Another World for Book Day

20-logo-right-downNothing makes world book day better than discovering a new fantasy world to live in for a while. As part of World Book Day’s 20th year, we are introducing you into a captivating world of adventure and fantasy.

The Woodland Realm Comes Alive

Heirs to the Kingdom (HTTK) is described by author, Robin John Morgan, was one of those ideas that grew into an obsession. What started as a side project to occupy the author as a mixture of hobby and simply something to help pass the time in his quiet hours as a single parent, raising his daughter alone, grew over a period of twenty years into a filing cabinet stuffed to the brim with notes, sketches and diagrams, of the many ideas he connected to what we now know as his central characters of Robbie and Runestone. In 2006 during a spring clean, he made the decision to sort through all of his material and rather than have a cabinet stuffed with paper, he thought it would make more sense to sort it out and transfer it all on to his computer.

bowmanfrontWhat followed was a year of copying down all his notes of what had become a fantasy existence for his two central characters who lived in the year of 2038 and beyond. Having completed the task of getting everything on the computer in a rough sequence, Robin decided to use his free time to slowly put it all into an order than would create a timeline, and show an alternative way of life in his make believe world, and Heirs to the Kingdom, the fantasy series of books was born.

What began back in 2007 as the writing of one continuous story, should find its completion this year with the final book of the series, after ten years of constant writing back to back books. His series of stories all based around his two characters and their friends and family is based around two central ideas. The first being his love of old tales from the past, which always state the hero will rise up again to return and save the day, and his second idea of what would happen if the world was struck with a catastrophic disaster that wiped out the larger percentage of the population? With nature back in charge and small groups rebuilding their communities the basic premise of the story is set, and into the mix his two teenage lead characters are placed.

HTTK begins on New Year’s Day 2038 in the snow, and as Robbie one of the central characters rises to his daily duties on the farm, he faced with the monotony of his dull life. What he thinks is a boring isolated town in the middle of nowhere is far from the truth, and as the story starts to unfold, we start to learn of sinister figure in the south, Mason Knox, who claims to be a descendant to the line of the one true King Arthur.  The country is recovering from the deadly virus that killed most of the population, and the survivors are slowly trying to rebuild from scratch a life based on what surrounds them in the wild natural world that has swept over the destroyed remains of the once era of Modern Man. But it appears our sinister figure in the south has the idea that he alone has the duty to rebuild the world back to his view of things, and so begins the separation of the people and a struggle to fight to protect the lives they have built.

carnacfrontThis is a series that develops into a full and fascinating struggle between two ideas of how the world should be, mixed with a blend of fantastic characters. When our lead hero’s companions reveal that they have some odd and mysterious powers, the story starts to twist and turn into an adventure of fantasy, built on the foundation of a very realistic way of living away from modern life as we know it, and what is seen as the Woodland realm really does come to life with some fantastic and very well thought out and insightful writing. This is without doubt a gripping adventure fantasy series that has all of the everyday aspects of life mixed with fantasy in a way that really does draw the reader into Robin’s make believe world. It feels very real and timeless, and has many moments that have you caught within pages unable to put the books down. It is thought provoking and emotional, as well as action packed with a thread of humour throughout its core that draws you deeper and deeper into this wonderfully written tale. 2017 should see the final part of this slice of life fantasy adventure story reach its final conclusion, and so now is the perfect time to get the first book and walk into a superb fantasy adventure and enjoy a year of thrills, tears, and laughter whilst fighting for survival.

These are all good reads with a high word count that makes for an immersive reading experience, they are written in an easy to follow style, which will draw you quickly into the story and captivate your imagination. The books are available now and entitled:

dunnottarfrontBook One – The Bowman of Loxley

Book Two – The Lost Sword of Carnac

Book Three – The Darkness of Dunnottar

Book Four – Queen of the Violet Isle

Book Five – Crystals of the Mirrored Waters

Book Six – Last Arrow of the Woodland Realm

Book Seven – The Bridge of Sequana.

Book Eight the final book in the series should be out later this year and will be entitled, The Ravens of Berengar.

Update with crumble at VCP.

Its been a very busy couple of years for VCP, their transformation back at the end of 2013, from just a promotion vehicle of Heirs to the Kingdom into a publishing company has taken a huge amount of work. Last month saw them produce their seventh book, which was a children’s book, and we took some time with Robin to chat about his experience’s this year now he has settled into his role as Editor and Writer.

