Your Questions

Q

I have now read twice in your books that the bow is treated (waxed, oiled?) to keep the moisture in the bow.  I have not heard this anywhere else and indeed as a user of the longbow, I have been told that it is more important to keep the moisture out, which was why the staves were seasoned for so long!
I'd be interested to have you comments.
Many thanks and keep up the good writing!
Derek

PS We have just visited Babbenbug recently - what a super place and location!

A

It needed a certain amount of moisture (thus waxing it to keep it in) but too much and it would lose much of the flexibility (thus waxing it to keep the moisture out). A Goldilocks answer.


Q

Dear Mr Cornwell,

Please finish the Starbuck series. I was given the Starbuck series thus far as a present - fantastic read - but horror of horrors, as I came to the end of the last one, the realization slowly dawned that the series ended there. (I type this just after putting the book back on the shelf). I write myself, small potatoes; self published - only six books so far, but small as my pond is I too am asked when the next one is coming out? Not easy to answer, so a hundred times worse for you I imagine. But still, if you don't ask... Funnily enough I haven't touched the Sharpe series yet - spoilt by the TV adaptation - perhaps I should. Thanks for your time.

Best Wishes,

Stefan
PS Have you ever paid a visit to any of the Civil War battlegrounds?

A

I have. I try to visit all the places I write about, and I'd recommend it...all sorts of detail emerge from those visits, and I think it's important to see the land as they saw it and to imagine their feelings as they looked on that landscape.


Q

Mr. Cornwell

First of all, thank you for the great hours of entertainment of yours novels. I'm a great fan of your work. I'm now reading the Grail Chronicle, and waiting (for like an eternity!) the upcoming publish of "The Pagan Lord" in Brazil, which does not have an announced date to publish. For now we have only the announce of the cover (which it's pretty awesome, check it out!: http://www.skoob.com.br/livro/385982-o_guerreiro_pagao).

Here in Brazil we have an autor, Mr. Eduardo Spohr, who writes a novel series of romance, fantasy and battle. Recently he spoke about how he build his characters, and told that his mainly character, named "Ablon", it's based on the vision of the "man" that he intended to be or become. Almost like that feeeling of a child drawing your own super hero.

My question is: How did you build your novel characters like Uthred, Thomas and Derfel? Do you put pieces or fragments of your personality inside your characters? Which character is your favorite and most like you?

Sorry for the terrible english.

Thank you.
Best regards, Mr. Cornwell!

Jovanne.

A

I wish I knew the answer to that! I don’t consciously build them, and certainly don’t model them on myself. A few years ago I wrote the forewords for a re-issue of C.S. Forester’s great series of novels about Hornblower, and I had to tackle the question of who Hornblower was based on (Forester gave some very misleading answers), and it dawned on me that Hornblower was really the man Forester wished himself to be. Does that help? I suppose we all put something of ourselves in our heroes (or heroines), but to confess to it is to play the psychiatrist and I’d rather not! But I think Eduardo Spohr is surely right and that for most of us, like Forester, our heroes are a form of wish fulfilment.


Q

Dear Mr. Cornwell,
I cannot begin to describe how much pleasure I have gotten from your books, especially the Saxon Tales, which I came to later in life. Many years ago I studied Anglo Saxon England and the Old English language. It has been wonderful to get back to it without having to worry about a final exam. You have mentioned in your notes that you have a distant ancestor by the name of Uhtred. I have just finished reading the book Bloodfeud by Richard Fletcher describing several generations of killing set off in Northumbria by the murder of an Earl Uhtred in the 11th century. Was this your distant ancestor? Thank you again for all your wonderful books. I look forward to reading many more in the future.

Mara Hardy

A

That’s the same family – descended from the Uhtreds who owned Bebbanburg. Fletcher’s wonderful book describes how the family lost the fortress in (if I recall rightly) 1016. About ten years ago I met the present owner and said that in all honour he should return the castle to me and he said ‘let me show you the heating bills’. He still owns it!

 


Q

Dear Bernard,

I am attempting to write my history dissertation on heroism and bravery during the Napoleonic wars. I was wondering if there were any collections of memoirs or letters etc which you could recommend I get hold of in order to help me with this task.

I would be very grateful for any assistance you could give me.

