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

The summer holidays have thankfully come to an end, edits on the Trowchester books can only last so long, and that leaves me with the rest of the year to write something new. So, what should it be?

I’m currently writing a fantasy about three sets of people from diverse cultures who get stranded together on a floating island due to shipwreck/the death of the gods. That’s slow going as I gradually work out the world building, but very entertaining. But after that, I have a choice of:

1. Another 3 Trowchester books – small British city contemporaries featuring the occasional murder and a bit of morris dancing.

2. A follow up of The Reluctant Berserker where Brid the slave gets a story of his own. (For which I need to do some research on Celtic Britain in the 6th Century.)

3. Kind of tempted to do a sort of action/adventury jewel thief m/f romance with an option of turning it m/m/f later on.

4. A follow up to The Wages of Sin.

5. A follow up to The Crimson Outlaw.

6. Something else of your suggestion?

I’d welcome anyone’s advice, as I really don’t have a preference at all.


I keep thinking I ought to leave Tumblr because it’s such a time sink, but I find so many interesting things there. For example, this post about a multi-racial casting for founders of the Hogwarts houses

particularly the erudite response of supernatasha to the claim that everyone was white in Europe during the middle-ages. I feel sure this is going to be of particular relevance to me once Blue Eyed Stranger comes out and people discover that one of my main characters is a black Viking reenactor. As a matter of fact, the knowledge that people of colour have probably always been in Britain is a fact that Martin himself is passionate about passing on to his own pupils. It’s nice for me not to have had to assemble the research on that myself. I can just refer anyone who objects to go to the excellent Medieval POC.


And since I appear to be doing a bit of a tombola – pick three tickets at random and see what you get – kind of blog post, I’m going to end with something that made me happy this week:

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I just wish I could buy it somewhere!

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

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

I have three things to recommend today. Unlike Hugh Fernley Whittingstall’s latest programme, they are not three good things which taste great together – they’re probably better savoured apart.


Rather than a pantomime, we went to see Loserville yesterday in London, on the advice of our drama-student eldest.

Which was a great choice – great sets, great songs and brought a tear to the eye on occasions. It’s a geek versus jocks story, but perhaps not on the cutting edge of the geek social issues which are exercising the internet at the moment – being your typical male geek earns the respect of his peers (via the sacrifice and cunning of his girlfriend) story. Still better than a panto, though!


A fantastic historical murder mystery which makes me feel ashamed of my own historicals. Beautifully written, fast paced, humane and set in my part of the world. I didn’t realise it was part of a series! I will have to get the others now.


And finally I can thoroughly recommend Get Your Words Out as a guilt free alternative to the daily word count. Sometimes you just can’t write for a week or so, but this gives you the chance to have good weeks and bad weeks as long as you make your yearly word count – and provides you with a nifty spreadsheet and monthly check ins to help.

GetYourWordsOut: One Last Time (Probably)!
Pledges & Requirements |

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

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

I’m blogging over on the LGBT Fantasy Fans blog today on a subject close to my heart – ritual dance.

Which was prompted by a great time at Mill Road Winter Fair at the weekend. One problem with playing music for one side while dancing for another comes when both sides turn out to the same event. Then who do you support? Crisis! Clash of loyalties! Woe is me! Who should I let down this year? Or can I figure out a composite kit and support both? I will give you a clue:

There seems to be no rule that the waistcoat you wear for the Riot can’t be black. So with a black waistcoat and a zebra blanket thrown around the shoulders for those chilly muso moments between dances, I mostly fitted with both sides at once. And boy did I need that blanket! It was perishing.

I must say, it’s excellent practice for your breath control – finishing a dance, then taking half a minute to throw on a hat and cloak & going out to play the whistle. I was out of breath most of the time, but I don’t think it showed.

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

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Listen to this. Is this not the most gorgeous thing you’ve ever heard in your life? It’s certainly one of them for me, and I don’t normally like male voice choirs.

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How do I convey the same atmosphere in writing? It’s as bad as trying to describe what apple tastes like. Sometimes words are a very blunt instrument indeed.

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

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

I’ve had Ely Apple Day on my mind for a week. I blogged about it last week, full of enthusiasm with the memory of good dancing and good music on a day when it didn’t rain, even though it looked like it wanted to. I’d been looking forward to seeing the photos, but when we did, several members of the side noticed that everyone was wearing blue. The idea of our kit is that our white shirts represent the white skies of the Fens, our black skirts represent the rich black Fenland soil, our red handkerchiefs represent the blood spilled in the Ely and Littleport Riots after which we’re named, and the many different colours of our waistcoats represent the individuality of each dancer.

This is totally scuppered if we all go for the same colour, and somehow, despite differences of shade, we all seem to have gone for variants of blue. This could mean only one thing – time to make another waistcoat. I wanted lime green, but they didn’t have enough of that on the roll, so – in an unexpected move which surprised even myself – I’ve bought some royal purple material instead

with some tacky yet sparkly buttons to match. This should clash in a most satisfactory way with my orange hair and lime green shawl. Good taste being yet another of those things which the true zen masters of folk have ascended beyond.

Speaking of Ely Apple Day, I had a lovely exchange with a member of the crowd who had drawn up to watch us.

“Where are these dances from?” she asked me.

As I’m sure you know, the same question can have several appropriate answers depending on the context, because the context helps clarify what is actually being asked. I’m not much good at picking up the subtle clues which show what the context is, so I started off by trying to explain that these were dances from the Welsh Borders, but there were other styles of morris dancing from other areas, such as Cotswold and North West Clog, and that the local style – Molly – was similar to what we were doing, but slightly different.

But by that point I could tell from her continued look of bemusement that I was not really answering the question she’d intended to ask. Then I put together her Mediterranean looks and slight lisp of an accent and struck out with what I thought might be a lucky guess. “The prevailing theory is that the Morris dance is originally from Spain,” I said.

Her face cleared – this was obviously what she’d really been asking about all along. “I’m from Catalonia,” she said, “and our dances are just like this. I wondered if there had been some sort of cultural exchange programme.”

I laughed. “There was indeed. It was in the 15th Century.”

And this is why history, and Folk, are neither boring nor irrelevant – because the cultural ties our two countries had five hundred years ago still help make sense of our behaviour, and allow us to feel like part of a family, even today. It’s a small world and dancing makes it a better one.

Music does too. On a different subject, we were walking around Cambridge today, and in three different places we were surrounded by music played live on the painted pianos that have been scattered around the town

proper music, mind you. People had obviously discovered they were there, gone home for their sheet music and come back prepared. There was some wonderful concert standard stuff going on al fresco, in the balcony of the shopping centre and outside in the park.

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

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

To recap:

1. Post about something that made you happy today, even if it’s just a small thing.
2. Do this everyday for eight days without fail.
3. Tag eight of your friends to do the same (Feel free to do it, but don’t feel obliged.)

Three things today too, all morris related, as I’ve spent the day playing whistle for Coton Morris Men for the first day of Ely Folk Festival, and tomorrow I’m going to spend the day dancing with the Riot for the second day.

1. Dancing with the Riot in Coton kit.

My muso’s outfit with Coton tends towards ‘The Matrix’ – tight black trousers, tight black waistcoat, long flappy black leather coat. The Riot’s kit is all colourful hankies and bright, rainbow waistcoats and costume jewellery. I very much enjoyed being drafted in to dance the Riot’s signature dance at the end of the show and looking like the spectre at the feast in the process.

2. A hatchet job on my Riot kit.

Remember that waistcoat I keep blogging about – the teal one which I made to a size 18 pattern when I joined, not realising that a size 18 pattern makes a size 14 garment? The one I had to make a stomacher for to make it big enough to fit my size 18 person? About a year ago I took the stomacher out because it fitted as it was. Now it’s too big, so today I’ve taken it in, to fit my now size 12 person. I’m happy with the weight loss and I’m happy that finally my waistcoat fits properly again.

