On April 13th 1993 I was celebrating my 40th birthday in England's Lake District. It was a somewhat wet day, but we still walked up Coniston Old Man and had a picnic near the top. By ‘we’ I mean myself, husband Ron, daughter Kathy – our dog, Nesta – and our friends, Hazel, Derek (sadly both now deceased) and their sons Richard and Stewart.
(As an aside, there is only ONE lake in the Lake District, Bassenthwaite Lake, all the rest are known as ‘Water’ or ‘Mere’.)
The walk was lovely (despite the rain) and gave superb views out over Coniston Water and the campsite where we were staying. Those holidays bring back many happy memories. They were Swallows and Amazons experiences made real: we sailed, we rowed, we had bonfires on the ‘beach’ where we cooked sausages and marshmallows. We swam. (Yes, I’ve swam in Coniston. It was cold!) We only saw the children at lunch, dinner and bedtime, for they were off in the boats or on their bikes. We walked, talked, visited the local pub and laughed. A lot.
The only hiccup that year, I was anxious because a few days before we left London my agent had told me that the publishing house, William Heinemann, had enquired after my first foray into writing adult fiction - my Arthurian Pendragon's Banner Trilogy. I had to wait until a week after returning home to hear that they wanted all three books. I was ecstatic. I had taken over ten years to write the first two of the trilogy (The Kingmaking
and Pendragon’s Banner
). My mantra had been ‘When I write my bestseller...’ Few believed me. But I did it. In April 1993 I became a published author. I’ve been writing ever since – thirty years!
No, the Trilogy was not the bestseller I’d hoped for (although after all this while it is still selling well), but I did become a USA Today Bestselling Author with another novel, The Forever Queen
(US edition of A Hollow Crown
Back home in Walthamstow that April, word reached the media of my signed contract and our house was besieged by journalists who were convinced I'd landed a huge advance. (I hadn't.) The Evening Standard had arrived first, though, and took us out for the day: photographs and lunch in return for an exclusive interview.
Publicity for The Kingmaking
was exciting, including an interview on early evening TV, several radio interviews (notably an entire evening on air with Derek Jameson on Radio 2). Unfortunately the marketing momentum was not pursued. (Moral: authors do not rely on your publisher to market your books!)
A lot of water has poured under several bridges since then. By 2005, having been let down by my agent (ex-agent!) Random House dropped me. I spent two weeks sobbing, picked myself up, got my rights back and went Indie… Best thing I have ever done. I made many errors at first, a steep learning curve, but along the way my Pendragon's Banner Trilogy has consistently sold well, was picked up by mainstream Sourcebooks Inc for US/Canada publication and is now also published in German by Sadwolf Verlag.
My trilogy was among the first to portray Arthur as a warrior ‘King’ of the fifth/sixth centuries. A man trying to hold back the chaos after the Roman administration had left Britannia’s shores, leaving the southern coast open to invasion by the Angles, Saxons and Jutes. (English Channel boat migration by foreign settlers is nothing new! The next wave had been the Normans in 1066.)
To celebrate this 30 years' anniversary – and my 70th birthday – I decided to re-issue the Trilogy under my own press (Taw River) with wonderful new covers designed by Cathy Helms of www.avalongrahics.org, the only bad news, these beautiful new editions are not available in US/Canada. Such a shame. I offered the new covers for free to Sourcebooks Inc, but they turned the offer down. Their original editions are still available, though, and are just as good a read.
And on April 13th I will be having an online celebration party in the form of a one day spotlight book tour organised by the Coffee Pot Book Club and hosted by a library-load of wonderful authors! Do join me! (Links to my party hosts will be posted on the Home Page on 12th April.)
About THE KINGMAKING
The Boy: Who became a Man
Who became a King:
Who became a Legend…
There is no Merlin, no sword in the stone, and no Lancelot.
Instead, the man who became our most enduring hero.
All knew the oath of allegiance:
‘To you, lord, I give my sword and shield, my heart and soul. To you, my Lord Pendragon, I give my life, to command as you will.’
This is the tale of Arthur made flesh and bone. Of the shaping of the man who became the legendary king; a man with dreams, ambitions and human flaws. A man, a warlord, who united the collapsing province of post-Roman Britain, who held the heart of the love of his life, Gwenhwyfar - and who emerged as the most enduring hero of all time.
A different telling of the later Medieval tales. This is the story of King Arthur as it might have really happened… (contains scenes of an adult nature)
"If only all historical fiction could be this good.
- Historical Novels Review
"…Juggles a large cast of characters and a bloody, tangled plot with great skill.
- Publishers Weekly
"Hollick's writing is one of the best I've come across - her descriptions are so vivid it seems as if there's a movie screen in front of you, playing out the scenes.
- Passages To The Past
"Hollick adds her own unique twists and turns to the familiar mythology
"Uniquely compelling… bound to have a lasting and resounding impact on Arthurian literature.
- Books Magazine
Purchase links (not USA/Canada):