Crumble's Adventures by Mike Beale. Illustrated by Maureen Fayle ISBN 978-1-910299-06-7

Crumble’s Adventures by Mike Beale. Illustrated by Maureen Fayle ISBN 978-1-910299-06-7

You have a new book out, and it is for children, which is something very different from the fantasy adventure books you write, how does that fit in with the VCP statement of looking for high quality Fiction?

He smiles. It is, and I feel it fits in very well, there is no rule that I am aware of that states Fantasy/Sci fi or Adventure genres are not for children as well. I actually think that using fiction is the very best way to expand the wonder of the world for children, I mean look at the classics such as Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland, I read them as a child, and still do today to my own children, so why not a tale of a little dog called Crumble, especially considering, that the story is based on the real life observations of the authors dog, with a lovely fantasy twist.

So how does a post apocalyptic writer go about selecting what is indeed a beautifully illustrated book about a small dog who appears to be homeless with no friends ?

To be honest it was a member of the family who recommended Mike to us, he contacted us and gave us an idea of what he had, and we asked him for samples of the work so that we could look at it. I think what caught my attention first was the artwork, as soon as I saw it, I felt a strong sense of my own experiences from childhood and the wonderfully illustrated pictures of that time. I then read through the sample few chapters we had, and I felt it fitted in well with my own personal view of what the story should reflect.

So you examined the manuscript and then from that you make the decision. You say your own personal view can you elaborate on that?

Well I must admit I do have a very broad range when it comes to what I read. The thing is, I feel that firstly the book has to be in one sense or another believable. Ok for me that was an easy task, I just gave it to my six year old daughter and asked her what she thought, it got her approval and she wanted the rest of it, so that was a good start. Once I got the full manuscript I read through it a few times, and in my mind I wanted it to hold within it a positive message, I feel many of the books for children today are a little light on ethics, so for my part, I am looking for something that gives children an idea about how we live and how to handle it. That is mainly because even in a work of fiction, I feel there should be good messages and truths of the world. Crumble had that, it has a few issues I liked such as dealing with loneliness, and how befriending someone can make a huge difference to their life, I also like the importance of a stable family, and that sometimes family are not always your relatives. Those messages told me this was a book that was very positive for children, and so I wanted to work with Mike.

So you had a good book and good illustrations, and as we know Mike Beale is a first time Author, which is a bit of VCP’s mantra is it not?

It is, I am not interested in famous or celebrity authors, they have the name and reputation to get the big boys on their side, in most cases the major publishers prioritise them above everyone else. I am interested in those looking for a start up, I want to help and promote new writers, I do feel especially as we have lost some very big name writers in the past five years in the fantasy genre, my part is to encourage and help the new writers that are trying to get a foothold. The market for writers is probably one of the most competitive, so its hard work, I like to think VCP are doing their bit to find some good quality writers who will move on to bigger things in the future. Mike Beale presented a good package and I do think that Crumble is a wonderful step up for children going from mainly picture books into something more structured towards reading for life, which is also another one of the reasons we wanted to do it.

So this really is what we adults would call a proper reading book, but it is aimed at six years and above?

Yes, it is laid out with each chapter clearly marked; I find a lot of the books that school gives to my daughter are still very basic and filled with bright pictures. I think I am a little old fashioned in my approach, because when I was six, I was given proper books to read and I do think it played a huge part in my love of reading. I think we do not have enough children reading, and it is something I feel strongly as a book producer and a parent that we need to try and get our children away from the TV or games consol and reading more. The layout of Crumble reflects that, it is in a larger print, but it still has the defined chapters with the illustrations carefully placed to flow with the text, and I know for sure my daughter and my son have both really enjoyed reading the format.

So You put out HTTK book five in February, and its now been six months, has all that time been spent working on Crumble with Mike?

Not all of it, we were busy earlier in the year promoting the fifth HTTK, I think we began working with Mike in May, I have also been pretty busy writing in between, as I do, as I am always making notes writing back stories and actually writing the series. So for me personally it’s been a very hectic year, but that is good because I hate it when things slow down, I like to stay on the keys as much as possible.

