Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Interview with G.K. Holloway, author of 1066: What Fates Impose

Author interviews are one of my favorite things to post which is why I am super excited to welcome author G.K. Holloway to Flashlight Commentary to discuss his latest release, 1066: What Fates Impose. 

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Welcome to Flashlight Commentary. Great to have you with us. To start things off, please tell us a bit about 1066: What Fate Impose.
1066: What Fates Impose is my attempt to explain the demise of Anglo- Saxon England. It’s a fascinating period in history full of court intrigues, papal plots, family feuds and a love triangle, which culminates on a battle field in 1066     

Historically speaking, what research went into 1066: What Fates Impose and did you discover anything particularly surprising while investigating material for the book?
I spent many hours on research for the book, which mainly comprised reading  secondary sources. I did enjoy visiting locations that feature in the book including battlefields, Bosham and also Bayeux, to see the famous tapestry. What I found particularly surprising was just how wealthy, powerful, cultured and democratic, if only in a fledgling kind of way, England was at that time.

You probably have many, but is there a scene that particularly stands out to you?
Oh, that’s a hard one to answer. I’m particularly proud of some of the battle scenes and also the court intrigues and methods of disposing of a rival but there are two scenes in particular I really enjoyed writing and they are; Godwin’s return from exile and his arrival in London. I would love to have been there. But the opening scene where the dying William is confronted by his past, overwhelmed with guilt and filled with fear about his future, which is likely to be in hell, stands out for me.  

What scene posed the greatest challenge for you as an author?
The scene in the mill! Anyone who’s read the book will know exactly what I mean. The Normans went to extremes in the south after they had landed. They were particularly brutal even in a brutal time and I attempted to distill their savagery and the consequences for the native population in to one scene. The idea was that the reader would be informed as to exactly what the English had to fear and why Harold felt he needed to act so urgently.

What would you say is the central theme of the novel?
How much are we in control of our own destinies? 

Sometimes fiction takes on a life of its own and forces the author to make sacrifices for the sake of the story. Is there a character or concept you wish you could have spent more time with or expanded on?
All of them really! There is a lot of historical fact to deal with so I felt inclined to deal with the major players but because of the constraints some characters, two of Harold’s brothers in particular, haven’t had the exposure they deserve.  

Historical novelists frequently have to adjustment facts to make their stories work. Did you have to invent or change anything while writing 1066: What Fates Impose and if so, what did you alter and why? 
There is surprisingly little invention in the novel. The era is an absolute gift to novelists. I am amazed there aren’t as many books about the period as there are about the Tudors for instance. In Queen Elizabeth’s time there was the fear of The Spanish Armada. In 1066 there were two armadas! Henry VIII made an enemy of the Pope, so did Harold, albeit for different reasons. In Tudor times political intrigue was rife, the same was true in Anglo Saxon England. There is just so much going on I didn’t need to make much up – there’s even a comet appearing in the sky at exactly the right moment. What more could anyone possibly want?

If you could sit down and talk with one of your characters, maybe meet and discuss things over drinks, who would you choose and why?
King Harold would be my first choice. There are millions of questions I’d love to ask him especially the decisions he made in those few weeks in the autumn of 1066. The decisions he made then were crucial to his and England’s survival. History could have been so different. You didn’t specify when I would meet one of my characters. I’ve taken the liberty of assuming you meant going back to their time era. In which case there might even be the opportunity to offer Harold some advice – who knows what the consequences of that might be?  

What do you hope readers take away from their experience with your novel?
At the risk of sounding pretentious, if they had a clearer idea about how much they control their destinies that would be great. But if at least they enjoy a stomping good read and feel more informed about a major historical event then I’d be very happy about that. Finally, if they just managed to escape the troubles and pressures of their own lives for a few hours, I’d be happy with that, too. 

Authors are famous, or infamous depending on your point of view, for writing their own experiences, friends and acquaintances into their narratives. Is there anything in 1066: What Fates Impose that sprung directly from your personal history? 
Some of the characters in the book are based on people I know or used to know, including a murderer. I won’t say which character is based on what friend for obvious reasons but as I was writing about a character an image would appear in my mind’s eye. On another level, every year in a place called Abbotts Bromley there is a horn Dance. It lasts all day and involves a group of about a dozen men parading about the village and surrounding area with deer antlers on their heads, a hobby horse rider and a man with a pig’s bladder on a stick hitting maidens on the head to make them pregnant. The antlers used are used once a year for this purpose only. They have been dated to pre-1066. This ritual was written into the novel. 