King Regards,

Todd

A

Too many! Really, far too many, and I don’t know where to even begin! I have some five or six hundred books about the Napoleonic Wars on my shelves, and almost any one of them would yield a story or two, but I can’t think of any that has collected stories of bravery. I really think the only answer is to begin with a general book and use the bibliography to track down individual events, and are you going to include the navies? There’s just so much! And how trustworthy are some of them? When I was writing Waterloo (to be published this autumn) I came across two or three original accounts which, on further research, turned out to be more or less fictional. Maybe the best thing is to narrow it down to two or three engagements? You could fillet the Siborne letters for Waterloo (though that will exclude the French stories and too many of the Prussians).  A close look at Albuhera would offer a lot of stories, I should imagine, similarly the French invasion of Russia. I wish I could be more helpful, but truly the reading list is too long and too wide!


Q

In your novel Excalibur you tell of Arthur wanting to become a blacksmith, as an amateur blacksmith I had to love how you told of the less than artistic gifts his friends received. Are you the blacksmith example or is it a close friend, because only someone with firsthand experience could get it so right?
Also would you mind if I quoted you to a blacksmith friends group on facebook?

William Howard

A

I’d forgotten that! I have no blacksmith friends, so I suppose I invented it, but please use the fiction how you like! Have you heard the (misogynistic?) argument that the smith who forged the nails of Christ’s cross was a woman? That’s relevant to nothing, but I thought it might interest you!


Q

Hello Mr Cornwell,

my English is not very good, but I try it. I want to ask you two Questions.
Will your Book Waterloo be published in Germany and can you tell me your Book-Plans for the next years?
Thank you and best wishes
Götz

A

Yes the Waterloo book will be published in Germany.

Next year's plan?  I really won't know until I finish the book I'm writing now (The Empty Throne - book 8 of the Warrior Chronicles)!


Q

Mr. Cornwell,

I've been an avid reader of yours for many years. I recently finished the  Warlord Chronicles and have a question about your historical notes. In all of the books and media I've read, and actual conversations with historians about Arthurian legend, I've never heard anyone mention Geoffrey Ashe's 1985 book "The Discovery of King Arthur." I realize that historians would not consider it a scholarly work, but he does seem to make a compelling argument for the identity of an historical Arthur. Is his argument so uncredible among historians that it doesn't merit mention? I would love to know your opinion.

Thank you for your wonderful books. I hope to continue reading them for many years!
Al Fraioli

A

I know Geoffrey Ashe’s work, and used his books when I was researching the trilogy. I think the truth is that until we discover some miraculous piece of archival or archaeological evidence we’ll never know who the ‘real’ Arthur was. We can take stabs at the answer, and some of those are very persuasive, but none are based on solid evidence because no such evidence exists – indeed, some respected historians deny the existence of Arthur altogether!  I was hugely amused by a book which spent 160 pages ‘proving’ that Arthur was really a 6th Century Welsh warlord called Owain Ddantgwynn, but then said ‘Other than his name, nothing is recorded of Owain Ddantgwyn’. Well, perhaps they were right, but it wasn’t exactly helpful! Geoffrey Ashe is far more sensible and reliable than most such historians, but he is still working with the same frustrating lack of evidence that bedevils all of us. My own view is that Arthur was the unnamed warlord who defeated the Saxons at the battle of Mount Badon, but we don’t know who that was and until we get more evidence (and perhaps we will) we must accept the uncertainty.


Q

Hi Mr Cornwell,
Greetings from Greece! I'm a great fan of your books, but I'm afraid this is not why I contact you. I'm a university student in the faculty of English studies. In the course of American Fiction, among other things we are analising Irving's Rip Van Winkle. The problem is that each professor insists on a completely different interpretation of the text. It is also hopeless to ask them anything, because these particular two professors are a little peculiar. The interpretation I really can't understand is that Rip represents America and his wife England. While I am doing my own reading on the subject online, I would be really happy to know how an author like you views the text.
Many thanks for all the wonderful books and for your time,
Georgia Simakou.

A

Oh dear, I haven’t read it since I was a child! I haven’t a clue! I wish I could help . . . .sorry

 

 


Q

Having been introduced to your books by my girlfriend i am now a huge fan.Your books are always at the top of my xmas list.In thanks to you i have been able to answer many questions on Eggheads
I was wondering if you are not about to write any more Starbuck books for a while if there are any books you can recommend on the American civil war?

David Mountford

A

There are so many! Too many! But if you’re starting from scratch, so to speak, you really can’t do better than Shelby Foote’s great trilogy!


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