Let's Talk of Pirates...

Listen up you scurvy knaves - 
Why ain't ye be joinin' our  Pirate Plunder Blog Hop?

Here there be Pirates!
Giveaway and Q&A Bloghop

 Today I've been boarded by that notorious pirate-writer 
(and Blog Hop organiser) 
Justin Aucoin and his pirate companion 
Jake Hawking

Justin, what made you want to write about pirates in the first place? What is it about them that intrigued you as a writer?
I’ve been a huge fan of swashbucklers and historical adventure tales since I was a like eight or ten years old. I used to watch reruns of Guy William’s Zorro and even went dressed up as Zorro for Halloween about five years in a row (and sometimes I still do!), and I also fell in love with The Three Musketeers thanks to Disney’s 1993 adaption…
…so maybe we can really just blame Disney for my love of swashbucklers…
So, yea, it wasn’t a far leap from those stories and characters to pirates. With Zorro and the Musketeers, I fell in love with the idea of fighting for justice with just a sword at one’s side. It really spoke to me, as a young kid.
As for pirates, you still have that sense of adventure and swordplay, but now you have folks that are living on the edge at best, and at worst, they’re living outside the law. It’s a whole new dynamic. Throw the addition of a ship and now you have a base for exciting adventures and a whole new world of possibilities.

Tell us a little about your book, JAKE HAWKING & THE BOUNTY HUNTERS,  that you’re giving away for this event.
Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters is a collection of three short-stories about Jake Hawking and his pirate crew of the Broad-Wing. I published each short story as solo-adventures in the summer of 2013 as eBooks, and then this past spring I compiled them together as an omnibus collection as a paperback and eBook. The collection also includes some bonus material, including the first short-story I ever got published, a flash-fiction piratical tale, and two swashbuckling poems.
But getting back to the plot of the three Hawking stories: Jake Hawking is known for his quick blade and cunning wit. It’s earned him some friends in the Caribbean, but it’s also earned him his fair share of enemies, too. The governor of Havana has hired three of the most dangerous bounty hunters in the West Indies to track and capture Hawking and his crew. So life is already dangerous for Hawking, Little Queen, and the rest of the Broad-Wing crew as soon as we meet them.

In reality, pirates were awful people that most of us wouldn’t want to run across if we were sailing a ship, but in our culture they’ve been romanticized so often that it’s almost expected by some folk. Do you have trouble balancing reality with the romanticized aura of the pirate, or do you not worry too much about that when crafting your tales?
Yes and no. I don’t think too much about it when writing stories. I fell in love with the classic swashbuckler tales of Rafael Sabatini and Alexandre Dumas, and that sense of high adventure is what I aim for when working on the Jake Hawking Adventures. But at the same time, I do like the realism of stories like Captain Alatriste, so I go for a balance between the romanticized aura of the pirate with the gritty realism of what their life is like.
So with the Hawking stories, you’ll still get that sense of high adventure that you’d find in a classic swashbuckler, but with real-world outcomes. Everything these characters do have consequences. There’s no reset button like in a lot of those classic stories. No fairy tale happy endings all the time. But expect to have fun reading the stories!

How often do you turn to real-life pirates for inspiration in creating your characters or plot?
In other stories, I turn to real-life events to help mold plots (a la Dumas/Musketeers), but with my Hawking stories I don’t (or haven’t anyways). I want the Hawking Adventures to be happening in its own world and version of the 18th Century Caribbean.  It’s very much like the real Caribbean, but don’t expect Hawking and Little Queen to interact with the likes of Blackbeard, Anne Bonny & Mary Read, and William Kidd.
I will say that Jake Hawking is influenced a bit by Rafael Sabatini’s pirate, Captain Blood. Blood was an able swordsman, but he greatest weapon was his brain. He would try to out-think his way out of problems before drawing his sword. I wanted to write a character like that — a cerebral pirate. So that’s what Hawking is. He’s an able swordsman but a man who prefers to use his wit above his sword if he can. That plays a lot into the Hawking adventures.
As for Little Queen, Hawking’s right hand woman, she’s also not based on a real-life character. But after inventing her and writing Little Queen’s Gambit, I came across a real-life black, woman pirate who’s life and demeanor is pretty similar to Little Queen. I wrote all about “William Brown” on my blog. If I ever get stuck, I can always refer back to her!
And for those who really like stories that mix fictional characters with historical people, they might enjoy Ye Be Oak; True as Oak. It’s one of the bonus short stories in the collection and has a lot to do with Blackbeard. It’s actually the first fiction piece I ever got published.