Okay, we've talked a lot about your book. Let's switch gears and talk a little bit about you. How would describe your writing process?
Chaotic; a kind of controlled anarchy. I had quite a good idea of what I wanted to do, where I wanted to start and end. I also had pretty firm ideas about which characters would appear in the novel. The thing is, as I learned more about the period ideas would come into my head, including in dreams, and so I would write them into the book. I honestly think, if it wasn’t for computers and the flexibility they give you, I’d never have finished.  

Two words: writer's block. How do you deal with it? 
Go for a walk. That sounds trite, I know, but I live in a particularly beautiful part of Bristol with easy access to Durdham Downs. It takes an hour at most to complete a circuit, so on those rare occasions when I get stuck, I take a walk I don’t know if it’s the rhythm of walking that frees the imagination or the fresh air that gets the creative juices flowing but it works for me.

Who are your favorite authors? 
Richard Ford, William Boyd, Ian McEwan, Pat Barker, Barbara Tuchman, Cormac McCarthy, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, George Orwell – to name but a few.

What are you currently reading?
All Hell Let Loose by Max Hastings. I’m finding it totally engrossing. It’s a comprehensive history of the Second World War. He manages to discuss the strategy of high command and the experiences of the common soldier or some innocent civilian with consummate ease.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? Any hobbies?
I love music, photography, reading, walking, travel and generally pottering about.

Where do you stand on the coffee or tea debate? 
I don’t stand anywhere; I sit on the fence. I drink coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon.

And finally, what's next for you? Do you have a new project in the works? Planning a vacation? Anything exciting and/or noteworthy? 
I’m 56,000 words into the sequel to 1066 which I’m already looking forward to publishing. As for vacations, I’ve recently returned from a long weekend in Iceland which I think is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever seen. I’m also arranging a surprise holiday in November to celebrate my wife’s birthday. She knows we’re going away but doesn’t know where we’re going. I only hope it lives up to Iceland.

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I have been interested in history since I was a boy, which I suppose explains why, when I came across a degree course in History and Politics at Coventry University that looked tailor made for me, I applied right away.

In my first year at Coventry I lived in the halls of residence within a stone’s throw of the Leofric Hotel. In the opposite direction, just a short walk from my halls, is the bell tower that houses a clock, which when its bell chimes the hour, produces a half size model of naked Lady Godiva riding a horse for the titillation of tourists. Above her, Peeping Tom leans out of a window for a better view. In all of the three years I was there, it never once occurred to me that I would one day write a book featuring Earl Leofric and his famous wife, as key players.

After graduating I spent a year in Canada before I returned to England to train as a Careers Officer in Bristol. Later, I lived and worked in Gloucestershire as a Careers Officer and then in Adult Education as an Education Guidance worker.

After I met my wife, I moved back to Bristol to live and I worked at Bath Spa University as a Student Welfare Officer for a number of years. It was about this time I read a biography about King Harold II which fascinated me so much I read more and more about the man and the times. I found the whole pre-conquest period of England so interesting I couldn’t understand why no one had written a novel about it. So, I decided to write one myself. Now, after many years of study and time spent over a hot keyboard, I have finally produced thatnovel.

1066: What Fates Impose is the result of all that study and hard work and is the first book I’ve written. I am now working on a sequel.

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Format: Paperback & eBook
Publication Date: March 4, 2013
Released by: Matador Publishing
Length: 288 pages
ISBN: 9781783062201
Genre: Historical Fiction

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CHECK OUT ALL THE STOPS ON G.K. Holloway's 1066: What fates impose virtual book tour

Tuesday, April 15
Let Them Read Books
Friday, April 18
Time 2 Read
Monday, April 21
Flashlight Commentary (Review)
Tuesday, April 22
Broken Teepee (Review & Giveaway)
Flashlight Commentary (Interview)
Wednesday, April 23
Oh, for the Hook of a Book (Review)
Thursday, April 24
Reading the Ages
Oh, for the Hook of a Book (Interview)
Friday, April 25
Impressions in Ink (Review)
Monday, April 28
Just One More Chapter
Kinx’s Book Nook (Review)
Wednesday, April 30
Historical Tapestry (Review)
Thursday, May 1
Caroline Wilson Writes

1 comment:

Annette said...

I'll be posting a review for the tour on the 25th. This is a wonderful story! I've enjoyed reading it.