Friday, April 3, 2020

Hibernation Inspiration #2

More observations on the themes of 'hibernation' and 'emergence' - some Spring things to inspire ideas!


Another week and another morsel of inspiration from my personal photo collection and an observational poem. I'm sure many of you will be able to do better justice to poetry - so have a go!

Try some Haiku or flash fiction. Begin a new story and see where it leads you. Above all - have fun with words.


'What are the words,
Exchanged between birds?
What do they say to one another?
Do pigeons coo of love?
Do robins tweet of the sun above?
Do blackbirds chirp when tugging worms are a bother?
Who is the crow cawing to?
Where to the swallows fly from and to?
Do baby birds fight with their brothers?'



Saturday, March 28, 2020

Tackling Diversity in Historical Fiction


In advance of 'World Autism Awareness Week' I want to discuss a plot element in my forthcoming second ‘Wolf Spear Saga’. Some time ago I was involved in a discussion online about diversity in historical fiction. You can read the blog post I wrote about it here

Today, however, I want to focus on one factor from that discussion, which has become entwined in my second saga. When I began drafting book two, the conversation I had had with other authors about diversity lingered in my mind. I wanted to challenge many historical novels I had read in the past that ignored conditions that have modern names, but would have existed in the past nevertheless. I needed a strategy that would bring such a condition into my novel in a way that would be acceptable to modern readers, but also credible in a 5th Century setting. My portrayal of this character would have to be true to my genre and my contemporary audience.


“Invisible disabilities we experience today, such as elements of the autistic spectrum, would have no name in the 5th Century…”


In choosing to have a character on the Autistic spectrum, I knew I would be unable to label this condition with terms and phrases we use today and that those around the character would also lack this knowledge and vocabulary to describe him and his behaviour. I knew at the outset this would present me with some steep challenges and I was ever conscious of creating something too stereotypical and offensive. I knew other characters in the story would be governed by their spiritual beliefs and fear of things they could not explain or that seemed to be evil or magical. My character began as a complicated being with some undesirable and inherited personality traits, even before I decided he would be autistic. I had to consider these traits carefully and calculate how his autism would effect or enhance these parts of his personality.


“Public responses to these conditions would be ruled by culture and spirituality.”


I drew on experiences from my own life and enrolled the help of another with personal knowledge to also assist me. After some deep discussions with this individual I began embellishing my character and those around him who would be there to assist or abuse him, because of his outward behaviours and responses. I wanted to provide him with a very small circle who understood him and were there for him. I also wanted to explore those who were scared by him or deemed him dangerous and those who would exploit his behaviour for their own ends. Once I had completed my first draft, I had the specific scenes featuring the character proof-read to ensure the content was acceptable to a modern audience, but that it also contained authentic references and behaviours.

Here is a description by his older brother:

‘His brother was ruled by the Dark Mother. She held sway over the tides of his inner ocean, tossing him on wave after wave and drowning him in his own emotion. Their Queen had been his steer board; …adrift on an unrelenting, storm-ridden voyage, [he] heard no one else, for they were mere morsels of windswept words. Wulfsieg realised he would be wasting his breath. Like land-locked onlookers crying out from the shore through wind and rain, [his brother] would never hear him from his lonely one-man vessel.’

While language used to describe this character is embedded in the 5th Century, as I wrote I became more aware that attitudes to Autism continued to challenge wider society; that there existed even today, those who misunderstand the struggles of being on the spectrum. I found myself writing provocative scenes, displaying others abusing the vulnerability of my autistic character and contrasting, deeply emotional scenes revealing the extreme fragility of my character, despite his roguish outward persona.

I hope my readers will find reading about him as interesting as I found it to create him on the page. And I hope others will be encouraged to be diverse in their fiction.









E S MOXON has had a lifelong passion for history and writing. A childhood filled with family visits to ancient burial sites and stone circles fuelled her imagination. Inspired by classic medieval tales and Norse sagas, Elaine imagined herself inhabiting these Dark Ages and exploring the landscapes in her mind and continues to do so through her novels. The first in her ‘Wolf Spear Saga’ series is ‘WULFSUNA’ and books two and three will be out soon. When not lost in pages of the past, she lives in the Midlands with her family and their chocolate Labrador.