It must have been a different experience working with another writer; we all know how reclusive you can be, not to mention how you avoid writing forums etc… What has it been like for you.?

Chuckles a lot. I avoid forums for writers simply because I have my own set way of doing things, so at times I find they have far too many rules that get in the way of the creative bursts. I honestly believe that shutting yourself away and just focusing on what you want write is the only way to do it, on the few occasions I have stepped out into the world and been involved with these things they have filled my head with notions that were very unhelpful, so for me personally I avoid them.

Working with Mike was actually really fun and a complete eye-opener for me, because I suppose I got see how another writer who works alone with a few supporters to muck in, actually works. Our stuff is at opposing ends of the spectrum, as he writes for children, and my stuff is pretty complex and adult, so yes, for someone like me who loves nothing better than seeing how other people achieve things it was fascinating working with him, he is a really nice guy, and it was easy to see where such a lovely story came from, because he does have a very quiet and caring nature, which again I felt was beautifully reflected in Crumble.

You say your styles are opposite each other, is that not a problem when editing, surely you would phrase things differently?

To be honest no not really. Look we have a very relaxed and informal way of working, lets be honest I am never going to be all about business dinners and fancy presentations. The way I work is very casual and informal, and that creates the right environment for creativity. We did a lot of research into children’s literature to get a good idea of what was expected, long before Mike gave us the manuscript we were pretty much pulling apart the book world to find out as much as possible. Once we started working, we would look at what he gave us and then comb through it and look to try and add as many improvements as we could, it is the very same system we use for HTTK, the only difference being is it is with another writer.

We used the same approach with Ted on Wordsmith with the poetry book. We made suggestions, but at all times the decision lay with the author, which is a rule I set at the very start of VCP, as we want a company that treats Authors fairly, and to be honest we do a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure it. Mike felt comfy at all times, and questions he asked, we gave full answers to. At the end of the day we take it step by step, we gave him our thoughts on things we felt were important, he went off and looked at it, and then came back with his thoughts, after discussion we moved to the next stage and repeated the process until finally we arrived at the final manuscript everyone was happy with, and that was then published.

I look back to my own experiences of first publishing, and that is the greatest aid to ensuring I am taking into account all of the authors feelings, so with that in mind, every aspect of the formatting was given great consideration, it was a lot of work checking and placing each illustration and line of text to ensure it looked the very best it could, and would appeal to the smaller readership it was planned for. I would like to think for Mike it was a better experience than my first time.

So there is no time limit on producing the book?

No we take it step by step until we are all happy, I am never going to say hey in ten weeks you will have a book, I feel that approach which I know some publishers do, is a none starter, as it rules out the fine polishing process, and we are looking for high quality stories, that we can put into high quality print. We try to work to a very high standard, I demand it, and so we will work with an author until the manuscript is right, by the same chalk, I will refuse a book if I feel it does not sit well in our catalogue.

Crumble came out on August 31st, so what now are you taking a break before moving on again?

I did take a small holiday, I wanted to get the kids away as we had been working most of their school holiday, as we wanted the book in full circulation before the children went back to school, so we took a few days in Scarborough, which was wonderful and we relaxed and had a lot of fun. I do admit I never stop working, so while I was there I got some pictures that would serve well in HTTK, after all Scarborough is a main part of the earlier stories. I came back and started the final edit of Book six, which is the next thing we will working on for late Autumn release, and obviously I am doing a lot behind the scenes to give Crumble a good old push into the world of readers.

So Book six soon and then what, as you are almost at the end of HTTK, will you walk away forever and just write other stuff?

The next project is Kingdom six, I want that out as I know I have readers who really want it due to the cliff hanger ending of five, and I don’t want to disappoint them. As always we are looking for writers who fit our remit and so we are pushing that aspect of VCP, and behind the scenes I have a few things lined up for the end of HTTK, I think it is safe to say writing wise I have a constant stream of ideas, so whichever one gets my pulse racing fastest will be the new project when I finish the last HTTK book. Will I finish the series and say no more, I am not entirely certain, I have not given it a huge amount of thought as I am still writing it, but I must admit these characters have been a huge part of my life, in my house they are almost like family, so I cannot really say I am done with them yet, a break would be nice, I wanted to write the Bowman to prove I could write a book, I did it and it grew into a series, so maybe the next challenge is to write something completely different, after that I will have to see.

