NORTHMAN

Well, my friends, the day is getting closer. My debut novel, NORTHMAN, will be released in November. (Update: Now released – see links below) As I promised, you, my blog followers will be the first to get a glimpse. So today I’m posting a few sample chapters so you can have a flavour of the book and see if you might like to read it.

NORTHMAN is a contemporary, supernatural thriller. It’s pretty long at around 140,000 words, but it’s been professionally edited by my lovely editor, Juliet McHugh and it’s as long as it has to be for a densely textured story that involves berserker Vikings, time travel, an ancient  horror, an enduring romance and the future of the world – to name just a few elements!

Here’s a short description:

843 AD. A Viking raid on an Anglo-Saxon village in England sets into motion a train of events that results, 1200 years later, in the release of an ancient evil into the lives of two unsuspecting and damaged people: Kate and Michael. Then the descent into terror begins. Ultimate conflict. Ultimate sacrifice. But more is at stake than their lives, or their love.

The first chapter is told in a style similar to that which would have been used by the skalds or storytellers, in the Norse society of the European “Dark Ages”. Viking culture didn’t have a tradition of written history, so tribal tales were passed on to each generation by the skalds. Our Viking raiders are intent on returning home with tales of heroism to increase their standing in their communities. Of course, gold, horses and women are also required, but like ‘Star Trek’ Klingons, they are quite prepared to die, as long as death occurs honourably in battle.

Their leader, Thorkild, has a different agenda. But then Thorkild is no ordinary Viking.

Anyway, less explanation. Here are the first few chapters of NORTHMAN. The paragraphs are properly indented in the original, but I can’t get them to behave on WordPress and there are spaces between paragraphs. Comments are, as always, welcome. I may post another free chapter in a few days, or so. I hope you like it.

NORTHMAN contains adult content.

NORTHMAN

October, England, 843 AD

Thorkild stood in the prow of the boat and faced the west wind with a feeling of exhilaration. Hoar frost hung in his beard and from the jutting, beaten iron helmet that covered his braided blonde hair. The boat surged forward, impelled by forty oars, smashing against the outgoing tide, driving for the mouth of the river and safety.

Hard hand resting on dragon’s head prow, Thorkild looked down into the water, seeing the curved beak of the longboat slice through the mad white foam, feeling the thrust as if into a woman, the lurch of withdrawal, the next unstoppable thrust. He smiled to himself at the thought: soon Saxon gold, fresh Saxon meat and warm Saxon women.

They would fight as Saxons always fought with traps and guile, not like men, face to face, blood to blood. They would die like Saxons always died: screaming for mercy, clutching their wounds like women in childbirth. His lip twitched in derision. Not like a Northman, dying with the name of the enemy a curse on the lips, hands warm with bowel or brain, axe red, sword wet. Thorkild felt the hilt of his sword, Fjaal, raised bronze runes crusted with salt, knowing the story woven into it, dreaming the next deed, feeling the power of the sword flow through his arm, screaming to his manhood, lusting for the souls of soft flesh.

Then they were in the river, and calm – the longboat gliding through cracking bulrushes, salt slick scarring silent water. The men were quiet, only the dip and creak of oars in water betraying their passage.

And silently came the Saxon arrows, as the last breath of a dying man. Egil died with an arrow in his brain. Ottar fell with five in him, reaching for his sword although dead. Ragnar took two arrows in the throat, spat blood and smiled. Thorkild stood on the prow of the boat and laughed loud, eager for the blood, eating arrows with his eyes.

Then the arrows stopped and the sea-salt marsh was quiet, but for the laughter of Thorkild falling through the air like an axe.

The first village was easy. Fisher folk. They died like cows, children spitted, women split asunder, old men left to cry. No gold. No food. No horses.

The second too, was easy. Young men with plough-scarred hands ran onto swords, leapt for axes biting deep in bone, died in tears. There was food and there were women, and for two days the Northmen ate and fucked. Then they left.

Along the river and deeper into the flatlands the third village was empty.

The fourth was full of dark-haired, hard-eyed warriors, blood rage in their hearts, blue in their beards, gold on their breasts. Not Saxons but Celts. The battle was hard. Thorkild fought a man whose face resembled that of a wet goat and hacked that face off with his sword, taking the gold, claiming the soul to his greedy blade. The ground was thick with blood; air gorged with the smell of it… and as if ice cracked, it was finished.

Thorkild looked at the village, at the gold, at the women, at the dead, and he laughed, his laughter running across frosted grass down to the river red.

******

His second woman that night was good: Hilla, daughter of the slain chieftain, Cenric, whose head now roasted on the spit, along with that of his wife, Godwif. The wife had fought with all her might, but to no avail. Thorkild felt the pleasure course through him as her tongue was stilled by the sweep of his sword through her neck.

Hilla was unlike her mother. She accepted him as a cow the bull; made no murmur as his thrusts threatened to tear her apart, cried not as he twisted her face to him and bit her lip almost in two, but stared at him, her eyes pools of jet as he came, and slid the point of Fjaal in under her chin, in and up behind the black eyes and into the brain.

