"The blade sheared through padding, collar bone, ribs, and came out the other side. Head, arm and shoulder thudded to the ground. The remainder of the corpse still stood, sheared torso like a bucket of steaming offal." -England AD 1454, the chaotic eve of the Wars of the Roses.
Jack Rose would rather be a scholar than a knight. However, when a brutal landowner steals his family estates and plans to evict the tenants, Jack must take up the sword and win back his inheritance by force of arms. As he wades through increasingly lethal encounters, it becomes clear that War is in his blood. Now he must decide who he really is…-An Excerpt from "The Sword is Mightier."
Recently I came across a person who, with the voice of authority commented on several post at the Facebook home of Modern Medievalist. Which led to several conversations over the following weeks and months. It turns out this person was my future friend M. Harold Page. Known to me as Martin. Apparently there is another writer by the name of Martin Page... I was pleasantly surprised to learn he was into a lot of the things both topical and historical I find fascinating. He is also someone who is hard to nail down long enough to hold a conversation, because it seems he has more than one iron in the fire at any given time. Ony after much persuasion was I able to get him to sit still long enough and have a conversation with me. Enjoy!
Q: Who is M. Harold Page?
A: I'm Scottish-based 40-something swordsman, father and writer. As a youth, I dropped out of an Engineering degree in order to study Classics and Medieval History. I also fronted a rock and roll band and can still hammer out boogie-woogie on the piano. These days, my hobby time goes on teaching and fighting German Longsword at Edinburgh's Dawn Duellist Society.
Q: What part of the world do you live in and how does this affect your writing.
A: Scotland. It's a place where you can not move for History. Seriously, if I climb on the roof of my tenement, I can see two castles, one dating to the 14th century, the other to Roman times. Growing up here gave me a sense of the past and present being real, and that infuses my all my work
Q: What have been the biggest literary influences on your writing? And when did you decide to seriously begin the process of becoming a writer?
A: I grew up reading Rosemary Sutcliffe and a similar but more muscular Young Adult writer called Ronald Welch. Later I discovered Robert E Howard, Leigh Bracket and Edgar Rice Burroughs. However the finishing school for me as a writer was discovering Harold Lamb who really knew how to write a historical adventure. When did I choose? I've always written. However, round about the birth of my son, I realized it was now or never. Time to stop tinkering and get on with it. That was nearly a decade ago.
Q: What was the biggest support mechanism you have developed? Meaning friends, fellow writers and or family?
A: Family is my foundation. However I'm lucky enough to belong to a community of professional writers and creatives based in Edinburgh. Monthly coffee with my peers has kept me from leaning on my family too much.
Q: Research. How important is it to your writing and how much do you do it yourself or do have a loose affiliation of Researchers who gleam the dusty shelves of University Libraries?
A: I've spent most of it my life wallowing in history, and I do my own martial arts historical research (and have the scars to prove it). However, sometimes I come up against the need for "boots on the ground" details to do with customs, laws and mentality. For these I shamelessly tap my living history and academic friends, who I am always careful to credit.
Q: You are a practitioner of medieval sword fighting techniques; which use not just the point and blade but the pommel, grappling and throws. How has this influenced your description of scenes you write about concerning combat?
A: I've been lucky enough not to see anything like actual combat, and am always aware that this is a different neurochemical and moral experience. That said, being able to handle a longsword, and having some knowledge of other arts lets me write realistic combat scenes. I do not burden my descriptions with technical terms, but most students of the sword would know exactly what was going on.
Q: For Those Who Might want to know, do you own your own suit of armor? (Harness is a better historical term.)
A: A rather battered Northern European harness languishes in my hall cupboard. We don't fight in armour at my club, and I'm too busy with family to go to re-enactment events at the weekend, though I have fond and formative memories of these.
|M. Harold Page at his Club.|
(c) Malcolm Matthew.
Q: What has been one of the more interesting or surprising facts from history you have uncovered in your writing?
A: I love finding moments of personal bravery that would make a Frazetta illustration. I was thrilled to read that a single knight held the bridge at Castle Kerak, fending off the Saracens while the garrison got organized. The most surprising; Vikings abandoned trial by combat well before the rest of Europe did.
Q: Your current book is a tie-in, with what universe?
A: The "Sword is Mightier" ties into the game War of the Roses. This is a multi-player online combat game by Paradox Interactive, in which players get to fight on one or the other side in the War of the Roses, with realistic armour and weapons. I had a tremendous creative freedom because War of the Roses itself does not have a story line, so the brief was create an action adventure story set in the Wars of the Roses. I opted for hitting the ground just before it started in the aftermath of the English defeat in the Hundred Years War. I also have a Foreworld SideQuest coming out soon.
On a personal note: I am a life long fan of sword fighting bloody adventure. I am heartily glad to see the genre very much alive and kicking, screaming, and fighting! Thank you M. Harold Page for your time. I am eagerly awaiting your next set of adventures!
Here are links, to M. Harold Page's Blogs:
Black Gate SF Magazine:
Amazon.com's authors page:
Paradox Books Author's Page where you can order directly from the publisher:
Paradox Interactive Portal for the War of the Roses Game: