Your Questions

Q

Dear Bernard

Good afternoon My name is Paul J Darran. I would, if I may, ask your advice. I come from 9 generations of British soldiers. We have served 22 decades continually from 1794.We are not officers but non commissioned officers & privates, that have fought in nearly every campaign & battle since that date, Including the Irish Rebellion ,the Peninsular War & Waterloo, NSW, India, Afghanistan, New Zealand ,South Africa ,Egypt & Palestine as well as other countries around the world & of course both world wars ,in between & post war campaigns. I have been told by historians & author's that their wouldn't be an interest for a book, on such a military family, from a working class background. To basically forget it. it is too long & covers over two centuries. I am the last to serve & feel its my duty to preserve the historical heritage of my family, which has been fully documented, covering over 20 years of research. So I would like your advice. Would you create one book or many covering decades? would it be better to search for an author or self publish .My forefather have been mentioned in three books. Victorian Medals, Road to Armageddon & Battle of Eureka Stockade. Soldier magazine & Who do you think you are magazine, both did articles & Dan Snow did a podcast,. but I would like to get our military heritage into book form.  I hope you can help in some way.

yours

Paul J Darran

A

Without knowing a lot more detail I’d suggest a single book because there’s a single theme running though your family’s extraordinary and admirable story!  It might be a very long book, but that’s fine. I’d also suggest that you try to write it, because even if you did find someone else to be the author they’d need your research and memories. I confess I know nothing of self-publishing, except that it works extremely well for some writers, but I’d try to find an agent who would be interested in what does sound like something extraordinary and so be published by a company that specializes in military books.


Q

George RR Martin said that while he wasn’t involved in casting, he lobbied for Nikolai Coster-Waldau to play Jaime Lannister because his face and attitude was exactly what he saw when he created the character. I know you have said you also weren’t involved in casting for Sharpe or Last Kingdom, but was there an actor that you ever suggested or thought of as perfect for a character?

Ron Filipkowski

A

I never suggested any actor, nor would I!  Casting is an expert skill and I have none of it, so while I would never make a suggestion, nor have ever thought of any particular actor as ideal for any part, I am constantly amazed by the skill of the people who do the casting. Sean Bean, Alexander Dreymon, David Dawson, the extraordinary Pete Postlethwaite, Cecile Paoli – among many others - how lucky can I be to have actors like that play parts from the books?


Q

Hello Mr Cornwall,

I haven't messaged you for years as I wanted to leave you in peace but I do now have a burning question. It's from genuine curiosity and not nitpicking. I have just read The Burning Land again for probably the 9th time and am starting Death of Kings and in it he says he defeated Heaston at Beamfleot the year before and now it is the year 899 which would make Uthred 42. At the beginning of The Burning Land he is 35 so does that mean that book took place over 6 or 7 years?

Last question (all be it silly) as you created them you are the only person who can answer this. Who would win in a fight between Steapa and Finan?

Many thanks

Ian

A

I know this is a totally unsatisfactory answer, but I have no idea. The timeline of Uhtred’s life is (too) long and I was careful never to be too specific, though perhaps I was too specific in The Burning Land. Most of the books take place over a few months, or a year or two at the most, so I suspect I was careless with The Burning Land, though I confess I wrote it so long ago that I can’t remember the story. Sorry if that all confuses you!

 


Q

Dear Bernard,

I know you’re a busy man, and you have answered many a question about getting published for the first time, but I am pulling my hair out with the prospect (even though I am a long way off as of yet). I am still writing my first draft, and the story is coming together nicely. I have a lot of character development to do but the bones are slowly being put in the right place.

My question is about the steps of self-publication, and whether you think it is worth it? Lots of people these days are going through Amazon and Kindle, and are creating some good sales, but I wanted to hear from someone who struggled for a long time to get their book off of the ground, and finally had success through an agent. Would you have done things differently now? If so, what steps would you recommend when self-marketing? If not why not? And could you recommend a good publisher to potentially contact in the future?

It was my father who introduced me to The Winter King and I have been hooked by your writing ever since. The Last Kingdom series has been an ever favourite, to the point where I am about to start them over as I love the little details that you put into your work.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.

Kind regards

Peter

A

I was very lucky and found a publisher almost immediately and have been wit that publisher ever since. Which means I know nothing at all about self publishing, though I do have a friend who has achieved a lot of success publishing with Amazon. She would certainly say go-ahead, and she even abandoned her publishing house for the self-publishing route with Amazon. Another friend posted this on her blog and I’d recommend it: https://www.vickyjpayne.com/post/ten-things-i-wish-i-d-known-before-self-publishing

 


Q

Dear Bernard

Have you ever heard of the Fenian Invasions of Canada and The Battle of Ridgeway 1866. Wondered what your thoughts were on them and if you'd ever been tempted by them?

Regards

Geraint

A

I did some research on them a few years back, but confess the hook didn’t settle in me. I’ll have another look, but no promises.

 


Q

Dear mr. Cornwell,

I hope you are doing well in these difficult times.

I was wondering if you have read the Outlaw Chronicles by Angus Donald? He sort of does for Robin Hood what you did for King Arthur, taking a time period and mixing its historical events with legend and folklore about the character in a way that makes sense and feels real.

Since I really loved them I thought you could enjoy discovering them if you haven't already.

Since I might as well ask a question, do you have some favorite Shakespeare film adaptions, specially Macbeth? The plays are not shown in Lisbon very often, so for me its probably the best way to see it's story.

Best regards,

Pedro Oliveira

A

I’ve not read him, and thank you – I’ll add those books to the list!

I can’t think of a Macbeth that stays in my mind. I’m still a fan of Olivier’s Henry V, and I loved Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing. I have a huge fondness for Max Reinhardt’s extraordinary A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but have to say my favourite Shakespeare film has to be Shakespeare in Love.

 


Q

Hello, Mr. Cornwell.

It’s so amazing to be talking to you. You’re a huge part of my life.

I don’t know if you’re answering this, but I wanted to know how you’re doing during this crazy pandemic.

How’s your health? Has this craziness affected your writing?

Hope to hear from you.

Regards from a Brazilian reader.

Duda Kagan

A

I’m not really noticing much difference! Writing is a solitary occupation so I’m total used to long days on my own, and sometimes with the dog for company. I do miss seeing friends and meals out, but doubtless that will improve with time. I can’t think the pandemic has affected the writing – it’s really very much life as usual! But thank you for asking!


Q

Bernard, I recently read Sharpe’s Devil again and noted your recommendation for Cochrane by Donald Thomas. THOROUGHLY ENJOYED IT.  An amazing book on an amazing man. Would you mind recommending your favorite non-fiction books on Wellington and Nelson? Thank you for all the joy you have brought me through your writing.

 

Mike Nicholas

 

A

I recently read Adam Nicolson’s fine book, Men of Honour, the Making of an English Hero. I liked it a lot. And if you don’t mind a very big book – Nelson, by Edgar Vioncent, is as comprehensive and readable a biography as you’ll find.


Q

Archers refer to the flight feathers on arrows as fletchings ( origin of the surname Fletcher ). I have found fledgings in “1356”. Is this an alternative you have found in your researches ?  Love the Uhtred books.

Mike.

Oxford, UK

A

Fledging is an alternative – and is obviously related to the word fledge ((unfledged bird, etc). Fletching is, as you say, the usual word, but an arrow could be fledged too!

 


Q

Hello Mr. Cornwell,

 

I've been rereading the Saxon books in eager anticipation of War Lord's publication this fall. The series has given my father and me many hours of joy and something to share with each other, so I thank you heartily for writing them.

 

I have a question, though, that's occurred to me while rereading the series. In The Last Kingdom you mostly use "Destiny is all" as the translation of Uhtred's catchphrase, before switching primarily to the more familiar "Fate is inexorable" in subsequent books. I was wondering why this is so? It seems the tv series has opted for "Destiny is all" as well. I apologize if this has been asked before!

 

Thank you again and warmest regards,

 

Shane Majszak

A

 

I suspect I changed because I felt ‘Fate is inexorable’ is a better translation, though I admit I think the TV series was correct in sticking to ‘Destiny is all’, which is probably more accessible.