Her infant cried in its crib, and Thorkild, his sex slack, climbed from the dead woman to look at it. He picked it up with one hand, stroked its face with the flat of his bloodied sword and smiled, remembering Gokstad, home, Thorfinna and the boy. He paused and glanced into the baby’s black eyes.

The eyes stared back at him: the eyes of the Celt, Hilla, foreign and hostile. He trembled slightly and dropped the infant back into its crib, starting back from it with an oath. Then he laughed, picked up the child by a leg, smashed its head against the oak centre post and strode out of the hut, naked and still laughing.

******

Thorkild was buried two days later.

The old man in grey robes had come into the village whilst they were asleep, found Thorkild and covered the warrior’s hands in beech ash. No one else did he touch. But at dawn around the bed of Thorkild there were strange signs – like runes but making no sense – and the ashes.

When Thorkild awoke covered in the wood ash he was annoyed by it and the runes, but mightily angered by the presence of the old man who had not left, but had slept in a corner of the hut. The old man was not angry, though his arms cradled the dead baby of Hilla and his tears had cleansed the baby’s face of blood.

Thorkild stood, naked, as he had slept and reached for his sword, still hard with the blood of Hilla. But the old man did not move. His black eyes just stared at the Northman without hate.

Thorkild raised his arms to strike, Fjaal singing in his hands, but could not. The eyes of the old man bored into him like the hard prow of a longboat, pushing, driving, relentless with mercy, with compassion, forgiveness. Nervously, Thorkild tried to shift his grip on the sword and even this thing he could not do. He glared at his hands clasped around the sword’s hilt. Where his hands had been now was sword. There was no join between forearm and sword, only a continuation flowing from flesh into bronze into hard iron.

He shook his hands to rid himself of the sword, like a dog with fleas, but as he moved the sword moved with him, part of him, forever. He bellowed without pain, but with the father of all angers.

His cry brought running Fálki, brother to his wife, who, believing that Thorkild was under attack, beheaded the old man with a single axe blow and kicked the corpse of the baby out of the door.

The old man’s head lay on the floor, eyes open and mouth working to speak, but soon freezing in the smile of the dead.

******

Thorkild died at sunset, veins stiff with cold iron and dark bronze. They could not bury him in his boat, or burn the boat to send the warrior onward to Valhalla – it was needed for the journey home – though a construction of wood with many similarities to a boat was soon erected and inside it laid the iron-heavy body of Thorkild, together with his axe, shield, a personal amulet of the god, Thor, an intricate, silver Celtic ring that had once belonged to Hilla and the sword Fjaal, from which he would never be separated.

Sentimentally, Fálki laid to rest beside Thorkild the dead body of the infant Celt, explaining his deviation from accepted burial practice with the unlikely reason that the baby was similar to one of Thorkild’s own and that it would be comfort for him on the journey to Valhalla. The truth was that Fálki felt uneasy about the death of the old man, who was obviously some kind of seidhr or shaman, and he did not want the spirit of the dead baby to accompany him on the journey home.

The warrior chieftain was left in the midst of a grassy plain between two low hills. The mound could be seen for five leagues. Fálki was proud. His sister would be happy. The Northmen left, trekking back to the river, elated at the death of a great warrior.

Soon, the earth mound became covered in grass, as the land reclaimed the disturbed soil; oak and beech grew, thin and straggly at first, then stronger, where the soft earth accepted them. Thorkild slept, and beside him the son of Hilla, their bodies growing together in the dissolution of death.

 October, England, 1940 AD

The bomber slid upwards in an ecstatic surge of lightness as the Satan dropped away into blackness from the Heinkel He111.

Lieutenant Karl Maier watched the sky-blue steel casing twinkle once as the fins began to twist the bomb to a vertical position and then it was lost to the night. Another fiery angel to destroy the arrogant British working below in the Rolls-Royce aero engine factory, Karl thought with satisfaction. Derby would soon know how big a hole 1800 kilograms of high explosive could make.

Staring into the darkness he felt a momentary regret for the women and possibly children who would die when the Satan struck. The thought was tempered when he remembered his elder sister Marta and the bomb dropped by an RAF Vickers Wellington that had blown her to nothingness inside her lovely house in Wilhelmshaven.

He forced his mind back to the task in hand. All bombs spent and now home. He glanced down the Zeiss Lotfernrohr 7 bombsight once more and noticed for the first time that the sight seemed to be out of alignment. Puzzled, he opened the catch and saw that the sighting mirror had partially detached itself from its mounting, rendering the sighting graticules useless.

With a rising sense of anxiety, Karl mentally kicked himself for taking the bomb release off automatic in direct defiance of orders. It was pride, stupid pride, no more, no less. He had done the same in the last four raids and each time – he boasted to Lotte, his wife – he had hit the target in a tighter pattern than all the mechanical excellence of the mighty Zeiss Company could accomplish. But not with a Satan, he acknowledged. He glanced to his right where Captain Hartmann appeared to be unaware that anything was wrong.

