Friday, 11 November 2016

Author Update

After some time out from writing, I am pleased to announce that I am back in the game. Most of this year has been spent pursuing other endeavours but finally I can come back to doing what I love most. For those of you that have been kind enough to read my books in the Longsword Saga, you will be pleased to know that work continues on Heretic, a prequel and the next installment in the series. But my time will be split between that and a new project that I have started working on. That is a children's series based on the mythical King Arthur. For those of you that have children, the King Arthur chronicles will begin with the first book, Arthur and information related to the publication of that, will be announced over the coming month or so. Please keep checking my blog over the coming months for other updates and articles.

Monday, 22 February 2016

From Castell to Woburn - The Story of my Summer (Part 1)

From Castell to Woburn, it sounds like an epic journey doesn't it? Alas, it is one that I did not take. If I had attempted it however, I would not have used a car. I would have walked as our forbears did before us. Or at the very least, I would have stolen a horse and rode it off into the sunset. But the mountain passes of Spain are no place for a nag. Indeed, I sometimes wonder how man makes it through. 

For me to have walked from Castell to Woburn, I would have trudged 1,721 kilometres and it would have taken me 319 hours. No small feat. As it was, I did make a journey, but it was somewhat shorter. I took a walk from the Spanish village of Castell de Castells (Castle of Castles), the last of a line of villages that dots the Vall de Pop (Jalon Valley) to the summit of a mountain, where lies the castle that the village's name derives from, Penya Castellet (The Castle of the Rock) or simply El Castellet.

I kid you not, the journey was thwart with danger. And I say this not because I am a fictional author who wishes to add value to the story, nor because people before me such as the protagonist of my novel Mercenary, Sir Richard Longsword, have stumbled it's steep and horrifying steps. I say it because I went up there against my better judgement, on the last day that I could, right into the heart of a storm.

Now believe me, I am no fool. It was a cloudy day, for sure. But even then, I did not foresee what was to come. No sooner did I step foot at the base of the mountain, I felt the first drops of rain tickle my brow. Luckily, I thought to myself, I remembered to bring an umbrella. So somewhat senselessly, I decided to push on. Perhaps I was thinking of those who had built the castle so many years ago. To be honest, I do not remember. But whatever I was thinking, I bravely carried on.

The path was wide to begin with and it's rise was steady. It wasn't long, however, before the path narrowed and with each twist and turn, it slowly started to steepen. By the time I was halfway up, the path was little more than a foot wide and for want of a better phrase, it had turned in to a water slide. The rain was falling so heavy, you'd have thought there was no path at all, just a fast flowing stream.

My feet were cold and wet. My arms and legs were sore from the bombardment they'd received from passing twigs and branches. Then, before I knew it, I was in the clouds. It was quite surreal, if not somewhat eerie. And little did I know, down the bottom waiting for me, in a nearby cafe, my step father was being told off by a Spaniard, who believed it was necessary to call the Policia, because I was probably dead!

I made it to the top and despite my tribulations it only took me about an hour and a half. I headed round the last turn, then before me was the wonderful remains of this spooky castle. Of course I had to get up close, because I was still in the clouds and it was just like fog. The castle isn't just at the top of the mountain, like it's name suggests, it's on top of a rock, on top of a mountain.

I walked around the base of the rock, which was on a steep slope and it was hard to picture how the castle would have stood. But as you got closer to the rock, you could see what looked like stairs cut into the stone and an idea of where certain rooms would have stood began to fall in to place. Despite thinking it was probably wrong, I decided to climb these steps, which were very hard to access to see if I could get to the very top.

There was evidence that others had climbed here before me, including an empty cigarette pack, but I came to the conclusion that it probably wasn't allowed, as it was downright scary and I'd chosen the worst day to do it and I couldn't see more than a few metres in front of me. I made it to the top and I was so glad that I did. It was flat which suggests there would have been some type of hall up there as the space was big and at the end were the remains of a tower.

I took some photos, which I will be sharing on my Facebook page. Unfortunately the view from the mountain was not great, as each way I looked all I could see was cloud. But what that did do at the very least was mask the few hundred feet drop, that would have led to a certain death. I could only imagine what the view must have been to those that lived there, hundreds of years ago. But hopefully one day I can go back and see for myself.

The castle, was built by the Moors, during their occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. One of many they built in the mountains, such as the Castle of Guadalest which features prominently in Mercenary. The reason they built them here, was firstly because, they could see for many miles around, but secondly because they were downright impossible to capture. During my novel in 1513, the castle belonged to the Order of Santiago and my protagonist only spent the night here.

I did not spend the night. In fact, I hurried back down, to a disgruntled step dad and thankfully, no Policia. I was cold and drenched through, I even gave up on my brolly. But there was one thing the weather could not dampen on that day and that was my spirit. For though I was alone, and I say that lightly because I never truly felt alone. I always felt as if I was walking with those who had come before me. But on that day I had an adventure of my own and my destination was remarkable.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Mercenary - Goodreads Giveaway *Updated*

Congratulations to Dawn Lewis, who won a signed copy of Mercenary on the Goodreads Book Giveaway!

