I have the very great pleasure to turn my blog over to Helen Hollick for her Stepping Back into Saxon England book tour stop.
Helen is here to talk about anthologies, which are the hottest thing in publishing these days. Her work spans from the Arthur Pendragon era, through the Norman invasion to the Golden Age of Piracy. Today, she’ll be drawing from her experience with the #althist anthology 1066 Turned Upside Down to give us the inside scoop on anthologies–as well as give you a little spoiler. Read on!
An Anthology of Authors, by Helen Hollick
Would ‘An Anthology of Authors’ be a suitable collective noun for a group of like-minded writers, I wonder?
Anthologies of short stories written by a variety of authors, usually with a common theme for each story, are very popular at the moment. They serve two main purposes: to entertain, and to bring new authors to the attention of readers who have not yet come across them. So, it’s a win-win for writer and reader.
Producing an anthology isn’t quite as simple as it sounds, though. First, a collection of suitable authors has to be, well, collected. Then a theme decided, a title, minimum/maximum length of each story. How to publish it? E-book only or paperback as well? (Most of these type of books are indie or self-published; traditional publishing houses do not seem to have grasped the advantage of anthologies of stories written by several authors).
I am currently involved in a new venture of an historical fiction anthology, which is exciting but is still a little ‘under wraps’ as the book, with stories by some very good authors indeed, is not yet ready to be released into the wide, wild, world of fiction. (With one of those authors being mine host, Cryssa!) I can give a hint that it is to be called Betrayal and each story takes the reader along through the centuries, with various interpretations of the key word, ‘betrayal’. My contribution is a story about the pirates Anne Bonny and Calico Jack Rackham – and my own fictional pirate, Captain Jesamiah Acorne from my ‘Sea Witch Voyages’ gets a guest appearance. (Which was great fun to write!)
The other anthology I can lay claim to is 1066 Turned Upside Down, with the title being fairly self-explanatory when I reveal that this collection is a set of alternative stories taking the reader through that tumultuous year, 1066, which featured the event that changed English history forever – the Battle of Hastings.
What if nine authors got together to let their imaginations fly on a theme of ‘what if?’?
I jumped at the chance to be included, as did several other historical fiction – and even more relevant, ‘Saxon’ – authors: Annie Whitehead, Joanna Courtney, G.K. Holloway, Eliza Redgold and Carol McGrath.
In addition, we invited three other authors to join us, authors who could bring a different perspective to some alternative versions of history. Alison Morton writes modern-day Ancient Roman-based thrillers, Anna Belfrage creates 17th Century time-slip adventures with Alexandra and Matthew Graham, and Richard Dee concentrates on science fiction. So, a motley crew with very different ideas about what to contribute to a well-known historical subject.
Each author was to be responsible for arranging professional editing for their own story, and we discussed whether to keep the spelling of characters’ names consistent, or leave each author to their own preference. In the end, we decided on the latter to reflect each distinctive and individual style. Collaboration with such a project requires everyone to be open to new ideas, generous with input and to focus on the objective – to produce a professional and entertaining, darn good read.
It was great fun exploring the ‘what ifs’. What if Harold II had won at Hastings that day on the 14th October, 1066? What if his other adversary, Harold Hardrada of Norway had won the day at that other battle that year at Stamford Bridge? Or what if Harold had not become King of England in the first place – or Duke William had met defeat at sea while attempting to cross the English Channel?
Maybe Anna Belfrage’s characters, or Alison Morton’s Roma Novans had stopped the Normans in their tracks? Perhaps there had been an attempt on Harold’s life, or William was eventually defeated as he tried to enter London later in the year? Could someone have gone back in time to alter things? And maybe, there was a different meaning behind the embroidered scenes on what is known, now, as the Bayeux Tapestry?
We were all delighted that writer and actor, C.C. Humphreys, gave us an inspiring foreword, and the icing on the cake was Cathy Helms of www.avalongraphics.org producing an eye-catching, and subsequently award-winning, cover. We hoped that we would be onto a winner for the book overall. That was back in 2016. Since then, our little anthology of ‘what if’ short stories for the year 1066 has done very well. Very well indeed.
© Helen Hollick
1066 Turned Upside Down |Available now from Amazon.
Authors: Helen Hollick, Joanna Courtney, Alison Morton, Anna Belfrage, Annie Whitehead, Carol McGrath, Eliza Redgold, G.K. Holloway, Richard Dee. Forward by C.C. Humphreys
Check out my interview with the authors in Spotlight: 1066 Turned Upside Down.
Be sure to FOLLOW THE TOUR.
Helen Hollick is the author of Harold the King (UK edition title) / I am the Chosen King (U.S edition title), the story of the events that led to the 1066 Battle of Hastings.
Check out more of Helen’s books through her Amazon Author Page. For more information about her work, visit her Website and Blog. Connect with Helen through Twitter @HelenHollick and subscribe to her Newsletter.