So where in hell was the bomb?  God in heaven.

Karl did a quick calculation: it would miss the Rolls-Royce factory by four miles. According to the map it would land in a field by the River Trent. No doubt some farmer would have a rude awakening. He peered into the blackness below, imagining the Satan screaming to earth, waiting for the impact, but there was nothing, no explosion, no flash and no sudden blossom of light that would vindicate and eliminate his mistake. Somewhere, down below, a thirteen feet long by two feet diameter steel tube packed with high explosive hurtled to earth, to greet someone’s sister, mother, child, and when it reached the earth it would disassemble all living flesh within a crater over ninety feet in diameter. More importantly Oberst Schumacher would want to know why the Rolls-Royce factory was not rubble. And it might come out that Karl’s great-grandfather was not exactly an Aryan.

Scheisse.

“Fucker was a dud”. Hartmann’s voice on the intercom was impatient. “Let’s go home”.

Karl breathed a sigh of relief. Thank God for Heidelburg graduates: all inbred genes and no brains.

Captain Hartmann swung the nose of the Heinkel around pointing East to Germany and Karl thought of Marta’s little house, with its grey and red shingle and how their mother had cried at the sight of the flattened ruins.

Of Marta there was little remaining: a scrap of flower print cotton brown with blood and a section of a female torso that might have been her or that of Mrs Fischer from next door. Nothing had been the same since. It was impossible to understand how the little girl with hair the colour of fresh straw and a smile that lit up his young life with joy and confidence could be reduced to such insignificance. They buried the fabric, but it was not enough.

Karl felt the tears return and not for the first time his soul fell with the dead bomb into the night.

One minute later it was followed by his burning body, as the South Derby anti-aircraft battery got lucky – due in the main to a new, mechanical computer, the Kerrison Predictor, which tracked aircraft effectively, and much less to the aged three-man crew of plumbers – pumping two 40mm Bofors rounds into the Heinkel’s fuel tanks and blowing Karl and Captain Hartmann through the glazed dome into the unfriendly English air.

He was sure he heard Hartmann say: “Alles hat ein end; nur die wurst hat zwei.” Everything has an end; only the sausage has two.

As he fell, incandescent, more beautiful than he could ever have imagined, there was no pain, rather a feeling of freedom and for some reason he was flying like an eagle or an angel, and there were others with him, laughing and smiling, strange faces he did not know, but knew he had always known.

I am the fiery angelI am the eagle.

He spread his flaming wings to the rushing air with joy.

Ah. So this is it. Not so bad after all.

 ******

In his bed, six-year-old Jacob Cottle heard the sound of the enemy bomber but knew there was nothing to be frightened of; the Germans were after Derby, his dad said and were not interested in the farm.

Listening to the drone, his mind turned to the promised ride – tomorrow morning – on his dad’s brand new Massey Ferguson tractor. His dad said they would Dig For Vicky or something. Maybe Vicky was that old woman who called sometimes with rabbit and potato pies, now that Mum had gone to live in Essex with Grandma. If it was, she didn’t look as if she needed any more potatoes.

He vaguely heard the whistle of the bomb, and at first thought it was the kettle downstairs, but it faded away, and an owl, ghosting past his window hooted, as he drifted off into a deep dream about brown soil and red tractors.

THE COPSE

 Now…

A pall of darkness hung over the sun. Grey-black nimbus: a shroud of smog fighting the spears of light.

On a distant small hill, black, angular shapes like monstrous spiders crawled towards their prey. In the river valley of the Trent, only the creak of old machinery disturbed the copse and its rounded mound of earth. Desiccated oak and beech ringed it: a circle of ancient warriors bent double by the wind, glossy and hard.

Occasionally, ramblers, ignoring the warning signs, would find the copse, pausing to eat sandwiches or drink smoky tea from aluminium flasks, but they did not stay long. Even in summer, oak and beech filtering the burning light, there was a coldness, the sense of a caught breath, a pause in time which killed speech, hollowed it to a whisper, beside the mound, in the copse.

And when they departed – their chatter increasing as their stride lengthened – the coldness remained, but it was not yet for them, the brown, cold earth. Not yet for them.

******

The soldier on the hill knew the target well. One thousand metres, right flank forty degrees, elevation thirty-six degrees.

Even without the antique sight he could have destroyed it in his sleep. The laptop computer – circa 2012 – in his 1942 Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausführung E tank could do it nearly as well, but it was hot inside the Tiger and the exercise was lost to ‘the French’: three shrimp fishermen from St. Ives, with a 1944 American Sherman. The promised parting that evening of the legs of an ancient but willing red-haired Sainsbury’s cashier named Siobhan held more potential for on-the-job fulfilment than that offered by pretending to blow the crap out of a plywood and hardboard Froggie command post.

