Category Archives: The Raven’s Wing

The Raven’s Wing characters, #5: Moss, the fire-dancer

Character visualisation sketch by Kit CooperSarcastic, manipulative, and with a mysterious past, Moss is a jongleuse, dancer, and mistress of fire. John first sees her performing at The Angel Inn in Northampton, little suspecting how tightly her fate will become bound to his.

John stared wide-eyed and gape-mouthed. The young woman was fiery in every sense of the word. The hair that tumbled about her bare shoulders was the colour of an autumn sunset. She danced nimbly, bare-footed, to the rhythm of the audience clapping, the nails on her toes crimson-painted.

The woman’s features were soft and attractive, yet dragged askew by a scar that tore down her cheek. But the scar was not what gave him pause. More startling was the eye beneath that scar. That it was false could not be in doubt, for a strange eye it was. It looked to be made of amber, or some other ochre-tinged material, and in the centre, where the pupil should be, sat a small black spider.

The Raven’s Wing, a medieval adventure set in 1322, is available in paperback (with free postage, in the UK at least) and Kindle here.

Other character posts (click to read):

John the MinstrelWynifreed, John's wifeRalf, the gongfermourAilred, the smith


The Raven’s Wing characters, #4: Ailred the smith

Character visualisation sketch by Kit CooperA black man of enormous beard and heart. The gruff Ditchford smith smells of hot metal and pie crust. The village gossips say that Ailred is descended from African nobility. He remains silent about such things.

“Hens!” shouted Ailred, waking suddenly. He sat up and looked around with a startled expression, resembling a bewildered owl in the orange light thrown up by the now merrily burning fire. Smoke swirled into the blackness of the roof. He scratched his black beard, dislodging a small bone, which he inspected closely. He descended into a fit of deep coughing. Eventually he achieved some sort of resolution with his lungs and spat copiously in the fire, which hissed a complaint. He threw the bone into the flames.

Ailred’s growing romance with the widow Rohesia provides a gentle backdrop to the growing turmoil of The Raven’s Wing.  One day I shall write his backstory.

“Kumis,” Aildred said. “Fermented mare’s milk with added honey.”
“I call it milk-mead,” Rohesia said. “And isn’t it just the tastiest thing? Ailred makes it.”
“Not often,” he said. “It’s not so easy to get mare’s milk. You can use goat, or cow, but the taste isn’t quite the same.”
“Apparently, it’s quite the thing back in Ailred’s homeland, and he learned to—”
“This is my homeland now,” Ailred said, squeezing Rohesia’s podgy hand.

The Raven’s Wing, a medieval adventure set in 1322, is available in paperback (with free postage, in the UK at least) and Kindle here.

Other character posts (click to read):

John the MinstrelWynifreed, John's wifeRalf, the gongfermour

The Raven’s Wing characters, #3: Ralf

Character visualisation sketch by Kit Cooper

A shock of red hair explodes from beneath a ragged wool cap, shading Ralf’s smiling eyes. John the Minstrel’s best friend is tall and clean-shaven. He is gongfermour for the village of Ditchford, which is to say he digs out and removes human excrement from privies and cesspits, disposing of it into the river below the village. He lives across the lane from Wyni and John, with whom he shares a horse, Molly.

The Raven’s Wing, a medieval adventure set in 1322, is available in paperback (with free postage, in the UK at least) and Kindle here.

Other characters: No.1 Minstrel John, No. 2 Wynifreed

The Raven’s Wing characters, #2: Wyni

Character visualisation sketch by Kit CooperJohn the Minstrel’s recently-dead wife, Wynifreed. She was thin, a result of growing up through the Great Famine, with brown hair in a short bob. She had thrilled John’s heart with a lopsided smile, joyful laughter and a love of nature.  “He remembered how beautiful she had looked the day that they had wed, a circlet of daisies about her brown head, her smile dazzling in the sunshine.” Perhaps surprisingly, she still has a lot to say for herself.