Enter for a chance to win a copy of my historical fiction novel #Mercenary!

Richard Longsword is a Mercenary. By day he works the desolate orange groves but by night he is in the paid servitude of the Grand Duke of Gandia, serving as captain of the Guardians of Guadalest, an elite group of warrior knights who defend the fortress of Guadalest. When the fort is attacked by men who claim to be enemies of Richard's father, it threatens to spiral into a whirlwind of events that will change his life forever. He is left with no choice but to embark on a perilous journey to not only uncover the truth but to save the lives of his family. A tale of love, loss and ultimate betrayal. Richard Longsword is a Mercenary, but this time its not for money, this time its for revenge.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Mercenary by R.J. Connor


by R.J. Connor

Giveaway ends January 08, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Black Christmas 1349 *Update*

Short-story prequel to Mercenary

Currently available to download on Amazon kindle.

England 1349.
The Black Death is rife. God has abandoned his people.
After the death of his abbot, an Irish monk named Aiden O'Connor, must come to terms with the growing fear the plague has wrought.
With his greatest companion at his side, Brother Thomas, Aiden must leave the confines of St. Albans Abbey and seek refuge somewhere else.
 But as one door closes, another opens and a secret that should have remained hidden,
is unveiled.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Christmas Greetings!

Well, it was a wet morning here in Watford, England. But that didn't dampen our spirits. In fact, it brought with it an extra sense of joy, knowing that no matter what the elements would bring our cheerful festivities would carry on completely untroubled by what was happening outside. There could have been a hurricane last night but that wouldn't have stopped Santa filling my stocking and boy did he fill it!

But gifts aside, and yes I say that lightly for I am playing my new copy of Assassins Creed as we speak. The historical detail it possesses is fantastic and that is my excuse. But no, Christmas is a time for family and I am lucky to be spending it with most of mine. At this time of yet we should consider those less fortunate than ourselves and be grateful for what we have but also make the most of what we have because it won't be here forever. 

I love Christmas and I love spending it with my children. It was with that in mind that I was inspired to write a Christmas short story. One that would coincide with my on going saga. So I chose a setting close to home and during a time where the whole of England could have considered themselves less fortunate than ourselves. I endeavour to not give to much away but of course I talk about the time of the Black Death. 

Black Christmas 1349 was first published on English Historical Fiction Authors blog and it was available for free but it is now available to download on kindle for as little as £1.99 in the UK. If you would like to get hold of a copy, please see my books page. Alternatively I am giving away a free copy of my first book Mercenary on Goodreads. For a chance to win this, you can enter using the link at the top of my home page. 

But for now, I say farewell as the turkey beckons and the cauliflower and cheese will not eat itself! So from me, have a very merry Christmas and I hope, a prosperous New Year! 


Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Black Christmas 1349

Short-story prequel to Mercenary

Currently available to read online free of charge, 

England 1349.
The Black Death is rife. God has abandoned his people.
After the death of his abbot, an Irish monk named Aiden O'Connor, must come to terms with the growing fear the plague has wrought.
With his greatest companion at his side, Brother Thomas, Aiden must leave the confines of St. Albans Abbey and seek refuge somewhere else.
 But as one door closes, another opens and a secret that should have remained hidden,
is unveiled.

Friday, 12 June 2015

HLD#6: Berkhampstead Castle

The remains of Berkhampstead Castle inner bailey.

     The last leg of my Heretic tour took me down the A41 to the town of Berkhampstead. Here nestled in beautiful grounds, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of ordinary working day life, including the railway line, is the remains of an old Norman motte and bailey castle.
     The castle was built in what was then considered a strategic location, as it sat smack dab on the road from London in the Chiltern Hills, making it a key gateway to the Midlands and the North. After victory at the Battle of  Hastings, William the Conqueror made way to London and it was here, that the Archbishop of York surrendered to him, before construction of the castle began.
     The castles construction was under saw by Williams half brother Robert, who became lord of the castle. Earthworks were put in place to defend the castle and there was large park suitable for deer hunting. The castle soon became a centre for administration and the old town of Berkhampstead soon built up around it.
    The castle saw many kings, several of whom passed it on to their chancellors. The castle saw significant redevelopment in the 12th, century probably under the guidance of Thomas Becket.In the 13th century it was besieged by the French during the baronial wars in the reign of King John. After capturing the castle it was later retaken by royal force and give to Richard the Earl of Cornwall.
     Other leading figures who resided there were Edward III who bestowed the castle on his son, the Black Prince, who expanded the hunting grounds. In later years it was used to hold prisoners before the castle fell in to disrepair and ruin. In the 16th century the castle was unsuitable for royal presence and most of the stone was taken and used for building in the town.
     A rather unceremonious downfall to what was the first and greatest of the Norman castles ever to be built. It's history is both illustrious and inspiring and even today, with crumbled walls, it's still an impressive site. With the hill the old keep used to stand on, and the huge bailey, surrounded by two moats. Berkhampstead Castle is well worth a visit!