The only other tank in the Midlands Ironclads Re-enactment Society was a rickety Russian T26, which had last seen action at Stalingrad in World War Two, and was currently sitting, inactive, on top of an adjacent hill, as three elderly men wrestled with the impossibility of replacing a thrown track before nightfall.

As usual, the soldier overrode the tank battle software on his laptop and went for the manual sight. It was against ‘standing orders’, but the Old Harrovian who was in ostensible command of the Tiger had failed to notice. Anyway, stuffing the regulations was common practice amongst the elite of the Queen’s Royal Lancers, men proud of their skills: the gunnery sergeants, one of which he had once been. The regiment was reorganised in 2005 into a reconnaissance role and he, with others, was invited to become another useless ex-serviceman by a grateful government.

The command post stood on a mound of hardened compost representing an anonymous hill outside Berlin. In front of the mound, in direct line of sight, the copse sifted sunlight into its coldness.

The sergeant thought of Siobhan’s long legs and felt a minor stirring.

“Mullins….”

The voice of Commander Blanshard warbled through his headset. “Target sighted…bearing?”

“Forty, thirty-six, sir.”

The sergeant adjusted the primitive sight, ignoring the failsafe light flashing red on his laptop. Thirty-six degrees elevation. He watched the eighty-eight millimetre steel barrel crawl upwards. Should be able to manage substantially more elevation with Siobhan. She was in for a right seeing to, lucky little lady. The Mullins porker – renowned in Barnsley, Benidorm and Munchen-Gladbach as prime meat of a superior order. He smiled without regret. Maybe back in 1974.

He adjusted for the right flank and Robbo, his loader, gave him the thumbs-up.

“Fire!”

_____________________________________

You can buy NORTHMAN here:

UK:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/NORTHMAN-ebook/dp/B00A8G2CIY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353107223&sr=8-1

US:
http://www.amazon.com/NORTHMAN-ebook/dp/B00A8G2CIY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1353136773&sr=1-1&keywords=northman

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About J.D.Hughes

Fiction writer. Supernatural Horror Mystery AND SOON THE SONG. Supernatural Writer of supernatural thrillers, NORTHMAN, AND SOON THE SONG on Amazon and three short stories: BOMBER, ISSUE 49 and THE 500 on Amazon and Smashwords. New novel to be published mid 2018, but on current performance might be posthumously...
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83 Responses to NORTHMAN

  1. K. S. Bowers says:

    WOW! So this is why your blog is so quiet. I am hooked. Very interesting read. I love thrillers and the supernatural aspect is a bonus. The action is there right from the beginning and doesn’t slow. The viking raids were gruesome and the mystery left by the man in grey robes is tantalizing. Chilling. I anxiously await the next chapters. This is going to be a great read!

    Like

  2. J.D.Hughes says:

    Many thanks, K. 🙂 It’s always a trial showing new work of any kind, so I’m glad you’re liking it so far. The novel should be out in early November when the cover artwork is finished.

    Like

  3. Lisa says:

    Northman is stunning JD!! I’ve never read anything like the opening Viking chapter. I was there in the saxon village- incredible! Your descriptions are so vibrant its like watching a movie, really visual, I could see this on the big screen, genuinely. It makes me wonder why I’m writing. I could never get to that standard. If you’re holding any writing classes then put my name down, I want to be able to write like that. Really beautiful prose. Thanks and I want the next chapter!

    Like

  4. J.D.Hughes says:

    I would say ‘aw shucks’ if it were in my vocabulary, Lisa, but it isn’t so I’ll just thank you for your encouragement! I’m so glad you enjoyed the first bit.

    I’ve seen some of your writing and you don’t need any lessons from me, so cut it out and get on with the rest of your novel 🙂 You will never write like me, but you will write like you and that’s where any writer’s strength lies. I’m still waiting for chapter 6 from you, by the way…

    Like

    • Lisa says:

      OK. I’ve cut it out and got on with the rest of my novel, bossyboots! I’m up to Ch10 now so Ive sent ch6 to you so you can murder it. Murder it gently please.

      Like

  5. Stirring stuff, JD, even though it’s not my sort of genre. Very good – made me think about what the Viking raids must have been like, when I haven’t really before. Terrifying.

    (Pedant’s corner: my only niggle is the second paragraph starting with ‘Thorkild’ as well as the first.)

    Like

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Thank you Lexi – your comments are appreciated, particularly as it’s not your genre. The Vikings were a motley assembly of fishermen, famers and pirates and the early raids on Britain were simply for loot. Later raids were better organised and were a prelude to invasion, but the savagery was present in both, as far as biased records tell us.There were no WAGS to watch them, so they behaved abysmally.

      The reason the second paragraph starts with ‘Thorkild’ as well is to do with skald storytelling. The name of the ‘hero’ was oft repeated, partly due to the way Old Norse, as a language, was constructed and partly to curry favour with the ‘hero’ by the skald. My re-use, against modern convention, was a nod to that tradition.

