I feel like I’ve been somewhat quiet again of late. There have been various reasons for that – some good, one or two less so.
Once again, the UK is in lockdown owing to the pandemic. I suspect I’m not alone in having found the events of the past year difficult in many ways. Often my escape has been to flee to the fifteenth century – or at least my version of it, which it has to be said, is somewhat less complex than the present day. Writing the third book in the White Boar sequence, King in Waiting, and travelling in my mind to its various locations, allowed me to forget the dreaded covid for hours at a time.
As mentioned in a previous blog post (‘The End – Part II‘), I wrote those momentous words for that book in early December. I still had some work to do on the manuscript before I could send it out to readers for critique. Imagine my discomfort, if you can, when a couple of days later I started to cough, and then lost my sense of smell…
I was immensely lucky. My brush with covid was very mild and I’ve experienced no ongoing effects [I’m touching wood here]. In fact, I spent the final days of my quarantine in splendid isolation, with nothing to distract me from putting those finishing touches to my manuscript. It’s now safely with readers, while I sit here awaiting their verdicts and preparing for the next round of work on the book in advance of publication later this year.
But as before, when I finished the first draft of The Order of the White Boar and The King’s Man, I have felt somewhat bereft. I miss these characters I’ve spent so much of the past two years with – especially while out on those solitary walks on the windswept moor (solitary, that is, apart from my new loyal hound, Gunner). I miss wrestling with stubborn plot points and hearing Matthew’s thoughts, and Alys’s ripostes, and Roger…, well, just Roger…
So, what next? I’m sure some authors go straight to the next book idea and get on with it, putting this (half-)finished one behind them until it’s time to start work on it again. I did before – working on a new draft of Time out of Time, a book I’d finished a few years before. I didn’t finish that draft then before I returned to Matthew and friends. I could get back to it now. But I know it’s going to take a few months to knock it into shape – and before that, I’ll be called back to Matthew’s side to finalize ‘King in Waiting’ for the printer.
What could I do instead? I needed a small project, one that wouldn’t sweep me off into the sunset with fascinating new characters and an exciting new premise that would make me reluctant to force myself back to the drudgery of editing and preparing ‘King in Waiting’ for publication. And at that point, a small idea I’d had wormed its way back into my mind.
Back in the autumn, I donated a copy of The Order to an online auction for the UK charity Children in Need, the Children in Read auction. To my surprise, rather than it appearing in the ‘children’s fiction’ category, alongside such as J.K. Rowling, Anne Fine and Cressida Cowell (I like to hobnob when I can!), it was placed in the ‘historical fiction’ one. Admittedly, there it hobnobbed alongside such authors as Bernard Cornwell and Maggie O’Farrell, but it made me think.
The books are aimed squarely at children and I have a twelve-year-old in mind as I write. But since their publication, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of adults of all ages who have come up to me at events and told me how much they enjoyed them. Or who have written reviews saying that they read the books before giving them to young relations. It was a very pleasant surprise as I had no idea they would appeal so widely.
When Bloomsbury Publishing realized adults were enjoying the Harry Potter books as much as children, they decided to re-release them all in new, adult-friendly covers – so that adults wouldn’t be embarrassed if seen reading a children’s book in public. (A topic I covered in a previous blog post – ‘Books for children?‘)
Well, what’s good enough for J.K Rowling is good enough for me! But in addition, my two books were originally written as a single continuous story (as detailed in ‘Is it “The End”?‘), which proved, at 130,000 words, to be too long for the target readership: usually ten to twelve year olds are seen as reading books no more than 60,000-80,000 words long. So it seemed the perfect opportunity to reunite the two books in a single volume – for an adult readership perfectly capable of reading a book that long…
The upshot it that I’ve spent the past few weeks preparing a new book for publication – but only ‘new’ in a sense. The Order of the White Boar, Books 1 and 2 together, with a lovely new cover, will be available for pre-order as an ebook in the next few days. The paperback will be available, all being well, on the publication date of 26 March. (Some of you may spot the reason for picking that date.)
So – that announcement? Tomorrow, Sunday 28 February, I’ll be doing the cover reveal. And maybe the link for the ebook pre-order will also be available then for you to share with friends and family who may not have been keen to read the ‘children’s version’ of the books! 😉
Watch this space!
Alex Marchant is author of two books telling the story of the real King Richard III for children aged 10+, The Order of the White Boar and The King’s Man, and editor of Grant Me the Carving of My Name and Right Trusty and Well Beloved…, two anthologies of short fiction inspired by the king, sold in support of Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK). A third book in the ‘White Boar’ sequence, King in Waiting, will be published in 2021.
Alex’s books can be found on Amazon at: