Today we feature 1066 Turned Upside down and an excerpt from contributing author Carol McGrath:
THE DRAGON-TAILED STAR
by Carol McGrath
Harold Godwinson, as Earl of Essex and then Wessex, had taken Edith Swanneck as a common-law wife. By her he had several sons and daughters – all legitimate, for this was a legal marriage, but not one blessed by the Church. Harold set his first wife aside, however, when he became King, for he needed to confirm an alliance with the earls of northern England, and the only way to do so was to take their sister as wife. It must have been hard for his sons and daughters by that first wife to accept the second. Harder still for them to realise that he was now vulnerable to outside threats and maybe even attempted murder… and to the portents that appeared in the April sky…
Thea stared up at the night sky wondering if King Edward dwelled in Heaven, or was he one of the stars that glowed through April’s frosted darkness? She certainly never considered Uncle Edward saintly. He had been stuffy and pious – too devout, surrounding himself with Norman priests, building a new abbey at Westminster, expecting Aunt Edith to be kind and welcoming to his visitors from across the Narrow Sea. Yet, Thea pondered, as she gathered up her thirteen-year-old thoughts, in the end, Uncle Edward had approved of her family and chosen her father, Earl Harold, his brother by marriage, to rule the kingdom after his death. It was a surprise to them all when the dying king expressed his wishes as he had hovered between the world of angels and a darker and very frightening place. She shuddered and hurriedly crossed herself. Surely better for Uncle Edward that he was a star in the night sky, than facing the terrors that lay between Heaven and Hell?
Thea’s father, King Harold, second of that name, had been crowned on the day her Uncle Edward was interred in his new abbey. Even though she was now a princess, this was a mixed blessing. Her father had remarried, taking Aldgyth, the sister of the powerful Northern earls and widow of a king of Wales, as his wife, claiming that marriage with Thea’s mother, his true hand-fasted wife of eighteen years, was not approved by the Church. He told the family that since their union broke the Church rules on consanguinity – they were related at three times removed – he would have to marry the Northern widow to ensure her brothers’ support and to keep the Church on his side.
‘As you know well, there are too many greedy eyes on our kingdom. I must ally with her brothers if I am to protect England,’ he had explained.
After his pronouncement, her father had sent her mother away. He had packed her, Thea, his elder daughter, off to Grandmother Gytha’s household.
Thea stared up at the night sky, bright and star-dusted after several weeks of heavy cloud and cold rain, and wondered if she dared refuse to attend her father’s Easter Court at Westminster. She could not be pleasant to the woman who had usurped her mother, though she still loved the huge, bearded warrior who was her father; a warrior who seemed to her as golden as the sun and gentle as the moon. She had another thought. Her childhood friend, Earl Waltheof, would join her father’s Easter Court…
* * *
The night sky was lit up with stars. A group of monks stood, staring up at a bright new star that had appeared as if summoned by a sorcerer. Some were praying, others were pointing as they clutched each other’s robes. Through the gaps in the pillars, Thea watched some of her father’s attendants also gathering – was that Earl Waltheof amongst them? She shook her head, no, her thoughts were no longer for him. Rather, they had settled firmly upon the importance of her father’s survival and his kingdom. She looked into the sky to the enormous star with a dragon-like tail hovering above the abbey church.
Book Title: 1066 Turned Upside Down
G.K. Holloway, Carol McGrath, Alison Morton, Eliza Redgold, Annie Whitehead
With a foreword by C.C. Humphreys.
Publication Date: 14th September 2021
Publisher: Taw River Press (paperback) Matador/Troubador (e-book)
Page Length: 222 Pages
Genre: Alternative History
Twitter Handles: @HelenHollick @maryanneyarde
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Hashtags: #1066UpsideDown #AlternativeHistory #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub
Book Title and Author Name:
1066 Turned Upside Down
Carol McGrath, Alison Morton, Eliza Redgold, Annie Whitehead
With a foreword by C.C. Humphreys
Have you ever wondered what might have happened if William the Conqueror had been beaten at Hastings in 1066? Or if Harald Hardrada had won at Stamford Bridge? Or if Edward the Confessor had died with an heir ready to take his crown? If so – here is the perfect set of short stories for you.
1066 Turned Upside Down explores a variety of ways in which that momentous year could have played out very differently.
Written by nine well-known authors the stories will take you on a journey through the speculative ‘what ifs?’ of England’s most famous year in history.
“1066 Turned Upside Down is the exemplar for how analytical counterfactual history should be done, combining the best elements of fiction and non-fiction to create an immensely impressive achievement.”
“As a collection, the quality of the writing is exceptional and the variety of possible outcomes presented is truly fascinating.”
“The collection is assembled in such a way that between the ‘alternatives’ are the related facts as they happened, as far as historians and archaeologists know – which still leaves room for these experienced writers’ imaginations.”
“A book I will read and re-read. I heartily recommend it”
“The real joy of a collection of stories like this is, of course, that you are likely to be introduced to writers you may not have come across before.”