      I hope you’ll read the next few chapters – you may find this (cross) genre has something for you, later on 🙂

      Like

  6. Terry Tyler says:

    This is absolutely terrific, JD. Never mind what bloody genre it is, it’s just very, very good. Easily as good as stuff of its category that sells really really well, and much better than a hell of a lot of it! I really hope I can find the time to read it all sooner rather than later – it’s already bumped up my TBR list. Hope it does as well for you as it deserves to. (I agree with Lexi R about the two Thorkild paras, btw – saying that, I wouldn’t have noticed if she hadn’t pointed it out; I tried to read this as a reader, not a writer/editor!)

    Like

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Too kind, Terry. I’m glad you read it as a reader – I know what a nitpicker you are when in editing mode (quite correctly imo) and happy that you found it readable. The story becomes cross genre later so may not fit Amazon’s algorithms very well and sink without trace.

      My new editor, Juliet, will give me a third opinion on the two Thorkilds – she’s a smiling assassin, but mostly right.

      I’m looking forward to reading about your rock band in DREAM ON, which is on my TBR list. I’m spending too much time on Twitter to actually read anything, but I have my old Vox bass and can still conjure a few what ifs!

      Like

  7. Mark says:

    Hey JD, if your Northman book continues like the first chapters then it’s got to be a best seller. It grabbed me from the start and I don’t usually like anything to do with history. You can put that down to a bald old b..teacher who always gave me detention and made me read the wars of the roses!! Couldnt care less if Thorkild gets mentioned twice this is great stuff!

    Like

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Cheers, Mark, for your comments. Pleased you enjoyed it. I was thinking about using the Wars of the Roses in my next one. Just kidding, but it’s amazing how many people are put off a particular subject area by a less than professional teacher. Anyway, I think you’ll enjoy the rest and even though there’s a bit more history there are no bald Vikings .

      Like

  8. Robin Ingle says:

    J.D., I agree with others here who have said, “Wow!” This is seriously good stuff! I can’t wait to get my hands on the whole book!

    Like

  9. Lene says:

    I love. And not just because of Danish heritage require I be predisposed to like anything with Vikings. Gotta be good stuff with Vikings and this most definitely is. Can’t wait!

    Like

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      With Christmas coming I might be up for a little pillage myself, Lene! Amazon and eBay, I think. Your comments are greatly appreciated and I’m pleased you enjoyed it. Take a look at Robin’s short stories (see previous comment) since you like your Vikings.

      Are you still Twittering? Haven’t seen much of you recently.

      Like

      • Robin Ingle says:

        Lene, I think my Danish heritage also predisposes me to like Vikings — both reading and writing about them! JD’s Northman seems to be more action-adventure, while my two short stories, Tyrker’s Tale and The Hunt, are about Leif Erikson and his ilk of Greenlanders. And I have a novel about 19th century Denmark on the back burner — it will come out one day!

        Like

  10. Lene says:

    JD – been a bit overwhelmed with work and the almost-done-with-rewrites status of my book (sing hallelujah with me!). It pushes social media to the back burner. Also hanging out of FB a bit more, partly for me, partly for work. Miss Twitter though, like it better. Saw someone say that Facebook is like Twitter, but with homework. Yup.

    Robin – Just downloaded Tyrker’s Tale and look forward to reading it! Hope you frontburner the novel soon – I love historical fiction and if it’s also about The Old Country, so much the better!

    Like

  11. Good luck with the release of your book.

    Like

  12. Very well written though I personally don’t like blood and gore. The Vikings were a ruthless lot but living where they did may have had a lot to do with it. From what I’ve read so far it has the makings of a best seller. Good luck J.D.

    Like

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Very good of you to read it despite the blood and gore, Frances and thank you for your comments.

      The Vikings were far more than their popular depiction, but many parts of Scandinavia were hard places from which to extract a living, so they had little choice but to acquire the goods and chattels of others. The fact that they stayed in Britain and integrated with the local tribes, becoming farmers as well as warriors illustrates their true intent. It was from this seafaring base that England became a great maritime nation on which it founded an empire.

      Our Viking, Thorkild, is, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, something more than a simple invader. NORTHMAN is horrific in parts, but hopefully illustrates the eternal war between good and evil on both a visceral and philosophical level. There is more ‘blood and gore’ in the novel, but when the future of humanity is to be decided, and the opponent is an ancient, almost limitless evil, not all can be reasoned argument. 🙂

      Like

  13. Well I have to confess to being disappointed. Not with your writing but because the sample finished so soon. I was looking forward to Thorkild reborn or whatever and posssibly the Grman pilot too. maybe even the baby, after all the celts were a stubborn lot.
    Not a book I’d normally think of reading due to – that dreadful word again- genre, but maybe I could be converted.

    Like

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Sorry about the genre thing, David! If it helps, NORTHMAN does have a philosophical stance for those who care to look. Hopefully, it’s not just a standard supernatural thriller. My editor even said it was a ‘literary horror’. I just wish she’d addded ‘story’ to that description!

