Your Questions

Q

Dear Mr Cornwell,

On your website you say that you made big colour-coded diagrams of three historical novels you liked when you were writing 'Sharpe's Eagle'. You also said you lost them, I know! But I was wondering whether you remembered the basic structure of them...? As someone who is trying to write historical novels himself, I would be very interested (and I think a lot of people would!) to get an idea of the amount of action, etc, required in a book (action 30%, etc... that kind of thing?)

Oh - and just while I'm at it (I did NOT write this question as an excuse to ask!), I wondered whether you remember my late grandfather - Patrick 'Brian' Glynn? His grandson is having a go at writing historical novels now, too!

Isaac Glynn

A

I’m afraid I long lost those charts – I wish I hadn’t, but they’re landfill by now!

I wish you much luck! Go for it!


Q

Mr. Cornwell,

I have finished reading the Starbuck Chronicles and am well-pleased with the battle actions as well as the superb characterizations. For me, a great charm of historical fiction is the opportunity to "meet" noteworthy historic personages such as Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and George McClellan. In the Starbuck series you have also introduced fictional characters of exceeding interest, such as Belvidere Delaney, Thaddeus Bird, Thomas Truslow, Sally Truslow, Billy Blythe (who has yet to receive his just desserts),the Reverend Elial Starbuck and Nathaniel Starbuck himself. I hope you will one day write a fifth Starbuck novel as there is so much more to the Civil War story beyond Antietam. Gettysburg! Gettysburg ranks among the most pivotal battles of all time, rivaling even Waterloo, arguably. And we have yet to meet Ulysses Grant. I realize that the last book of the series was published in the nineteen-nineties, and that you've had other literary interests intervening, but allow me to gently remind you that at the end of "The Bloody Ground," you promised, in your Historical Note section, that "Starbuck will march again." I'm not holding you to that, only hoping that you will continue the saga one day.

All the best.

Keith Biesiada

 

I really enjoy your writing, I was hoping there might be a chance for an ending or an extension to the Starbucks series. I finished reading all of them 2 weeks before taking a guided battlefield tour of Gettysburg and was amazed at how much I knew.

Larry

 

 

A

Well, thank you! I haven’t entirely dismissed the idea of another book – but it’s not in the near future – call it another ‘maybe’


Q

Wouldn't Antonia Sharpe make an excellent spinoff series?  I would read that story in a heartbeat. I hope this really tiny seed sprouts.

kind regards

Andre

A

Probably not – at least not by me!  But thanks for the idea

 


Q

Hi Bernard,

enjoying your novels immensely! I began with the Uhtred books, then the superb Warlord Chronicles and now your Hundred Years War series (just about to finish 1356). Might we see a HYW novel one day that incorporates the story of Joan of Arc? Thomas of Hookton might not be around by that point, but perhaps we could pick up Nicholas Hook's story. Would love to see what you could do with this material.

Matt Soffe

A

I’ve thought about that – even done some research, so who knows??? Maybe!!


Q

Hello Mr. Cornwell,

I love your books and will be sad when I am through reading them all.  Maybe you could recommend whom to pursue after?

My question is regarding Englaland.  The contest is mainly Saxons vs Danes.  Many other people from the islands and the north are involved as well.  During the most precarious times Uhtred wonders if the country will be Daneland instead.

Is the name England derived from Angles?  And if so, why no mention of them?  Sorry to bother you but I was unsuccessful trying to figure it out on my own.  We all know the term Anglo Saxon but I wonder how many people understand the Anglo part.  I wouldn't mind clarification.

Thanks so much!

No biggie if you don't get to this!

Regards,

Ed

A

I have explained this in some of the historical notes, but maybe not enough. We talk of the Anglo-Saxons and we basically mean the two major Germanic tribes who invaded Britain after the Romans abandoned the island. There were also Jutes! And some other minor tribes. I call them all ‘Saxons’ because it simplifies the story – Uhtred, properly, is an Angle, but conflating the two tribes isn’t too much of a distortion. That’s what their enemies did – to the displaced Welsh all the invaders were simply the ‘Sais’, the Saxons.  The West Saxon (Wessex) dynasty eventually united all the Saxon (and Angle and Jutish) lands and the mystery is why they named their new country Englaland, or why the said their language was English. But they did!

 


Q

Hi Mr. Cornwell.

I have been thinking about your proposed future post-Waterloo Sharpe novel.  I am wondering how good it would be, and I must confess, I have my doubts.  Most of the best Sharpe novels feature a major battle, Talavera, Badajoz, Salamanca, and so on.  After Waterloo, there were only skirmishes, with no chance of a French victory.  I have to question if this could form an adequate backdrop to a successful Sharpe novel.  Perhaps a short story would work better?  Now Albuera, on the other hand, would make a great novel.

Alan Kempner

A

You have little faith in me!  And you may be right!  In the most successful Sharpe novels the villain is usually not a Frenchman, but someone on his own side.  I haven’t forgotten Albuera, or San Sebastian, but I still suspect the next Sharpe will be post-Waterloo – and I’ll try not to disappoint you.