What makes your series (or book) different from other piratical adventures out there? What’s your main goal with your pirate stories?
A lot of it goes back to Hawking. He’s a thinking man’s pirate. There’s still plenty of swordplay, but for readers who want more than that, I think they’ll get a kick out of Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters. It’s not all hack and slash.
But fight scenes that the genre is known for are still present in my Hawking stories. Hawking’s right hand woman, Little Queen, is very much a shoot first, as questions later type character. One reader described her as being Xena-esque, and another reader described her as having a “wild card nature”, so her and Hawking have an interesting dynamic. It plays out in Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters and I know I’m just scratching the surface of their relationship, too.

Bonus Question: If you had to design a pirate flag for yourself, what would it look like?
Ooooh, good question. I’ve been trying to think of what Hawking’s flag could be, but haven’t come up with anything concrete yet. Maybe something with a hawk?

As for myself, it might be a fleur-de-lis with crossed swords. It’s sort of my unofficial logo as it is, so I think it’d work as a flag, too.

Short Bio: Author. Fencer. Sometimes actor. Full-time nerd. J.M. AUCOIN is the product of when a ten-year-old boy who fell in love with reruns of Guy William’s Zorro grows into a mostly functional adult. He now spends his time writing swashbucklers and historical adventure stories, and has an (un)healthy obsession with The Three Musketeers. To learn more, visit his website: http://www.JMAucoin.com.

Now take yer chances t'win some prizes!
The contest began on Monday, September 8th 
and runs through to September 19th 
(Talk Like a Pirate Day)
Visit these Blogs and make yer claim!
(and don't forget t'enter below an' all!)

September 8th: Christine Steendam posted Dan Eldredge's Q&A 
September 9th :  Lisa Jensen posted Christine Steendam's Q&A
September 9th : J.M. Aucoin posted SK Keogh's Q&A
September 10th : Nick Smith posted Lisa Jensen's Q&A
September 11th : Dan Eldredge posted Nick Smith's Q&A
September 11th : SK Keogh posted Helen Hollick's Q&A
September 12th : Helen Hollick posted J.M. Aucoin's Q&A above

To celebrate this fun annual event, myself and six other historical fiction authors are giving away seven pirate novels. Sea Witch will be one of them, along with S.K. Keogh's The Alliance,  Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters by J.M. Aucoin, Heart Like an Ocean by Christine Steendam, The Witch from the Sea by Lisa Jensen, The Pirates of Alnari by Dan Eldredge, 
and Gentleman of Fortune by Nick Smith.
To enter, just sign in below. 
You can earn additional entries by
 liking the authors’ Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. 
The more of our social media accounts you follow, the more entries you get. 
The more entries you get, the better your chances are of winning. 
Simple as that.
enter here:

Fancy some more pirate fun?
Step aboard the MH Pirate Pleasure
for a few quizzes and games
click HERE 

My Guest: Judith Starkston and A Suitable Job for a Woman

... Powerful ancient women where you don’t expect them :

When I studied Classics in college several millennia ago, I was taught that Greek women were powerless and marginalized. By extension, that conclusion seemed to apply to any ancient woman I might encounter in my studies. There were those mythological exceptions like Medea, but such violent women merely revealed the inner fears of men toward women, or so the scholarship claimed.

Refreshingly, this understanding of ancient women is changing in the face of a wider range of evidence and scholarly perspectives. When I began to explore who the historical Briseis, whom we meet in Homer’s Iliad, might actually have been for my novel Hand of Fire, I found an abundance of powerful women. They lived on the far side of the Aegean from Greece in what is modern Turkey, both in the area on the western coast around Troy and in the dominant Hittite empire to the east, to which Troy was bound culturally and politically.

Briseis, the captive woman who sparks the bitter conflict between Achilles and Agamemnon in the Iliad, seems like an unlikely candidate for a powerful woman. Homer gives her only a handful of lines despite her major role in the plot and she’s a slave, but Briseis, it turns out, had serious clout in her world. 

Judith Starkston
While Homer stays mostly mum about Briseis, contemporary archaeology has brought to light thousands of clay cuneiform tablets from Hittite sites. These tablets have a lot to say about a likely job for Briseis. Briseis could have been a Hittite hasawa—an impossible word to translate, but for convenience, a healing priestess. Such women, literate and highly trained, held sway in the royal courts as well as more mundane environments. Hittites believed that these priestesses had the power to keep the divine and human worlds in harmony. Without their intervention, infertility and famine would ravage the population and even the gods would go hungry without the animal sacrifices offered by man. They also cured illnesses, delivered babies, performed divinations and served as therapists. 

