Thursday, June 15, 2023

Join The Coffee Pot Book Club in conversation with J R Tomlin, author of the bestselling Archibald the Grim Series #ScottishHistoricalFiction #BlogTour @TomlinJeanne @cathiedunn

Archibald the Grim Series

The Douglas Bastard
Trust and Treason
A Time for War

by J R Tomlin

Publication Date: April 26th, 2022
Publisher: J R Tomlin
Pages: 185
Genre: Historical Fiction / Scottish Historical Fiction

Young Archibald, the Black Douglas’s bastard son, returns from exile to a Scotland ravaged by war. The war-hardened Knight of Liddesdale will teach him what he must learn. 

And with danger on every side, he must learn to sleep with one eye open and a claymore in his hand because even their closest ally may betray them...

Before we begin, please introduce yourself.

Having lived for a time in Scotland and having a Scottish father, it is not surprising that I write about Scotland. I studied medieval Scottish history at university, but finding that a less than useful degree for finding a job, I started out writing for small publications and later as a newspaper journalist. I switched to writing fiction about twenty years ago, heavily influenced by my Scottish background. Lucky for me, that was about the time that independent publishing took off, so I have never looked back.

Could you tell us a little about your series and what inspired you to set your novels during this period in history?

Medieval Scotland is the period and place I know the most about, so that certainly is part of the reason, and it is so full of good stories that it begs to be written about. Most who write about the period seem to get stuck on William Wallace or Robert the Bruce, but there is so much more there.

When researching this era, did you come upon any unexpected surprises?

Sure. One was when Thomas Randolph was taken prisoner by the Black Douglas and dragged before King Robert as a traitor instead of apologizing or begging for mercy, instead insulted the king to his face, calling him a brigand. And he lived to tell the tale.

Another is the huge part that Andrew de Moray played in the early days of the First Scottish War of Independence. He was, at least until recently, totally ignored in favour of William Wallace. By the Battle of Stirling Bridge, he had taken back much of Scotland above the Firth of Forth and was probably responsible for the strategy at that battle.

What do you think is the most challenging aspect of writing Historical Fiction during this era?

It is really tough at times to unravel myth from history. You have to manage to look at the great heroes as people instead of great heroes. That is not easy.

Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?

I am obviously very fond of Black Archibald Douglas. Going from someone "no one thought much of because he was a bastard" to the most powerful man in Scotland was a pretty amazing feat. But I must admit, in this series, I have had a particular fondness for William Ramsay. The true story told by Jean Froissart in his Chronicles of how he managed to trick the English into letting Archie go for only a few silver in ransom shows a wily and humorous side of a patriot that you don't often see and was the basis of my portrayal of him.

Could you tell us a little about your next writing project?

My next project will be set earlier in Scottish history around the time of the reign of King Malcolm III. That was when England was overrun by the Normans, English society was turned on its head, and Malcolm, who had close ties to the Anglo-Saxons of England, had to aid his friends and keep the Normans at bay.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.

It was my pleasure.

The Douglas Bastard

Archibald The Grim Series

J R Tomlin

J R Tomlin is the author of twenty historical novels.

Her historical novels are mainly set in Scotland. You can trace her love of that nation to the stories of Robert the Bruce and the Black Douglas that her grandmother read her when she was small and to her hillwalking through the Scottish Cairngorms where the granite mountains have a gorgeous red glow under the setting sun.

In addition to having lived in Scotland, she has traveled in the US, mainland Europe and the Pacific Rim. She now lives in Oregon.

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