 


Q

Happy New Year Bernard !

Hope you had a jolly Christmas!

 

i've been reading War of the Wolf, which i got for Christmas, and am about two-thirds through, having just reached Uhtred and Sigtiryggr being at the Witan.

Its great and i'm loving it! Bit upset you killed XXX off though! How COULD you do that?

 

I wanted to ask you about Villains in your books though. I believe a Hero is nothing without a great Villain. They define each other. Without the Joker, Batman would just be a berk dressed as a bat! The Hero must slay the Monster or defeat the Villain. That's what they do!

But, how do you create and define your villains? it seems to me  that in your books there are Villains, like Obediah or Haestan or Aethelhelm,or Ducos, who cannot physically match-up to Sharpe or Uhtred (although Hakeswill certainly seems  to be able to take a beating!) but they are incredibly devious bastards and they plot and sneak around...But, i think there are guys who aren't really "Villains", just "Opponents". I  always really like Svein of the White Horse, and he never really seemed to be to be a "baddie". He's just a Danish warlord, and Uhtred likes and respects him. Cnut Longsword as well, and even Skoll. Without spoiling it for anyone who hasn't read War of the Wolf yet, (and i've not got to the end yet!), but surely he is not going to get away with what he did? But, does what he did make Skoll a "Villain" or was that killing, just War?

i'm not actually sure what i'm asking you here! Just wondering about you views on Villainy in your books...

i know  you were tremendously fond of Obediah, and regret killing him off, and he is a gloriously repellent character, but what other villains and foes have you enjoyed creating?

i'm trying to think of ones that could match up to your heroes in a fight...Cnut, certainly and Svein. And Leroux for Sharpie...

Musing...musing...

i'll finish with a more straight foward question! Even at 42 i still love wondering about things like this...

Ubba vs Steapa? Who would win? (i still think Ubba..)

 

Looking forward to Uhtred and Sigtryggr wreacking a just and bloody veheance!

(i only have one eye, so i feel a strange  kinshiop with Sigtryggr...and Odin!)

 

Kind regards as ever

Matt

Wiltshire

A

Stick to Odin!  Sigtryggr . . . hmmm, I won’t offer a spoiler. The villain has to be formidable, of course, and if not physically formidable then cunning as a hungry rat. Cunning is often easier, it helps plot the book, but a combination of both is probably best. Leroux was wonderfully cunning. But you’re right, Hakeswill is my favourite!

 


Q

I grew up in a Dutch-American community where there were still monthly church services in both Dutch and distinctly separate Frisian. My mother would never describe someone as being Fries without also saying he was stubborn. So growing up with these stubborn devout post-war immigrants,  I burst out laughing when reading you describe them as natural pirates.

So any of us from the southern provinces (I'm of mostly Zeeuwse descent) would have been considered a Frank?

Beth E Postema

A

I suspect you would be considered a Frank? I’m not certain. . . . maybe a Frisian??


Q

Hello Mr Cornwell!

Wow, it’s an honour to be able to contact you....i have read all of your Sharpe books when I was a lad, great reading for a teenager. I think I still have them sitting in a barn somewhere! I’m only writing now because I’ve just binge watched the whole last kingdom saga on Netflix and I was very pleased to find out there will be more! I can’t help noticing your propensity towards violent underdogs in your books ...it makes for compelling stories, ones that we all enjoy it seems. If I might be so bold, could I ask you if your characters are created consciously in this mold? Do you sit down before you create a series with a large empty framework which contains certain traits and character arcs? Or is it purely coincidental? It’s fascinating how we all take such pleasure in a character succeeding, projecting our own such desire. Also... how about flaming trebuchet projectiles?! Did the saxons not have these?? ;)

I thank you for you written works...they brought and still bring pleasure to my life.

Paul Thomas

A

Oh God, I wish I could plan a novel!  I can neither plan plot or characters! I’ve been stuck for the last few days because I have absolutely no idea what happens to Uhtred next! I keep trying things and they don’t work so today I’ll try something new and see if that strikes a spark. If it doesn’t I’m in dead trouble!  So far as I can find out the Saxons did not use trebuchets – I wish they had!

 


Q

Dear Mr. Cornwell,

I was a bit confused while reading "War of the wolf" (loved it, btw!) when Uhtred makes his kind of deal with Aethelstan and he says Uhtred's son will, after his father's death, have to make his own separate agreement with Aethelstan. But that certainly should not be a problem, should it, as those two have kind of grown up together and seemed to be friends? Especially with Junior being a Christian himself ("damn him!").

PS: At the moment I am bingeing all of the Saxon books, I just wanted to reread the first few, but it seems I can't stop, what a lovely problem to have. They are even better the second time! I also always forget how funny Uhtred can be with his bone dry comments. I have quite a few LOL moments while reading.

Kind regards,

Grisel

A

Oh it might be all sorts of problem!  Wait and see . . . .