I enjoyed creating this ancient woman in her environment before Achilles came along and enslaved her. On a personal level she has many doubts and fears to overcome, but her society views her as a leader and protector. For a teenager, as she is at the opening of my novel, that’s a lot to rise to, especially in the middle of a war, and it’s lucky she’s had some major preparation. That she is also headstrong and passionate is perhaps less helpful, but makes her a more intriguing character.

But even once Briseis is a captive, I could continue to portray her as a powerful person with an important social role to play. No self-respecting Mycenaean Greek warrior would have shown disrespect to a priestess with such a strong divine connection. We sometimes forget how receptive ancient civilizations were toward each other’s religious traditions. They all had many gods; welcoming in some new god seemed like smart policy. You never knew how powerful the next guy’s god might be. Only with the rise of monotheistic religions, each of which assumed a lock on the one correct approach to divine power, did religious strife become a dominant thread in human history. 

Finding the historical role of hasawa gave me access to a far stronger character than I had imagined I’d find in this Late Bronze Age context of the Trojan War. Thank you, contemporary archaeology and scholarship. 

Briseis’s job as a healing priestess is too complex to analyze in all its variety here (although if you’re interested, on my website there’s a long article called “The Hittite Hasawa: priestess, therapist, healer, diviner and midwife”), but one of the most remarkable aspects of her job was her training as the person who recited the sacred tales. 

Hittites believed the gods had to be present in their lives for prosperity to flourish. If things were bad, one or more key gods must have abandoned them, and a rite must be performed to bring the god back. The healing priestess was called in. She invited the missing god with sacrifices and other rituals, but primarily she brought about the god’s return by telling a story, a myth. 

We think of myths as quaint stories. To the Hittites they were powerful, sacred magic. Within the context of a ritual festival, the healing priestess would tell how a particular god in one of the sacred stories had been brought back from anger and isolation into proper relationship with the other gods and man. By magical analogy, these words, which were viewed as infinitely powerful, would bring about the return of whatever god or gods had caused the drought or crop failure or whatever the problem might have been. These festivals involving recited myths were performed to ward off trouble before it happened, and also to maintain harmony between the human and divine worlds. There is a Hittite proverb, “the tongue is the bridge”: that is, the bridge between man and gods. And the bridge builder was the healing priestess. Her words worked the magic. 

Is there a more exciting job to portray for a writer than a woman who can change the fate of her people through her stories?

About Hand of Fire: The Trojan War threatens Troy’s allies and the Greek supply raids spread. A young healing priestess, designated as future queen, must defend her city against both divine anger and invading Greeks. She finds strength in visions of a handsome warrior god. Will that be enough when the half-immortal Achilles attacks? Hand of Fire, a tale of resilience and hope, blends history and legend in the untold story of Achilles’s famous captive, Briseis. 

About Judith: Judith Starkston writes historical fiction and mysteries set in Troy and the Hittite Empire. Ms. Starkston is a classicist (B.A. University of California, Santa Cruz, M.A. Cornell University) who taught high school English, Latin and humanities. She and her husband have two grown children and live in Arizona with their golden retriever Socrates. Hand of Fire is her debut novel.

Find an excerpt, Q&A, book reviews, ancient recipes, historical background as well as on-going information about the historical fiction community on Judith  Starkston’s website

Follow Judith Starkston on  Facebook   and Twitter   

Follow Judith's Tour ScheduleHand of Fire Fireship Press Virtual Tour

Advance Praise:

"In Hand of Fire, Starkston's careful research brings ancient Greece and Troy to life with passion and grace. This haunting and insightful novel makes you ache for a mortal woman, Briseis, in love with a half-god, Achilles, as she fights to make her own destiny in a world of capricious gods and warriors. I devoured this page-turning escape from the modern world!" -- Rebecca Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of The World Beneath

“Suspenseful, tragic, surprising and sexy” –Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown and The Chalice

In Hand of Fire, Judith Starkston frees Briseis from the actions of Achilles and Agamemnon and gives her the power to become the heroine of her own story. … Starkston does a lovely job of bringing the characters to life, and her descriptions of the religious rites, the scenery of Mount Ida, and life as a woman of privilege in the ancient world put me firmly in the story. The love story between Briseis and Achilles is well-rendered, as are Briseis’ relationships with her father and brothers, her nurse, and the other women in the city and in the camp. A wonderful new take on a timeless story. –Historical Novels Review

