A question and answer interview with Theodore Brun, author of ‘A Sacred Storm’

D94A9880-240B-410E-804C-285D3827C547

1. How did you go about developing the plot for ‘A Sacred Storm ?

The broad outline to A Sacred Storm appeared as the second half of a massive tome I’d written as A Mighty Dawn. I first came up with the bare bones of the story that spans the two books way back in March 2012, driving around the woods of Northern Jutland (Denmark) in my cousin’s car. But once I’d split the draft in two, and A Mighty Dawn was out of the way, I could concentrate on making A Sacred Storm as thrilling as possible. I had to rewrite Part One a lot – as a relatively new author, I found it hard to get the balance right between giving enough back story and getting on with the plot, as well as re-introducing several of the characters. Sara O’Keefe at Corvus was brilliant at helping me with this, and pushing me on, so we got there in the end (not without some tantrums on my side). Another key was the sub-plot about Earl Huldir and his sons (the White and the Black). This came quite late – dropping into my mind while I was walking the dog in St Luke’s Garden, if I remember rightly. But the main spine of the story – the relationship between Lilla and Erlan, the friendship between Erlan and Kai, and of course the final outcome of this long-running feud between the two kingdoms, were all there early on.

2. Whose character did you find most challenging to develop and write ?

Lilla. Of the other main characters, Kai and Saldas came most easily (which is probably worrying). I spent a lot of time “interviewing” Lilla to understand her better. Pages and pages and pages. I feel she has a lot of depth to her now, whereas in the first draft (particularly of A Mighty Dawn) she was a bit flat. Now I find her fascinating.

3. Who is your favourite character from ‘ A Mighty Dawn’ and ‘A Sacred Storm’ ?

It has to be Kai. He does and says all the stuff I would do if I was a bit more naughty (and resourceful).

4. Do you ever base your characters’ traits and personalities on people you know ?

Some. Einar, for example, physically began life as a younger version of a rowing coach I had at university, who was rather portly, shall we say, and had the driest sense of humour of anyone I’ve met. Saldas is an amalgamation of two women I once knew – at least physically. I won’t say who!

5. How much of your time do you devote to writing ?

Err. Not enough. On a very good day I’ll get four or five hours done. A bad one, nothing. I’m writing Book Three in the series at the moment and, balancing that with home life in which I am heavily involved, is tricky. I try to get out at least 1,000 words a day. If I know where I’m going with a scene that usually takes a couple of hours.

6. How do you manage to keep the suspense going so well in both ‘A Mighty Dawn’ and ‘A Sacred Storm’ ?

Hmmm. Hard to answer that. There were a few reveals in the first draft which gave away certain things before I needed to. So I suppose cutting those bits helped keep the reader guessing and created a few surprises. The second half of the book came quite intuitively though. Again the spine was always there. But a lot of the finer interweaving of plot with sub-plot took some careful thought. I do remember finally putting all the chapters into one big word document – and reading just the last line of each chapter to check they had all gone in. Even doing that had my adrenaline pumping as the story built to its climax, so I knew I must have done something right.

7. I was on the edge of my seat reading both books, so many twists and turns, do you think a series or a movie could be developed ? I see great potential

That’s great to hear! Oh yes. I’d love that for many reasons! Although as soon as I think that would be good, my next thought is: what if they make it and it’s completely awful? It would obviously require a large budget. But in the right hands, it would be great to see it on screen. My imagination works very visually so I hope it could make the transition fairly easily. Meanwhile, we are chasing down a few leads.

8. Who are your role models?

A hard one, this. As my teenage step-daughter puts it, my wife and I are “raging” Christians. So I’d have to say Jesus. (I think we are contractually obliged to say that.) As far as the writing goes – I’d say GK Chesterton for sheer brilliance of mind; Giles Kristian for his skald-like ability to turn anything into deliciously entertaining prose; JK Rowling for stretching and believing in one’s imagination; Charles Dickens for his fascination with other people. My wife says I have a man-crush on Tom Hardy. I once watched him do the bedtime story on CBeebies (a Brit kiddies TV channel). When Tom Hardy says, “Now it’s time for bed,” you go to bed.

