…. I was challenged to seven, but I already admitted to one!
1) I don’t write sequentially. I have a habit of writing a vignette in my head, and then another, and then another, and then putting them together like a rather badly-strung length of pearls.
This does rather mean that I have to keep rewriting the end of my novels but calling the Uncivil Wars books character-led is a bit like saying that water can be a little bit wet at times.
2) I have no idea what Hollie Babbitt looks like. Actually that’s not true, I know what he looks like, I just don’t know who he looks like, other than himself. I have read a number of books where characters are evidently based on actors. Mine are not amongst them. In an ideal world, I would cast Christopher Eccleston c. “Jude” as Babbitt, and it’d be close, but it wouldn’t be quite right. Orlando Bloom in his Legolas moments for Luce, again not absolutely right, but as near as I can get it, and Julian Sands (when he was young and pretty) as Russell. It’s not spot-on, but it’s close.
Stephen Fry has been suggested for Drew Venning…. Right accent, wrong colouring.
On the other hand, I have no problem at all casting Tyburn!
3) I know what happens at the end of the series and I’m not telling. The actual ending has never changed. It’s already been written, and everything else is just working up to that point. Which is not to say that Hapless Russell will not get his own series, and that there isn’t a Thirty Years’ War series on the blocks. (Is that a spoiler? Only if your chronology is off-cock. Our Hollie is thirty-four at the beginning of the English Civil War and went out to the Low Countries as a big fifteen year-old with an attitude problem. That’s twenty years of learning his business, by my reckoning.)
I didn’t start the Uncivil Wars books with the intention of involving Hollie in Leveller politics. It just sort of happened that way. He started off being absolutely partisan and then it just got personal, the more he put down roots in England again. He is not, absolutely not, any kind of political statement. Someone did suggest that he was and I would like to set it down – really, absolutely, categorically – that Hollie Babbitt is not any kind of political metaphor. He is his own dear bad-tempered self and his involvement in the Leveller movement is purely an emotional response to the treatment of his own soldiers by Parliament.
4) I don’t think I write like anyone else. Possibly Simon Scarrow, whom I quite like. The thought of Rosie and Luce as the Civil War Maco and Cato – hmmm. Certainly sufficiently sweary. Possibly slightly more political, especially as the series progresses. With more poetry. I have to admit to a near-heretical loathing of “Three Musketeers” soundalikes. I struggle horribly with Alatriste, although cannot guarantee that someone very like him does not stray across the radar of a young Hollie Babbitt. Hollie (drunk on his sixteenth birthday at Breda, natch) offered to punch him repeatedly in the head. I believe he took exception to the Spanish gentleman’s facial hair. Being a redhead, he never has succeeded with the fashionable moustache thing. Rather a tragedy for him, in the elegantly goatee’d part of the seventeenth century…
Anyway. I hate all that mannered thee’s and thou’s and have at thee, varlet, stuff. The seventeenth century was the golden age of the English language, undoubtedly. Let’s not forget it was also funny, filthy, and accessible. People spoke in it. To each other. They didn’t order their ale in rhyming quatrains. (Apart from Lucey Pettitt, probably, and I imagine even he only does it when egged on by his mates, or drunk.)
5) I have always written. The first thing I ever wrote was a Sherlock Holmes story, aged about four, and all I can remember about it was that it involved a graveyard at the full moon. Unfortunately it was written in the back of the car on my way to a family holiday and I get car sick. I don’t remember the end…
Hollie and Luce, on the other hand, first appeared in a time-travel comedy romance co-written with a friend of mine, sadly lost to posterity, in which the gallant Captain Babbitt began as a stern and easily-shocked Puritan officer in the Army of Parliament who was repeatedly seduced in some very unlikely environments by a most unwomanly miss.
Luce was a very camp transvestite who desperately wanted to get into the twenty-first century because he could wear make-up to work and no one would pass remarks.
There was a full-length novel written about this foolery (and a horse called Bastard who had a habit of widdling contemptuously on people he didn’t like) but it sadly did not survive a computer crash. It was hellish funny, though.
6) I have a habit of writing longhand on public transport, which is where I do most of my background thinking. There is a pink notebook which contains some very, very intimate information on the matter of the private lives of my lads.
Not all of it will ever make it into the books…