      Like

  14. I was enthralled with this sample! I do love anything supernatural and mysterious. I always try to read as a reader when I do my reviews, however since I only review debut authors, many do not go to the lengths to have their work edited and it shows. It is great to read something that is totally placing the reader in the story without glaring errors that throw the reader out of the fiction world and back into the real one. I would love to see more. I have a very extensive queue right now, but I would be interested in reviewing your book on my blog. I would also add a review on Goodreads (since we are friends there) and on Amazon. Let me know if you are interested. I won’t be able to get to it for awhile, but if you don’t mind the wait, I would be happy to do it. I am currently researching and working on my debut novel too. It is a ghost story/historical mystery.

    Like

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      That’s terrific, Rebecca! I’m so pleased you enjoyed the sample and yes, I would like you to review it on your blog. I’ll be in touch. Thank you for your comments and good luck with your story. Sounds like my kind of book!

      Like

  15. jack everett says:

    Your writing in my opinion, is superior to Tim Severin who made his living writing about Vikings. If you haven’t already done so try to get an agent or try to have the ms placed with a top six publisher.
    Please keep me informed as to the book’s progress for although with my old eyes I don’t read many these days I will make a special effort in your case.
    Jack Everett author of The Diamond Seekers

    Like

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      High praise indeed, Jack; thank you! I’ve yet to sail a leather boat, so I suppose I ought to begin building it. Even that feat won’t put me in the same league as Tim Severin, but I thank you for the kindness.

      I had an agent, some years ago, but I thought I would go down the Indie route this time since my agent didn’t actually sell anything for me. I will keep you informed – we are Twitter friends anyway – and thank you for your wonderful words of encouragement.

      Like

  16. wolfecarolyn says:

    This is brilliant and captures you completely from the first sentence! I cannot wait to get this book.
    It is remarkably bold and truly captivating. You can just feel the magic!

    Like

  17. SciFiMagpie says:

    Hurry up and Publish! I want more! I really liked the Viking portions, though the modern stuff was harder to follow for a non-military person. Excellent flow, very cinematic!

    Like

  18. Great stuff, intriguing and well written. Am so snowed under with writing and stuff to read, but will try to make time for this. Shall follow your example and put some tasters on my blog when my new book, Aunt Sally & More is about to be published. Thanks again for some fab writing.

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  19. Hey J.D I am here from Goodreads..it was a great read,looking forward to more 🙂

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  20. Paula Cappa says:

    This looks thrilling. I love supernatural and historical elements. Good luck J.D. I’m going to buy it. All the best.

    Like

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Thank you, Paula – much appreciated! I hope you enjoy it and reviews are always welcome. Well, sometimes. 🙂

      Like

      • Paula Cappa says:

        Thanks! I’m looking forward to your novel and connecting. You’re web site is really outstanding. I’m still learning all this tech stuff and struggling. I’d be happy to review. I’ll give you a head’s up when I write it. Do keep in touch.

        Paula

        Like

      • J.D.Hughes says:

        This is really a standard Worpdress site and I’m not a techie, Paula, but if you want any help with your site, then I’ll do my best . Just ask. I can only get it wrong. 😉

        Like

  21. Wonderful writing and quite an accomplishment. Historical novels are really time consuming, labor intensive to write. My hat is off to you! Wishing you tons of success. Very happy to connect with you. Paulette

    Like

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Very kind of you to say, Paulette; thank you. ‘The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap’ looks like an intriguing read – it’s now on my TBR list.

      Also, I applaud your work with animals, well done! Many years ago as a young promo director, I visited ‘death row’ at my local RSPCA (Royal Society for the Protection of Animals) shelter, for a short documentary I was doing for the Society. I would have taken every one of the dogs home, but I already had two lovely German Shepherds that were eating more and better food than my family, so it wasn’t possible.

      Very happy to connect with you, too. Good luck with both your novel and your work with animals. 🙂

      Like

      • Thank you back J.D. for taking a moment to comment on our fury friends. I’m always grateful for any mention, any ripple, that might help put the idea in someone’s head to help save a life. It’s my passion but I never want to be obnoxious about it and understand what you write, we can only do what we can do. I’m in the same situation. Thank you also for your good luck wish. We all can use that. Big cyber hug to you.

        Like

  22. J.D.Hughes says:

    When puppies are sent back after Christmas because they ‘don’t match the carpet’ or ‘don’t do tricks’ then it deserves a mention. And I always welcome a hug 🙂

    Like

  23. Thanks for dropping by. This looks awesome.

    Like

  24. Paula Cappa says:

    I just finished Northman. This is a riveting debut novel. I’m not one for a lot of violence and even though this has some rather raw scenes, they are written well. The multiple story lines are rich and fast moving. Lots of twists and turns–great fun. The characters breathed on the page and that for me is critical. Northman is a powerful tale and carries the suspense right to the end. Very exciting. All the best, JD. Five stars. Supernatural thrillers are my favorite.