9. What is the worst job you have had?

Undoubtedly working as a sales executive for a software development firm. I can think of nothing more ill-suited to my character. In fact, they called the role “sales anchor” – which even at the time I thought desperately uninspiring. “Corporate dead weight.” It might have helped if I’d understood what on earth we were trying to sell.

10. If you could be any character in any book or movie, who would you be?

I think Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire is a pretty inspiring character. I’ve seen that film many, many times. Every time the synthesiser kicks in on the home straight of his 400m final I start blubbing, and I don’t really stop until the credits are long gone. Of course, his whole life was very inspiring, too.

11. What best advice would you give to new writers?

Writing is rewriting. Turn up at the page. Don’t listen to the critic in your head. You’re probably mad, but that’s OK.

12. Which scene was most difficult to write ?

The scene with the eagle soaring over the battle at the end. The first draft came out something like a dog-fight seen through the eyes of two different eagles. It was very weird. Happily, I didn’t leave it like that. But it was quite a challenge to get it right. I think I got there in the end.

13. Will there be another instalment ?

Very much so. Corvus has contracted me for two more. I’m currently writing the third which, if I can pull it off, will be even more epic – if that’s possible. Certainly more historic.

14. If so, will we see characters reintroduced from ‘A Mighty Dawn’ ?

No – if you mean, do we return to Erlan’s homeland? Not yet! Instead I’ll be introducing some new characters who are – I hope – even more engaging.

15. Which 3 words would you use to describe ‘A Sacred Storm’?

Epic. Enthralling. Pulse-racing. (is that a word?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Optimist by Sophie Kipner

downloadfile

The Optimist is Sophie Kipners’ debut novel. Meet Tabitha Gray, a vibrant, deluded, young optimistic girl from California whose quest for love knows no boundaries.

Tabith’s journey in search for true love begins from a very age young of 9. There are no limits to Tabitha’s mishaps whether it is finding hersef in the back of the gardners’ truck, sat in a hotel room wearing sexy lingerie in wait for Harrison Ford or a Russian bathhouse to declare her love for Al Pacino.

Where most of us would not dream of saying out loud embarrassing thoughts, embarrassing does not exist in Tabitha’s dictinary. She finds herself in very compromising and awkward situations but proceeds to carry out acts and thoughts beyond imagination.

I have not been able to put this book down and have laughed out loud at work or when amongst friends and colleagues. I felt at times I was living Tabith’s life. There’s moments of sadness, humour and cringe worthy scenes 🙈  This book is one that undoubtedly will leave you  hysterical and full of laughter and giggles.  It has been the talk amongst my friends and has had plenty of them in stitches.

Highly recommend and a must read for all 😍

Question and Answer session with Theodore Brun, author of ‘A Mighty Dawn’

Screenshot_2018-01-10-10-11-07
1. What inspired you to write A Mighty Dawn ?

Technically it was a lecture I went to back in 2009 about an obscure English missionary from the early 8th century, called Winfred (later named Saint Boniface). After that I burrowed deeper and discovered a world on the turn – at least so it seemed to me – from the darkest and most obscure days of the mid-1st millennium into the early medieval period. The old, strange world of paganism was retreating under the advance of Christianity and Islam had just exploded in the east, with reverberations as far away as North-West Europe. I wanted to explore this world and before too long a protagonist popped into my head. A warrior from the north. A heathen – who would eventually become embroiled in all the great events of the age. But where did he come from? Where did his story begin? A Mighty Dawn is the answer.

2. Will we hear of what happened to Hakan’s brother ?

Ha! Well noticed. Yes. But not for a while. Possibly in book 3. We shall see.


3 What is your favourite book ?

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

4 How many installments are you planning on writing ?

At least 5 in my mind. We are in discussions with Corvus about signing up for books 3 & 4 in the series so I hope I will get to write them all.

5 What made you study Archaeology and Anthropology?

It was actually my lifeline away from studying the sciences. I had done science and maths for A-Levels at school and had had enough of that. I was desperate to go to Cambridge and managed to get a place to read Archaeology and Anthropology which did involve a bit of science (in the form of human evolution) but also involved more in the way of the humanities/prehistory. At the end of the first year we had to specialise and I chose archaeology because by then I was being drawn further towards an interest in pure history. That was when I studied Scandinavian archaeology (amongst other things) which was the seedbed for this novel: the material culture of the early Norse peoples, their worldviews and beliefs. Then again, I didn’t get to the literary sources and sagas etc. until much later.

