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Lazarus and the Gimp
18-10-2004, 16:11:50
I've spent several years researching material and drafting ideas for a historical novel based on English history over the period 937- 959 AD. It's proved hard going- I've got the story, but can't get a way into it.

Now I've had something of a setback. Bernard Cornwell has just had published a novel based around King Alfred. That's before the period I'm working on- but Cornwell tends to write trilogies/series, and I read two points in his blurbs today-

1- This is the first of a series on Alfred and his descendants.

2- In the closing blurb, there's reference to his works being continued by his son/daughter, and his grandson.

The "grandson" is the worying part, because that'll be Athelstan, and he's in the period I'm writing of. It could get worse- if it's "grandsons" then that includes Edmund and Eadred as well- which covers about 90-95% of the period I'm doing.

Now a Bernard Cornwell novel would probably be very different to what I'd do, but it's still a bad sign. I want to write it as a serious commercial proposition, and if you want to write historical as a money-maker then the one author you don't want to go up against is Conwell because he's the biggest-selling author by miles.

So where do I go?

1- Brazen it out and go ahead as planned?

2- Drop the Athelstan period and concentrate on the Edmund/Eadred period? This would be more manageable, but I'd need to hope to hell he doesn't get there first. Plus it limits the amount I'd have to sell- publishers like follow-ups/trilogies.

3- Ditch it, put it down to experience and go for one of my back-burner ideas- a book about Maelgwyn Hir. That's a lot more obscure so I'd have a clearer field.


Bumholes all round, really. Serves me right for not writing it quicker.

Debaser
18-10-2004, 16:41:01
Go ahead as planned. In a best case scenario his book will be a massive success (in historic novel terms), and publishers will be crying out for similar works. In a worst case scenario at least you know that there's an established audience for what you're working on.

King_Ghidra
18-10-2004, 17:08:31
agreed. plough on.

The Shaker
18-10-2004, 19:13:11
Go ahead.
Cornwell usually takes an unusual stance where he can anyway.
You can never get too many good books about a period.

Immortal Wombat
18-10-2004, 19:57:26
Go ahead. If books set in that era are getting published, and it doesn't overlap totally at least to start with, then you're probably more likely to get published, not going up against Cornwell, but catching his bandwagon before it gets momentum up.

Angelhorns
19-10-2004, 00:23:03
hmmm...Sharpe's Sword......

just put loads of shagging in it and cast sean bean in the tv series- you'll be on to a winner

stealth biased
19-10-2004, 04:45:54
what they said.

MOBIUS
19-10-2004, 10:40:18
Try and get your first one out before he publishes the potential clash - frankly it probably helps him doing this as it will raise awareness of the era for when you are published...

Put me down for an advance copy!:)

Lazarus and the Gimp
19-10-2004, 16:36:32
Originally posted by MOBIUS
Try and get your first one out before he publishes the potential clash

That's impossible. He's a full-time writer, I'm a part-time writer. He's got an agent and publisher, I haven't. Given the speed that publishers work (akin to continental drift) he's almost certainly got the entire work written.

Japher
19-10-2004, 21:42:51
Forward on, I say.

Who cares about this has been... What if his work stinks? You'd have it made. Besides, by the time you get your work out it may be years off, and everyone knows Gladiator movie cycles are 1 every 6 years, with cowboy movies every 4...

Lazarus and the Gimp
20-10-2004, 16:53:13
Flicked through the book in Waterstones today.

He's using the same device as in his Arthur books- a protagonist born into one faction but raised by the other. This allows him to cover both sides through one first-person POV. I don't write from a fixed POV, but drift through several protagonists in the 3rd person. That makes his work more accessible, but possibly lacking depth.

From what I've seen, he's got a real stiffie for the Vikings but his Saxons are a bunch of dickless wonders. That fits in with typical secondary school teaching on the subject, but not with my opinions on the subject.

