Review - Edward the Elder: King of the Anglo-Saxons: Forgotten Son of Alfred

' Edward the Elder succeeded his father Alfred the Great to the kingdom of Wessex, but was largely overlooked by his contemporaries (at ...

Friday, 15 March 2019

Review - Edward the Elder: King of the Anglo-Saxons: Forgotten Son of Alfred

'Edward the Elder succeeded his father Alfred the Great to the kingdom of Wessex, but was largely overlooked by his contemporaries (at least in terms of the historical record) and to a greater or lesser extent by later historians. He is the forgotten son of Alfred. Edward deserves to be recognised for his contribution to Anglo-Saxon history and a new assessment of his reign is overdue.'

So begins the blurb for this new book and I heartily concur with the sentiment. Having written about Edward's sister myself in both fiction and nonfiction, I had played with the idea of pitching a proposal to my publisher, suggesting a book about Edward. Had I done so, I would have discovered that they had this book already in production, so when I was offered a review copy, I immediately said 'Yes please'.




As I know only too well, there are very few books about Edward and he has been overshadowed by his much more famous father. I've always thought that this was an injustice which needed rectifying. Michael John Key's book does this admirably.

It states that it is a 'popular' history of Edward but I disagree. I think this is a scholarly work by an author who has been at great pains to ensure that he lets the evidence speak for itself. Much use is made of the primary sources, and the bibliography and notes (which give page numbers) are useful for students and anyone would like to read further. Scholarly, yes, but very readable and accessible too.

Edward's childhood, the campaigns when his father was still alive, and the partnership with his sister Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, are examined in detail and laid out in chronological order. Other aspects of Edward's reign are explored too, however, so that we get an account of his administration as well.




Often when I was reading the book I found myself nodding in agreement. That Edward was less inclined than his father to compromise made him - in my view and the author's - an ultimately more successful military leader. 

On some occasions I also found myself disagreeing. Some of the conclusions about Edward's sister and his dealings with her, for example, run counter to my own assessments, but Mr Key is clearly skilful at reading and using the primary source material and this wouldn't be the first time when two historians have looked at the same material and come to different conclusions. 

In fact, I had only two very slight niggles. The first is a sentence in which it is stated that 'by all accounts' Athelstan was educated by Æthelflæd and her husband Æthelred, when in fact there is only one, post-Conquest, source which says so. However, it is generally accepted that this was the case and this may, in fact, be the author's intended meaning. My second niggle is the use throughout of infer instead of imply. But it says a great deal about this book that those are my only noted negative points.

Mr Key provides excellent analysis of the policy of burh-building. We are not only given details of the strategy, but much investigative work has gone into producing great detail too about the physical buildings and the locations thereof. I found this section of the book particularly interesting and informative. His analysis of this policy was insightful. Judging from the colour plate section, the author has visited many of the locations and his knowledge of the lie of the land informs this analysis.

This is not, as I said earlier, simply a story of the of the military campaigns. The point is made that study of the last fifteen years of Edward's reign is hampered by the lack of charters; nevertheless, the author turns to other sources to glean as much information as possible. 

It is hard to know what else could have been included in this book, because for me it is a thorough and complete examination of Edward. It is written in an easy style, terminology is explained for those readers who might be new to the subject or indeed the period, and there is rich juicy detail for those who already know much of the basics of Edward's life and times. His legacy is also discussed, and after reading this book, surely no one can disagree with the assessment that Edward 'should be acknowledged as a great Anglo-Saxon king in his own right, and is entitled to stand comparison with every English monarch that has passed since his reign.'

I recommend this book to anyone interested in Anglo-Saxon and/or military history.  

Buy from:

Amazon

Amberley




Monday, 11 February 2019

Review: Life of a Smuggler (Fact and Fiction) by Helen Hollick

Life of a Smuggler: Fact and Fiction
Helen Hollick
Pen & Sword Publications
Amazon UK



What a treat this was; to receive a review copy from the publishers of this, the first in a brand new series: Fact and Fiction, from Pen & Sword Books. And what a great way to kick off this new initiative.

As author Helen Hollick points out, we all think we know a lot about smuggling, and most of what we think we know comes from fiction, and gives us a romanticised picture of what was, plain and simple, an illegal activity.

This well-researched (in fact, I was amazed how much information had been packed into a relatively short book) volume gives the truth about the frequently hazardous exploits of the 'Gentlemen' and no detail is left out. From what they smuggled, why they did it, how they did it, and the consequences, this is a thorough investigation of smuggling practices through the ages, including the origin of the word itself.

