacus survived his famous rebellion, and is then put to bloody work for the hateful Roman overlords in return for his freedom. It’s a fine premise to base a story on, but to be honest, you can imagine the protagonist as any gladiator and it’ll make no difference to your enjoyment of what is a fine book. What we have is a group of men – almost a “Dirty Dozen” of the Roman-era – taking on a dangerous mission through hostile lands and, ultimately, fighting to the brutal end in the arena. The author sets the scenes well, drawing vivid pictures of each place in the reader’s mind so it’s easy to become drawn into the action as if we were right there. The characters are fairly varied and there are some poignant, gentler moments scattered throughout which serve as an interesting and welcome diversion from the brutal action and let us see the human side of these hard fighting men. There were a few places, though, where I felt the action jumped a little too quickly – it might have been nice for certain scenes to have lasted a bit longer, building the tension before cutting to another part of the story – but in general the pacing is very good. I also struggled somewhat with a couple of characters’ (Cassian and Spartacus) reactions – both at the time and subsequently – to certain deaths. I can’t go into more detail or it would spoil the plot a bit, but I thought, if it had been me witnessing those events I would have felt rather different to Cassian or Spartacus. But that’s down to the individual’s outlook so can’t really be classed as a criticism, just an observation. I picked this up for under a pound on Amazon and I have to say it was well worth the admission price, and, with the next in the series, Spartacus, The Gods Demand Sacrifice just released, I would recommend you take a look at this fine new author.

 Steven A. McKay, author of “Wolf’s Head”

I really can’t praise this series of books enough, Rob did something with Spartacus which felt new and fresh and he kept me wanting more and more.

 

Rob’s other work “Wrath of the Furies” is of a similar high quality and the big twist in the book grabbed me as a reader.. it was brilliant.

Click the picture below to head to Amazon.co.uk to read some reviews….

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 ….. See it’s not just me who thinks these tales are top notch!

My advice today… buy one of his books… buy them all! Rob has a talent for storytelling and these tales deserve to be read.

Lastly, Rob seems like a very genuine and friendly person, get in touch and let him know what you like about his books

Want to connect with Rob? You can do so via Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads or his Amazon author page.

Wolf’s Head (The Forest Lord #1) By Steven A. McKay – Review

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Title – Wolf’s Head (The Forest Lord #1)
Author – Steven A. McKay
Genre –  Historical Fiction
Length –  329 Pages (Kindle)
Publication – 4th July 2013
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

When a frightened young outlaw joins a gang of violent criminals their names – against a backdrop of death, dishonour, brotherhood, and love – will become legend.

ENGLAND 1321 AD

After viciously assaulting a corrupt but powerful clergyman Robin Hood flees the only home he has ever known in Wakefield, Yorkshire. Becoming a member of a notorious band of outlaws, Hood and his new companions – including John Little and Will Scaflock – hide out in the great forests of Barnsdale, fighting for their very existence as the law hunts them down like animals. When they are betrayed, and their harsh lives become even more unbearable, the band of friends seeks bloody vengeance. Meanwhile, the country is in turmoil, as many of the powerful lords strive to undermine King Edward II’s rule until, inevitably, rebellion becomes a reality and the increasingly deadly yeoman outlaw from Wakefield finds his fate bound up with that of a Hospitaller Knight…

“Wolf’s Head” brings the brutality, injustice and intensity of life in medieval England vividly to life, and marks the beginning of a thrilling new historical fiction series in the style of Bernard Cornwell and Simon Scarrow.

Review

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 book. It also had great reviews and the cover just screamed at me this would be a great read.. and guess what.. it was!

Steven has decided to revamp the whole Robin Hood tale and has moved 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 know tale set in Nottingham. From the authors notes at the end of the book you can see a lot of thought has went into this book and it shows.

The story tells of Hoods early life and the event that leads 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 clearly clash

Wolf’s Head is fast paced from the start and very well written. Add to this a great story and you’ve got yourself a book that you just can’t put down!

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

I’m not one for spoilers but the depth of Will’s character is brilliant and the story behind him plays out to perfection. He’s hot headed but damn you can’t help but like his style.

Chapter after chapter you see the tension grow as Steven takes you from one characters journey to another. I especially liked  Sir Richard-at-Lee so I’m excited to read Knight of the Cross which is a novella of Steven’s which I believe has a lot of focus on this character

As the tension grows and grows you can see something is about to happen and the ending of this book won’t disappoint.. If anything you are left screaming for more. The good new there is more 🙂 book 2 is already available and book 3 is on its way.

All in all I can’t fault this book in any way, brilliantly written it engages the reader from the first sentence.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I’m 100% sure you will to!

Find out more here – GoodreadsAmazon UKAmazon.com