Blood, betrayal and brotherhood.
They come to honour a Warrior-Lord’s dream,
An ancient saga weaving their destiny,
But a treacherous rival threatens their fate.
The Wolf Sons are coming.
WULFSUNA

Friday, March 27, 2020

Hibernation Inspiration #1

For a few posts, I shall be sharing observations on themes of 'hibernation' and 'emergence' as we enter Spring.

In this time of mass hibernation, it can be difficult to distance ourselves from the negativity and find inspiration. For those of us who crave constant creativity, who want to write as well as read others' writings, ideas may be hard to come by.

Having just completed 14 days in self-isolation with my family, due to me being ill, I've encountered the ideas desert; the epitome of the empty wild west town with tumbleweed rolling across my mind.

And so to combat this, and provide some assistance to anyone else out there who would like a little dollop of inspiration, I will be posting some photos and snippets of my own observations that I've attempted to sculpt into poetry. (Please be kind, as I have not written poetry since I was an adolescent!)


'Like the field mouse, hedgehog or mole,
Who winter inside their cosy hole,
We emerge, like the sun on a day anew,
To see the mist settle on green grass, as dew.
Birds eat works and make new nests,
And go hunting for tasty morsels they love best.'


Try some poetry or flash fiction, or begin a short story imagining the daily routine of a field mouse or hedgehog; imagine a blackbird or magpie looking for food and nesting materials.

Find the simplest joy from a tiny morsel of food or basking in the midday sunshine, safe from predators.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Last of the Druids...?



There are many hypotheses on the end of the Druidic order, mostly written by the victors, namely the Roman Empire and the Diocese. I do not feel we can take either of these sources as read, due to their weighted opinions in opposition of this religious group. There is little doubt that the Druids held sway in not only religious circles (no pun intended) but also the political arena. They had the ears of kings, who would not dare to contradict a Druid. A Druid would be heard before a king, for his power was absolute, as he (or she) was believed to be in direct commune with the gods.


The Romans saw that no leader would be swayed to their ideals while a Druid had one ear of the king. The obvious solution then, was to rid the land of Druids, so the Romans had all ears of the countrymen (nicely epitomised in a famous speech). With all ears on Rome, so to speak, the message of the Empire would be better heard. For those Augustii who were of the new Christian faith, the eradication of these heathen ‘vicaris’ would be a necessity. Locally, you can merge deities to please the populous – Sulis Minerva at Bath being a perfect example. But to glean the minds and support of the tribal leaders, the Druids had to be removed from the equation.


Reports suggest that they were forced to flee to what is now ‘Anglesey’ (Angle’s Isle). However, while there may be some feint truth in this cluster of Druids herded north-west by the Romans, I find it hard to digest. These priests of the old religion would have lived and practised across the isle, in all kingdoms. The far reaches of Dumnonia in the south-west of what is now Cornwall, did not see much in the way of Roman invasion. So, how could ‘all’ Druids have been forced to flee to a small location in Wales? For me, it seems entirely possible that, where the reach of Rome was hardly felt, some of these Druids might have survived. Even if they had not openly practised, they may have taken their religion into the caves and secret groves, away from prying eyes of stray Romans, Christian pilgrims and tribal leaders that may betray them.


The latter could be a possibility for such a thorough ‘cleanse’ of the Order. If Rome and the Christian preachers could demonise the Druids in some way, discredit them, then perhaps the leaders of kingdoms would banish them and a distrust might spread to other kingdoms. Once again though, I find it hard to believe ‘all’ Druids would have been removed in this way. Not all kingdoms were willing to bow to Rome and I would imagine some still preferred to trust their Druids than these Latin invaders.