There is fascinating detail about the identities of some of those involved, many of whom were 'ordinary' people: basket makers, butchers, dressmakers, shoemakers. 

Some were merely names, while others gained a little more notoriety. I particularly enjoyed the stories of Tom Johnstone of Lymington, and Thomas Hill, a smuggler in the 'Colonies' whose tale was a classic, albeit cheeky, case of 'poacher turned gamekeeper.'

Was it glamorous? No, not at all. The author recounts for us in vivid detail the violent Battle of Sidley Green, which was a fierce and bloody clash. We have descriptions of executions and reminders throughout that this was a dangerous occupation indeed.

Yet there is levity too: I loved the image of the vicar who insisted that his congregation wait for him to take off his vestments so that they wouldn't have a head start when news came in of a wreck.

And as for the assumption about wrecking and what caused it, we learn the surprising truth about that, too.

As someone who regularly used to drive through Weston Longville in Norfolk, I was intrigued to learn that the famed Parson Woodforde, whose story I thought I knew, was also involved in smuggling in his own small way. And that Thornham, where I used to enjoy a drink at the Lifeboat Inn, and latterly took my children to walk along that part of the north Norfolk coast, was also a location associated with smuggling. But Norfolk is not the only county featured and anyone reading in the UK will be delighted to learn of the smuggling stories of their own area.

This book is beautifully laid out and in what clearly will be a style feature of the series, every so often we are treated to a 'little known fact'. All the information is collated in neat chapters and all is presented in the context of the historical periods so that we learn how certain events, such as the English Civil Wars and the American War of Independence affected the smuggling 'trade'.

And it is all told in Ms Hollick's wonderful conversational style, which makes the reading experience feel rather like being invited into her kitchen and told these wonderful tales over a cup of tea (legally imported, unlike in the smuggling days!)

This book is informative and fun. Who could ask for more?

Helen Hollick is a best-selling historical fiction author, with her books A Hollow Crown and Harold the King being published in both the UK and the US. Her Pendragon's Banner Trilogy, set in the fifth century, is widely acclaimed as a different telling of the Arthurian myth. The Sea Witch Voyages, a series of pirate-based, part fantasy, nautical adventures are popular on both sides of the Atlantic. She has written two nonfiction books, Pirates: Truth and Tale and co-wrote Discovering the Diamond with Jo Field.
Find her on HelenHollick.net 
She is also the guiding light and driving force behind Discovering Diamonds, an historical fiction (and occasionally nonfiction) review site.

Friday, 30 November 2018

Review/Interview: Elizabeth St John, author of the Lydiard Chronicles

For those who don't know, the Lydiard Chronicles are set in the seventeenth century and concern the real life St John family, who were related to the powerful Villiers family, pivotal players at court. These are stories about real people, some of whom just happen to be the ancestors of the author. I write about much earlier times but, having studied it almost as much as the Anglo-Saxons right through to degree level, I have a deep and abiding love for the seventeenth century and enjoy reading books set in this period.




I read Books 1 and 2 - The Lady of the Tower and By Love Divided - in quick succession and decided to wait until I'd finished Book 2 before reviewing. Why? Because I read in Kindle format, and after I'd finished Book 1 I was able to read the first few pages of Book 2 and got stuck straight in!


First impressions: I'll start with the one very tiny negative. It's a personal choice, but I'm not a huge fan of books written in the first person. That's just me. I wasn't sure whether the personality of the main character would shine through but I stuck with it and I'm so glad that I did. Lucy finds her voice, her strength of character, developing all the time as she grows from girl to adult. I won't give any of the plot away, but by the time she became the Lady of the Tower, I was fully invested in her life, willing some happiness for her. (Does it come for her? You'll have to read to find out!) This is why, by the end of Book 1, I wanted to move immediately on to Book 2. By Love Divided is written in the third person, and while Lucy is still very much in the centre of things, the younger generation now also comes to the forefront. The family relationships, in all their complexity, continue to drive the plot and the characters are very well drawn indeed. Initially I wasn't sure about Barbara Villiers - could anyone be so nasty to her sister and still become a fully-drawn character? Yes, they can. And she does.