So VCP is still working towards it goals, has your idea of it changed about where you want it in the future?

I have always wanted it to be a publisher of quality, which will never change. I am looking for new writers who I can work with, and again I hope over time VCP will grow to be a publisher people can say produces good quality reads. We are still a tiny company and have a ways to go, and I am enjoying the journey. I believe in evolution and I think that will always be our way to go, we will learn and expand as we need to, and hopefully create something that will bring joy to the readers of the world, be them little or large. We have had to incorporate and get use to a lot of new technology in order to do this and we are growing each day with more and more competence, we set a plan at the start and so we are following it, and to date we are on target, we have print pretty much running very smoothly, and so we are now looking at digital, as we want to take our authors onto every platform, we have been busy with that behind the scenes, and will start with digital platforms once we are satisfied we have the right level of quality control on the books, that is not that far away now.

You had a lot of nervous moments at the very end of 2013, how are you feeling now?

For me personally it was a huge leap of faith, I knew I had done the research and could in theory do it, but ending my contracts with my other publisher and going solo was a scary moment, especially as it killed my income for six months. I am a lot happier now we are moving forward and doing ok, we have seven books out and an eighth on the way so it’s a big case of so far so good. I have really enjoyed it, and I have also had the joy of seeing two new authors step out into the world, and that has been a really rewarding aspect of all this. Ted has done really well with Wordsmith and I think Mike has started very well, and I hope will see some success, as I think Crumble deserves it. I still feel the most positive thing is getting the word out that reading is wonderful and enhances your life, and I know we have convinced a few more to do it more, so considering December 2013 and now, I am very happy with the way it has all gone.

So What are you up to now?

At the moment I am preparing book six, as I said I want that out soon, but I am also looking at the night of HTTK thing, we have been asked quite a few times to do it, and it is entirely my fault, as the experience of the launch night in Bolton was so bad, it did put me off promoting locally and doing public events. Currently and  in between Promoting Crumble and getting out the next book, I am looking at ways that could be possible. I have a lot of ideas, but because readers of HTTK are pretty scattered and I have done less promotion at home, I am not that sure of the numbers, so I am looking at a small event with a view to expanding it should it be successful. I must admit I do like the idea of meeting the readers and talking to them, it is during those kind of conversations you learn a lot about peoples experiences of the books.

It sounds like a pretty exciting idea, what kind of things do you have in mind?

Well we have had a few suggestions from people who would like to see some readings and ask questions, so I think that would be the model to build it round, you know a sort of introduction, and then maybe some guest readers etc… I am sure I can sort something out where I can do some signings of books, and that sort of thing, I have a long list of ideas, it would be nice to bring Louis and Jacy in on it to chat to people about their artwork and stuff, it could be quite interesting, as I say at the moment we are only really looking at it.

It does sound like a great idea and so I will look out for it, and it is looking very positive for Robin and VCP. Book Six of Heirs to the Kingdom will be hitting the book sales stands soon and we do hope that VCP and its authors do well. Crumble’s Adventures by Mike Beale is available now from all online stores, or from your local book shop, as well as all the other VCP published books on the VCP website.

Crumble’s Adventures by Mike Beale illustrated by Maureen Fayle

Crumble's Adventures

Crumble’s Adventures

ISBN 978-1-910299-06-7

Submitted for VCP by Jo Lane.

Robin John Morgan talks Crystals and Mirrored Waters.

Heirs to the Kingdom Book Five, Crystals of the Mirrored Waters by Robin john Morgan

Heirs to the Kingdom Book Five, Crystals of the Mirrored Waters by Robin john Morgan

With the release of the new Heirs to the Kingdom instalment today, we took a little time a few weeks ago to talk with its Author Robin John Morgan.

This is the fifth book in the series entitled “Crystals of the Mirrored Waters” and as we discovered is a very important marker in the series, of which we still do not know how many books there actually going to be.

The question most people want to be answered, and if you have read the fourth book you will know if you have. Robbie the lead character leans into an unidentified young boy and lifts a golden dragon on a chain from his shirt, and turns back and questions Ally “You Knew?” For us avid readers, it just about blew our minds, as we want to know who the King that will rule is. Book five will reveal all and Robin smiles.

