So difficult to choose just 5 - I am a voracious reader and can devour a good book in a day (when time allows!). My favourite novel is The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald who is also my favourite writer; it is beautiful and incredibly sad with poignancy and emotion throughout its' meandering storyline.
1984 is an obvious choice but shows off Orwell's class and style brilliantly, the story itself is stark and illuminating and the fact that the world can be viewed at least in part like that today is a reason to concern oneself.
Of Mice & Men was one of the very first stories I read as a teenager and had to read again and again. Its simplicity and sadness overcame me and was the very first story to make me cry. Any book that has that emotive power is a keeper.
Dracula is such a powerful novel, with such a powerful central character that I would say more people in the world know Dracula than almost any other fictional character. It is atmospheric and builds incredibly well as the story ignites.
The Left Hand of God is probably the least well known of the 5 but should be read by any who love fantasy or historical novels. Paul Hoffman does an amazing job here and the realization of the story and characters as they develop is world class.
When did you first start writing?
Like most of us who write, I began writing stories for friends as young as 8 or 9, at primary school I was the editor of the school magazine and won various story and poetry awards whilst still at school. It was my favourite subject; Creative Writing, which I still think is such a beautiful way of putting it as opposed to English.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The date is 1145 – The long shadow of all consuming war hangs over the Christian Kingdoms of Outremer…Pope Eugenius III proclaims a second Crusade as the self-proclaimed Lion of Islam; Zengi captures the city of Edessa and amply avenges the European atrocities in Jerusalem some forty years previously….
As Conrad III of the Holy Roman Empire and Louis VII of France answer the call to arms and lead new legions of Crusaders to the Holy Land, one man; James Rose, leads a simplistic life as a horse trader away from the swirling maelstrom of religious fervour and political uncertainty of the age. Part Venetian and part English, friend of Muslim, Jew and Christian but void of religion himself, a peace loving family man who becomes embroiled in a truly frantic individual battle for vengeance. One simple act of compassion leads to a devastating series of events and adventures which will change the course of history itself.
The Path To Redemption took the best part of 3 years to write, although the first 12 months of this period was generally taken up in concepts and ideas that were then often; discarded. The story itself was amended and meandered in various directions as my brain worked and my fingers typed so it was probably two and a half years by the time it was ‘created’ as we see it today. Then, 6 months swiftly passed in re-writes of various chapters and words were amended as I thought appropriate.
The novel itself tells the story of James Rose, a man of Venetian and English blood, born in Outremer after the First Crusade. The story itself takes place immediately prior to the Second Crusade; predominantly in Christian Acre and Islamic Damascus but is less about the religious wars themselves, more about a man who would very much prefer not to become involved in the politics and intrigue of the Holy Land. However, one simple act of kindness draws him and all those he loves into a desperate fight for survival against enemies he does not know nor understand, causing him to embark on a very personal journey of enlightenment in every sense of the word.
I am positive it will appeal to the typical historical novel reader, as the backdrop of the story is historically accurate with some characters in the book being actual historical figures but I am also keen that non traditional readers of this genre will take a look, as the story itself is more about understanding, family values, friendship, love, loyalty and raw human emotion. There is certainly action, adventure and fighting within the pages but I am hopeful that all who read the novel will have a better understanding of life for an ‘average, normal’ man who becomes involved unwittingly in the middle of other people’s religious and prophetic war and has to make judgements and decisions no man would ever want to make and deal with the devastating consequences of his chosen actions.
What are you working on next?
My collected works of poetry will be released in April 2014 but all of this is already completed fortunately. This leaves my time to write a collection of short stories, to be released in September 2014 and the sequel to my novel; The Path to Redemption needs to be written for release in 2015 so I have some work to do!
Who is your favourite poet?
Difficult to answer again; Keats is probably the best if you look at how his work is lyrical and perfect in design. Byron is the most enigmatic and draws you in with his sheer will and presence but for me, Percival Bysshe Shelley is my favourite poet.
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