I’m delighted to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour to celebrate the publication in paperback of Killer of Kings by Matthew Harffy, the fourth in ‘The Bernicia Chronicles’ series set in 7th century Anglo-Saxon Britain. And I’m thrilled to welcome Matthew to What Cathy Read Next today to talk about the book, its inspiration and his approach to writing.
Storm of Steel, the latest book in ‘The Bernicia Chronicles’ series will be published on 9th May 2019 and is available for pre-order now from Amazon UK (link provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme). Look out for my review as part of the blog tour.
About the Book
Beobrand has land, men and riches. He should be content. And yet he cannot find peace until his enemies are food for the ravens. But before Beobrand can embark on his bloodfeud, King Oswald orders him southward, to escort holy men bearing sacred relics.
When Penda of Mercia marches a warhost into the southern kingdoms, Beobrand and his men are thrown into the midst of the conflict. Beobrand soon finds himself fighting for his life and his honour.
In the chaos that grips the south, dark secrets are exposed, bringing into question much that Beobrand had believed true. Can he unearth the answers and exact the vengeance he craves? Or will the blood-price prove too high, even for a warrior of his battle-fame and skill?
Format: Paperback (400 pp.) Publisher: Aria
Published: 2nd May 2019 Genre: Historical Fiction
Find Killer of Kings on Goodreads
Interview: Matthew Harffy, author of Killer of Kings (Bernicia Chronicles #4)
Welcome to What Cathy Read Next, Matthew. Without giving too much away for readers who have not yet discovered the series, can you tell us a bit about Killer of Kings?
The protagonist of The Bernicia Chronicles is Beobrand, a young man who, by the time we reach Killer of Kings, has become a renowned warrior and leader of men. This novel begins with him accompanying some monks south from Northumbria to East Anglia. Of course, trouble is never far away from Beobrand, and when he arrives in the south, war is already brewing and he finds himself quickly embroiled in a savage battle for survival.
Killer of Kings is the fourth book in ‘The Bernicia Chronicles’ series. What are the challenges of writing a series compared to a standalone novel?
I suppose the biggest challenges are to have a story arc and characters that make the series fit together as a long story, whilst ensuring that each book is satisfying as a standalone novel in its own right.
How did growing up in Northumberland provide inspiration for your novels?
I only lived in Northumberland for a few years as a child, but the area had a profound effect on me. It is such a wild land, with reminders of the past all around, from the Roman remains of Hadrian’s Wall, to the medieval ruins of castles, such as Dunstanburgh. It is hard not to imagine our forebears walking the same rugged coastline and those windswept hills 1,400 years ago at the time my books are set.
How has Beobrand, the hero of your books, developed as a character over the series?
He starts the first book, The Serpent Sword, as a rather naïve young man. He is rapidly thrown into the struggles and battles between the warlords of the different kingdoms of Albion. Over the course of the books he becomes a powerful man, with land and a war band. He is still impetuous and is quick to anger, but by Killer of Kings he is also wiser and begins to understand the deadly games the kings of the land play with the lives of their subjects.
How do you think you would have coped living in 7th Century Britain?
I don’t think I would have survived for long. Certainly not in the violent times I portray in ‘The Bernicia Chronicles’.
How do you approach the research for your books? Do you enjoy the process of research?
I read all I can on the year or two I am writing about to find interesting historical events that I can use as the tent poles for the narrative of each novel. Then, after I’ve planned the plot of the story, I leave the detailed research for the first round of edits. Each time I reach a point in the story that has something I’m not sure of, I highlight it and return to it when I have completed the first draft. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I enjoy the process of research, but I do love finding snippets of information that fit perfectly into the story I have envisaged. Sometimes something comes along that elevates the story and just fits perfectly. I enjoy that.
Do you have a special place to write or any writing rituals?
I write in any place I can. Wherever I can sit with my laptop for an hour is a place I can write. The only thing I do is put on headphones and play classical music or nature sounds to help me concentrate.
What is your favourite and least favourite part of the writing process?
My favourite part of the process is finishing a novel! My least favourite is waiting for the first reviews!
Which other writers do you admire?
I admire more writers than I can list here, but authors I’ve discovered in recent years that have really impressed me are Toby Clements, Justin Hill and Robert Lautner.
Thank you, Matthew, for those fascinating answers. I don’t think you need to worry too much on the reviews front given reader response to previous books in the series!
About the Author
Matthew grew up in Northumberland where the rugged terrain, ruined castles and rocky coastline had a huge impact on him. He now lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their two daughters.
Connect with Matthew