One book recently that has caught my eye is a book by Malcolm Archibold “The Swordswoman”. After reading the synopsis and taking a look at the Amazon link for his book, I was impressed with both how the book was marketed, the author, and I wanted to get an interview from him to take an in depth look at this book. The author is from Scotland, which is as he mentions on the interview filled with reminders of the past, invasions, battles, castles so much to be inspired from. Based on what I have seen from his profile this is someone to read, watch, as he has some great credentials and all the makings of a great author.
Hi folks. My name is Malcolm Archibald although I also write under Jack Strange. I am Scottish, so live in one of the most interesting countries possible, with literally hundreds of ancient castles and tales of battle, massacre and strange events all over the place. I grew up in Edinburgh in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat, a hill under which the legendary King Arthur is meant to lie, and near Calton Hill where the ‘Fairy Boy of Leith’ once lived.
How did you get into writing?
I have always written. It’s just something I do and have always done. Possibly because I am not much good at anything else! I love to mix fantasy with history, mythology with reality and throw a few real incidents into the mix.
What can you tell us about your daily routines that help you focus and your creative habits? So, for example how do you come up with some of your ideas and inspiration for your book?
Daily routine depends on what other jobs I have. At present I am up about half past five in the morning and write until about nine at night if I have a book in my head and a publisher who expects a book. Subtract an hour or so for eating. Most of the ideas come from historical events, twisted and altered to suit the needs of the book. I write in a variety of genres, fantasy, military history, historical crime and nautical history, and facts from the genres cross over. For instance I am presently engaged in writing my fourth fantasy book in the Swordswoman series and I am using facts gleaned from my last military history novel as rough background.
Living in Scotland it is not hard to find inspiration. We have about half a dozen mediaeval ruined castles within a ten mile radius, a few battlefields against Norse, English and between Scots and Picts, haunted houses, mysterious caves and standing stones. Each one of these places can inspire and has stories that can be used.
Is this book very personal for you? If so, how?
Every book is personal. Every author puts his or her heart and soul into a book. Sometimes the words come easily, at other times they are torn from the mind with labour, sweat, tears and blood. The book in question here, The Swordswoman, was inspired by a woman named Catriona MacRuarie who led her men to fight for King Robert 1 of Scotland. Add to her various other Scottish woman such as Black Agnes of Dunbar, add the ancient legends of Picts and Scots and out came Melcorka the Swordswoman.
Also – my wife is in her, and my daughters. I have a myriad small pieces jig-sawing together to create a woman of power, intellect and courage. As the book centres on a strong female, it is a message to women, not only my daughters, that they can be as strong and resourceful as any man.
Finding the title was fairly easy given that the main character is a woman with an enchanted sword.
Plot and Synopsis
The basic plot is simple: a young woman from the islands of Scotland finds she is from a warrior background. She gains an enchanted sword and helps free the country from a Norse invasion. Now add various supernatural elements, clans and nations drawn from all over the country and all over time, a bit of a love interest and a nasty enemy and out strides Melcorka, the Swordswoman.
Is there any movie, book, or television series that you can somewhat liken your story to? So for example, some books you can say are like Game of Thrones or Star Wars, what mainstream and popular movie do you think your book somewhat “feels” like? Did you want this to be the case?
I hope not. I did not intend to copy anybody else. The Swordswoman is hopefully unique although I always liked the Conan books and movies. Perhaps Red Sonja is the closest, or Xena the warrior princess (I never saw any of the series but the idea is interesting!)
Themes or Messages
What themes and deeper meanings or messages can we expect to find in this book if any? Is there any deep meanings or philosophical questions being explored in the book?
The simple theme of good versus evil is probably the strongest one, with undertones of loyalty and inclusiveness. None of my main characters would fit into any recognised mainstream occupation but all are decent people in their own light. People do not have to conform to be decent human beings.
Off the wall question, but would some of the issues being explored in the book relate to us here in the real world?
Of course they do. The issue of never giving in to aggression is always current in some part of the world and The Swordswoman is about fighting oppression. The idea of female equality is fairly blatant, given that the main character is a strong female. My wife and daughters are the equal of any man so I have personal reasons for championing that cause.
What can you tell us about the setting that we will be seeing in this book?
The book is supposedly set in 10th century Scotland (Alba). The names, geography and some of the incidents relate to that country and to that time. Others are Scottish but from later time periods, dragged in to add colour to the story. That is the background but the details of People of Peace and other fantasy elements are intended to augment the story and I hope they do.
What cultures or societies can we expect to see and can you tell us about how you came up with creating these societies? Was it difficult to get deep into how the societies function?
Mainly Gaelic Scottish, with some Pictish (a dark age people who lived in what is now Scotland) It was not difficult as I have lived all my life in Scotland and have been reading and writing about Scottish history for many years. The Pictish kingdom that was featured, Fidach, existed in roughly the same geographical area, although not in that historical timeline.
What can you tell us about some of the main characters and villains in this book?
The main character, Melcorka, is fictional although based on an accumulation of various Scottish women. The main male character, Bradan, is based on the old wandering tradition of Scottish emigrants and peddlers. My main villain is based very loosely on the Norse Earls of Orkney. All the people have more reality than fiction, with
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Please nominate another author you really like and has not yet reached mainstream and a small paragraph about why you believe this author is someone to really look into.
Her book, The Ka about ancient Egypt is as good as anything I have read or seen. The intertwining of history and fantasy really appeals to me.