Your Questions

Q

Hello Bernard,

I just wanted to tell you how great your Arthur Books are. I honestly had never heard of them and found A Winter King in a Goodwill here in Missoula, MT for $2.  I picked it up and read it and as soon as you introduced Arthur I was hooked like never before.  I could not put it down and Immediately ordered Enemy of God and Excalibur.  I finished all three books within a week and turned around and read them again.  I have just gotten in to reading really within the last couple of years.  I have read all of the Fire and Ice series by G.R.R. Martin, these Arthur Books are by far my favorite.  I just wanted to thank you for being such a great author.  I have just recently ordered The Warrior Chronicles/Saxon stories,  although your Arthur books have made me not like them.  Ha Ha.  My only question for you would be to ask if anyone has ever approached you about turning these books into a series of movies or anything like that.  I think these would be incredible movies and
people would fall in love with characters like Derfel and Ceinwyn.  Well thanks for being a great author and I hope you continue to do great things.  I am going to be reading everything you've got in the near future.

Thank you

Nick Arnold

A

Thank you!  There's talk of a film every now and then, but nothing seems to come of it.


Q

Mr. Cornwell
First I would like to thank you, it is because of you that I can speak passable english. I used to skip english school to watch the sharpe series on the telly which led me to your books. Being a bookworm I forced my self to learn the language so I could read the original versions (i have little faith in translators I am afraid) and for that thank you again.
And now to the fate part. I am currently studying italian literature and culture in uni and in order to pass my history classes I had to write 2 papers. The first was on the Norman occupation of the southern Italy and the second one was on Napoleons campaigns in Italy. The first one led me to read your Saxon stories and well the second one was chosen mainly because your Sharpe series made me a napoleonic era afficionado. I aced both!
And at last a couple of questions if you wouldn't mind. Why do both your heroes in those above mentioned series have so much trouble holding on to a woman? In fact why every female character that forms an attachment with them and is somewhat interesting ends up in the grave? Also how come both protagonists have Irish "sidekicks" that offer (to some extend) comic relief?

My sincere apologies if the questions have been asked numerous times but I could not track down the answers.
Vivi Sereti

A

Congratulations on your test scores!

Because they’re fickle (and also because the women die, which is tragic), and because I like the Irish. A lot.


Q

Dear Bernard
Inspired by your Sharpe books, my wife and I plan to visit Assaye and Gawilghur on our next trip to India.  Even our Indian tour operator has been unable to find a guide who can show us round these locations!  I imagine that when you were writing the Sharpe books you visited and researched these places as you always do.  The internet provides a certain amount of material, but can you provide us with any suggestions on source material, maps/instructions on how to find these locations, people who might be able to help and generally how we might get the most out of our visit?
kind regards
David

A

They’re both difficult to reach!  It’s been a long time since I visited either place, but I had to hire a car and driver to find both (I won’t drive in India, not being suicidal). I don’t even remember which airport we flew into, but it was still a LONG drive to the fortress.  There was, maybe still is, a hotel very close to the fortress, the hotel is built more or less where the British siege camp was set up and affords wonderful views of the place. It’s close to a tiger reserve, which is why the hotel was built. The fortress itself is deserted, ruined and overgrown, but amazing still!  I just did an internet search, looking for that hotel, but came up empty, so who knows? I’d suggest finding a travel agent who really knows India and putting yourself in their hands!  Much the same advice applies to Assaye – and again I don’t remember what airport we flew into, but like Gawilghur, it’s an amazing place to visit. Neither place is a prominent tourist attraction, so neither has any tourist infrastructure, and you really just have to make your own arrangements.  I needed to stay overnight at Gawilghur, but Assaye was more accessible – though when I was there it was still only reachable along a dirt road, and probably still is. I hope you get to both places, you won’t be disappointed, but I’m fairly sure you’ll need to hire a car and driver, and the best way is to find an Indian travel specialist and let them do the hard work!

 

 


Q

Hello Mr. Cornwell,

my name is Benton Walters and I'd like to, if I may, ask your help. You see I am currently writing a historical fiction story and while I'm following some of your very helpful advice (provided to me from a packet of your words for new writers printed by a friend for me) I keep feeling that I don't have enough commentary for my story and that it's a bit too dialogue oriented and I was hoping that you could help me in figuring out a way to add commentary while still be true to the story. I understand if this is a bit much to ask but any help would greatly be appreciated. Thank you for your time and for created such wonderful books.

