Your Questions

Q

Dear Mr. Cornwell,

I'd like to start by saying I am a huge fan and you are my favorite author. I'm an avid reader and love historical fiction and you are just the best. I've read most of your books (I'm working my way through the Sharpe novels rights now) and have gone through the Uhtred and Thomas of Hookton series twice.

I have a bit of a personal question for you... and feel free to ignore me! I've noticed that you do so well with the religion of your characters. Uhtred is a worshipper of Thor and Odin in a Christian world. Thomas of Hookton is an educated bastard. Sharpe is essentially and atheist and yet can be very superstitious and believes in fate. The most evil of all your characters are the very strict and legalistic priests, especially the Dominicans who torture Thomas. And some of your best characters are the priests who know how to compromise (like Pyrlig and Beocca).

Here is the question: What is your personal religious background and belief? I have wondered this for years and you clearly are well versed in Catholic and Anglican belief systems. Super personal and probably offensive to ask, but I am a Christian myself and would love to know.

Thomas Allen

A

I am a non-believer.


Q

Hi Bernard.

I really got into the Last Kingdom series when I read the forth book which included a map of Benfleet! I was astonished as I was born at Tarpots in 1950 and went to King Johns where the battle of Beomfleet was never mentioned! I also read of your early life in Thundersley. I can remember the Wiggins ford lorries with it painted on the side. Have you ever been back to Thundersley?

Graham Patrick

A

I have not been there in many, many years.....


Q

Hi,

I'm really into the Last Kingdom series even before it became a movie.  I'm curious if you plan additional books after War Lord?

Best Rgds

Lars Wilson, Sweden

A

No, War Lord is the final book of the series.


Q

Dear Mr. Cornwell,

I am Giacomo Cecchin, one of his passionate Italian readers.

I am writing to thank you for Sharpe's latest story: it is truly magnificent.

I missed Richard Sharpe and Patrick Harper, and although I have strong sympathies for Boney and the French, I find them really interesting.

I just add two things:

1) The feature that I like most about Sharpe is that he is a 3D character that is not perfect: he gets angry, kills and does everything that an English officer of his time would have done (and maybe even something more ).

2) Will there be more Sharpe stories? maybe he can't tell me but I'd like to read more and who knows if Sharpe doesn't decide to go to Italy too. In this regard: have they ever contacted you from Mantua to participate in Festivaletteratura www.festivaletteratura.it ? Meeting you would be a dream come true for me.

Thanks for everything you wrote (I loved the Grail trilogy very much) and best regards.

Giacomo Cecchin

 

Mr. Cornwell,

I’m a great admirer of your novels. I think, to date, I’ve read all of them. I just finished (“devoured”) your latest “Sharpe’s Assassins” in two days flat. I’m a history buff and I’ve learned quite a bit of history through your novels. I particularly enjoy the historical notes at the end of each of your historical novels where you set the record straight. I a curious to know if we will see Sharpe and Uhtred again or maybe you will present us with a new hero/character in a new series???

John Balian

A

Thank you.  I think my next book will be another Sharpe book.  And I'd love to return to Italy some day!


Q

Quick question about writing historical fiction. I’ve written histfic as a nonsense hobby since I was 13 years old. I read Last Kingdom for the first time sitting on my roof at age 13 and was instantly enthralled by both your storytelling capabilities, how very real the characters felt, and that anyone at all was telling history like that, in that way. Changed my life forever. Since then I’ve loved historical fiction; loved bringing the past to life, the extensive non stop research that took more of my time than the actual writing did—but I’m curious, do you think magical realism has a place in histfic? For example, if there’s a group of welsh pagans living out in the Heath, they believe their gods and magic are real, even neighboring Christian’s were superstitious of pagan magic. If a writer presents those things as real to the audience, as magical realism, is that still historical fiction?

Thanks for taking the time to read this!

Kaitlin

A

Of course it is!  If magic was real to the characters in a novel then the reader must accept it. It’s not the easiest thing to deal with, but when dealing with early mediaeval history it’s unavoidable!

 


Q

Hi Bernard,

Just finished "Assasin", I bought it in September but decided to re-read the whole series again first just to get ready. As ever it's perfect, loved every minute I didn't realise how much I missed him until I started.

Questions, you wrote the series out of order, how did you keep track?

there are so few examples of your making a mistake in the timelines of the characters?

For the next book, might you re-visit Fools and Mortals? I thought that was fantastic.

Thanks again for all the joy, I've gone back to Derfel, as I always do every few years, and it's like meeting an old friend again.