“Its in there, you will have to read it to find out though.”

It has been a topic of debate for some time, as many of the readers have put forward their theories and we can now state clearly (Having read an advanced copy) we have all been hopelessly wrong. Obviously we are aware of spoilers and so are being very careful of any of the detail within the book, but what we can say is that the start of this book is very different from the first four, and it does take a very different approach as it introduces the reader back into the story, which is something we did want to ask Robin about.

“Yes it is  very different, I wanted to take some time just to fill in the blanks, and in a way come back round in a circle. Book five is an important stage within HTTK as I feel that with the arrival of a new king it wraps up one very important aspect of the story. During the writing process, which compared to the last four was a much longer intense affair, I wanted to take this particular moment to fill in the gaps and in a way paint a wider picture of events from the past. If you think about it, back in 2006 I placed all the notes I had in order, and then from about June 2007 until May 2008 I wrote the first rough drafts of the first four books back to back. Those first four were really written at fever pitch as I wanted to prove to myself I could do it, but once I had completed them, I then sat back and added more notes to help me edit the books and shape them to a closer match to the versions of the books I have published. I mean there have been many changes and additions since then, but the story has remained relatively unchanged from those earlier writing days, which I also will add was at a particularly difficult period, with five my life circumstances had changed a great deal, and I had the time to take much longer in the planning and writing, and that also let me work much deeper inside the story.”

The start of Crystals of the Mirrored Waters is somewhat reflective, and in a way almost historical.”

“Yeah I think that is the point, and is the reason why this is such an important book in the series as a whole. Before this book we know that there has been a struggle to rebuild back to the point where the story begins in Loxley with book one, and since that point there has been a lot of references to past events. Look to the past is a huge theme in the earlier books and it is at the start of the fifth book that I think the process of reflection is key to the future, and so I felt that had to be a very important starting point in fully understand the past and the present of Heirs to the Kingdom. I also had so much more time, as I had finally finished with my horticultural business and could focus on just writing this story, that alone had a huge impact on my approach to this book and those that will follow, in a strange way this story is a reflection of my own life, especially some of the more emotive aspects, and those first five chapters do reflect that.”

So really the book is almost a history of the story and your own life running hand in hand? (He laughs)

“I think there is no doubt; I mean those first four were written in all the spare moments of what was a fight with the local authorities as I felt myself losing everything I had ever worked for slipping away, and it was intense and frustrating and heart breaking. I do smile at it now as at that time I did feel like Robbie facing those overwhelming odds and I was riddled with doubts as I fought my hardest, to be honest I think I would have preferred a sword or longbow and taken on the local council one by one in combat, it would have felt a lot easier.”

So you get to five, and life is calmer and more relaxed, and is that why it took much longer to write this particular book?”

“It is and it isn’t. (He laughs at me) It was nice to be able to work in a more focused way, I think I just took a huge deep breath and let myself calm down a little. I was quite ill when I final closed down and made what was a hard decision to quite horticulture, it had been my life for over 30 years, and walking away felt like a huge emotional pull, and for months it was hard to focus on writing, I guess I did a lot of soul searching and looking back at my own life, it was a process of reflection and in many ways a time of healing for me. I needed to make that first important step forward, so I looked to the roots of this story and did a lot of writing of small bits to give me a background to the story, and I soon found some of it was based very much in my own past and my early years growing up in the woodland.”

So that explains the dedication. This book is dedicated to your brothers, and does refer to those times you had together as children.

“I know most readers do not really understand why authors dedicate books, but for the author it is an extremely important aspect of the book, for me personally it was important that I made five a tribute to my three brothers. Some of it is the past, as we were all very close and at that time, and when we all ran wild in the woodland it was for me a deeply special and important time in my life, and they were a large part of it. But you also have to understand that five is a very important aspect of this story, five members create a circle of power, and each family creates a circle of its strongest five, which is where the tables around Runestone play a vital role in Heirs to the Kingdom. I suppose the symbolism for me is what is important, my love of this very special place we grew up in, is the foundation of whom I have become, and that moment from my own past was shared with my brothers. It is the reason I love the wild so much, it is the very heart of where this story came from, and so I could not write this turning point which looks to the past in order to shape the future of Heirs to the Kingdom, without including my brothers who are still one of my strongest circles of power. We were pretty poor as kids and yet we overcame so much, my eldest brother has a force of stamina that I am in awe of, my next eldest brother against all the odds has achieved so much to be proud of considering his starting point in life, and my youngest brother who has the craziest sense of fun, has brought a huge amount of laughter and joy to so many people in his lifetime, and I find them inspirational and have taken elements of each of them into my writing, which has indeed made the charters of this story much more interesting to read. As I said the readers probably won’t see any of this, but I hope my brothers can, and that is why it was so important to me that the fifth book was for them.”