A

I’m really not sure what to say!  Dialogue is a terrific way to convey information, but of course it can’t carry the whole load. I think you have to trust your instinct and if you’re feeling you need more explanatory material, then put it in!  But share it out!  The reader doesn’t need to know everything at the top of the book, much of that background material can wait until it’s needed – and trust the reader to intuit some of it!  I’m sure that’s not very helpful, but in the end we write what we want to read ourselves, so satisfy yourself!  If in doubt find a book by a writer you admire, written in a similar genre, and see how he or she dealt with the problem.


Q

I see this week you wrote regarding Sharpe... "He’s from London.  The background of his family is the gutter.  He thinks he’s English."

A little clue there perhaps as to the riddle of his father? Sharpe _thinks_ he's English... but perhaps his father would say otherwise?
Phil Dean

A

He well might!


Q

Dear Mr Cornwell,
I hope that if you read this you are well and enjoying the summer, firstly thankyou for writing such entertaining books, Sharpe's havoc was the first book I ever read, since then I have read your books religiously. The reason I am leaving this comment is that I have just finished re-reading the Sharpe series and I was wondering if there is any chance of another book in the Sharpe series?

Jacob

A

Yes, but not for a few years.


Q

Mr. Cornwell,

have you ever thought about writing a book on the Anglo Boer War ?
I ask this as a South African with really only one side to the war.

Thank you
Roy

A

I've thought about it, but I don't think it's going to happen. Too many other things I've thought more about!


Q

I like all your books and have read most of them but I would love it if you would write the next book in the Starbuck Chronicles!  Is it coming soon?
Regards,
Richard (Tbone)

 

At the end of The bloody ground you stated that Starbuck would march again. Is he in jail for Case and Dennison or what? He's been sat on his bum for too long, no wonder the Yankees won!!
Andy Baldwin

 

 

I have read almost every one of your books, they all have been great reading.
I would surely like to see more of Starbuck. That is an excellent  series, I would to see it continued.
Thank you

Art Stafford

 

 

 

Dear Mr. Cornwell
I am a very avid reader and a huge fan of all your books. The Arthur Novels are my top favorite, I thought they were spectacular. I know I can imagine how many times you get the questions of when will Starbuck be recalled from his vacation and I hope its soon, could you shed a little light on if that would be? Perhaps after Uhtred has found his peace and the Saxon stories are closed.
I also wanted to ask about some of the other major battles you were thinking of covering in the Starbuck Chronicles? Judging by the civil war timelime The battle of Fredricksburg is a few months after Sharpsburg. There is also Gettysburg, the wilderness chancelorsville... I hope one day you can return and get Starbuck on with his adventure.

Your fan
Tom

A

I do hope to return to Starbuck on of these days!


Q

Dear Mr Cornwell

I have spent many years enjoying your wonderful novels from Derfel though Uhrred and Thomas of Hookton you have provided many hours of reading pleasure for which I must thank you.

Could you tell me, as someone who has set so many books against a historical back drop and actual events, how do you  decide how much of historical liberty you can take?
.
When you begin writing do you draw broad outlines and then add detail later or do you prefer to write in great detail and work in a chronological order?

If you are able to offer a first time writer any insight I would be most grateful.

Kind regards

Hadley Davydaitis

A

As little as possible and as much as I need!  It varies, of course. If you’re telling a fairly recent story where there are plenty of authoritative sources, then you can’t take too many liberties, but if it’s a tale set in the dark ages, then you have to take liberties because there’s a dearth of information. That said, I’m not an historian, I’m a story-teller, and history will always be bent to the story’s needs, though if I bend it too much (as I did in Sharpe’s Company) I confess my sin in an historical note.

 

An outline? No, I don't. I have a very broad idea of where I want the book to go, then just let the characters sort it out amongst themselves. I'm not saying this is the right way to do it - some writers plot very carefully, and their books are great, but others, like me, leave it to instinct.


Q

I say Mr Cornwell! I'm a big fan of Lord Uhtred, and in preparation for my personal invasion of France this summer I've just very much enjoyed "Harlequin". But you credit a "Thomas Dugdale" with Sir Thomas Dagworth's feat of arms at Restellou, and that just won't do! William Blake gave Dagworth his due, and I see you include him in Vagabond, but as there are only a dozen houses in Dagworth (Suffolk) today, I must defend his reputation!

Thanks for a cracking yarn nonetheless,

Jeremy Steventon-Barnes (lately of Dagworth Hall, en route to La Roche Derrien)

A

You’re quite right!  I think that was a careless mistake – mea culpa!