alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

So, in an email that went out to Samhain authors this morning we were asked to keep this confidential, but as it’s already out in the public here on The Digital Reader I think that part of it is moot.

Samhain has just announced that they will in fact finally be closing on 28th of February (ie in 18 days time.)

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If you’re a Samhain reader who’s been storing their books in Samhain’s cloud, this would be the time to download them to your own hard storage so that you don’t lose them the way readers lost books they bought with All Romance Ebooks.

Authors are getting their rights back once the closure has happened, and I intend to reformat my books and self-publish them as soon as I can. But as you know, I’m still recovering from an operation and I have a deadline for a new manuscript which I intend to turn in first, so it may be some time before I can get around to re-launching my backlist in print.

(Ebooks may be faster, depending on availability of cover art. I’m looking into buying some of my covers back from them. All the haggling with the artist that went on to make the cover of The Reluctant Berserker as authentic as possible was in my view 100% worth it, and if I can possibly keep that one I will. It’s gorgeous. But otherwise, making new cover art is quite fun, though laborious.)

If there’s a book of mine you haven’t already bought, but were idly thinking of getting on some future day when you felt like it, let me know and I’ll prioritize my re-release list to get to those ones first. But if I can beg a favour, I would ask you to hold on a little longer and get them from me, rather than buying them from Samhain now. On a callously monetary basis, I will recieve much more of the royalties if you buy from me than if you buy from them – and you will probably get the book cheaper too.

My royalties from Samhain halved during this last year, so I am quite pleased at the prospect of having my rights back from them, but I’m still sad about this. They were an excellent publisher while it lasted – which is why they have so much of my backlist. There was a time when, in my view, they were the best m/m publisher out there. The genre will be poorer without them.

It does seem to me that the m/m publishing boom has finally burst. This may yet have its good side, in that the people who leaped on the bandwagon because m/m seemed like the place to get easy sales will find somewhere else to go, and we’ll be left with the people for whom it actually has meaning. I think that’s been quietly self-selecting inside the genre for a long time anyway.

tl/dr

Download your Samhain books to your own storage now. They’ll be gone on the 28th.

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

So, I know authors are not supposed to address negative reviews, but I’m going to do it anyway, in a circuitous way. I’ve no desire to hold up any individual review and nobble it, but I’ve had a couple of reviews from people who have had problems with my depiction of Christianity and Paganism in the Reluctant Berserker, and I would like to try to explain why I wrote it as I did.

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The first thing I’d like to say is that I know a certain amount about the era of which we speak. I studied Anglo Saxon Art and Archaeology at university, and then I did a thesis on ‘The Cult of the Horse in Early Anglo-Saxon England’ which necessitated me combing all the available evidence about paganism in England in Saxon times.

I say this not to blow my own trumpet, but mainly to point out that there was both thought and knowledge behind my treatment of both subjects.

It’s fair to say that all the written evidence we have from early Saxon England comes to us filtered through the perspective of Christians. This was because it was Christians – monks, nuns, priests – who were literate at the time. All of the source material we have, on which to base a portrait of the world view of the Saxons was written down by Christians. Even Beowulf.

I know that the impression we get of Saxon society is overwhelmingly Christian, because I studied it looking for evidence of paganism. I wanted at the time to learn more about Woden, Tiw, Thunor, Frig and so on, because I wished to worship them – I was a nascent Asatru. But the result of combing the Anglo-Saxon sources for genuine information about the old gods was a deep immersion in Saxon Christianity and a conversion experience.

We need to remember that this is a pre-scientific society. Our modern society is shaped by a great many beliefs that did not exist in Saxon times. Evolution, progress, the ability of science and reason to understand the world, a profound lack of spirituality. Saxon England was very different. Their world was populated with spiritual presences, which were responsible for illness and fate and luck. They weren’t alone in their universe. In fact they were surrounded by invisible presences, from the earth spirits that might be called up to scorn your enemies to death, to the highest of the archangels. The very earth under their feet was alive and watching them.

The melancholy resignation to the will of God, the gnomic sayings, the superstitious use of Christianity as a kind of magic – making the sign of the cross over food one had dropped on the floor to make it safe to eat – all of it is pretty much directly taken from the source material.

Now you can say ‘but of course the source material is going to be heavily Christian if it was written by monks. That doesn’t mean the normal people were all saints’ and you’d be right about that. But… does that mean that I should reject the only available source material and just make something up? I don’t think that’s a better option.

The truth is that there’s even less evidence for what the pre-Christian beliefs of the Saxons might have been. There are some place names that include the elements Woden, Thunor, Tiw, Ing and Frigg, which suggests that some of the stories known about Odin, Thor, Tyr, Frey and Frigga might have been shared by the Anglo-Saxons. I’ve used that to justify having Leofgar make reference to some stories known from Norse myth.

Beyond that, there are some unexplained references to goddesses like Eostre and Nerthus in the writings of the (Christian) Venerable Bede. And there are some magical chants and formulae in the Leechbooks of the time (early medical texts) which I have used in forming the character and beliefs of Saewyn the healer.

So, really to wind this up before I get tedious – it may be too late there – the reason that The Reluctant Berserker is such a blatantly Christian and indeed Catholic book is that Saxon society and world view was a blatantly Christian and indeed Catholic one (though with some input from Celtic Christianity.)

And the reason why my healer is more in touch with paganism and yet uses her magical powers to curse her son’s killer is not because I’m saying that paganism is inherently evil. It’s because – by early Saxon mores – she has every right and indeed the duty to avenge her son’s death. She’s doing a thing which the early Saxons would have thought of as laudable. And I decided to allow her to do it in an authentic way, by setting up a spite stake against his murderer.


Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 12.09.09 PM

“Epic in its scope and intensity, this is a book full of very human emotions and deeply heartfelt journeys….”

How about that! :) Thank you RT!

However I do feel moved to mention that although they call it HOT here, I’m fairly sure it’s nothing of the sort. Epic scope and intensity, yes, heaps of steamy sex… not really. Regular readers will know me by now, but I don’t want any new people to expect scorching and then be disappointed.

 


Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

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Thanks ever so much to Kazza at On Top Down Under for a fantastic review of The Reluctant Berserker, and for choosing it as one of the site’s books of the month :)

It’s a lovely detailed review that does delve into a lot of the plot – so Spoiler Alert. But it was great to see that Kazza enjoyed some of the thinking about religion and spirituality in the book. I’ve had a few reviews where the overt Christianity of some of the characters was a problem for the readers, and I’ve been thinking that I should probably do a blog post to say why I chose to go that way.

(Short answer – because most of the written evidence of Saxon society shows a markedly religious/spiritual world view, and I was attempting to be true to that.

I probably also ought to say that what the Saxons called wicce craft is not what we would call wicca today. I studied Anglo-Saxon paganism for a year at university, and not a lot of evidence survives to tell us what it was really like. So in drawing Saewyn, I drew heavily on the Leechbook of Bald and Stephen Pollington’s book Leechcraft, Early English Charms, Plantlore and Healing, and various other sources…

But I’m getting distracted into writing that other post now, and I should really do it separately.)

For now I was talking about this book review, which sums up:

All characters were given time to develop, secondary characters included.  Overall, the writing is glorious – lyrical, intelligent without being arrogant, thought-provoking, nuanced perfectly for the setting with licence taken where it should be in fiction. It sets a realistic tone for the period and the characters, and stands up to any literary fiction written in any genre by any author. I loved Wulfstan and Leofgar, both independently and as a couple. 

And which I feel I could not possibly be happier about. Thank you Kazza!

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Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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