As I said, no plot spoilers. But here's a list of what's fabulous about these books: a deft sketching of time and place; the sights, sounds, smells and ways of seventeenth-century England provide an accurate backdrop to the action which brings the scenes alive. The machinations of the court and the people who thrived on such a life are depicted in all their - sordid - brilliance. The reiteration that happiness so often depended on royal favour, that middle- to high-ranking men could lose their livelihoods assisting the king and that widows were vulnerable, and not just financially. Another aspect of life shown vividly here is how often during this period, families were divided, by religion, politics, or both.

The added interest for me, especially being a writer myself, was that these novels are based not only on real people, but the ancestors of the author. I had to know more, so I got in touch with Elizabeth and asked if she'd mind answering a few questions:

AW: I know that the Lydiard Chronicles tell the story of your ancestors, but how did you come to find out about them initially?

EStJ: I grew up as an only child on the North Sea coast; during the winters, when the east wind blew in from Siberia, the casing on our old grandfather clock would open by itself, and my mother would look up from her embroidery and exclaim “here comes Uncle Brian again”. Surrounded by old family furniture, dusty letters and diaries, and flyleaf-inscribed books, the ghosts of dead relatives were far more interesting than those who were living, and I immersed myself in our family history.

My Sundays were usually spent “St.John-hunting” which usually involved traipsing around overgrown churchyards in the pouring rain, clambering over ruined castles and ancient monuments, and drinking luke-warm tea from thermos flasks. Our family tree was well-researched, and the one remaining family seat of Lydiard Park contained portraits going back to Elizabethan times. However, no-one in our family had known the story of Lucy St.John—The Lady of the Tower—and when I discovered the Memoirs in Nottingham Castle’s file cabinet, I was overjoyed. Here was the story for the book I’d always wanted to write.

AW: How wonderful to not only discover famous ancestors, but find their antics worthy of a series of novels! How much sympathy, if any, do you have for Barbara? How did you set about writing her character without making her a caricature? [pictured below: Lucy (left) & Barbara]


EStJ: I actually thought Barbara a fascinating character, and she only emerged as the main antagonist as I constructed the final plot of the book. The Memoirs describe Aunt Joan by name as being “more wicked than the tales of a stepmother”, while Lucy’s sisters were generally described as envious at her beauty. As I researched Barbara’s life, I realized that she was a very clever woman, who managed to hang on to her wealth, property and patronage after her husband’s death and the assassination of her brother-in-law, the Duke of Buckingham. She married her children into extremely influential families, and of course, her granddaughter was Barbara Villiers, Lady Castlemaine, mistress to Charles II. She knew exactly what she was doing.


I feel a great deal of responsibility to all my characters to try to write them as the real people they were, not two-dimensional caricatures. With Barbara, I wanted enough sting in her to create tension throughout the books, but still for readers to have a grudging admiration for her ability to maneuver through the perilous world of Stuart politics. Knowing the full extent of her life through the research, enabled me to write her exploits with empathy.

AW: She certainly comes across as a 'player' but also one who is at one with her choices. How familiar were you with this time period before you began researching the characters?

EStJ: I knew almost nothing about this time period, having had much more interest in Medieval and Tudor England. It was actually with a heavy heart that I started researching and writing, for as a result of our typical English education, I thought this period and the Civil War was about the most boring period of history imaginable. But, as I started to read more deeply the letters, court documents and memoirs themselves, I began to be fascinated by the incredible shift in society and politics that occurred during this time.

Along with primary sources such as Pepys and Evelyn, there were many modern biographies and non-fiction books I read that absolutely brought this home and once I was able to get a feel for the people, I realized that contextually they were all trying to survive a very uncertain world. Interestingly, I wrote The Lady of the Tower during the great recession of 2011-12, and By Love Divided during the run up to Brexit and the US Elections. Both drove home to me that the central themes of corruption and abuse of power haven’t changed much in four hundred years.

A few books I really enjoyed that made this time period really accessible:
The Weaker Vessel – Antonia Fraser
Buckingham: The Life and Political Career of George Villiers – Roger Lockyer
Shakespeare’s Restless World – Neal McGregor
The White King – Leanda de Lisle
The Killers of the King – Charles Spencer
Lucy Apsley Hutchinson's signature

And the original source for my novels:
Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson – Lucy Hutchinson

AW: The research has certainly paid off - I felt that the seventeenth-century world was beautifully portrayed. I believe you are currently hard at work with Book 3. How far do you envisage taking the series?

