Your Questions

Q

As an avid reader of your books( with an odd 'Flashman' novel thrown in). May I pick your brains? I loved 'Gallows Thief', strong hero (Waterloo veteran of course!) and side kick (hard ex sergeant, of course!) Is there going to be an other? Also enjoyed 'Red Coat', one of the first I read of yours, did you ever intend to continue this character? More power to your elbow. Matt Rowe

I've been a devoted reader of your work for years and especially love the Sharpe series. I recently visited Ardsley House in London and felt as if I knew Wellington. But as much as I love Sharpe, will you continue the "Gallows Thief" as a series? I can see that one really taking off! John Collins

A

It's possible there will be a sequel to Gallows Thief- but no promises as to when. No plans to continue with Redcoat.


Q

Dear Bernard, Just read Sharpe's Waterloo and noticed a character in there called Dunnet who spent most of the war as a P.O.W. The book remarks how bad he looked. Apart from your work, I also enjoy reading true stories about prisons/human endurance, "papillon" being a prime example. In the French penal colonies the treatment of the prisoners was absolutely horrendous even in a relatively modern age of 1930's. This makes me think back to how Dunnet would have been treated as a POW in Sharpe's era. Do you know much about this? Where they were imprisoned, conditions etc. Anything you could let me know; further reading would be helpful. By the way, nearly done with Sharpe now. Which of your works do you recommend I should start on next? Many thanks, Paul.

A

As an officer Dunnet would have been treated well. He would almost certianly have been sent to Verdun and would have been free to live wherever he liked within the town limits, wear his uniform, carry a sword, and enjoy whatever amenities the town had to offer - so long, of course, as he gave his parole, which was a promise not to escape. The British officers in Verdun had a Literary and Philosophical Society among other things. French officers were usually placed in Edinburgh under very similar terms. So not bad, on the whole, but the uncommissioned ranks had a lousy time. French and American prisoners were put in the middle of Dartmoor and forced to build their own prison - Princetown - still there, of course, and others were kept on 'the hulks' decommissioned warships moored in rivers - damp, rat-infested, ghastly. So Dunnet was probably looking bad because he drank too much the night before. I don't know a book on the subject - I've just picked up stuff as I've gone along. A recommendation? The Winter King.


Q

For new novels why not base them during Marlborough's Campaigns? or perhaps doing singular novels concentrating on the BIG battles throughout history (e.g. Leipzig, New Orleans, Agincourt, Cannae, etc.)? Mark

A

I'll think on it - thanks for the suggestion - maybe one day?


Q

Hi there. I have been a fan of your work since I picked up a copy of your Warlord Chronicles went I was at Uni about 6 years ago. I was disappointed a few days ago when I learnt that you had decided to stop writing a fourth book about Thomas of Hookton - I think that the Grail Quest series is one of your best (although it is very difficult to decide between that and Sharpe). I have just seen that your next book (after Sharpe) will be about the Vikings - sounds interesting, as always I eagerly await the release. I was wondering how long does it take for your publisher to release your books after they are finished? and had you started writing the Viking book before you decided not to continue with Thomas? When you are writing do you concentrate on only one book at a time or do you write books alongside each other? I'll stop asking you questions now. Thanks for your time. Brian.

A

I did not start the Viking book until after I decided to stop writing the fourth Thomas of Hookton book. I write one book at a time, usually completing it about four to six months before publication.


Q

I`ve been introduced to the Holy Grail trilogy by our younger son and I`ve enjoyed every one. Now I plan to read the Arthurian series. I note in your Bulletin answers that you have taken names from many sources, including Ancient Welsh. "Ceinwyn" is presumably the name of a woman? I ask because "Wyn" usually refers to a man; "wen" to a woman and I have known many "Ceinwen"`s (female) and several "Ceinwyn! (male). I would be interested in learning that the suffix "wyn" used to be a feminine suffix. This is NOT a complaint! Maureen

A

I don't mind if it is a complaint - I copied the name from a source - the old tale of Arthur going to marry her, then standing her up, so unless he was a proto-Massachusetts resident then that Ceinwyn was definitely female! And I blame the book I copied it from. Or perhaps her parents couldn't spell? Or were confused? Or wished she were a boy? So many explanations . . .


Q

I have a few questions that you can hopefully help me with: 1. "knuckled his forehead"; you mention this several times in your books but I am not familiar with it. Is it a salute? how do you do a knuckle salute? 2. Sharpe is obviously fiction but how uncommon is he? do you have any idea how many people would have risen that far that fast as sticky as they were about common people moving in officer's circles? 3. if you had your back to the action (ie cannon fire) would you have held that position all day, even after moving the square or reforming lines and squares. 4. your books (I have them all but haven't read them all yet) don't mention the fascinating perspective of the black cymbal players. Were there any black soldiers that were not musicians; or any black musicians that were not cymbal players? where would they come from? thanks for all your writing. mark

A

'Knuckled his forehead' - You touch your knuckles to your forehead - it was very common. By the time of Waterloo about 7% of the officers in Britain's Army were up from the ranks, so it was not that uncommon. 'If you had your back to the action (ie cannon fire) would you have held that position all day, even after moving the square or reforming lines and squares' - I doubt it! The books don't specifically mention cymbal players, or black drummers, and they were fairly common. The most famous was captured by the French, managed to escape, somehow retrieved his bass drum and beat his own way back to the Army. Where did they come from? Mostly escaped slaves, or men who had been ships' crews (there were a lot of black guys in the Navy) and a few (very few) would have come from the small black communities in Britain's ports.


Q

Hi again, Mr. Cornwell. I have a two-part question for you: 1) Do you know, in your own secret mind, who Sharpe's father is? 2) Do you ever plan to tell us? Sincerely, Alan Kempner

A

1) yes

2) no


Q

I have just finished the Arthur Chronicles, and loved them. But I was wondering how Defel went from the beach to a monk? I guess what I'm asking is will there be a book about Derfel's life after Arthur and before he becomes a monk? Yours faithfully, Brett

A

He went reluctantly, I imagine, but he had made the promise and so it had to be kept. I do not have plans for any other Arthur (or Derfel) books.


Q

Dear Sir, I am a librarian and am frequently asked questions regarding authors pseudonymes. Recently the relationship between yourself and Susannah Kells has arisen. One reference book says that she is you as it were,and yet a recent work of fiction says that SK is your wife Judy. Could you please clear this up before serious money changes hands! As a supplementary my I ask if your wife is the author/actress Judy Cornwell? Thank you for your time, and keep the books coming, they are very popular in this part of Devon, Graham Keates.

I was wondering if you could clear up a few things in regards to all the books that you have written. I know of everything featured in this web site but what about the books under the name Susannah Kells, I can see you are releasing three of these, are there anymore coming? Are these books linked up to each other and did you write them with your wife. Also are there anymore books available apart from these? Sorry for all the questions but I am keen to read everything you have written. Kind regards Chris Pollock.

Dear Bernard, i have just read A Crowning Mercy, and it is without doubt one of your finest novels in my opinion. I wonder if you could tell me the names of the other books that you wrote under a pseudonym so I can quickly buy and read them before I have to start revising for my forthcoming exams. Thanks for many happy reading hours. Neil

A

My wife (a yoga teacher, not the actress) and I co-wrote the books published under the name Susannah Kells. There are three books - A Crowning Mercy, Fallen Angels and Coat of Arms (called The Aristocrats when it was published in the US). The books are not actually a series, although two of them contain characters from the same family.


Q

Why is the Warlord chronicles your favourite series? I know it's a stupid question but I was just curious-Justin

A

Because they were so enjoyable to write - nothing else.