Monday, September 02, 2013

Interview with Geoffrey Gudgion, author of Saxon's Bane, and Giveaway - September 2, 2013

Please welcome Geoffrey Gudgion to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews.  Saxon's Bane was published on August 27, 2013 (US) by Solaris Books.  You may read Geoffrey's Guest Blog - An Accidental Fantasist - here.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Geoffrey:  Thanks, Sally! It’s an honour to be here.

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Geoffrey:  At school I was one of those irritating kids that actually enjoyed English homework, particularly if there was an essay involved, so writing has always been there, like a creative itch. Unfortunately, the need to earn a living kept getting in the way. Then one day I had a blistering row with my boss (not about writing, though!) and stepped off the corporate ladder. I had this idea that I could earn my keep as a freelance management consultant and write in the gaps between assignments. It worked for a while, but writing became so absorbing that I stopped looking for work. The bank manager ain’t happy, but I am.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Geoffrey:  Quirk? Me? I don’t have quirks, he says, twitching. Unless, of course, you count the CD of English birdsong that plays in my study when the weather won’t let me write outside.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Geoffrey:  Both. I suppose you could say I’m a plotter who leaves enough scope to wander off track. I draw a map, but hold it lightly. With my current WIP, I wrote a detailed synopsis before I started, rewrote it with a full chapter plan at 30,000 words, and again at 75,000 words. You have to have the creative freedom to explore when interesting ideas crop up.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Geoffrey:  To keep writing even when it feels like wading through thick mud, and when I know the words I’m writing deserve to sink without trace. I’ve found some of my best ideas in that swamp, but it doesn’t get any easier because I’m always developing a better idea of what ‘good’ looks like.

TQ:  Describe Saxon's Bane in 140 characters or less.

Geoffrey:  Dark Age secrets in rural England; past & present collide during archaeological dig. Will modern couple suffer Saxons’ bloody fate?

TQ:  What inspired you to write Saxon's Bane?

Geoffrey:  I wanted to bring the past alive in the present day, but the plot emerged over time as I joined several ideas.

I live in a part of England where the village names reflect the Saxon migration of the sixth to eighth centuries; many of them mark the place where a warlord decided to fell trees rather than kill Celts. The narrow, winding lanes have probably been that way since some Saxon drunkard staggered home from the mead hall. It’s a good setting for a book.

For a while I tinkered with ideas for characters. I sketched out an archaeologist who becomes obsessed with her project, and struggles to reconcile her academic discipline with an almost-preternatural understanding of the people she’s excavating. I also had an idea for a man on a journey to wellbeing after a near-death experience in a car crash, a man who doesn’t know whether what he saw at the edge of death was real or a product of his own trauma. Both begin to doubt their own minds, but for a while they were just two characters and a setting in search of a story. Then I read an article about the peat-preserved bog bodies that are uncovered from time to time in Europe. Some of them are thousands of years old, and they’ve often been ritually sacrificed. Bingo! Suddenly all the pieces snapped together like creative synapses, and I had a story.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Saxon's Bane?

Geoffrey:  I did masses of research into the Saxon migration period in England, but only used a tiny fraction of it. Saxon’s Bane is primarily about people, whether they are wielding a sword or driving a BMW.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Geoffrey:  The easiest character was a 21st century, pagan woman. She’s fresh-faced, full of life, a youthful earth-mother, and I was half in love with her long before I finished the book. I discovered that writing is easier if the writer fancies the character! I named her Eadlin Stodman after the Anglo-Saxon for ‘Little Princess’ and ‘Keeper of Horses’.

The hardest task of characterisation was making a good-looking male (and being male, I didn’t fancy him!) slide from being a reprobate into a psychopath, and to do that in a believable way.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Saxon's Bane?

Geoffrey:  I made a lot of use of Saxon folklore and animalistic imagery, and in particular the legend of Aegl, a mighty warrior, and Olrun, the Swan Maiden. I tried to write the Dark Ages scenes in an evocative, poetic voice, and there’s a scene when, ‘in the milky dawn of her widowhood, the swans came for Olrun’. That still sends shivers across my skin, even though I wrote it and I know what’s coming. There’s also a moment of great tenderness between two of the main characters that I particularly like; you’ve read the book, so if I say ‘fading thunder’ you’ll know the scene.

TQ:  What's next?

Geoffrey:  Letting go of Saxon’s Bane was harder than I expected. Those characters became friends. They stayed in my mind and it was hard to drop them, but I’m now well advanced with another time-slip historical fantasy, provisionally entitled Catherine Bonnevaux. This is set on a country estate that has been in the same family for nearly 700 years, but is now on the brink of ruin. In the 14th Century, the founder of a dynasty makes a terrible oath. In the present day, his descendants have forgotten the oath, but it seems the oath has not forgotten them… The end is in sight and I’m excited about finishing it.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Geoffrey:  Sally, it’s a real pleasure and an honour to be part of the Qwillery. Thank you so much for including me.

About Saxon's Bane

Saxon's Bane
Solaris, August 27, 2013
Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages

In a supernatural novel with echoes of Alan Garner and Kate Mosse, Geoffrey Gudgion chills the modern reader as the supernatural past invades the present.

Fergus Sheppard’s world changes for ever the day his car crashes near the remote village of Allingley. Traumatised by his near-death experience, he returns to thank the villagers who rescued him, and stays to work at the local stables as he recovers from his injuries. He will discover a gentler pace of life, fall in love – and be targeted for human sacrifice.

Clare Harvey’s life will never be the same either. The young archaeologist’s dream find – the peat-preserved body of a Saxon warrior – is giving her nightmares. She can tell that the warrior had been ritually murdered, and that the partial skeleton lying nearby is that of a young woman. And their tragic story is unfolding in her head every time she goes to sleep.

Fergus discovers that his crash is uncannily linked to the excavation, and that the smiling and beautiful countryside harbours some very dark secrets. As the pagan festival of Beltane approaches, and Clare’s investigation reveals the full horror of a Dark Age war crime, Fergus and Clare seem destined to share the Saxon couple’s bloody fate.

"Once there was a great classical tradition of rural British horror from MR James to The Wicker Man. Now Geoffrey Gudgion has revived the style and modernised it to great effect, proving there's still nothing as creepy as the countryside." Christopher Fowler

About Geoffrey

Geoffrey Gudgion was the scholarship boy who never realised he’d have been happier as a writer than a businessman. until, that is, he had a spectacular row with his boss and stepped off the corporate ladder. Prior to that epiphany, he made his first attempts at writing fiction during long deployments in the Royal Navy, and consistently failed to reconcile writing with being CEO of a technology company.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @GeoffreyGudgion

The Giveaway

What:  Two commenters will each win a signed Trade Paperback copy of Saxon's Bane. US / CANADA / GREAT BRITAIN / EUROPEAN UNION / AUSTRALIA ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US, Canadian, Great Britain, European Union, or Australian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on September 10, 2013. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Sounds very interesting and love the cover.

  2. sounds great..something creepy would be perfect after a summer of 'holiday reading'..

  3. Forgot to say-the name of the character is Eadlin Stodman

  4. I came across this book yesterday - via, I think it was - and put it on my to-buy asap. Sounds really interesting and a bit different from what I normally read.
    Thank you for the interview!

    Answer: Eadlin Stodman

  5. A fabulous post thank you.

    ANSWER: Eadlin Stodman