It was one of those walking-through-a-door moments. You know the doorway effect? A change in the physical and mental environment, some part of your mind fades and something new begins.

On this occasion I was pretty sure that I knew the basic setting of the book, namely the Blackdowns where I used to live, and the medieval setting because that period interests me, and the living history society, because our subjective view on history interests me almost as much as the history itself.

I had some ideas for characters and was forming a dim view of some of the happenings, but it wasn’t a plot. Then I heard Zadok (the Handel version) on the kitchen radio, or what I thought was it, and a moment later the centre of gravity of the plot had come to me. A coronation! I’m not giving away more than that though, the rest should come to you when you read the book.

However, having recently read a couple of books which planted me in the reign of Edward IV, and hence the Wars of the Roses, that rather fixed the precise moment in medieval history. Devon and Somerset didn’t host any major battles, Tewkesbury being the nearest big battle, and I would recommend a visit to the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival. But there were smaller scraps and treacherous acts of violence as well, meaning that these two counties were very much a part of the nationwide conflict.

Anyhow, two works of fiction which influenced me were (1) Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and (2) Robert Irwin’s Wonders Will Never Cease. Neither of these is mainstream of course. A more mainstream book which is kind of an influence was Marcel Theroux’s Strange Bodies (the *only* book of his I’d recommend).

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