The Raven’s Wing, a medieval adventure set in 1322, is available in paperback (with free postage in the UK) and Kindle here.

Other characters: No.1 Minstrel John

The Raven’s Wing characters, #1: John the minstrel

Character visualisation sketch by Kit Cooper

Our handsome hero, Minstrel John, who plays a gittern and sings at fairs and festivals around Northampton. He is cheerful and inquisitive, and enjoys riddles and puzzles. His dream is to earn the patronage of the local lord, Baron de Leycester. Currently in mourning after the recent death of his wife.

The Raven’s Wing, a medieval adventure set in 1322, is available in paperback (with free postage in the UK) and Kindle here.

Gosh, Wombie, that’s a big one

It me!Yes, that’s me. Never ashamed to use blatant innuendo to trick people into reading about my book.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that, six years after I first scribbled a rough version of a possible plot (after listening to Steeleye’s “John of Ditchford” – beware of spoilers if you listen), The Raven’s Wing has finally seen light of day. Over that time it has grown and evolved, taking on new directions as lively characters became real and dragged me away from my plotted path into wild, unexpected country. Eventually the tale decided it was over after around 140,000 words – twice the length of Fog. CharactersOn top of that, I included around fifty pages of notes – historical trivia, interesting stories that I’d gathered along the way, and lyrics for all the medieval songs I used.

This became a sprawling, BIG story about little people, and was always going to be a substantial book. The paperback weighs in at 835g. Was there any way I could have made it less likely to break your toe if you dropped it?

  • Back coverI could have made the trim size smaller, say 5” x 8” rather than 6” x 9”, but then it would have been WAY fatter and harder to hold comfortably when open.
  • I could have squidged up the line spacing a bit, but that would have made it too claustrophobic.
  • I could have used a smaller font, but I wanted to be able to read it myself, and you know how bad my eyes are.

So, it is what it is – a mighty tome, full to the brim with medieval fun and frolic. Look on it as an exercise for your wrists. No, Dawbes, not like that.


Despite the weight of the paperback, P&P from Amazon costs nothing. And of course, the Kindle version weighs next to nothing. You can buy that here.

Help Moss Swear in Irish

Jen feathers cropA major character in The Raven’s Wing (hi, Moss!) occasionally lapses into her native Irish. From a variety of sources I’ve put together the following phrases, but I could do with someone fluent to check them out for me. Please do let me know if you can see any errors, and give me a good translation? There’s a credit in the book for you if you do.

And yes, The Raven’s Wing is set in 1322, but for the sake of readability and my own sanity I won’t be trying to replicate how people really spoke back then, save for the occasional word for ‘flavour’.

Mo thóin, fear an cheoil. My arse, music man.
Dia trócaire. God’s mercy.
Anraith finéal. Fennel soup.
Gabh transna ort fhéin. Go fuck yourself sideways.
Téigh trasna ort féin, agus an t-asal marcaíocht tú ar. Go fuck yourself, and the donkey you rode in on.
Go raibh maith agat. Thank you.
Dia dhuit ar maidin. Good morning.
Cailleach. Old hag, witch.
Dia a thabhairt duit lá maith. God give you good day.
Bí láidir. Be strong.

A conversation from The Raven’s Wing

1KWWhZs8.jpg large“A mistress of manipulation, eh?” said Moss. “I’ve met a few of those in the past. Come to think of it, according to Muireann I sodding well am one.”

“Oh, you’re not so bad once a person gets to know your odd ways,” John told her.

“I have ways?”

“More than I could shake a stick at. It’s a wonder I can keep up sometimes. Still, there are compensations.”

“Tell me a compensation, Blondie. Note the subtle way in which I’m asking you to compliment me. That’s one of my ways, isn’t it?”

“Subtlety? Yes, that’s definitely a way. Let’s see, a compensation … well, you have learned to shape both fire and your dancing self into pleasing shapes. The grace with which you move when not dancing is a pleasing side benefit.”

“Are you suggesting that I’m graceful?”

“No, I am declaring it to be so. It is not a subject for debate.”