I think up until this moment I have never really considered the dedication in a book before, and maybe I will think about others in the future when I read. So we finally have the new book and we will all soon know who the new king will be, so I have to ask even though I am uncertain of getting an accurate answer, tell us what can we expect from Crystals of the Mirrored Waters?

Heirs to the Kingdom by Robin John Morgan

Heirs to the Kingdom by Robin John Morgan

 “That is the million dollar question isn’t it? I feel the desire to shout “Plot Twist!” OK, Book one through four imply a lot of what has happened, and in that much they ask a lot of questions, so my first priority was to address those.

I think the question of Why was the death Red, who started it, and why a virus, and how was it certain people survived are all relevant questions which I need to answer, and so I have. I think another important question is why is the line of Arthur so relevant when obviously the Lox household are quite capable of uniting the country alone? But the biggest untied threads that run right through the whole series have to be, who did what and why? These are questions the books have asked, and through book five you will gain a lot of insight as to the goings on behind the scenes, but saying that, I know it will lead the readers to ask yet more questions, and that will be explained in a later book. What happened in the past is a guide to the future, so there is more detail on those past events as they run side by side with current events. There are moments within the earlier books which may not have felt very relevant, but actually those moments will become very important as other books come out.

I suppose the biggest and most important thing in book five is the change of emphasis, you know, the books are named Heirs to the Kingdom, and we have pretty much worked out who all the heirs are… or have we? From five onward the story has to change, otherwise it would become stagnant and the emphasis has to move away from the search, to the actual destinies of each and everyone within the tale, and that starts here.”

Why do I suddenly feel you have answered my question by simply posing even more?

“That’s Heirs to the Kingdom. Look I write this story primarily for myself, but I can assure you nothing is written that does mean something, and that is who I am, and that will be the case whatever I write in the future, am I going to give away the plot, obviously not? The rear cover mentions a few hints and nothing more, but if you read it carefully you may pick out a few things, such as a new realm and a new enemy that is very dark and devious. Book five will test everyone, including the reader and I hope you find yourself in situations you never expected. Harry is in there getting himself in trouble, Jett and Jade are as usual up to their tricks and Robbie and Runestone will be tested, but you all know that as this is their story and it is slowly unfolding. I will say I try very hard to surprise myself in hope of surprising the reader, and this book took two years of carefully planning to get to the final scenario, which I hope leaves the reader breathless. I feel this is a gritty and good paced story, but I will leave it to readers to decide, I certainly think they will really enjoy it.”

So to end, I feel I must ask what I consider the most important question I can ask. Considering how involved she is with all of this adventure, what does your wife think of it?”

“Ask Her? (Giggles) I do believe she loves it???”

Heirs to the Kingdom Book Five : Crystals of the Mirrored Waters by Robin John Morgan, (ISBN 978-1-910299-05-0) is out today (28th February 2015) and will be available worldwide via all online book retailers and via your local bookstore, published via Violet Circle Publishing. All of Robins books are available and you can get full details on them via violetcirclepublishing.co.uk or heirstothekingdom.com

New Heirs to the Kingdom

Spring is here, and the leaves of all the trees are slowly opening as our world wakes up from the long weary sleep of Winter. The time is almost upon us, as soon will be time to walk with the leaves above our heads, which for those of you who are in the know can only mean one thing. The new Revised Editions of Heirs to the Kingdom are going into production and are almost ready to print.

It is almost time to sneak off to a quiet remote green space and walk once again in the Woodland Realm, as the first three in the captivating series of books come back into print via Violet Circle Publishing, the new home of HTTK.

So what is and is not new? We had a quiet chat with the Author Robin John Morgan to find out just what why the new editions, and what is in store for the readers, and he told us this.