His protagonist is young in this book, and would be in his sixties or seventies by the time my timescale kicks in. That's slightly more promising, but I still think he won't be able to resist doing the battle of Brunnanburh. Could leave me with a clear shot at Edmund and Eadred, though. I think I might write their sections first then work back to Athelstan when the dust clears.

Angelhorns
20-10-2004, 18:24:30
I can't believe you're thinking about it this much Laz to be honest. Do you think Bernard Cornwell put this much thought into whether he should cover the Napoleonic wars because loads of other writers have? I doubt it. Many historical periods are saturated with stories and their historical figures appropriated for novels- especially where there's a war or dynastic ambition involved.
If your story is original and well written it won't matter a shit who's written about it before. You've already said your style and angle are different so stop worrying.
Just do it!!

Chris
20-10-2004, 20:55:10
Write what you want to write, don't worry about what other authors do.

Most of the appeal of The Sharpes serious was the time period, most people probaly have no idea who Cornwell is.

BigGameHunter
21-10-2004, 00:54:51
So you and Mr. Cornwell have boosted his sales up to two units, eh?

Perhaps he'll return the favor when yours comes off the presses...

shagnasty
27-10-2004, 22:11:56
Just do it me old bean. I'm definately going to by the Alfred Trilogy. And if it's any good I'll buy any factual stuff on the fellow to. By the way, can I have an advanced copy to? Or maybe I'll just proof read it for you.

Angelhorns
28-10-2004, 00:20:05
Originally posted by Chris
Write what you want to write, don't worry about what other authors do.

Most of the appeal of The Sharpes serious was the time period, most people probaly have no idea who Cornwell is.

For me the appeal of Cornwell's novels lay firmly in Sean Bean's britches, and his tendency to call women 'milady' in a breathy Yorkshire accent.

Lazarus and the Gimp
31-10-2004, 18:44:40
Well I've bought the Cornwell novel, and I'm reading it now.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
01-11-2004, 08:21:37
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp

3- Ditch it, put it down to experience and go for one of my back-burner ideas- a book about Maelgwyn Hir. That's a lot more obscure so I'd have a clearer field.


Stay on course. Just write the book about Maelgwyn Hir too, please.

Funkodrom
01-11-2004, 10:42:50
Originally posted by Chris
Write what you want to write, don't worry about what other authors do.

Most of the appeal of The Sharpes serious was the time period, most people probaly have no idea who Cornwell is.

Might be true in the US but here he's very popular and well known. He's easily the top selling 'historical fiction' author and pretty far up the ranks of all fiction authors.

Angelhorns
01-11-2004, 21:57:20
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
Well I've bought the Cornwell novel, and I'm reading it now.

you're obsessing. You won't finish anything if you spend all your time checking out what other writers are doing.

Think how many books there are about the second world war- its the characters who make the book, not the period. You are never going to write the same story as Cornwell, so why are you worrying? The problem is, if you read his book, you'll just focus on avoiding his ideas rather than growing your own.

Lazarus and the Gimp
01-11-2004, 22:22:27
I wouldn't have said it was obsessing- I read all his books. It would be more aberrant if I didn't read it.

Angelhorns
01-11-2004, 22:27:31
just go and write!!

Lazarus and the Gimp
01-11-2004, 22:33:11
But it's 10.30PM and I'm in agony, mighty mistress of darkness!

Japher
01-11-2004, 22:37:17
Plagerize!

Lazarus and the Gimp
01-11-2004, 22:42:28
No chance.

What amazes me is what Cornwell isn't covering. He throws away the character of Ivar the Boneless (one of the most extraordinary people in history) without developing the character at all.

Angelhorns
01-11-2004, 22:45:32
well then. stop procrastinating on here and go and bloody write before I jump into my computer and emerge Tron-like at your end to kick your ass!

why are you in agony? Your knees? Its probably a sign.

Lazarus and the Gimp
01-11-2004, 22:48:56
I spend too much of my life on them.

Japher
01-11-2004, 23:04:39
now that's imagery

Angelhorns
02-11-2004, 01:43:10
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
I spend too much of my life on them.

begging the plumber to fix your latest mishap? :)

DaShi
02-11-2004, 05:32:24
Laz needs his pipes cleaned?

