E S Moxon
During my time of interacting online with varying writers, I’ve met some truly lovely people and Elaine is one of them. I’ve been eager for her to be part of my author spotlight for some time due to shared interests and viewpoints. But on that note I have to point out that my review is on Elaine the author not the woman and reflects that.
One of the first things that struck me about Wulfsuna the Wolfspear Saga was how descriptive Elaine’s writing from the start. It didn’t take long for me to fall into that world and be immersed within her world. Set in the period when Rome left England. It was a time of turmoil and confusion where there was no clear leader. It’s a time full of mystery and also one that I love to read. I quickly became invested in the three main characters Wulf, Seig and Morwyneth. What struck me that although Norse, on British soil, there was an air of the Arthurian about it. Without any spoilers, Wulf, Seig and Morwyneth felt there was an element of Arthur, Lancelot, and Guinevere from the film Arthur. Due to my own love of those stories, it was easy to enjoy everything about the writing. Morwyneth, I felt the deepest connection with and wanted to be on that journey with her, the tears and pain to joy.
Her flow was easy and plot believable and I could get on board with the whole saga. Elaine is an emerging talent that can only grow the more she writes and is definitely one to watch. So if you’re a fan of Giles Kristian’s Raven series or even Cornwell’s Saxon series, I urge you to give her ago. Now read below at what Elaine has to say about Wulfsuna and writing.
Elaine has always loved writing and history. When she decided to combine the two, she wrote ‘Wulfsuna’, which was published in January 2015 through SilverWood Books. She enjoys baking, knitting and gardening and lives in the Midlands with her family and their mad Labrador. She is currently writing the second book in her ‘Wolf Spear Saga’ series.
The Wulfsuna saga is set after the Romans have abandoned Britain. What is it about that time period that inspired the story?
The story came about on its own at first, without a chosen period in history. I was looking into Anglo-Saxon poetry, thinking about reading Beowulf and had bought myself a set of runes. I had an idea to write my own ‘saga’ with magic and mysterious heroes. Through fate or chance a spark of inspiration came from seeing the ‘Thor’ and ‘Tiw’ runes side by side. I thought ‘Thor’ looked like the snout of a wolf and ‘Tiw’ is, of course, a spear. There the ‘Wolf Spear Saga’ was born.
I chose 433AD because I was fascinated by Britain’s situation at that time. The Roman Empire had abandoned us and several Germanic lands had their sights set on invasion. I had read about the ‘Foederati’ – Germanic mercenaries hired by Rome to bolster their forces, particularly at problem boundaries such as the south-eastern shore forts and Hadrian’s Wall, fighting the Picts. When Rome’s presence departed, I found it hard to believe all of these Foederati would uproot. If you have served for many years, possibly marrying and having a family with a native woman, you would be a little disinclined to run back to Rome. I felt sure there would be some who remained to continue their lives, or head back to the Fatherland. This gave me the premise for the division of the Wulfsuna tribe and Lord Wulfric’s dream, 20 years later, to reunite his people.
What sort of research did you do to prepare for the book?
I tried to cover a wide range of research material to gain a broad perspective. I didn’t want to build a landscape and story around a single person’s viewpoint. I read relevant passages by Bede, Nennius and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, though there is little from the early 5th Century to obtain much knowledge. Francis Pryor’s ‘Britain BC’ and ‘Britain AD’, and Geoffrey Hindley’s ‘The Anglo-Saxons’ gave me modern slants from an archaeologist and historian. I made use of university texts available online about the period and anything I could lay my hands on from the local libraries. News stories that appeared about historical finds, details of existing historical sites (their locations and typography) and historical programmes were all of good use also. My most interesting research came via Reenactment, where I met my good friend Andy Pilkington, Paul Mortimer and the lovely Stephen Pollington. Andy has very kindly shot at me with arrows and fought me with shields and axes so I could better write my battle scenes. I’m quite nifty with a hand axe now!
What can we look forward to in the next part of the Saga?
Oooh, without giving away spoilers? Well, the second book begins in 460AD. You will find familiar characters from ‘Wulfsuna’ still around, as well as some new faces – or fresh young blood! Welsh, Picts and Angles continue to affect the lives of the Wulfsuna, but the isle is changing and not for the better. Vortigern has called for help from the Germanic people and Hengist has arrived on the south coast in response. Not everyone in the Wulfsuna is happy about this.
As for the Saga itself, it will once again claim the lives of one who is a Seer and one named Wolf Spear. There will be battles and twists, magic and drama, and perhaps love (I haven’t yet made my mind up about what’s happening with that last one!).
Do you have a writing process?
I do have a writing process, but it is very fluid. I like my writing to be organic and so have few restraints as I also have a busy family life. I try to write as often as I can and when I’m working I aim to do something writing-related each day. This can be actual writing, editing, marketing/promotional work, social media or admin.
I always begin with a story arc, however small the ideas. My current WIP is a 3-page spreadsheet where I have tabled main scenes: where the scene occurs, who is in the scene and what happens. These usually expand and I often insert smaller scene ideas in between as time goes on. Then eventually the book comes alive and that’s often where it can take its own direction, but I like that. Sometimes characters evolve and dictate amendments or surprises, which is fantastic!
After first draft, I redraft and do an edit myself. Then it’s out to Beta readers for comment. After any amendments, I give it the once-over before sending it to my editor. Once the editor’s report is back I resolve any issues and it goes to my publisher for a proofread. If all is well it’s off to print!
Many people use music or artwork as a source of inspiration. What is your muse?
I sometimes write with music, though not always. I create playlists for battles, relationships between characters, different emotions (I have a ‘heartbreak’ playlist) and atmospheric instrumental music for moods and landscape creation (consider the difference between a mysterious foggy landscape and a bright summer’s day). As for visual, I confess to having the odd picture of an actor or two for initial ‘muse’ inspiration with main characters. However, as the book progresses my characters take on their own persona and the pictures are no longer required. I’ve also attempted to draw some of my characters so that I can see them outside of the book and in my world, which often feels strange but nice. It’s weird looking into the eyes of what had been a creation of my own mind!
Do you have a literary hero?
I’m not sure I can say I have one, single literary influence. I take inspiration from so many places. Anita Brookner would be my heroine for the way she portrays characters in Hotel Du Lac. Dean Koontz creates tension like no one else. Bernard Cornwell is the Saxon ‘king’ (long live Uhtred!). But I think if I had to choose an overall author it would be Ben Kane. I admire Ben for how he conducts himself as a writer, as much as I admire his writing. He is the kind of writer I aspire to be. He can also write gritty, bloody battle just as well as tender, emotional moments and his novels have a wonderful sense of place through his beautiful descriptions.
What advice would you give to authors just starting out?
Write. Write anything, as often as possible. And read – lots of different things. Always have access to something, basic or technical, on which to note down ideas if you are away from your laptop or notebook. The muse can strike anywhere! Be critical of your own work, because editors and readers certainly will be. You need to be your first and toughest critic. When you have worked on your writing until it’s the best it can be, have one last look. Then you must believe in yourself. Self-doubt is the writer’s worst enemy. Use whatever tools you need to get to this point, be it caffeine, cakes, walks in the woods or late-night alcohol induced sessions at the PC! Lastly, find a writing community – at a local writing group, or an online one. Find lots of other writers of all levels, from those ‘thinking’ about it to those who are published and all the others in-between. Make friends with all of them and support one another. It really is the best thing in the world!