Why the new Editions? Ok well firstly, I think when I first set out in 2007 to publish the books, I was pretty inexperienced and had some very big expectations of what exactly happens during the whole publishing process and that has very much showed.

I have not been happy with the books for a while, so when we switched publishers I took the chance to take the time out and go right the way through the books from line one, and do a new edit on all three of the previously published books. I have felt for some time that certain parts of the story that were cut in the first editions really should have been left in, and so my first task was to add them back and then focus on smoothing out a few parts of the story I always thought were rough and needing a slight tweak. I guess in the long term I am never going to be completely happy, as I always think there is something I can improve, but I have solemnly promised this is it and I have taken a lot of time to get the books back to the way I want them to be and I am very happy with the way they are now.

Nothing in the story has changed, so for those who own the first editions, do not worry you have not missed out, if anything you will now have something a little more collectable. I have added mainly detail and background description, just to fill out some areas I have always thought lacked a little and disturbed the flow of the story, so I am hoping for those who read these editions they will find them smoother and a more improved and flowing read.

The size of the books are different from the first editions, in so much as they are a tiny bit larger, but the main reason for that was I wanted to try and reduce the price, and with a few more words per page, it has dropped the page count and the cost which means it can be sold for less, which is good for everyone. It’s a new set so we have brought in clearer more fluid sleeves that will match as a series and give the books a more recognisable design, it probably does not matter that much to the readers, but I really enjoyed looking at all the new ways in which HTTK could be packaged, and I love the new more identifiable design which I think relates on a much simpler level to the story.

The interiors are crisper and more fluid, and I am delighted with them, I have had a huge hang up especially about book one since it was first published, as I was not happy with the font size and layout, so I feel overjoyed that I have been able to fix that with the new revised editions, all in all its been a wonderful experience to sit back and read through from the first page and do each book back to back once again. It probably sounds daft, but as I am much further on with the series of books than these first three, it is easy to forget some of the detail and fun in the first three, and to be honest I have surprised myself and had a huge amount of enjoyment revisiting them, I think it has helped me one hundred percent as I continue to work on the latest in the series.

The best news is that after almost two years of problems setbacks and delays, I can finally get the fourth book out shortly after the new revised editions hit the shelves, and that is simply fantastic, as I loved writing book four and still hold it as one of my personal bests in the series and I hope those who have become wonderful fans of the series that have built up along the way will really enjoy it too.

So there we have it, it will not be much longer and there will be three revised and a brand new edition to fill up your Summer with some wonderful reading time. Keep your eyes on violetcirclepublishing.co.uk for the announcement soon.

Walking with Robin John Morgan.

Robin John Morgan.

Robin with his youngest daughter

An interview with Robin John Morgan, By Jo Lane. Prepared for VCP in December 2009.

 It is a few days before Christmas, and the snow is five inches deep and untouched, as it covers our path and all the trees around us. I am walking down one of Robin John Morgan’s favourite woodland paths close to his home besides him, as his son runs in front in the snow and his daughter smiles from his arms. Its cold, but dressed up warm with his long multi violet coloured scarf, and familiar baseball hat, together we admire the trees and the falling snow, in complete peace and quiet.

Robin has managed to publish two books this year to begin his Heirs to the Kingdom series of stories, both of which have been self published, and he has played a very involved role in their promotion. I think he looks paler and tired since our last meeting in mid summer, although as I watch him admiring the trees, heavily laden with snow, I can see the familiar twinkle of life in his eyes, as he absorbs the world he loves so much. I comment on his tiredness and ask about his first year as a self-published author. “How have the books gone to date?”

He gives a faint smile as he considers his answer. “For a complete unknown author, I suppose they have both sold well, although I think that I can see how naive I was back in May when I began to promote the first book. I think my perception of the publishing world was a million miles away from the reality of the industry, I have felt very much out of my depth at times, and I have had to learn a great deal in order to understand and actually get the word about the books out there, people have no idea at all of how fierce and competitive it is out there, its also very closed to self publishers. This is not like Horticulture, and I am no expert in this field, I really have had to start on the floor and fight my way up to gain recognition.”

He stops on the path as he raises his camera to take a photo, something he does to use as inspiration when he is writing. But his tone is still one of optimism. “Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, it has been a year of long hard working hours to get the website built, and promote the book, but at the end of the day, there is nothing more thrilling than knowing that out there are bookshelves in peoples homes with my books on them. I think that alone is a huge reward, and it gives me a thrill to know it.”