"Briseis steps out from the handful of lines she gets in Homer's epic, and fearlessly tells her own story as healer, war prize, and partner to the famous Achilles--here a godlike hero who manages to be all too human. Recommended!"–Kate Quinn, author of Empress of the Seven Hills

“In her portrayal of Briseis, Judith Starkston has cast a bright light on one of the Iliad's most intriguing sub-plots. With her fast-paced story, three-dimensional characters, and fascinating cultural details, Starkston has given historical fiction fans a tale to remember.” –Priscilla Royal, author of Covenant with Hell and 9 other Prioress Eleanor mysteries

“Starkston breathes new life into an age-old tale in this masterful retelling of the Iliad. The reader experiences the terror, bravery and heartbreak of Briseis who now takes center stage in one of the most famous love triangles of all time.” Elisabeth Storrs, author of The Wedding Shroud and The Golden Dice

“Absolutely loved the book. Couldn’t put it down. Wonderful writing. And, I see no errors whatsoever as regards the history.” –Professor Eric Cline, Chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, George Washington University

"What makes a good historical novel? The writing, of course, has to be well done – a good pace, that “page turner” quality where the reader is hooked into the story from the first paragraph to the last. The plot has to keep going, no sagging bits in the middle where the reader starts skipping pages.
Characters? Ah yes, good characters that are believable as real people – even when they are clearly “made up”. They don’t necessarily have to be likeable characters, the  baddies can be just as entertaining as the goodies.
What else? What about research? A poor historical novel gets all the facts wrong, or so muddled so the background believability is ruined.
There also needs to be suspense, tragedy, maybe it can be  a little bit sexy in places. Romance, hatreds,  fights, tension…. 
A good historical novel leaps to life, it should be almost as if you have travelled back in time and you are watching the characters’ story unroll before your eyes. You laugh, cry, get angry with them when they do. You ache to know what happens next…
But what is the difference between a _good_ historical novel and a _brilliant_ one?
I suggest you read Judith Starkston’s Hand of Fire and you’ll discover the answer." Helen Hollick

HNS Indie Award 2014 - The Results

I'm back from a wonderful weekend at the Historical Novel Society's London UK Conference

I met some lovely people, talked a lot, stood up a lot,
 listened a lot - and...
we had the announcement of the 2014 Indie Awards!
(full report from Elizabeth Chadwick here)

The Four Finalists Were:
judged by Elizabeth Chadwick

1. Jacobites' Apprentice by David Ebsworth

2. A Gift for the Magus by Linda Proud 
3. The Subtlest Soul by Virginia Cox
4  Samoa by J. Robert Shaffer

and the winners:

Winner : Virginia Cox
The Subtlest Soul

Runner up : Linda Proud
A Gift for the Magus

To the two finalists who were not selected - it is a huge achievement 
to make the finalist list as the standard was very high

Thank you to our judges, 
Elizabeth Chadwick and Orna Ross
and to 
Orna Ross and Geri Clouston of Indie B.R.A.G. 
for sponsoring our prizes

and thank you to the HNS for supporting Indie writers

full report on Elizabeth's Blog HERE

HNS Indie Award 2014 Finalist, Linda Proud

This year, 2014, the Historical Novel Society has introduced for the first time, an annual award for the best Indie / Self-Published Historical Novel, with winner and runner-up prizes kindly sponsored by Orna Ross, bestselling literary novelist and director of The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and Geri Clouston of Indie B.R.A.G. There were eight eventual short-listed writers, from which four finalists were chosen by Orna Ross, with award-winning historical novelist Elizabeth Chadwick selecting the winner and runner-up.

Our judges found it very difficult to make their selections as the quality of writing 
was excellent, and to thank the authors, I would like to feature them all here on my Blog

So please welcome Finalist
Linda Proud and her novel 
A Gift for the Magus

I began writing what turned out to be a trilogy set in the Florentine Renaissance back in 1974. The final volume was published in 2008. It was my life’s work. I’d dedicated everything to it, been a little obsessed, shall we say (on one embarrassing occasion I’d dated a cheque ‘1476’ and got a kindly note from Lloyds saying they were not the Medici bank). So what happens when you finish your life’s work? Do you retire? Die? In a slightly panicky fashion I didn’t dare take so much as a day off, but what was going to be next?