I agree with everyone else and say start working on it.

Japher
02-11-2004, 18:06:22
Naw, it's a lot less worker to be a writter who IS writting something, than to be a writter that HAS written something.

ttttt

Darkstar
05-11-2004, 22:39:18
Just do it Laz! Don't worry about it and just do it.

Funko
17-01-2006, 10:50:45
I'm reading the first of these at the moment.

There seems to be a lot of similarities with his King Arthur series. A bit too many at the moment it's a little annoying.

It's a bit lazy having the main character brought up by the opposition to make them bilingual again.

Plenty of warfare and shagging young girls though, typical Cornwell. :lol:

Fergus & The Brazen Car
20-01-2006, 10:12:00
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
I wouldn't have said it was obsessing-


I wouldn't have said it either- it's a ghastly Americanism akin to those overused by media trendoids such as John Patterson in 'The Guardian' who use 'ass', when if he's British he should write 'ARSE' (because if he doesn't, he is one) and ASSorted BBC/ITV presenters saying 'snuck' 'cos they think it makes them sound all Carrie Bradshaw and 'Friends', when it just makes them sound like the non-specific urethritic drippy pissholes they are.


Ici on parle Anglais, you Mid-Atlantic wankstains.

Lazarus and the Gimp
23-01-2006, 22:19:18
Originally posted by Funko
I'm reading the first of these at the moment.

There seems to be a lot of similarities with his King Arthur series. A bit too many at the moment it's a little annoying.

It's a bit lazy having the main character brought up by the opposition to make them bilingual again.



It is, and that just makes it worse. As far as historical accuracy goes, it's a joke. He also completely throws away the character of Ivar the Boneless- one of the most astonishing characters in history, but a total nonentity in Cornwell's eyes.

Venom
23-01-2006, 22:40:40
Kill your enemy. Wear his skin. And forge onward.

Fistandantilus
24-01-2006, 02:03:56
I have absolutely no idea who this Ivar the boneRless is. Should I worry?

shagnasty
24-01-2006, 09:28:10
I've heard of Ivar the Jellied-One but don't know owt about him. Laz, if Messers Boneless is so jolly spiffing, write about him and his decendants, if he had any. Granted, it may require a smidge more research but hey-ho.

Lazarus and the Gimp
24-01-2006, 16:53:12
Originally posted by Fistandantilus
I have absolutely no idea who this Ivar the boneRless is. Should I worry?

The Danish son of Ragnar Lodbrok who recaptured Dublin and several other kingdoms. What marked him out as unique is that he was a great war leader who was severely disabled from childhood- he's believed to have had brittle bone disease affecting his legs, that left him unable to walk.

He was carried into battle on a stretcher by slaves, and fought with a bow- he was a lethal archer.

Venom
24-01-2006, 17:20:47
That....is AWESOME! I must know more about Legless The Elven Archer.

Funko
25-01-2006, 10:11:41
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
It is, and that just makes it worse. As far as historical accuracy goes, it's a joke. He also completely throws away the character of Ivar the Boneless- one of the most astonishing characters in history, but a total nonentity in Cornwell's eyes.

I have finished the first and second books now. It is kind of Cornwell by numbers. Every book has to end with a battle, there has to be a new love interest every time, the leadership doesn't appreciate the common soldier/hero etc.

shagnasty
25-01-2006, 17:49:53
Originally posted by Lazarus and the Gimp
The Danish son of Ragnar Lodbrok who recaptured Dublin and several other kingdoms. What marked him out as unique is that he was a great war leader who was severely disabled from childhood- he's believed to have had brittle bone disease affecting his legs, that left him unable to walk.

He was carried into battle on a stretcher by slaves, and fought with a bow- he was a lethal archer.

Knew i'd heard the name before. Dublin by Edward Rutherford. Very good book to start with but it seems to die off a bit towards the end.

Darkstar
18-02-2006, 11:41:53
Well Laz, I hope you've gone ahead with your writing.