Special Guest Post ~ The Evolution of an Historical Fiction Trilogy, by Millie Thom
Thank you for the invitation to guest post on The Writing Desk, Tony. I am delighted to accept. Sons of Kings is an historical fiction trilogy set in the Anglo Saxon and Danish lands during the second half of the 9th century. The first two books are available on Amazon and I hope to have Book 3, Wyvern of Wessex, published by late May 2018.
The three books follow the lives and exploits of historical figure, Alfred of Wessex, and the fictional Eadwulf of Mercia. The trilogy title stems from the fact that both characters are the sons of kings: Alfred the fifth son of the historical King Aethelwulf of Wessex, and Eadwulf the fictional son of the historical Mercian king, Beorhtwulf. Their stories run concurrently, and I was careful to fit Eadwulf's story into the chronology of Alfred's.
I first became interested in King Alfred when I lived and taught in Wantage in the 1970s. Wantage was, reputedly, where Alfred was born. Today, in the market place of the small Oxfordshire town, stands one of the two most famous statues of the Wessex king. The other is in Winchester, which became Alfred's capital.
The story of Alfred's long fight against the invading Danes (Vikings) intrigued me even before I moved to the town, and in Wantage I learnt so much more about him. Unfortunately, juggling the raising of six children with a teaching career meant that my story was left 'on hold' for many years before I could actually set to and write it down.
Although my second protagonist if fictional, Eadwulf's story is not too far-fetched to believe. The Anglo Saxon Chronicle tells us that King Beorhtwulf was 'put to flight' when Danes sailed up the Thames in 851 and ravaged the London region. Further research told me that Beorhtwulf possibly had two sons, although I found no reference to them elsewhere. Not that I looked too far. That little snippet was enough to spark my imagination… and Eadwulf was created as Beorhtwulf's eldest son.
Alfred's desperate battle to save his kingdom is the main theme of Book 3 as he comes face-to-face with the new Danish warlord who appears to be more than his match. And Eadwulf eventually finds a purpose to his life.
So, the trilogy has been several years in the making. I've learnt much during that time and reinforced my love of historical fiction as a genre. But, although I appreciate the value of writing a series of books, my next novel will definitely be a one-off!