A friend supplied the answer. ‘How about a novel on Cosimo de’ Medici?’ Now that caught my interest, for he was the grandfather of Lorenzo the Magnificent, a major character of the trilogy, and so much of the glory of the second part of the fifteenth century was rooted in Cosimo’s age in the first half. The idea of a biographical novel did not appeal. Where’s the story? Where does it begin and end? But then I remembered another story of the time, one that had made a cameo appearance in the trilogy. One of the characters is Filippino Lippi, apprentice to Botticelli and bastard son of a liason between a friar and a nun. Now, there’s a story. And it could act as a prequel to the trilogy.

Naturally it has already been written, many times, most famously by Robert Browning in the poem, Lippi. He’s a loveable rogue, our Fra Filippo Lippi, and the Victorians enjoyed his naughtiness. But what was the real story here? After all, this gambling, womanising friar of the order of the Carmelites had painted some of the holiest, most beautiful images of the early Renaissance. The one I used on the cover, of the Madonna and Child, is so beloved by the Florentines they call it ‘la Lippiana’.

 Leon Battista Alberti, who wrote ‘On Painting’ (1436), said that to be a good painter you must be a good man. This is the kind of conundrum I enjoy solving. Either Alberti was wrong, or Lippi was good, because there is no denying the quality of his art.

Research was difficult. The life of Lippi has been written by art historians who, like all historians, only have to give you the facts and are not obliged to make sense of them. Almost immediately I learned that Lippi hadn’t abducted just one nun from her convent: he had abducted them all. Five nuns. All living in the house of a painter in the centre of a gossipy little town near Florence called Prato, a place where they liked to birch whores naked. On the same square, what is now the cathedral and its ecclesiastical administration. So Fra Filippo lived with five nuns under the eye of both church and town. How on earth did he get away with that?

On such questions, novels are built.

The relationship between Cosimo and Filippo, his favourite painter in an age which boasted such alpha males as Masaccio and Brunelleschi, is brought to life by Vasari in his Lives of the Painters. I only had to contextualise the stories, such as the one where Cosimo locked Filippo in a room in his house so that he would finish a painting, and Filippo escaped by knotting bedsheets together and climbing out of the window. I had to find out where in Lippi’s life these things happened and make a guess as to which painting he was being made to complete. A tradition that as a young man he was captured by pirates and spent two years as a slave in North Africa I made part of the story. Novelists can do that.

There are self-portraits of Filippo. He was not a handsome man. Pudgy-faced and portly. But he was beloved by the very beautiful Lucrezia Buti (to whom he was not faithful). I had to put this humpty dumpty of a story back together again and make all the contradictions in one character psychologically plausible. In the end Lippi made sense through the eyes of his apprentice, the fourteen year old Alessandro Botticelli, who loved his master while standing appalled at much of what he did.

Are good painters good men? If so, then perhaps our ideas of what constitutes goodness need examination. It is the philosopher, Marsilio Ficino, who in the story takes Filippo apart, examines the details, weighs his heart and does not find him wanting.

With  A Gift for the Magus my time in the Florentine Renaissance is over. I loved every moment of those thirty years of research and writing about Italy, but my research trip to Prato was probably the last. I am wearied now by air travel and, besides, the Tuscany of my imagination is a whole lot more wonderful than the real thing with its autostrade, valley industries, poverty, government corruption, triple-dip recession. In my writing life, I’m into injury time, and I’m spending it in Iron Age Britain where research trips can be done in a day, or even just walking out from where I live. It’s here, right here, under my feet. All I have to do is make sense of what facts are known and find the story.
It looks like it might be turning into a trilogy…

Lindsay Clarke praises the remarkable work of a seriously under-rated novelist
[Review for Resurgence magazine]

A Gift for the Magus
Linda Proud
Godstow Press (www.godstowpress.co.uk) 2012
ISBN 978-1-907651-03-8

Since the monetary values of the corporate world began to dominate the mainstream publishing houses several fine novelists who are neither celebrities nor mass-market best-sellers have found it increasingly difficult either to get their work into print at all or for their books to receive much attention from the media. Fortunately a number of small independent publishers have found courage to do something about this unsatisfactory state of affairs. As both co-founder of Godstow Press and an excellent novelist whose work has largely been ignored by the literary establishment, Linda Proud is a significant figure in this development, and her strong, beautifully presented new novel demonstrates precisely why it matters.

