I'm certain that the title 'Dragon of Outremer', both in terms of this blog and the series of novels it is planned to support, will probably be inspiring feelings of fear in any prospective readers, thoughts of some disastrous Sci-Fi Channel movie featuring dubious CGI and historical inaccuracy set to make anyone who has ever read a book on the Crusader Kingdoms wince. (And yes, there is a movie called 'Dragon Crusaders'. I even picked up a copy – at some point, based on the title of this blog, I'm going to have to watch and review it. Fear for me.)
For a few years now, I've been working as a science-fiction writer, have written more than thirty novels, but for a while, I've been wanting to break into historical fiction as well. About a year and a half ago, I actually completed a short piece, set in the County of Edessa in 1110, but I realized it wasn't quite what I had been hoping to do, and the pressure of other work forced me to draw back on the project for a while.
At the same time, I've been getting a lot of local inspiration as well; I live in the middle of the old Welsh Marches, and my family has a bit of history in this region, and wandering around some of the ruined castles and abbeys has given me the urge to work in that period as well, and recently I got quite far in a series concept based during the time of Edward I's invasion of Wales, the fighting and intrigue on the borderlands that preceded that event.
Neither concept really working, it was only recently that I decided to combine the two ideas, and at last, a few months ago, 'Dragon of Outremer' was born, the saga of a Welsh nobleman taking the cross, making his way in the Holy Land, while…well, that would be telling, and I have no intention of providing any spoilers here! Nevertheless, now that I am seriously pushing on this concept once again, with a targeted release date for the first in the series in December of this year, I decided that I needed some online presence, and this blog was the obvious result!
Given my surroundings, using Medieval Wales is an obvious touch (and I must admit the title 'Dragon of Outremer' appealed to me as well as a good name for the series, though I'll still have to come up with strong individual names for each book – always my most difficult challenge) but as for the Crusades, well, I've always been attracted to times when different cultures collide, and the era of the Crusades is one of the best examples of that – European, Islam, Byzantine, a dozen smaller peoples crashing into each other, creating one of the most fascinating periods in history, and naturally a time that still has immense relevance today.
And of course, there are the works of Robert E. Howard and Harold Lamb, some of the legendary pulp adventure writers who savoured this period, books I still turn back to today, and works that I confess have inspired me more than anything else to delve into this period. (I suppose Runciman, as well, but I'll be getting to that in a future blog post, so I'll leave that for here.) I'll be talking about them, and some of the lesser known writers of this period on this blog – as well as more recent works that have attracted my interest, those I have already read and those awaiting attention on my Kindle as I speak!
Those of you who have followed my other blog over the years will probably roll their eyes when I state that I intend to post here frequently, but I do intend to actually use this blog, and with a better schedule than once or twice a month; a minimum of two posts a week is the current plan, and as I approach the final stages of what might be called the pre-production process, with about eight weeks remaining as I write this before work will begin on my first draft. I've got a lot of reading to do in that period, as well as several places I want to visit to get the feel of the world as closely as I can. (Current events might prohibit my visiting locations in the Middle East, but I can certainly look at the sites in Wales I wish to use for the books.) All of that should make some good material for the blog as well, both book reviews and little tours of the sites I intend to visit – as well as a few other local locations that might be of interest. I've got a new digital camera and plan on getting good use out of it!