EStJ: Book 3 is well underway, and as a first draft, I have a beginning, middle and end. Hoorah! You have to write that way with biographical historical fiction. This book is intended to complete the stories on this generation of the family – Lucy, Allen and Luce. However, a few new family members have decided to join the party (such as Barbara Villiers, Lady Castlemaine, and John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester), and they may decide to be the basis for another book. I took my inspiration on “Chronicles” as a title from Narnia – the stories don’t all have to be sequential, and people can come and go. I’ll just keep writing for the love of it. Who knows – maybe the medieval St.Johns will come clamoring next!

I asked Elizabeth if she could send me a picture of the magnificent Lydiard House, and here it is, in all its glory: 



Connect with Elizabeth on her website: www.elizabethjstjohn.com
and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ElizabethJStJohn

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Review & Giveaway: Silk and the Sword by Sharon Bennett Connolly

What an ingenious concept: to examine the lives of and the roles played by the women related to the more familiar, male, characters involved in the events immediately before and after the Norman Conquest.



Silk and the Sword sensibly begins with events which far preceded those of 1066, giving the reader an introduction to the main families involved, and some background information which shows that we cannot take the events of 1066 in isolation.

This earlier history - of the powerful families of Mercia, Lady Godiva, the Godwines, and Queen Emma and both her husbands - is very familiar to me and if I'm honest there were times when I knew that there was more behind certain parts of the story, but that's me, that's not most folk. I have just had a history of Mercia published, so all my research is still very fresh in my mind. For those who are new to this period, or even those who aren't, there is plenty of meat on the bones of the story. 


Harald's wife Elisiv of Kiev,
daughter of Yaroslav the Wise
Does this mean though that there were no surprises in the book for me and nothing new to learn? Far from it. All the well-known women are here, as one would expect - Emma, Edith of Wessex, Edith 'Swanneck' - but so too are the wives of Harald Hardrada. I knew nothing about these women and I thoroughly enjoyed being whisked across the sea to learn about those close to the man described here as 'the wild card in the events of 1066'. It's easy to forget, because of his ultimate defeat, that he was a powerful ruler whose success in England, had it come, would have seen England absorbed into a Scandinavian empire. I had little idea about his royal pedigree (stretching back through his mother's line to the first king of Norway) nor, indeed, that Harald was married to two women at the same time! 

With the inclusion of Matilda of Flanders even the most ardently pro-Saxon reader will be forced to look at things from a different perspective and Gundrada de Warenne, someone I've not read about more than in passing, is given a chapter of her own and the stories behind her alleged parentage fully explored.

What I do know, because of the book that I'm currently writing, is that it is very difficult to format a book like this. Great care has been taken to skilfully extract these women from the general narrative and talk about them in isolation, whilst keeping the facts of their lives in context. 

Inevitably there is crossover, but rather than repeating herself, the author simply signposts where we are, and that we've been here before, but now we're with a different woman and we're looking at things from a different woman's perspective.

The author is keen for us to share her knowledge and interest in all the women, although I suspect she might have her favourites. Whilst she gives sympathetic and even-handed treatment to them all, I felt that there was added affection when it came to the poignancy of Edith Swanneck's tale and of Gytha, mother of the Godwine brood.

This was an ambitious project, beautifully executed and yes, as I've said, much of it very familiar to me. But the genius touch was to incorporate the stories of women from other countries because actually, it's completely logical. If you're telling the story of the women of 1066 then of course we need to know about the wives of Harald Hardrada and William of Normandy. This is where I was on less familiar ground and fascinating it was, too.

This book is a light, easy read, but it's also full of depth. Whether you are reading about these events for the first time or with a working knowledge of them, the lead-up to and the aftermath of the Conquest, with chapters entitled, for example, 'Grief and Sufferings', give an altogether different viewpoint on proceedings.

I was privileged to receive a pre-publication copy of Silk and the Sword but one lucky winner can also receive a free copy. Sharon is giving away a hardback copy of the book to readers worldwide. Simply leave a comment below - Please don't forget to leave your contact details! - and one name will be chosen at random at 7pm GMT Wednesday 21st November 2018


Friday, 21 September 2018

The Perils of Research


It should not have been a surprise, that the photo-research side of my writing would be perilous. The signs were there. Way back when my kids were small, there was an incident at Dunstanburgh Castle. It’s a windy old place at the best of times, and I do recall availing myself of the facilities, a portaloo in this case, and feeling that at any moment the entire cabinet would take off, and that I’d be sitting on a very different kind of throne in full view of all the visitors. 