In my second Wolf Spear Saga, my Druids are (apparently) the last of their kind. Having been practising in secret, their time is running out. As Christianity spreads to further tribes around them, distrust of the old religion grows as tribal kingdoms endeavour to secure the lives of their towns as the Diocese strengthens. Despite the existence of the Roman Empire and its subsequent departure, now some fifty years passed, my little secret Order have survived. They have evolved in order to do this and do not perform in public, nor counsel kings. They pray and carry out rituals at sabbats, educating new and young Bards to become Ovates and eventually Druids, keeping the faith alive against adversity.


My main Druid character is a young woman, the heroine, given to the Order at the age of five. It is all she knows and she is all too aware of its fragility in the current political climate. Well-versed in the beliefs of her enemies, she has been taught Druidry, but also the religions of those that surround them, both Christian and barbarian. This, she knows, will keep her alive in such a volatile time.

'WOLF SPEAR SAGA 2' coming soon...



E S MOXON has had a lifelong passion for history and writing. A childhood filled with family visits to ancient burial sites and stone circles fuelled her imagination. Inspired by classic medieval tales and Norse sagas, Elaine imagined herself inhabiting these Dark Ages and exploring the landscapes in her mind and continues to do so through her novels. The first in her ‘Wolf Spear Saga’ series is ‘WULFSUNA’ and books two and three will be out soon. When not lost in pages of the past, she lives in the Midlands with her family and their chocolate Labrador.

Blood, betrayal and brotherhood.
They come to honour a Warrior-Lord’s dream,
An ancient saga weaving their destiny,
But a treacherous rival threatens their fate.
The Wolf Sons are coming.
WULFSUNA

Friday, January 31, 2020

Imbolc Eve Blessings



The first quarter of the Celtic calendar has arrived, following the new year at Samhain (Hallowe’en) and the Winter Solstice at Yule.


The winter Crone becomes the spring Maiden (or Brigit), waiting for new growth to spring forth.


Brigit with her white wand creates germination and fertilisation as we enter February, wolf month.


The maid, her wand, lamp and wolf wander the land encouraging winter to recede.




Brigit carries the mirror and the cup.

The mirror so we may reflect and to divine the future; the cup that holds life, the womb of Mother Earth, so that we may share and imbibe, rejoicing in the fertility of the forthcoming spring awakening.

The time to plough the first furrows in the land.





Imbolc brings hope, regeneration and reflection.



May Brigit cast her light upon the world, spreading fruitfulness and love.



Bright Blessings for Imbolc, one and all xXx

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Lickey Hills Country Park


Visiting this local forest is inspiring and refreshing for the soul.


A short drive from where I live there is a wooded nature reserve of predominantly pine forest. I love to visit for many reasons. I love nature and find it soothing to be among trees. The fresh air provides a welcome reprieve from the often fume-heavy atmosphere of suburbia. The forest is out of time, a place where you could be in any era from the Stone Age to the Renaissance. Trees have stood for hundreds of years, bracken and ferns blanketing the floor year after year.


Often I have been there, with friends and family, absorbing the nourishing clean oxygen beneath the ageing boughs of oak, yew, hawthorn or pine. It never fails to inspire me, whether I have gone simply for fun or for a serious walk (with camera). I feel closer to the divine around us, embraced by mother nature and all she instils. Inevitably, I come away from these visits with ideas that I transcribe into notebooks once I reach home. Photographs I have taken there have become backdrops to scenes for my novels or thoughtful pieces I use in blog posts, or merely as wallpaper on my computer.


An hour’s ramble is worth so much more in prose, adding atmosphere and elements of all the senses. Sometimes, walking among the trees and climbing through groves and clearings, I see my characters milling about. I follow them, seeing where they go and what they do. Then  dash home to log it before I forget!


  • Do you have particular places that are repeatedly inspiring to you?
  • What types of landscape do you find the most inspiring?



E S MOXON has had a lifelong passion for history and writing. A childhood filled with family visits to ancient burial sites and stone circles fuelled her imagination. Inspired by classic medieval tales and Norse sagas, Elaine imagined herself inhabiting these Dark Ages and exploring the landscapes in her mind and continues to do so through her novels. The first in her ‘Wolf Spear Saga’ series is ‘WULFSUNA’ and books two and three will be out soon. When not lost in pages of the past, she lives in the Midlands with her family and their chocolate Labrador.