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01I1V7G42
Barnes and Noble:
1066 Turned Upside Down is a collection of eleven alternative history short stories of a ‘what if’ nature imagined by nine well-known successful authors:
JOANNA COURTNEY Ever since Joanna sat up in her cot with a book, she’d wanted to be a writer and cut her publication teeth on short stories and serials for the women’s magazines before signing to PanMacmillan in 2014 for her three-book series The Queens of the Conquest about the wives of the men fighting to be King of England in 1066. Her second series, written for Piatkus is Shakespeare’s Queens exploring the real history of three of the bard’s greatest female characters – Lady Macbeth, Ophelia and Cordelia.
Joanna’s fascination with historical writing is in finding the similarities between us and them –with an especial goal to provide a female take on some of the greatest stories we think we know. www.joannacourtney.com
ALISON MORTON writes the award-winning alternative fiction Roma Nova thriller series featuring tough, but compassionate heroines. She blends her deep love of Roman history with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical, adventure and thriller fiction. A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, she started wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women. She has recently branched out into a contemporary crime setting with Double Identity, the first of a planned series.
ANNA BELFRAGE Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy set in 14th century England. Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. His Castilian Hawk – returning to medieval times and her most recent release, The Whirlpools of Time, a time travel romance set against the backdrop of brewing rebellion in the Scottish highlands. Anna has won several awards including various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards. www.annabelfrage.com
ANNIE WHITEHEAD is an historian and prize-winning author. Her main interest in history is the period formerly known as the ‘Dark Ages’. Her first novel, To Be A Queen, is the story of Aethelflaed (daughter of Alfred the Great), who came to be known as the Lady of the Mercians. Alvar the Kingmaker, tells the story of Aelfhere of Mercia, a nobleman in the time of King Edgar. Cometh the Hour goes further back in time to the seventh century, to tell the story of Penda, the last pagan king of Mercia. Annie has twice been a prizewinner in the Mail on Sunday Novel Writing competition, she won first prize for nonfiction in the new Writing Magazine Poetry and Prose competition, and was the inaugural winner of the HWA (Historical Writers’ Association)/Dorothy Dunnett Society Short Story Competition and is now a judge for that same competition.
Annie has had two nonfiction books published. Mercia: The Rise and Fall of a Kingdom (Amberley Books) has been an Amazon #1 Bestseller. Women of Power in Anglo-Saxon England was published by Pen & Sword Books in 2020.
CAROL McGRATH is the author of The Daughters of Hastings Trilogy. Her fifth historical novel, The Silken Rose, first in The Rose Trilogy, published by the Headline Group, is set during the High Middle Ages. It features Ailenor of Provence and was published in 2020. The Damask Rose about Eleanor of Castile was published in 2021. The Stone Rose, Isabella of France, follows in 2022. Carol has also written Historical Non-Fiction for Pen & Sword.
ELIZA REDGOLD is an author and ‘romantic academic’. Her bestselling historical fiction includes her Ladies of Legend trilogy, starting with Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva released internationally by St Martin’s Press, New York. Her historical romances are published by Harlequin Historical, London (Harper Collins). They include Playing the Duke’s Mistress, Enticing Benedict Cole, The Scandalous Suffragette and The Master’s New Governess. They have been translated into multiple languages including Italian, Polish, Czech, Danish and Swedish, and are available internationally.
G.K. HOLLOWAY After graduating from Coventry University with an honours degree in history and politics, he worked in education in and around Bristol, England, where he now lives. After reading a biography about Harold Godwinson, he studied the late Anglo-Saxon era in detail. When he had enough material to weave together facts and fiction he produced his novel. 1066 What Fates Impose, a story of family feuds, court intrigues, assassinations, plotting and scheming, loyalty and love, all ingredients in an epic struggle for the English crown. www.gkholloway.co.uk
HELEN HOLLICK moved from London in 2013 and now lives on a thirteen-acre farm in North Devon, England. Born in London, Helen wrote pony stories as a teenager, moved to science fiction and fantasy, and then discovered the wonder of historical fiction. Published since 1994 with her Arthurian Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, followed by her 1066 era duo. She became a USA Today bestseller with her story of Queen Emma: The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK), and its companion novel, Harold the King (titled I Am the Chosen King in the U.S.A). She also writes the Sea Witch Voyages, a series of pirate-based nautical adventures with a touch of fantasy. Commissioned by Amberley Press she wrote a non-fiction book about pirates in fact, fantasy and fiction and a non-fiction book about smugglers, published by Pen and Sword.
Recently she has ventured into the ‘Cosy Mystery’ genre with her Jan Christopher Mysteries, the first of which is A Mirror Murder. She runs Discovering Diamonds, an independent online review site for Historical Fiction, primarily aimed at showcasing Indie writers.
She occasionally gets time to write. www.helenhollick.net
RICHARD DEE was a Master Mariner and ship’s pilot, now living in Brixham, South Devon. His novels include Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures, as well as the exploits of Andorra Pett, a reluctant amateur detective. www.richarddeescifi.co.uk
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Amazon Author Page: https://viewauthor.at/HelenHollick