Today it is a pleasure to welcome Kevin Heads to the blog, to introduce us to Michael Saxon, his new hero for children aged 10 and above.
Kevin Heads is a writer and poet who has a love of Historical Fiction. He classes himself more as a storyteller than a writer, and likes his stories to reflect that approach.
Born in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in 1962, he grew up in Cramlington Northumberland, and after leaving school with no idea what he wanted to do, ended up as an apprentice box maker in a carton-manufacturing firm.
Kevin met his wife Sue at High School and after they married they had two children Sam and Stephanie. This is where Kevins’ love of storytelling began. Tired of reading the same books to his children, he started inventing characters and stories to entertain his children at bedtime. His children loved them and still remember them fondly. He never wrote these stories down as they were only for his children and he never took them seriously.
After moving around the country several times throughout his career Kevin ended up in Selby North Yorkshire. Surrounded by history he often spends time in Selby Abbey, York and walking the local battlefields, Towton being a particular favourite. However it was on a trip back from Devon that Kevin had the idea of a series of historical fiction books aimed at the younger generation.
Michael Saxon was born and by the time Kevin had driven home the first few chapters were already formulated in his mind.
Kevin is an avid reader and Bernard Cornwell is one of his favourite authors. He has read all the books apart from the Sharpe series citing Shaun Beans’ portrayal in the T.V adaptation as the reason. He loved the series and watched them all with his son and that is a memory he doesn’t want to change by reading the books.
It is Sharpe that made him decide that Waterloo would be the first setting for his Michael Saxon series specifically The Chateau d’Hougoumont.
Where it goes from there we will have to wait and see, although it is possible that a great naval battle may be next in line.
Kevin has also written an adult book set in Norway around 870AD and this is currently being edited. He plans to make Helga a series also.
He has several other ideas moving forward, he would like to visit 1066 and also has plans for a story based around the battle of Towton.
Although history plays a big part in these stories, it is the characters that Kevin wants people to engage with. Without them there is no story.
Michael Saxon Waterloo
After Michael’s grandfather goes missing presumed dead, his family moves from the city into the country home that was left to his mother in his grandfathers’ will. Michael struggles to fit in and hates the country life. He is failing at school and has no friends; spending most of his time playing video games in his bedroom. Then, after his Great Aunt visits from Whitby, things dramatically change.
She tells him of the library in the attic that is full of historical books, and gives him the key to look for himself. This is no ordinary attic and when Michael takes a book about Waterloo from the dust-covered shelves and attempts to leave, he is immediately transported through time and history to the Chateau d’Hougoumont.
Now dressed, as a soldier in the Coldstream Guards, Michael has to find a way to navigate the battlefield and find his way home. With no experience of real warfare he must depend on others to help him fight and survive in one of the biggest battles in British History.
This is the debut book by author Kevin Heads and the first in a series.
Aimed at 10 years plus it is a gentle introduction into the world of Historical fiction
You can also find Kevin and his books on his website. http://www.kevinheads.co.uk, where he blogs about his stories and his poetry.
The characters, fact or fiction:
The best part of writing a book is learning new things, and intertwining the story around actual facts and characters.
In Michael Saxon there is a fair amount of creative invention, yet the facts surrounding the battle at Hougoumont remain accurate as far as I can ascertain from historical sources.
Most of the main characters are fictional as we enter the gates of the Chateau. Angus, Jimmy, Alec and Helena all created and liberties were taken with Helena as there is no evidence that Major Hunter, the surgeon in Hougoumont, actually had a daughter at all, and even if he did then she was definitely not at the battle.
Cartwright is my invention and was the most fun to write, a wicked man who was only interested in self-preservation. Although fictional I imagine there was a few like him in the army at that time.
Other characters were real.
Sergeant Graham for one was instrumental in the closing of the north gate during the battle.
Lt – Colonel Charles Dashwood was also a real person also and in charge of the third guards that defended the orchard.
Lieutenant Colonel James MacDonnell was in charge of the whole garrison, although his speech in this story is purely fictional.
Major Hunter also real and indeed a surgeon in Hougoumont.
Corporal Brewster was also a fact, although he may well have been a Private at the time. His intervention during the battle was said to have helped save the day and he was decorated for his actions and bravery.
The one that interests me the most was the French drummer boy that was rumoured to be the only survivor of the French troops that managed to get through the north gate before it was closed.
Although I could find no official proof that this actually happened, the fact it is rumoured was enough for me to include it in my book.
I named him Philip as the name transcends both the French and English language.
I hope this gives you some incite into the history and characters written about in my book and urges you to read more about the people and places from our historical past. History is such a great subject and our past should never be forgotten.
Ladies of Magna Carta: Women of Influence in Thirteenth Century England will be released in the UK on 30 May 2020 and is now available for pre-order from Pen & Sword, Amazon UK and from Book Depository worldwide. It will be released in the US on 2 September and is available for pre-order from Amazon US.
Also by Sharon Bennett Connolly:
Silk and the Sword: The Women of the Norman Conquest traces the fortunes of the women who had a significant role to play in the momentous events of 1066. Available now from Amazon UK, Amberley Publishing, Book Depository and Amazon US.
Heroines of the Medieval World tells the stories of some of the most remarkable women from Medieval history, from Eleanor of Aquitaine to Julian of Norwich. Available now from Amberley Publishing and Amazon UK, Amazon US and Book Depository.
©2020 Sharon Bennett Connolly