But the bit we all remember, and which is seared into the memories of my emotionally-scarred offspring, was the walk back to the car park along the blustery headland. I shouted to the two elder ones to grab hold of their younger sister, and at one point she was horizontal, blowing like a flag, her hair slapping round her face as vicious as any cat o’ nine tails. 

Attribution Link

There was also the search for the old church in Wales which involved three separate attempts, a conversation in Welsh with a man who looked as if he’d been rejected from the film The Deliverance for looking too menacing, and a pas de deux with several metres of barbed wire fence.

So, imagine my hubby’s delight when I announced that I needed to go on location to take photos to accompany my new book.

We began with high hopes. I simply wanted to get to a particular town in the Cotswolds. How hard could that be? Very, as it turned out. We probably, as the old adage goes, started from the wrong place. We ended up asking directions from a local mechanic, who smiled and told us that the best way was to take the local ‘shortcut’. 

I concede that, as the crow flies, it probably was the shortest route. But it did involve a 1:3 climb on roads just wide enough for a children’s tricycle, and with the occasional hairpin bend thrown in just to make the journey more interesting when the hopeful traveller becomes too complacent. We overshot the junction and had to pull into the local golf club, at which point I caught the expression of yearning on hubby’s face, and for a moment his forlorn dream of an amble down the fairways even seemed appealing to me.


When we finally got to the town I thought the obvious thing to do, in order to locate which of the pub’s walls had been built from the stones of the medieval abbey, was to ask. Turns out, not everyone knows about Anglo-Saxon architecture and where to trace lumps of stone relocated in the last but one millennium. Astonishing! Now, if I’d wanted to know all the types of beer they served, I’d have been okay. Hubby did not share my surprise that a pub landlord might know more about the contents of his pub’s barrels than of the stones used to build the cellar he kept them in.

I did eventually find a collection of abbey stones, which are now kept as part of an exhibition at nearby Sudeley Castle, but not before a kind lady at the Tourist Information Office told me that ‘If you’d like to see the well, just carry on up the hill after you’ve visited Sudeley.’


Did I want to see the well? The well where the funeral procession stopped on its way to bury a poor little murdered boy-king (allegedly)? Yes, I did! I told Hubby the story - that this little king had purportedly been murdered on the orders of his sister, and that a dove dropped a message on the altar of St Peter’s in Rome, alerting people to the whereabouts of the little boy’s body. It was found, and taken back to the abbey for burial. When the evil sister saw the funeral procession, she chanted a psalm backwards and her eyes fell out. 

Given that the problem with writing about the Anglo-Saxon era is that there is very little left in the way of buildings, I’m keen to visit any site with even the vaguest connection to my writing. And besides, the publisher needed photos and I’m nothing if not dutiful. Just carry on up the hill, the lady had said. Well, it was certainly a hill. I saw a sign to a house and farm which had a similar name to that of the murdered king. Surely this was the spot? This may also come as no surprise, but my driver didn’t respond too well to the directive, ‘Pull over here!’ so he continued manoeuvring the car up the the bendy twisty hill until it was safe to pull in. I was sure that the drop onto the soft verge wouldn’t have damaged the car wheels but oddly he wasn’t convinced.

We walked back down the bendy twisty hill which did not have pavements yet did play host to a high number of vehicles, and went up the farm track. A woman with many dogs came to greet us. Hubby thought she said, ‘Can I help you?’, I thought she said, ‘What are you up to?’ and we both reckoned the dogs were saying ‘One step nearer and we will rip your faces off.’

She gave us the good news first. Yes, she knew where the well was. Then she gave us the bad news: it was five miles across the fields in the other direction. But instinct told me that the farm and adjoining cottage wouldn’t have been named after the murdered little king without good reason. We chose to press on. And sure enough, less than 50 metres from the house, we found it. Just one, tiny, weeny problem. The ground was covered with sheep poo, and the path was overgrown with waist-high nettles. And when I say waist-high, I’m measuring them against my 6 ft tall husband. Frankly, I’m amazed he didn’t divorce me on the spot. But I got my photo!


I thought our trip to the northeast would be much easier. For one thing, it’s slightly closer to home, and for another, I knew that the site I wished to visit had been extensively excavated. I remembered seeing the sign at the entrance, and I was sure that there would be something to see. In the seventh century the Northumbrians kings had a magnificent palace on this site. Goodness knows how they got there in the first place because we had to drive round the side of a huge hill/mountain (600-ish metres, if memory serves). There was little in the way of signage but I knew the site would be obvious. This time, given that the road was straight and traffic-free, Hubby responded a little more speedily to my ‘Pull over now!’. And yes, there was the site entrance sign:


And this is what we saw.


