Author of The Winter Siege
Please join me in welcoming historical fiction author D.W. Bradbridge to Books & Benches for a 5 Question Q&A.
“In The Winter Siege Bradbridge holds very close to historical accuracy maintaining historical events, details, and figures while embellishing with a very plausible what-if scenario. It is a risk to create an entirely new storyline within history but The Winter Siege is an absolute success!”
—Closed the Cover
What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?
I spent the last twenty five years of my life editing and publishing business magazines for the tire industry, which, of course, is entirely different style of writing from that required to write a novel. When I decided to write The Winter Siege one of the main motivations was to see how easy I would find it to use the skills I’d picked up over the years in a way I wasn’t used to. I found my experience as a journalist/publisher helpful in terms of planning and structuring the novel. Adapting my writing style became easier the more I wrote. As to whether I managed to overcome this challenge, that, of course, is for the reader to decide!
Do you have to be alone or have quiet to write?
Absolutely, I can do research work when other people are around but I need to have quiet when I’m actually writing so I can immerse myself in the scene. I usually shut myself away in our conservatory which is nice and peaceful and overlooks our back garden.
What type of hero do you like best?
I think it’s important for the main character to be believable. I tried to make Daniel Cheswis a character that people could identify with and want to succeed, but he’s not perfect. He is somewhat reserved, wants to please too many people at times and has some obsessive-compulsive traits. He also compromises himself professionally out of misguided loyalty to one of his friends. I think if the reader can see the flaws in the hero’s character and watch him overcome them that can ultimately make the reader identify closer with the hero.
What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?
The nature of history fascinates me because it consists of a series of eye-witness accounts of events related by people who may be biased in their viewpoint or have political agendas of their own. After a while these eye-witness accounts can become the accepted truth. For example, can we really be sure that King Harold was shot in the eye at the Battle of Hastings or do we just believe that because of the Bayeux Tapestry? Was Richard III really a ruthless tyrant or did he get an undeserved bad press due to the Tudor propaganda machine? I think history creates myriad opportunities for the novelist to create scenarios that challenge the reader’s accepted view of history.
What is your favorite scene in The Winter Siege?
I enjoyed writing the Beeston Castle scene because it allowed me to run away with my imagination a little. The idea that nine men can break into an apparently impregnable castle by climbing up a sheer rock face in the middle of a winter’s night and then overcome the inhabitants is a gripping story, and one which really happened, although history does not tell us exactly how they managed it, and whether treachery was involved. One of the things I enjoyed most about writing the book was being to take real events and portray them in detail, whilst simultaneously offering an alternative view of what might, or could have happened. The reader’s task is to work out what is real history and what is fiction.
D.W. Bradbridge was born in 1960 and grew up in Bolton. He has lived in Crewe, Cheshire since 2000, where he and his wife run a small magazine publishing business for the automotive industry.
“The inspiration for The Winter Siege came from a long-standing interest in genealogy and local history. My research led me to the realisation that the experience endured by the people of Nantwich during December and January 1643-44 was a story worth telling. I also realised that the closed, tension-filled environment of the month-long siege provided the ideal setting for a crime novel.
“History is a fascinating tool for the novelist. It consists only of what is remembered and written down, and contemporary accounts are often written by those who have their own stories to tell. But what about those stories which were forgotten and became lost in the mists of time?
“In writing The Winter Siege, my aim was to take the framework of real history and fill in the gaps with a story of what could, or might have happened. Is it history or fiction? It’s for the reader to decide.”
The Winter Siege
“have a love-hate relationship with historic fiction that focuses on the common man, but I seem to have lucked out D.W. Bradbridge's The Winter Siege. Meticulously detailed and wonderfully atmospheric, this convoluted murder mystery was simply impossible to put down.”
1643. The armies of King Charles I and Parliament clash in the streets and fields of England, threatening to tear the country apart, as winter closes in around the parliamentary stronghold of Nantwich. The royalists have pillaged the town before, and now, they are returning. But even with weeks to prepare before the Civil War is once more at its gates, that doesn’t mean the people of Nantwich are safe.
While the garrison of soldiers commanded by Colonel George Booth stand guard, the town’s residents wait, eyeing the outside world with unease, unaware that they face a deadly threat from within. Townspeople are being murdered – the red sashes of the royalists left on the bodies marking them as traitors to the parliamentary cause.
When the first dead man is found, his skull caved in with a rock, fingers start being pointed, and old hatreds rise to the surface. It falls to Constable Daniel Cheswis to contain the bloodshed, deputising his friend, Alexander Clowes, to help him in his investigations, carried out with the eyes of both armies on his back. And they are not the only ones watching him.
He is surrounded by enemies, and between preparing for the imminent battle, watching over his family, being reunited with his long-lost sweetheart, and trying, somehow, to stay in business, he barely has time to solve a murder.
With few clues and the constant distraction of war, can Cheswis protect the people of Nantwich? And which among them need protecting? Whether they are old friends or troubled family, in these treacherous times, everyone’s a traitor, in war, law, or love.
When the Winter Siege is through, who will be among the bodies?
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Electric Reads
Formats: Paperback, E-Book
Genre: Historical Fiction