I have always loved history. My focus has been mainly on British history, but I may change it to that of other nations sometime. I cannot say I am especially wedded to any one period. I have started to take an interest in prehistory, because there are always so many exciting discoveries about our distant past.
DOES HISTORY MATTER?
The more we learn about our past, the better we can understand the present. A person without a memory is called an amnesiac. It is not a healthy condition. I think this applies to nations too. This should not lead to jingoism. Appreciating and celebrating our own quirks does not mean despising those of others.
WHY MIX HISTORY AND FICTION?
I enjoy writing fiction against a historical background, as the natural drama of major events enhances the personal dramas.
AM I WELSH?
I was born in England of Scottish and Irish descent, as well as English, but I have spent many years living, working and travelling in Wales. I have a great love for the Principality and its people. I am aware that most Britons contain a lot of Celtic DNA. So Welsh history is relevant to most of us on this island?
WHERE IS MY LOYALTY?
I remember the old county of Monmouthshire. Its motto was “utrique fidelis” meaning “loyal to both” which sums me up.
DO I SPEAK WELSH?
WHAT OTHER PLACES ARE IMPORTANT TO ME?
I was born and brought up in Lancashire and have spent most of my life in the North West of England. I have never lived in Scotland, but have had family connections with that
country and have enjoyed many holidays north of the border, except the ones taken in the wet season! My characters and locations will reflect my experiences.
WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT IN MY BOOKS?
Until the Twentieth Century horses were a vital part of our world, in transport, agriculture and warfare.
Some people used horses just because they had to, but we know that many others loved them and took a lot of interest in them, as I do. I try to bring out the different characteristics of the different horses and to show that horsemanship, which means more than riding skills, could make a big difference in a lot of situations.
DO I RIDE?
I have done, on and off, most of my life. The pun is intended. I have competed, unsuccessfully, in various equestrian disciplines. I think riding out over the countryside is a great way to see it and share the enjoyment with your horse.
I do not currently own a horse and have not had the opportunity to ride recently. Should I describe myself as “unhorsed” or “dismounted” or what?
THERE IS A POEM CALLED ‘THE HORSE’ BY RONALD DUNCAN WHICH SETS OUT MY FEELINGS BETTER THAN I CAN.
Where in this wide world can man find nobility without pride,
Friendship without envy, Or beauty without vanity?
Here, where grace is laced with muscle, and strength by gentleness confined.
He serves without servility; he has fought without enmity.
There is nothing so powerful, nothing less violent;
There is nothing so quick, nothing more patient.
England’s past has been borne on his back.
All our history is in his industry.
We are his heirs;
He is our inheritance.
Copyright of the Ronald Duncan Literary Foundation.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT IN CRIME FICTION?
Every hero, indeed every person, needs a moral compass. For many this comes from their faith. For others there must be a different source.
My heroes experience inner conflict when they drift away from their moral upbringing, and in any case find life’s complexity challenges religious certainty. They are in good company.
AM I WRITING ABOUT MY OWN RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS?
I am a Christian and am trying to be true to myself. My characters express thoughts I can identify with, including their doubts and conflicts. I also hope they are authentic representatives of their time.
Religious conviction and conflict often exist side by side with immorality and materialism. People have to find ways of living in the real world without abandoning their ideals.