But I got my photo!

My book came out on Sep 15 and I’m rather pleased with the colour plate section. The photos speak of calm, of quiet, of historic landscapes and ancient waterways. Hubby knows the truth though. He mutters darkly about writers staying at their desks where they belong. 

[all photos by and copyright of the author unless otherwise attributed]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mercia: The Rise and Fall of a Kingdom is available from 

Amazon

Amberley Publishing

Book Depository (Free worldwide shipping)


Thursday, 13 September 2018

4 Questions, 3 Pics, 2 Links: Nicky Moxey

Continuing our monthly series, where I ask authors four questions and ask them to supply three pics and two links, this month it's the turn of Nicky Moxey:

Hi! Who are you? 
Hi! My name is Nicky Moxey; I'm a British author-cum-amateur archaeologist living in Suffolk, UK.

What do you write about? 
I mostly write about things that I come across via the archaeology or in the historical record. My first historical novel, Sheriff and Priest, came about because I found a large lead sheet whilst metal detecting; figuring out what it was led me down some fascinating research alleys. Eventually I knew it was a roof tile from a priory, not marked on the map; and that the founder was a local boy-come-good who had been given 1,000 acres to set it up by none other than the King's mistress. What?!! Why? That sealed my fate for the next few years - how could I not write the novel?




I'm currently editing the sequel, which I hadn't planned on writing at all - but the story of why the priory had been moved lock, stock and barrel from its original location to where it is on the map today turned out to be just as interesting!

I have published a series of children's short stories about other things that inspire me - a Viking ship prow, for instance, or a chicken-sized feathered dinosaur, or a poorly-executed karate kick. They're great fun to write, and I want to do three more and wrap the set up at nine.




There's also a Bronze Age lady called Anya scowling at me with her arms crossed, toe tapping, waiting for me to give her some attention. She's part of the Historical Novel Society's current anthology, Distant Echoes, but apparently that's not good enough, she wants to be in a novel too. Real soon now, Anya - I promise!



Which character will we love to love and why? Which character will we love to hate and why?
I love Wimer the Chaplain, the Sheriff and Priest above, and I hope you will too! I'll tell you a secret - there's an old oak stump on the priory's foundation site which, if you squint, looks like a monk - and that's where I go to chew over all my troubles. It somehow helps enormously that I know him very well - I've seen his handwriting in the Pipe Rolls, for instance, when he wrote his resignation letter; and I love that he chose a tiny cormorant drying its wings as his personal seal, just as he would have seen them doing on the local river when he was a boy. I can talk to him without anyone hearing and without him answering back!

As to characters to hate - injustice, arrogance and assumption of automatic privilege are things that make me seethe. Thomas a'Becket's actions in the first book are despicable (and true); King John's my baddie in the sequel. I did allow myself one scene that's a pure flight of fancy there; but I'm sure he would have been just as nasty if it had occurred to him!

Links:
Nicky's Amazon Page
Wimer's Facebook Page

Monday, 3 September 2018

IndieBRAG Novel Conversations: A New Series

So, you've written a novel. For whatever reason - and there could be many - you have decided to self-publish. 


That doesn't make you less of a writer; that makes you an Indie writer. Which means you can submit your book to IndieBRAG.

What does this mean? Well, as their mission statement says, they aim to discover 'talented self-published authors and help them give their work the attention and recognition it deserves.'

When your book is submitted, it will go through a rigorous process during which the IndieBRAG readers will read and assess your book, checking it against a list of criteria.

Given that not all books are accepted, those authors who then go on to receive the BRAG Medallion can say that their book has been held up to scrutiny and can wear the badge with pride. The BRAG Medallion is a mark of quality.


And it doesn't stop there. Authors are invited to write articles for the IndieBRAG blog, there are opportunities for interviews and now there is a new initiative.

Every two weeks, Indie author and champion Helen Hollick will be presenting interviews with characters from Medallion-winning books.



The first of these Novel Conversations will be published on Tuesday 4 September 2018 and will feature a character from one of the books of multi BRAG winner Anna Belfrage, Matthew Graham, from her award-winning time-slip series, The Graham Saga.


And look out for a conversation with a certain Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians on October 12 😉