    Like

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      Good to hear from you again, Paula and glad to see you are on the way with a second novel after “Night Sea Journey”, which is on my TBR list.

      Many thanks for your wonderful review of Northman and thanks for reading it. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – I just had my first 2 stars on Amazon UK – but as the reviewer says, ‘It’s a bit like Marmite’, (a British spread made from condensed cow) “You either love it or hate it!”.

      I trust you are now getting to grips with the techie stuff on WordPress?

      Like

      • Paula Cappa says:

        I am getting better with WordPress, JD. One thing is that my weekly blog is the landing page, which is good for the blog but not for the novel. I’ve been advised to make my novel the landing page (static) and the blog posts secondary. But isn’t the point of blogging to establish yourself as a writer/author,  so that readers will also become interested in reading your novels, short stories, etc.? My Tuesday’s Tales of Terror blog is lots of fun for me, and I’m learning so much from reading 19-century master writers. But is my blog sparking readers to poke around (some do) and want to read/buy my novel? No increase in book sales yet. Sometimes I think the only way to get substantial book sales is to do what the publishing houses do …advertise!

        I have a 2-star review on Amazon US. Some Indie book experts say that looks better to readers than all 4- and 5-star reviews since that is a dead giveaway that the reviews are from friends of the author and only friends are buying it. You’re an honest writer getting honest reviews. Consider it a badge of honor!

        ________________________________

        Like

      • J.D.Hughes says:

        I’m not sure that blogging serves any function other than to chat with friends every now and then, Paula. Perhaps if one is a famous name then it is all about marketing, but at this level maybe it’s much more about talking to people with similar interests and helping each other out. My last blog article was months ago, so if it’s marketing I suck!

        I tried the Goodreads advertising and the click through rate was so low it had no discernible effect. I’m sure you know of writers who do the blog tours and pay for publicity and are still downstream of 475,000 on the Kindle lists. Your Tuesday Tales of Terror is a great idea because you are writing and that is the important thing. One day all the work we do now will be either pored over by fans or forgotten and there is no way we can tell which will prevail. Exciting or what?

        Of course, to conform to the model established so well in the history of art that ‘one day’ will probably happen when we’re dead, so maybe it’s not worth worrying about. It could be that hiring a publicist might be a good idea in order to spend more time writing. IF you can find one who’ll work for the glory!

        Like

      • Paula Cappaa says:

        That’s interesting about the click-throughs on Goodreads. You’re the third person I’ve heard that’s disappointed in the low click rate. I did consult with a publicist for $75 (1 hour) and she advised me to do PR releases, banner ads, blogs, twitter, facebook, and Goodreads, and giveaways to promote the book. And I’ve done all except banner ads …which was my next move, but now I’m hearing that banner ads don’t increase sales either. I read a blog where authors are doing book trailers and finding that’s not effective for sales. I guess the big question is, where do readers shop to buy books? It certainly isn’t Twitter or blogs.

        Like

      • J.D.Hughes says:

        I’d heard the same about banner ads. The answer to where do readers shop is easy. Amazon. Next question is how does an author draw attention to their writing? Er…

        Visibility is the key and gaining any kind of visibility in a vast ocean of writing seems a daunting task. My own approach for 2013 is to go local and not try to sell to Guatemala quite so much. Not that I’m trying to sell to anyone with any degree of conviction.

        Twitter is a bit of a mystery. I’ve just had two weeks off tweeting so I could do some research and during that time my books fell off a cliff – even the free ones. So, it would seem that tweeting has some effect, probably because I have no other marketing effort.

        What does all this signify? Not much. Assuming that the book is a well-written, interesting and attention-sustaining piece then one might think it would gain a readership, however small. Talking to other indie authors that would seem to be the case; with the emphasis on small. I don’t think there’s a definitive answer or a single plan that might result in blockbuster sales. What I do believe is that once a writer has gained a few readers and has, perhaps, several titles that readers trust on the stand, then maybe there’s the beginnings of the legendary ‘platform’ marketeers usually mention.

        Sadly, the only platform I know of is in Sheffield railway station, where, as a young fellow, I used to meet girls. I blew it up in my short story BOMBER, so that’s my platform gone, then.

        Like

  25. kennamckinnon says:

    Excellent, JD. Thank you, you’re an excellent writer.

    Like

  26. smnystoriak says:

    This is dark….and ominous…..and very sinister sounding! The Viking portion gave me chills. I love the visual quality of your writing; it paints a complete picture for me. It definitely makes me want to read more… Congrats on a very gripping debut novel!

