Today I’m delighted to welcome K.T. Findlay with a guest post, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the Book
Hurled twelve hundred years into the past, into someone else’s body, things could hardly be worse. And then the body’s owner wanted it back.
Museum curator Thomas and ten year old Anglo Saxon Wulfstan have to cope with a fifty year age gap, a huge culture clash and never knowing from one moment to the next who’s going to be in control.
As they’re trying to come to terms with it all, they inadvertently antagonise Wulfstan’s father, King Offa of Mercia. The King is already frustrated with his son’s “late” development and issues the boy a challenge. Wulfstan is given just a year to find and train ten slaves who can beat the King’s own champions in a fight to the death, but there’s a twist. When his son accepts the challenge, Offa turns the screws to make him back down and limits him to females only. In the brute strength world of Anglo Saxon battle they surely haven’t a chance, but Thomas convinces Wulfstan that if they can find the right women, a few new ideas and lots of training might just give them the edge they need.
In Two Minds is about how two completely different people, thrown together in the tightest possible way, can learn not just to cope, but to excel by using each other’s strengths. It’s also about kicking down doors and giving people a chance. Once they’re free, it’s the women themselves who are the heroes, seizing their opportunities and climbing to the top. But can they make it?
And now for K.T. Findlay’s guest post…
“It was a dark time.”
It’s a common enough phrase that we normally use to mean a period when all was not well, a period perhaps when misery and despair stalked the land. But one of the joys of the English language is that it can mean other things too. Perhaps it was just night and the moon hadn’t come up yet?
The term Dark Ages also has more than one possible meaning, the two most common being our old friend a time of misery and despair, as well as a time we know little about. In terms of Britain, it’s probably a bit of both. The supply of good documentation dried up pretty quickly after the Romans left, and the veneer of what we’d consider today to be civilised behaviour, began to drift away around the same time.
But things change of course. There’s an ever increasing flow of information from archaeological digs, genetic testing and all sorts of other sources which is filling in a lot of the gaps and changing a lot of assumptions. Plus, shifting fashions in the wider world have various people arguing about whether it should really be called the Dark Ages at all. For me as an author, the term Dark Ages still seems appropriate, because it’s not the easiest period to research and be sure of your ground!
Take King Offa of Mercia, perhaps the greatest of the Anglo Saxon kings, and see what Winston Churchill has to say about him. “in studying him, we are like geologists who instead of finding a fossil find only the hollow shape in which a creature of unusual strength and size undoubtedly resided.” In other words, we know as much about him through what we don’t know, what isn’t said, as we do about from specific pieces of evidence. We’re not even certain that he actually built the famous dyke that carries his name today. Well some people feel pretty certain about it, but others don’t… which is rather the point.
If you’re writing a piece of fiction set in this period and you want to get things right, this state of affairs presents a few challenges! Even the professionals are finding that their previously precious theories are being overtaken by new discoveries, so the reality is that there is no definitive “right” to be found. At least not right now. So you do the best you can, and don’t beat yourself up too much when a new discovery changes something down the track.
But for all our uncertainties, it’s a truly fascinating time to look into and that’s why I chose it as the setting for In Two Minds. Here was a king very definitely great, and very definitely flawed. He was every bit as ruthless and determined to secure his powerbase and legacy as Henry the Eighth, violently seizing the crown, and later, having his son Ecgfrith crowned king long before he himself died. But he was also far sighted, seeking alliances abroad, building trade, introducing the penny to Britain, having his wife stamped on some of the coinage (unique for an Anglo Saxon king), and was preparing fortifications against the Vikings before most people realised what a serious threat they actually were. If he’d lived just another couple of years, he might have done enough to stop the raiders later establishing a permanent foothold in the British Isles and that would have changed everything. Not necessarily for the better you understand, just different.
So it was fun to send the soul of a modern museum curator back to that time and set him up to share the body of King Offa’s younger son.
What could you achieve if you went back there yourself? What knowledge would you have that you could turn to your advantage? More importantly, could you do it without upsetting the locals so much that they’d chuck you out, or worse?
That’s In Two Minds, a time travel fantasy where everything’s just as it was, except for a single modern mind, doing what it can to change history.
About the Author
KT Findlay is the author of the Sally Mellors adventures and the Prince Wulfstan books. He lives on a small farm where he fits in his writing alongside fighting the blackberry, and trying to convince the quadbike that killing its rider isn’t a core part of its job description.