Author Notes

My Interest in the Arthurian Legends

Before entering my new profession, I served a long and happy apprenticeship as a high school teacher. Some forty years, in fact, and the faces of many of my students still pass fleetingly through my memory at the strangest of times. I loved seeing vacuous minds turn into interested readers and then committed students who developed their own literary skills. It was a privilege to have these students pass through my care.

One of the major things that these many hundreds of young minds taught me is how passionately they cry out for real heroes. They want to believe that duty, honour and loyalty aren’t mere words, but a characteristic that should be admired and emulated.

With this in mind, I’ve tried to ensure that my novels are more than a simple recitation of the legends of the Arthuriad or tales of heroism. The stark reality of war and mindless brutality had become a part of our lives in recent decades, so we need a moral compass to guide us. Our young people demand it! They are searching for men and women to follow, whether these icons are good or bad. I hope, in my own small way, that I can give them a positive blueprint for them to follow in these godless and dangerous times

A New Era in My Life

When I was entering my sixties, I finally retired from teaching after 41 years as a Head of English at a High School in Queensland, Australia. Without any advance knowledge, I was counselled by a senior supervisor who informed me that I was past my use-by-date, in spite of the fact that I was churning out an average of ten (10) Year 12 students, year after year, with Very High Distinction grades. I had never thought of myself as “past it”.

Was I too old?

I then suffered a year of excruciating boredom. Playing ladies isn’t an alternative to “achieving”, despite my love for chatting and entertaining. And so, having made an angry decision to bite the bullet and ride off into the sunset, I began to mourn my incipient old age. I soon discovered that there were many clichés for describing the loss of my academic status, including use-by-date, over the hill, dropping off the perch and oldster.

What really upset me at the time was that the people making the decisions, both for me and for many others, had the intellect of frogs.
I’d been studying and working since commencing school before my 5th birthday, so I suddenly found I couldn’t cope with the thought of a stultifying full stop to my working career. For a month or two, I stayed in bed until late, ignored my house and garden, and stared blankly at cable television. But when I realised that premature retirement was inflicting re-runs of Judge Judy and Jerry Springer on me, I decided that self-pity was the last resort of the intellectually bankrupt. It wasn’t going to be my cup of tea!

Following the Dream

Like many people with a sudden surfeit of time, I decided that I would “write a book”. After all, I had always written books, short stories and plays, for the amusement of students, especially young male adults.

Decades earlier, I had adopted story-telling as the most effective tool of teaching and, as an expert in manipulating unwilling young men into learning something they suspected was of little use to them, I felt sure that I could plot a decent storyline. In truth, I was filling in the long, dreary hours by presenting myself with an almost impossible challenge, for I knew that only a grand gesture or a totally new career could satisfy me.

I had no expectation that either possibility would eventuate, but at least I would be occupied. Dreams of a possible writing career soon entered my head and the decision was made to write a first book about the early life and times of King Arthur.

Why King Arthur and the Arthuriad?

When I completed my PhD in English Literature all those years ago, I managed to keep a mountain of research material on the Arthuriad under safe lock and key with the vague thought that I might, one day, turn it into something useful. The information in these documents has provided a solid backbone for my novels. I am pleased now that I undertook so much work on the original Arthurian thesis and the writings of yesteryear. I try to accurately present the core elements and spirit of the original legends and I follow the guidelines set by the original masters such as Mallory, Wace, Layamon, T.H. White, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Tennyson and all those great men and women who have turned the Arthuriad into the Matter of Britain. However, I freely admit that my works are novels rather than histories, and I sometimes ascribe faults and failings onto the natures of my characters to present my own particular portraits of those men and women who filled Arthur’s world. Similarly, I paint others in a more forgiving light than they might otherwise merit. I try to create my characters as memorable people who will remain alive in your imagination long after I’ve departed this earth.

It has been a privilege to write a series of epic tales that recount the deeds of these great men and women, and I hope that my versions of the legends will add in some way to the literature that forms the Matter of Britain. Every life has a ruling passion, and mine has always been the written word that has been translated into the ancient and honourable profession of the bard. In all humility, my ambition in life is to be described as a competent story-teller, and to achieve this would turn an “old broad” into a “very happy old broad.”

Once I stared writing, I found the effort was easy because I was describing subjects that I knew and understood from my studies, namely the legends of King Arthur and the Arthuriad. As I was accustomed to hard work, I wrote like a demon with the words, “use-by-date”, ringing loudly in my ears. Towards the end of my fit of demented writing, I found that I had almost finished a trilogy on the life and times of King Arthur, set into the correct historical period, namely the 5th and 6th Centuries, or the Dark Ages. Soon Britain would become Angleland (or England), and an age of order would be over.

I have used my own spelling variations in the names of those individuals who inhabit my version of the legends. Similarly, to maintain authenticity, I have used the original Roman spelling for the locations taken from Merlin’s charts of Arthurian Britain.

Since writing my first novel, the number of topics that are forever buzzing around my head have been limitless. My editors at Headline Review in London keep me two or three novels of the one that is currently being written. One trilogy after another followed, almost organically, as we followed the path of the legends.

I’m pleased to say that I have completed the over-view of the Arthuriad from its genesis in Roman times to the end of an era when Prince Arthur, son of the great king, arrives in the lands that would become Northumbria.

It’s time to write about the lives and times of those who inhabit the legends.

To Thos Who Are My True Friends

I hope you enjoy this reading experience, and my fervent wish is that you get as many hours of enjoyment from reading my novels as I have experienced in researching them and re-telling the sagas of those long gone days when Celts vied with Saxons for control of the Land of the Britons.

I have always loved to walk in the footprints of the past and have spent many hours engrossed in the fragments left behind by men and women who lived centuries before the west was “civilized”. History is not a dead re- hash of past glories. As a dedicate people-watcher, I know that human nature has changed very little over the years, so my stories try to explain the possible motives and desires of shadowy heroes. For this reason alone, I try to be both a story-teller and a puzzle-solver, and I try to untangle the threads of cause and effect, the pressures of fast and brutal social change and the reasoning behind the wondrous tales that have travelled down to us over the fifteen hundred years that have passed since giants walked the soil of Britannia.

After all, we only have to read the newspapers and watch our TV screens to know that a new and powerful enemy is with us, one that is almost impossible to define. This enemy is extremely dangerous. Radicalism is as threatening as any Saxon invasion, but it is much harder to recognise and quantify. Would Maximus, Constantine, Vortigern, Uther Pendragon and Arthur have prevailed against this hidden enemy? When we write about the past, perhaps some elements of the present and the future bleed into our words.

Who can possibly know?