6 How did you come up with the character of Kai ?

I think Kai came out as a necessary counterpoint to Hakan/Erlan. He’s the irreverent, clownish foil to Hakan’s more wounded and earnest character. He’s a relief as much for me, the writer, as he must be for the reader. He’s great, though. Basically an outflow of all the naughty thoughts and ridiculous schemes that I will never put into action myself!

7 Who would you cast if A Mighty Dawn was turned into a film ?

Agh! So hard to answer. Years ago I thought a young Michael Fassbender could have done Hakan, but time has moved on and he’s too old now. I’m under pain of divorce to insist my wife, Natasha Alderslade, should play Saldas. (Although my reserve choice might be Eva Green or Oona Chaplin.) For Kai, possibly Tom Holland (with dyed hair). Rufus Sewell as Haldan. Jenna Coleman could have been good as Inga – though maybe she’s too old to play a teen as well now. Who else? Dominic Cooper as Sigurd. Annabelle Wallis would be a fantastic Lilla.


8 What would be your favourite question to ask your favourite author ?

The author who has given me most joy is George MacDonald Fraser, who wrote a historical fiction series called The Flashman Papers. I guess the question I would ask him if he were still alive would be: “Please can I help you research and write another volume of the Flashman Papers?”!

9 Which book have you read that you found unappreciated ?

Hmm. The Everlasting Man by GK Chesterton. He’s gone out of fashion now, but this book is dynamite. It’ll change your life.
10 Please can I have the privilege of reading a and reviewing your next installment ?

Oh, go on then! A Sacred Storm is out in hardback in June.

A Mighty Dawn by Theodore Brun book review

Screenshot_2018-01-10-10-11-07This is my first time taking part in a blog tour and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and loved seeing how excited and enthusiastic everyone has been surrounding the fabulous debut ‘A Mighty Dawn’ by Theodore Brun.

I tend to read thrillers so this was a brand new experience for me reading a book based on fantasy and history. I have little knowledge of the Vikings and have been intrigued and captured by this history. It is very well written and demonstrates the depth of knowledge Theodore has portrayed.

This story is set in the 8th Century in Scandinavia and is the first installment in the Viking series.

The story begins in Vendlagard where Hakan who is a courageous warrior swears loyalty to his father Haldan, Lord of the Jutes. A grand ceremony takes place where a Vala is allowed to enter who warns of dark events to follow “Yet you will take a wound. A wound so horrible! Pierced through your heart with a blade that cannot be stopped. Your days will be long and bitter. The All Father will never grant you rest”.

A forbidden young love unfolds and leads to catastrophic events. Dark secrets from the past awaken leading to further tribulations. Tragedy unfolds from here beyond belief.

Hakan renounces his birthright as Haldan’s son and embarks on a dark and dangerous journey to escape his painful past and takes on his new identity as Erlan.

On his journey to the land of the Svears, he meets a young Gotar known as Kai who together must face the mysteries and darkness lurking in Svealand. Things are not as they appear in the land of the Svears from demons to kidnappings, blood sacrifices to a painful living hell waiting to erupt. Can they serve their new king and save the Kingdom from destruction ?

I cannot express how much I loved reading this book. I felt I was on an epic adventure from the onset. It did not take me long to get stuck in and I was captured and intrigued throughout. It is a book you will not be able to put down. I loved the relationship between Kai and Erlan, such a strong bond. There are still some very dark, mysterious characters who I hope Theodore will explore further. I await eagerly for the next installment and give this book a big 5/5. You will not be able to put it down and will have constant moments of shock and disbelief. If there is one book you decide to read this year or buy as a gift,  make sure it’s:  “THE MIGHTY DAWN” 👌

I want to say a big thank you to the beautiful Kate at Corvus for giving me this lovely opportunity and everyone who is part of the team and to Theodore for this outstanding book. 👏