Your Questions

Q

Mr. Cornwell: "The Archer" was the first novel of yours that I read. I enjoy all of your books, but I feel that the Sharpe books, though good, are overrated compared to your other series. Someone on the LibraryThing website, who was trying to decide whether to read one of your novels, asked me about your "anti-Christian" bias. I replied that I didn't think you had such a bias. Several other people on that same thread agreed with me. Your thoughts?

Charles

A

I think I would say that I keep a neutral attitude towards Christianity, which means that for every wonderful saintly Christian there's probably at least one real utter bastard, but Christians who read my books only ever notice the bastards and never give me credit for the saints. That's okay. Christians are supposed to be tolerant, so I persevere.


Q

Sharpe's father, 8 letters, irony.... Sean Bean?

Howard Train

A

Dear me, no.


Q

Hi Bernard, I love your books. I've been writing essays on mental illness and it made me think of a few things you deal with in the warlord chronicles and Azincourt. I was wondering where you got the idea for certain disabilities/horrible events giving people special powers or a second sight(eg Nimue and rape, Morgan and burns) and whether it was an idea that was common at the time, or whether you just made it up. Obviously suffering has been an important element of Christianity over the centuries but that seems to have had more to do with ideas of humility and emulating Christ than gaining secret knowledge. Also, in Azincourt, the main character hears the voices of saints, and i was wondering whether you envisioned this within the context of your story as being a direct message from god, the voice of his conscience, or a symptom of mental illness misconstrued as one of the first two? It seemed to serve him well in any case. Also if he was hearing voices of saints wouldn't the church at the time have condemned him as being a heretic? How did they decide what was "really" the word of god? Apologies if this doesn't make much sense! Thank you for taking the time to read this, Sophie

A

Well that last is a very good question! They did, in the end, burn Jeanne d'Arc as a heretic, but for a long time the church accepted her voices as a direct revelation of the divine. I'm not sure I have an opinion on Nimue and Morgan, or any of the other 'magical' elements of the Arthurian novels. I didn't want those books to include any sorcery, but it crept in regardless and I let it lie without too much exploration on my part (it kind of goes with that territory). Now as for Nick, I suspect he was hearing his own conscience, but I deliberately do not say that, because he believes he's hearing a saint, and there were plenty of instances where folk did hear or see, or believed they heard or saw, saints, angels or other divine figures. I certainly don't think that's evidence of mental illness (though of course it would be if taken to extremes), but rather as a direct consequence of intense belief during an age of faith, when there really is no easy alternative to faith (as there is now). Those people believed. I might think their beliefs were risible, but I live in an age when there are scientific and technical answers to many of the great questions, and they did not have that advantage, and they lived in an environment which encouraged them to seek spiritual signs. This was a church that could translate a three day old boy into a saint and even, in Flanders, a dog. The church, of course, kept a tight rein on such manifestations and anyone who declared visions, or claimed to have a direct-dial line to heaven, had better be strictly orthodox or else they were going to be burned, and in the end, of course, the church had the power to declare what was orthodox and what was heretical. Jeanne d'Arc, when she failed, was very quickly moved from one category to the other.


Q

Hi Mr. Cornwell. I am intrigued by your desire to write on the Elizabethan era, an era that has been neglected as far as military history novels are concerned. If you had to guess, would you see it as a single-shot novel or an extended series? Alan Kempner

A

If it ever happens it would be a series - but it's a BIG if.


Q

Dear Mr Cornwell, hope you are well, I was wondering about the Sharpe Books, as I think you mentioned previously you don't intend to go back in time in respect of the series, does this mean you will not be filling in the gap between Waterloo and Sharpe's Devil? If not, perhaps Sharpe could turn up in 1816 as part of the bombardment of Algiers? If it is still indeed yes, perhaps Sharpe could end up back in South America with Bolivar as some form of consultant? Just a thought :)

Joshua Selig

A

I suspect all future Sharpe books will concentrate on his battles against the French - that's what he's best at!


Q

Bonjours, j'attends avec impatience la parution en version française de ''the burning land''! Vous pensez l'éditer sous peu? Je m'ennui de cette série. Merci Paul Dion

A

According to my agent, there is not a scheduled release date for a French translation of The Burning Land yet, sorry!


Q

Dear Bernard In regards to the next Viking Novel will Uhtred start heading north. It seems that his quest/story etc is based in the North yet so far you have mainly kept him in the south is not time to start heading him north?? btw in this article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guthred it mentions a scottish invasion defeated by Guthred (and st cuthbert) will Uhtred ever fight the scots ???

Finally you mention that your next book will be a one off you have often talked of Poitiers is it that and if so how do you make it different from Agincourt book as both battles seem very similar?? Yours sincerely Geraint P.S If youve not this book give it a go as I can reccommend it http://www.amazon.com/Fighting-Sail-Lake-Huron-Georgian/dp/1557503141/ref=pd_sim_b_38.

Geraint Thatcher

A

I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

I am planning a novel on Poitiers, but when? I wish I knew...


Q

When can we see more Starbuck's Chronicles? Paul Doherty

A

Not sure when, but I do hope to get back to Starbuck before too much longer.


Q

Bernard- have you considered writing a novel/series about the early english colonists in Virginia?

Also the Elizabeth era, Francis Drake, spanish armada, etc. would be greatly appreciated by your fans if you are interested in that time frame of course. Best, SN

A

I really haven't . . . though I did once wander round Roanoke, and I know Jamestown fairly well. It's a fascinating story, but I'm not set alight by the idea, at least not yet! Maybe one day?

I'm VERY interested in the Elizabethan age and have an idea for it (not telling), but the problem is that there's so much research to do and I'm not sure I'll live long enough. I hope I do, because it's an idea that really fascinates me.


Q

Dear Bernard, I just wanted to mourn the passing of the great Pete Postlethwaite. In my opinion his portrayal of Hakeswill was absolutely spot on, I'm sure you'll agree. Being the method actor he was did he ever speak to you about how to play the part? Keep those books coming. Cheers. Tarquin Hoskins

A

I agree with you very enthusiastically - he was wonderful! He made the character, and he improved mightily on my depiction of Hakeswill, so that in any subsequent book I used Pete's version rather than my original. He never asked for help - he was too good to need it, I suspect, but I enjoyed my brief acquaintance with him and sincerely regret his passing.