3. Spending birthday money.

In June, my Dad gave me some money for a birthday present. Today I bought a low D whistle, so that instead of Coton’s band consisting of two high Ds, we could have the more interesting sound of one high, one low. It should sound like this:


because it is indeed a Dixon low D. But unfortunately I do not have such long and spidery fingers as the man in the video, so I need to learn to play with parts of my hand I did not think were designed for such frivolity, and – despite all the fingering for all the tunes being exactly the same – it will take me some time to adapt to it. It’s still a gorgeous monster of a thing, though, and will help me if I ever want to move on to the Uillean pipes.

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

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

So, after the excitement of Saturday I got steadily sicker, until by Wednesday it took me the whole day to write 700 words. On Thursday I gave up and awarded myself a sick day, which I spent reading blogs.

As a result of Chuck Wendig’s “promote yourself” post I added a whole load of new blogs to my friend list, which is good. But this morning I find the RSS feed thingy has given me all their recent posts in one huge slab of ‘OMG, my FL is broken!’ I hope that will settle down from now on or some of them will have to go again. I don’t mind reading one post of a particular blog a day, but I can’t cope with five.)


As if the prospect of learning the 5000 tunes in my handwritten, photocopied stack of ‘essential music for morris musicians’ sheet music on the whistle wasn’t enough, I seem to have decided to take up the pipe and tabor. This is the original morris one man band – a three hole pipe that you play in one hand, while you simultaneously play a drumbeat with the other hand, like so:


This makes the overblowing you do on the whistle to get the second octave seem like child’s play. To get a single octave on the tabor pipe you have to overblow once and twice, and to get the higher octave, three and four times. (What am I talking about? See here:

I can feel my brain protesting, but I can at least play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” with drum accompaniment, and almost play the morris tune “Balance the Straw” with rhythm. I’m fairly sure that this time next week I could do a good job of “Balance the Straw,” if I practiced it every day between then and now. Maybe that’s what I’ll do.

Mustn’t stop practicing the whistle too, though, or this will just end up destroying the progress I’ve made on that.


What is this ‘promo op’ of which you speak? Well, I thought it was a really good idea of Chuck Wendig’s to throw open the comments section of his blog to people who wanted to promote their book/blog/vid/editing/dogwalking service/any other thing. So naturally I thought it would be a good idea to do it here too.

Basically, if you have a new book out, or any other thing you want to shout about, leave a comment here. I don’t guarantee I’ll reply to them all, but I’ll see them all and so will anyone else who comes here. And it can’t hurt, right? :)

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

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

This weekend saw me in two layers of thermals and a big black coat playing as one of Coton Morris Men’s musicians, and can I just say that (a) the inventor of handwarmers is hereby promoted by me to the status of a minor god, and (b) nobody told me that whistle players need to carry a windsock to make sure they stand with the wind behind them. Otherwise, while you’re trying to blow a note, the breeze blows back and all you get is silence and red in the face.

I have decided to drop all that Irish- tin- penny- nonsense at the front. The instrument doesn’t originate in Ireland, isn’t always made of tin, and even the cheapest ones cost about a fiver.

Here, for example, is an article about the oldest musical instrument in the world which is still playable, a bone flute from Jiahu in Henan province in China and here is a vulture bone one from Germany 35,000 years ago. Both of them are end-blown, from what I can see, so ‘flute’ is a bit misleading.

In deference to the fact that the whistle is one of the most ancient instruments on the planet, I’m adopting the plain Anglo-Saxon word for the instrument (hwistle) and just sprucing up the spelling a bit.

Speaking of Anglo-Saxon whistles, have a lovely video of someone who is either admirably non-gender-biased about their name, or not really Kate Corwen at all, playing one.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft.

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I was very bad last Saturday and totally forgot to attend a chat for members of the Macaronis.  In my defence, my husband had come home with tickets to see the Demon Barber Roadshow, and after that everything else fled from my mind.

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t look at this picture without a massive internal squee.  Is this not the coolest thing ever?


So at the prospect of a night in the theatre watching a roadshow based on a fusion of hip-hop, clog, rapper and morris dancing, I dropped everything and ran out, only regretting that I hadn’t taken time to change into my morris kit first.

This will give you a better idea than I can about what I saw

Read the rest of this entry » ).


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September 2017

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