Mike

A

I do make mistakes – grievous ones – but my readers are kind enough to either overlook them or forgive them.  I do try to keep the strands accurate, but mistakes get through, alas. The biggest error was claiming that Sharpe learned to read while in the Tippoo Sultan’;s dungeons in Seringapatam. When I eventually wrote Sharpe’s Tiger I discovered he couldn’t have spent more than a few days (less than a week!) in those dungeons, so I fudged it. Of course Sharpe could be a fast learner, but I doubt it.

That’s so kind of you, but I doubt I’ll go back to Richard Shakespeare.  The real story of Fools and Mortals is the production of a play and I suspect any follow-up would be the same, so I’m content to leave it as a one-off.


Q

Hi Bernard -

I am Chris, a 32 year old aspiring writer from Canberra, Australia. I found your work a couple of years ago when TLK first made it onto Netflix and immediately started to tear through the written series (loved the last one by the way, Fantastic!). I am currently writing a fantasy series, that started out as a Historical Fiction and evolved from there. I have been re-reading your TLK series again for inspiration, I'm taking more time this read through to focus on arcs, particularly the friendships of Uhtred with Leofric and also Brida. But mainly I find it difficult to write fight scenes. I find you are able to describe them so effectively, and your work has helped me to improve in this area so much! I was wondering, when you write a fight scene, do you have a process for planning the fight out before you start to write? Do you play it out physically with somebody else, or some other process to visualise the action, or are you able to come up with it as you go just with an end result in mind?

Appreciate you taking the time to read this

Again, love your work Mr Cornwell, thank you so much for all the inspiration and countless hours of entertainment!

With regards -

Chris Edwards.

A

It probably won’t help to say it depends on the fight. If it’s the description of a real action, say the Battle of Salamanca, then I follow the historians and embroider onto their accounts the actions of my fictional characters, but if the action is entirely fictional I make it up as I go along, with constant revisions as it develops.  I like not knowing how such sequences will end (though I’d be astonished if Sharpe or Uhtred lost), and I suspect that uncertainty gives an added tension to the narrative? As for visualizing the action – it’s all in the imagination.  If it’s a large battle then you must begin by making sure the reader has the geography in mind so they can follow the movements, but after that you’re free to focus in on individuals and describe what they see, hear, smell, feel and do! Read John Keegan’s great book – The Face of Battle – which will tell you what the reader needs to know!


Q

a new starbuck!

seriously though. i know you wont write another starbuck, but why?

is it the negative association with the confederate flag? are you bored by it?

and if you'll indulge me:

 

  1. what cultures/historical times you find fascinating but cant write about because you lack the time to do research about?
  2. what advice can you give for aspiring writers whose native language isn't English (but still want to write in English)
  3. please write me a short story with sgt Harper as a protagonist so i don't have to write one myself

Malachi Dodd , Earl of Farthingale

A

I’m not bored by Starbuck and haven’t totally written off the thought of another book.  I suspect I’m simply happier in the company of Sharpe.

Maybe the Roman period?  The research is all over my bookshelves, but I’m slightly daunted about opening those books. And I’m really too old to start another series!

To remember Joseph Conrad whose native language was Polish and who claims never to have even heard English until he was 23. He ended up as a major English novelist!  Maybe it’s a better idea to write in your native language and depend on translators? But Conrad is a shining example of what can be done!

 


Q

Dear Bernard

I saw this video on British Light Infantry in the American Revolution that you might find of interest. I should say though after watching this that Sam Gilpin Uniform in the book Redcoat is all wrong and you'll have to do a rewrite on that book.

Any chance of a Sequel to Redcoat on the British evacuation from Philadelphia and the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse  ?

Anyway enjoy

Geraint

https://youtu.be/A-tSAtRF9_E

A

Thank you!  I doubt there’ll be a rewrite – Sam’s uniform will have to suffice!

 


Q

Happy new year Bernard. I wondered if you'd ever thought of the 7 Years War and the Battle of Minden which is a famous British Battle for the Royal Welsh Fusiliers while its infamous for George Sackville later Lord Germain who was the War Secretary in the American Revolution

P.S if you've not read them I recommend 1759 the year of Victories by Frank Mclynn on Quebec/Minden and Quiberon Bay which all happened in the same year.  Plus  Prussias Glory by Christopher Duffy on Frederick the Greats Victories of Rossbach and Leuthen. Supposedly after Jena/Auderstadt Napoleon remarked Rossbach is avenged

Geraint

A

I’ve thought of it, but not for long.  But I’ll take another look – thank you!