A Gift for the Magus is a prequel to her Botticelli Trilogy of novels and this review wants to draw to all four books the serious attention they deserve. Mostly set in Renaissance Florence, the Trilogy follows the fortunes of a young scribe, Tommaso de’ Maffei, in his encounters with the friends and enemies of Lorenzo the Magnificent and the artists and thinkers who lent his court such glittering distinction. True both to the spirit and dramatic history of the Quattrocentro, these engaging narratives offer convincing portraits of such luminaries as Botticelli, Simonetta Vespucci, Poliziano, Leonardo da Vinci, Pico della Mirandola, Savonarola, Erasmus and the English Platonists and, behind them all, the intriguingly elusive figure of Marsilio Ficino, whose wisdom and scholarship inspired one of the most important evolutions of European culture. Yet all these formidable characters and themes are imagined with the confidence, fidelity and good humour of an author so deeply engrossed in her material that the novels almost read as an artistically satisfying act of channelling. One might equally well say as an act of love.

A great painting by Botticelli inspired each volume of the trilogy (La Primavera, Pallas and the Centaur and The Birth of Venus), and each of them sticks to the known facts of history supplemented by the vigorous activity of what the author calls the ‘rational imagination’, which is both highly intuitive and capable of deeply compassionate understanding. By the end of the third volume Lorenzo is dead and the glory of Florence has been scourged by Savonarola’s bonfire of the vanities; but Tomasso has recovered what he had lost - the courage to love - and his story affirms that ‘the divine world is here, now, but we clothe it in temporality, in desire, in misery, and know it not.’

 One might have thought the demanding task completed there, but Linda Proud’s questing imagination was drawn deep into her fascination with the morally complex character of Fra Filippo Lippi and a compelling new novel, A Gift for the Magus, emerged. Set earlier than the trilogy, it tells the story of an artist who combined an angelic vision and the skill of a master craftsman with a talent for procrastination and for frequently falling in and out of trouble. While offering masterful depictions of the worldly-wise Cosimo de Medici and the saintly Fra Angelico, the novel’s main concern is to interrogate the true nature of goodness through a humane appraisal of a man whose appetite for life rendered him incapable of fidelity to his monastic vows. Like the books of the Trilogy it’s a terrific read.

Novels which offer a beguiling narrative while exploring the ambiguities of experience, the rich symbology of great art and the claims of the spiritual intellect are rare these days. Linda Proud’s historical novels stand up well beside those of Mary Renault, Zoe Luxembourg and Marguerite Youcenar. They deserve much wider public attention than they have been afforded.

About the Author
Born in 1949 in Hertfordshire, UK, Linda Proud started writing historical fiction early, in school exercise books. Around the age of 14 she had discovered the novels of Mary Renault, set in ancient Greece, and fallen in love with the genre which brings the past to life.
 In 1971 she began a career in picture research in publishing and, after a few years, went freelance in order to devote more time to writing. The Botticelli Trilogy had seeded itself as an idea in 1974, but it was to take 11 years to do the research and develop writing skills. The first volume, A Tabernacle for the Sun, won a bursary award from Southern Arts and a month's residence at the writers' retreat of Hawthornden Castle. It was published by Allison and Busby in 1997. The publisher, however, refused the second volume, Pallas and the Centaur, forcing Linda to go independent. Pallas was the first publication of Godstow Press, which she founded with her husband David in 2003.
 Linda gave up picture research with the twentieth century, her skills and experience made redundant by the advent of the new technology. At that point she began a career in creative writing, teaching American students studying at Oxford University, working primarily for Sarah Lawrence College, Stanford University and, latterly, Shimer College.

Linda's website
Read the HNS review 

HNS Indie Award 2014

HNS Indie Award Short List 2014

judged by Orna Ross

1. The Sower of the Seeds of Dreams by Bill Page

2. Blackmore’s Treasure by Derek Rogers (withdrawn, author deceased)
3. Jacobites' Apprentice by David Ebsworth
4. A Gift for the Magus by Linda Proud
5. The Prodigal Son by Anna Belfrage
6. The Bow of Heaven: Book 1: The Other Alexander by Andrew Levkoff
7. Khamsin: The Devil Wind of the Nile by Inge H. Borg
8. The Subtlest Soul by Virginia Cox
9. Samoa by J. Robert Shaffer

and the 2014 Four Finalists are:

judged by Elizabeth Chadwick

1. Jacobites' Apprentice by David Ebsworth

2. A Gift for the Magus by Linda Proud
3. The Subtlest Soul by Virginia Cox
4  Samoa by J. Robert Shaffer

full details and rules can be found here

Elizabeth Chadwick: website
Indie B.R.A.G. website

HNS Conference 2014

Details of how to submit an Indie / self-published historical novel for review can be found here