“I’m not used to being flattered without there being an ulterior motive. It feels odd. I keep expecting you to—”

“Well, I won’t. I can admire you without wanting to touch. Actually, that’s not true. It would be more honest to say that I can want to touch without touching. The admiration is unconditional, the desire suppressible. Were I not married, and were you partial to quail, I would woo you enthusiastically. As it is, I am simply and only delighted to have you as friend.”


“Yes, woo. Shut up.”

“You are an unusual man, Blondie. You’ll do. Did the cunning woman satisfy your curiosity?”

“She said that she could improve my hand. She told me to go back tomorrow, early.”

“And will you?”

“I doubt it. I have better things to do with my time. You and I should rehearse, for one thing. But enough introspection! How was your day, aside from the rabbit hunt?”

Happy Birthday Warren Peace

Warren PeaceFour years ago today, encouraged by Alex Brightsmith, I published my inoffensive little “Magnificent Seven with fur” tale about rabbits and cats working together against seemingly insurmountable odds. I doubt Alex knew what she was unleashing back then, but I’ll be eternally grateful that she did.

There are now nine substantial books out there with my name on the cover as either author or editor, along with a couple of other small things. These days you can buy some of my stories translated into Russian, and even get yourself a Wombie audiobook to listen to while driving. You can buy Wombie jewellery and stationery, and you can employ me to edit your manuscript and format it correctly for publishing (yeah, I’ve not made that page yet – I ought to get my finger out). The tenth book and fourth full-length novel***, The Raven’s Wing, is well on its way to completion now that I’ve fallen back in love with it again.

I’ve met numerous authors, attended signings and book fairs, and made a lot of new friends. I’ve had “Oi, Wombat!” shouted at me in a busy town centre. Cover imagePerhaps my favourite meeting, though, was in Michigan when I was introduced to a stranger whose first words to me were “You asshole, how could you end Fog like that?”. In short, I’ve had the BEST bloody time, and it’s down to you lovely buggers who read all my blather. Thank you *snogs your faces off*. And if you don’t like my writing (a) what are you doing here? and (b) blame Alex.

***if you can’t actually count four, that’s probably because you’re not aware of the privately published novel called ‘Murder at Wombat Towers’ which was written about and for a dozen Americans to thank them all for their remarkable hospitality and friendship over the years.

The Raven’s Wing extended 4-disc version

Book First LineMy Scrivener file for The Raven’s Wing is enormous. I’ve done so much research, spending a big gobbet of time making sure I get as many details right about 1322 as I can. One of the best things about research is the learning process itself, and this quest for accuracy is a lovely bunch of fun. How much do you know about the 14th century? No, nor did I until I began to write this book, but it’s an intriguing period. Did you know they didn’t have orange carrots yet?

I’ll pop a lot of the fascinating things that I’ve discovered into Author’s Notes at the back of the book, as usual, and you’ll perhaps be interested to learn that as with Fog, there will be a Raven’s Wing Special Edition. Think of this as the extended DVD version – the four-disc Lord Of The Rings type extended edition. It’ll be in hardback for a start, and will contain a lot more historical background information than the paperback.

There will also be “Deleted scenes” – chapters not in the paperback that cover events that happen ‘behind the scenes’ of the main plotline. There may also be a few versions of events written from a different character’s point of view.

Owl_Skull_Tattoo_Flash_by_DickStarrAdd to this the added graphics, medieval art, character sketches by Kit Cooper, maps, my drawings of locations – and perhaps, just perhaps, I’ll tell a backstory that cries out to be told; that of Moss, the one-eyed fire-dancer who hints at a secretive, violent past. FYI Moss is named for my author friend Sophie Moss. whom I’m pretty sure doesn’t have a shady past.

I only wish I could include a CD of all the songs that are scattered through the book (my hero is a minstrel after all), performed by me and Blondie, my uke. Perhaps I’ll post a series of YouTube videos. The book’ll be a few more months coming, but it’ll totally be worth it. It’s going to be FUN.

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