    Like

  27. J.D.Hughes says:

    Cheers Susan! I appreciate your comments. I had my first one star review and the reviewer said it was graphically horrific in parts and it stayed with her for days. Hopefully, the violence isn’t gratuitous, but she read it to the end, so, in a perverse way I take that as a compliment. I’m a bit sad that she didn’t get more from it, but you can’t win ’em all. 🙂

    Like

    • smnystoriak says:

      I can totally see why the horror would stay with the one star reader. That is my only reservation, myself. I watched Silence of the Lambs when it came out and couldn’t get beyond the psychological creepiness of it. I didn’t sleep for a month…no joke. However…your story in incredibly intriguing! Although I have not read the entire thing, I am curious about the supernatural aspects to it. But I may have to learn all of the spoilers before reading! Hahaha! Best of luck! I am recommending Northman to a friend of mine who loves dark supernatural thrillers. She will devour it, no doubt. (And then she can clue me in a bit before I read it!)

      Like

      • J.D.Hughes says:

        For your peace of mind, Susan, there are one or two very horrific scenes, but most of Northman is concerned with the nature of reality and the persistence of love. There’s also a little humour in it.

        The horror is related to the extent to which evil, in whatever form, is a universal constant and will do whatever is necessary to perpetuate its own survival. At least, that’s what I intended it to be. At bottom, it’s a love story set over 1200 years, but it’s a scary love story!

        Like

      • smnystoriak says:

        I appreciate the info! I really like your insight into this business and writing. And you have great commenters! Do you have any interest in a blog interview? I think it would be a really neat discussion. If not, that’s okay. Just thought I’d ask! Cheers!

        Like

      • J.D.Hughes says:

        Always grateful to the great people who bother to comment on my site – it’s a source of constant amazement to me!

        So far, I’ve not done a blog interview. I, like many of us, have an aversion to talking about myself. It’s not that I’m shy, but could be because I’m English and ehem…mature, so it seems a trifle egotistical to do so. But, never say never; send me the questions and I’ll think about it. Thanks a lot Susan, for thinking of me 🙂

        Like

  28. Paula Cappa says:

    You’re right, JD, that we authors are not always so comfortable talking about ourselves. I have the same feelings but I’m glad I did a couple of blog interviews a few months ago. I’ve got the interviews posted on my website/blog now. I just did a live radio interview which was a little intense for me. I’m not so skilled in describing my stories/characters or speaking about myself (in real time) as a writer. New experience but I think part of the business of being an author. Go for it! Your readers would probably love to get more “inside” info on JD Hughes and Northman. I know I would.

    Like

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      That’s encouraging, Paula; thanks for letting me know your experience 🙂 I’ll pop over and read your interviews right now. FYI, ‘The Dazzling Darkness’ is next in line behind ‘Carpathia’ by Scott Whitmore, which I’m about halfway through. Looking forward to reading yours soon.

      Like

  29. smnystoriak says:

    No worries. My blog is small potatoes compared to yours, although I always hope that I will get more traffic someday…and more commenters! You have a great following! My vision with your interview revolves around navigating the world of self publishing. After commenting back and forth with you, it got me thinking a lot about it, especially since you have had agents as well. I would also like to help you promote your book.

    I follow you on Twitter, so if you would like to direct message me a contact email, I can get some questions together for you. In the US, we have a long weekend due to Memorial day (5 day weekend!!!), so I have plenty of time to do an interview. But again, no pressure! I can certainly understand privacy. As a teacher, I have avoided Facebook like the plague. I have yet to post any photos. And, I’m no spring chicken either!

    Whatever you decide is absolutely fine with me. I hope you have a terrific day!

    Susan

    Like

  30. J.D.Hughes says:

    I regard all of the folks who follow this blog as friends – of course they might not regard me as such, but that doesn’t affect my estimation of them. I’ve learnt so much just from interactions here and on Twitter. Facebook? Like you, I’m a bit wary. It doesn’t seem to have fired me up, mainly because I’ve failed to understand it.

    Quite happy to chat about self-publishing, Susan, but I’m no expert. Expect a DM soon!

    Like

  31. Sandi says:

    Hi! Thanks for following my blog! 🙂

    I saw the links in the notification and the title to this novel and was like… Wait! I bought this! It’s on my TBR for as SOON as I finish my current WIP. Simply because I am trying to stay away from Viking fiction until my own is completed.

    Looking forward to diving in, though. 🙂

    Like

    • J.D.Hughes says:

      My pleasure, Sandi and thanks for getting the book! You are probably wise to keep away from NORTHMAN if you are writing about 8-10 century Norsemen within the context of an exclusively historical work – if that’s what yours is. Although my chaps and their scenarios are as historically accurate as I can get them, the story is not about them, but two contemporary characters, Kate and Michael.

      There is always much discussion about the nature of the ‘Vikings’, but as long as your sources are accurate you can extrapolate many personalities and characteristics without playing them false.

      Good luck with your WIP and I look forward to reading it 🙂

      Like

    • IT’S SUCH A GOOD BOOK. Stuck it on my top ten list last year. Loved it. (I still need to interview you JD!)

      Like

      • J.D.Hughes says:

        Many thanks for your comments, Michelle:) Did you get my DM on Twitter? I attempted an abject apology for not doing the interview – exploding computer, lost files, lack of brain cells… I’d love it if you could send the questions again?

        Like

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