Blood, betrayal and brotherhood.
They come to honour a Warrior-Lord’s dream,
An ancient saga weaving their destiny,
But a treacherous rival threatens their fate.
The Wolf Sons are coming.
WULFSUNA

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Stonehenge



With a history spanning 4,500 years, Stonehenge had been a national monument I had wanted to visit for a long time. This was our last stop in our Wiltshire weekend and I was the only one, out of three of us, who had never been. My companions reserved their opinions until I had had chance to witness the stones for myself.

Stonehenge is busy, even when other places are out of season. It is an endless movement of people in queues on foot, on buses and around the henge itself. Visitors from several continents are among us as we chatter in the line, waiting to show our prepaid tickets. We bypass the shop and restaurant so we can get to the circle early and avoid most of the crush. But it is still bustling as we wait for a bus to drive us down the long approach. I’m nervous, as I dislike crowds and my claustrophobia begins as we jostle into the bus and stand for the journey. Passing fields, with other burial mounds, and small, relatively young clusters of forest, we eventually arrive.




It’s not as large as I’d envisaged, though exactly how large I thought it was I cannot say! We walk slowly round, moving back from the clusters of foreigners all straining to take selfies in front of the rope fencing. We’d rather try and soak up the atmosphere, except there isn’t any. I’m disappointed to admit it was my least favourite site of the entire weekend. For all its supposed majesty and history, I didn’t feel the closeness to it that I had experienced at Avebury or West Kennet. I felt as though the spirits that had once lingered in this place had long disappeared, deciding to leave the relic to its gaggle of daily visitors with their camera phones. It was all rather impersonal.



We quickly departed and chose to walk back to the visitor centre, as did several others. We spent the time talking history, comparing the monuments we had seen that weekend and identifying burial mounds visible either side of us. We passed a marker stone for a World War I pilot who had crashed nearby and together, gave his memory a few moments of silent, contemplative thought. We had not seen it from the bus, so it made the return journey extra special. Arriving back at the visitor centre, we stopped by the cluster of replica Neolithic houses, where someone in period costume was explaining daily chores and tools to a family with small children. A nice touch, being educational as well as fun.




I found the on-site museum fascinating as it houses over 250 archaeological objects that have been discovered at the site over the years, including jewellery, pottery, tools and human remains. The forensic reconstruction of a man from 5,500 years ago was quite lifelike and it brought the past closer as so often we cannot relate to their way of life, but it’s easier to relate to a face. He could have been anyone walking among us, had he been dressed in modern clothes, which made the past that little bit more tangible. The rolling visual display with voiceover, taking you through the construction history of Stonehenge, gave an insight into how and when it had all arrived in the landscape. I had read most of the information in various books, but I thought it provided a clear linear example. Lastly, the restaurant and shop were expensive, so we did not linger. We planned to lunch somewhere on the way home. I bought some token bookmarks and wrist bangles for the tribe and we bid farewell to arriving coach parties and lengthening queues.

Out of all of the four sites we visited on our soggy weekend in 2016, Avebury was my absolute favourite. It felt spiritually close and an intensely personal experience. Being able to walk among the stones and touch them could possibly have made a difference for me at Stonehenge. I shall allow myself to simply wonder at that.

Solstice Blessings one and all xXx





FACTS: COURTESY OF ENGLISH HERITAGE WEBSITE [link]




E S MOXON has had a lifelong passion for history and writing. A childhood filled with family visits to ancient burial sites and stone circles fuelled her imagination. Inspired by classic medieval tales and Norse sagas, Elaine imagined herself inhabiting these Dark Ages and exploring the landscapes in her mind and continues to do so through her novels. The first in her ‘Wolf Spear Saga’ series is ‘WULFSUNA’ and books two and three will be out soon. When not lost in pages of the past, she lives in the Midlands with her family and their chocolate Labrador.

Blood, betrayal and brotherhood.
They come to honour a Warrior-Lord’s dream,
An ancient saga weaving their destiny,
But a treacherous rival threatens their fate.
The Wolf Sons are coming.
WULFSUNA