What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always loved books and using my imagination so, even as a child I would write silly stories and make up things to entertain my friends. As an adult, I continued to read, getting into historical fiction by Bernard Cornwell in particular so, when I completed my degree with the Open University I decided to fill my time by trying to write a book. I had literally just made this decision but still needed a subject or a hero for my novel, then I drove into a street and saw a house which was named “Sherwood”. It honestly seemed like the gods were sending me a message and telling me to write about Robin Hood, so that’s why I ended up doing four novels, a host of spin-off shorter books and even an Xbox/Playstation game (Hood – Outlaws and Legends) about the fabled longbowman! Those were great fun, but I wanted to create my own cast of characters so that led to The Druid and my current Warrior Druid of Britain Chronicles.
What was the hardest part about writing this book?
Well, there’s not really any historical records for the period when the Romans left Britain in the fifth century so it was difficult to research things. The main character is a druid, for example, and there’s really nothing much out there about them. I mean, people have an image in their heads of what a druid was like – Merlin, Gandalf, these old men with flowing white beards and robes and so on – but there’s not really much evidence for that, it’s based on modern ideas and TV shows rather than documented eyewitness accounts or records directly from the druids themselves.
So that lack of research material was difficult but at the same time it was a good thing, because it meant I could make things up to suit the character and the plot and no-one could really prove me wrong! That was quite liberating after writing books about the medieval period when there’s so many written records of things like ‘who served as the Sheriff of Nottingham in the year 13XX’, and you really need to get that stuff right in a historical novel or it throws the reader out of the tale.
Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
I like them all but, in a strange way I feel an affinity with King Coroticus. His daughter is abducted by Saxon raiders and he starts to unravel because he finds it so difficult to deal with. He has feelings of impotence because he can’t help her, and the desperate need to know if she’s safe or not really begins to take a toll on him and his marriage to the queen. I think sometimes society forgets that fathers love their children as much as the mother and can be deeply affected when something bad happens. Men are supposed to be strong and stolid put on a brave face and I imagine it would have been even worse for a warrior king in the fifth century, so I really felt sorry for Coroticus. And, if you read the series, you’ll see that’s not the only bad things he ends up having to deal with…I’ve not really thought about it before but I feel a bit guilty now for what I made him go through because he starts out as a good husband, friend, and father!
If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?
Ah, well, that would be a very difficult one if the producers wanted to stick closely to the book. My druid, Bellicus, is an enormous young man with the charisma of a trained druid, so finding an actor to pull that off would be nigh on impossible. Maybe if the WWE star Drew Galloway shaved his head he would be a decent fit? He’s from about the right part of Britain so the accent would be close! Personally, I’m a big fan of Jason Statham and he kind of looks like I imagine Bellicus, but he’s far too short and not young enough to be the druid – he’d make a great Duro though, who’s a former Roman Centurion Bellicus befriends.
Robert Carlyle would be a fine Coroticus I think, he has the acting chops to play a troubled king. I’d like to appear in the movie myself, playing the lute to one of the songs that are in the books!
What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
My main goal as a writer is to entertain people. I write historical fiction, so I make great efforts to do plenty of research and ensure everything is correct for the period, but, ultimately, I want the reader to enjoy an exciting story. I have fun writing my books and I really want readers to have the same experience.
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Steven A. McKay
I was born in Scotland in 1977 and always enjoyed studying history – well, the interesting bits, not so much what they taught us in school. I decided to write my Forest Lord series after seeing a house called “Sherwood” when I was out at work one day. I’d been thinking about maybe writing a novel but couldn’t come up with a subject or a hero so, to see that house, well…It felt like a message from the gods and my rebooted Robin Hood was born.
My current Warrior Druid of Britain series was similarly inspired, although this time it was the 80’s TV show “Knightmare”, and their version of Merlin that got my ideas flowing. Of course, the bearded old wizard had been done to death in fiction, so I decided to make my hero a giant young warrior-druid living in post-Roman Britain and he’s been a great character to write.
I was once in a heavy metal band although I tend to just play guitar in my study these days. I’m sure the neighbours absolutely love me.
Check out my website at stevenamckay.com and sign up for the email list – in return I’ll send you a FREE short story, as well as offering chances to win signed books, free audiobooks and other quite good things!
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