Monday, March 11, 2013

Guest Post by Anthony Riches, author of THE WOLF'S GOLD

I'm delighted to welcome Anthony Riches, author of the Empire novels set in the ancient world of Rome, including his most recent EMPIRE: WOLF'S GOLD. In this latest installment, Marcus Aquila and the Tungrians have been sent to Dacia, on the north-eastern edge of the Roman Empire, with the mission to safeguard a major source of imperial power. But the Tungrians must also come to terms with the danger posed by a new and unexpected enemy, one they will have to fight to the death to save the honor of the empire - and their own skins.

Anthony began his lifelong interest in war and soldiers when he first heard his father`s stories about World War II, leading him to complete a degree in Military Studies at Manchester University. He began writing the story that would become Wounds of Honour after a visit to a Roman fort on Hadrian's Wall in 1996. Highly praised for his accuracy and insight into the struggles of Rome's battalions, the Historical Novels Review says: "Anthony Riches brings alive the harsh reality of the Roman world – the period, people, and culture – in a frenetic and exciting novel which is well researched and tinged with humor . . . Difficult to put down, this is a welcome addition to the genre."

Today, Anthony offers this look at the foibles of being a disciplined writer. Please join me in welcoming Anthony Riches!

Life in the Hen House
Being quite spectacularly ill disciplined – just ask my business partner and our long suffering employees – I’ve been aware for a while now that I’m not at my best writing at home. Nowhere near it, as a matter of fact. Barely ten minutes into the day’s work I’ll have diverted to the internet to research something or other of some relevance, but from there it’s only a matter of seconds before I’m reading car reviews on the Evo website, looking at gorgeous stainless steel lever action rifles on the Marlin website or simply trawling Wikipedia to find out just who was the lead singer of Mud in 1975.

Having confided this shocking lack of discipline to my friend Eddie a few months ago, I then spent a few days writing in his office after receiving an invitation so sincere in its expression that it would quite literally been rude to refuse. Driving down into north London at a ‘going to work’ time of the day, I would sit at a table and tap away at my laptop while he went about his business. Was it quiet? No, it was a working office with all that entails (and Ed’s a forceful man when he gets going!). We drank tea, we chatted every now and then, and it was most convivial. And yet, despite all that, I routinely turned out two thousand words in less than three hours. Even I could do those maths – working a gentle five half days a week would equate to five hundred thousand words a year, with afternoons off for proof reading copy edits, stroking my chin while looking at proposed book covers and (more to the point) playing games on the PS3. The scales fell from my eyes. What had I been thinking all these years not to have realised what I was missing?

So, when I found the end of my most recent engagement looking like coming to an end a few weeks ago, I bought the local paper and sat on the train into London searching for somewhere internet free to go and hide for the purposes of writing. And there it was! ‘Small office space in rural location, would suit undisciplined writer due to lack connection to the internet.’ OK, everything after the word ‘location’ was in my head rather there in black and white, but all the same it sounded perfect. I galloped round to the farm in question for a look the next day (up the handy private road that cuts out most of the area’s horrendous traffic and the world’s worst level crossing – I swear those blasted gates must close when the train is leaving the previous station, and frequently close again thirty seconds after it has passed five minutes later – at the cost of 50p and a noseful of a sewage treatment works. I took one look and fell in love with the place.

OK, the ‘office’ is actually a converted hen house riddled with cracks and gaps that allow the cold in (I sit here writing this cuddled up to a gas heater and with a fan heater on hot standby), but it’s peaceful… well, most of the time. Yesterday a tree that overlooked the duck pond decided to rot past the point of no return and fall into the water with a creak tearing creak of splintering wood and a huge splash, and this morning a bird fell out of the rafters to sit (and then defecate) on my desk, missing the laptop by inches. A local metal detector specialist wandered by a week or so ago at the land owner’s kind instigation, to show me the 1900 year old bronze figurine of the god Mars he’d recently found, most likely from a votive altar in a Roman settlement on the site the farm now occupies. Pheasants and squirrels wander past every now and then to divert my attention from whatever deathless prose I’m in the middle of turning out, and the farm’s four geese go everywhere on land or water in line astern, and at quite hysterical speed when food is sighted -but all of these distractions are only momentary. Unlike the internet they don’t lead me off into dreams of German sports cars and large calibre firearms, or off in search of meaningless ephemera, and after a moment’s pondering I’m back on track to deliver my two thousand words. I did it yesterday; I’ve done it today, and damn me if I won’t do the same tomorrow.

And for me, let me assure you, that’s about as close to writer’s heaven as I can get.

Thank you, Anthony. Now, I need to go look for my own hen house :) To find out more about Anthony and his books, please visit his website.

1 comment:

BABU said...

Hello There,
I just wanted to see if you were currently interested in additional guest bloggers for your blog site.
I see that you've accepted some guest posters in the past - are there any specific guidelines you need me to follow while making submissions?
If you're open to submissions, whom would I need to send them to?
I'm eager to send some contributions to your blog and think that I can cover some interesting topics.
Thanks for your time,