“Is self publishing really a lot harder than traditional publishing?” I have to admit that as a fellow writer looking to publish in the future, I was interested in getting the thoughts of someone who was a little further ahead of myself. Robin spent two years trying to get his first book published, but found that the fantasy adventure genre was not one that traditional publisher’s were particularly keen on. Like so many other authors today, he had been rejected so many times that eventually because he had such strong support from readers for his work, he turned to self-publishing. 

We move onwards across a small almost frozen stream, as he elaborates on his experiences. “I worry about the way traditional publishing is going. They use to create their own celebrities; today they seem to be more interested in using names that are already well known, lets face it if you are an actor or TV personality, then you can pretty much guarantee a publishing deal backed with thousands of pounds of advertising. New writers to fill the void of those who have passed on really have no option but to self publish, the biggest draw back is, that out there are thousands of talented hopefuls all trying to get their book in the mainstream. Doing all the promotion like I am with a small team, takes up two thirds of my day, and then the chances are that it will generate few sales. The traditional publishers are at the heart of the game, but they are spending their money on recognised celebrities, as they are a safe bet, although I must admit I find it hard to understand why there are so many books on Micheal Jackson or Jordan, I would have thought one good well written book on both of them, would have done the job nicely. David Eddings passed away recently, but there is no one new to replace him, and even if there was, it looks like the traditional publishers would refuse to publish them. I have spent six months stacking one brick on top of the other to build a firm foundation and get myself a small corner dedicated to HTTK in hope of pulling a few fans together, now I need them to read the book and start talking about it, word of mouth on the internet really has become a self publishers advertising hope.”

I have known Robin for some time, and I understand how having a challenge appeals to him, in his life he has faced many, one in particular reminds me greatly of his writing, although its not often he will speak of his experience fighting to save his business two years ago, which indeed lead him into trying to publish his first book. I decided to raise the subject as we made our way out of the trees and up a steep bank onto an old disused railway. “Robbie and the group face some very testing situations in the second book, and the writing comes across as being very intuitive, is that a result of writing it towards the end of your campaign in Denton to save the market and your business? Do you think much of the struggle you felt at that time is reflected back on the pages?”

We walk slowly through the untouched snow, which is half way up our boots as he thinks for a moment. “I suppose the hardship and the feelings of desperation do rise a little from the pages. There are instances in both books that remind me of moments when I felt I was fighting impossible odds. In life things just come out of nowhere and knock you flat, I hope that the way the book twists and turns does reflect real life. It would be nice to know that something so hard and heart breaking as that time in Denton, could at least have a positive on my work by giving it greater depth. I hope so, for myself, I have always wanted the series to feel like the reader was looking in on a real life, if they are carried along through the story because it does indeed feel very real that would be a big plus, I have tried very hard to give it that sense of time and motion.”

Listening to Robin talk about the story, you sense how much he has invested in creating the realm of the woodsman set in the future, for him in many ways this is simply one story of a life shared by a small group of friends and family, to myself and everyone else in the world, it is a series of books that inter connect and follow the progress of Robbie and Runestone as they approach their life, and the destiny laid out before them. One thing that has left me thinking is the endings of the two books, and I wanted very much to hear Robin’s take on them. “The ending of book one felt very much like I sensed a great relief in Robbie to have survived, and yet with book two I did feel a sense of sadness mixed with happiness. Book two does have quite an emotional roller coaster effect, and I must admit it did not have the big happy ending I expected, was it part of the plan to create an ending that would leave the reader wanting more?” 

He gives a small laugh. “Do want me to tell the truth, or should I lie?” Robin’s smile widens. “To be honest the ending was never planned that way. I do want the books to carry the reader along at a good pace that draws them deeper into it; it is the one thing I love about reading. I love that feeling where you are completely lost in the story, and do not want to put the book down, I know from those who I have spoken to that has been the experience for a lot of people, which delights me, as I really love this book. If you think about it, sometimes we get what we want in life, but its not always the huge thrill we expected, life has that way of just taking the edge off an experience or task. Book two was a very fluid and natural process; the writing did come quicker and was to a degree more instinctive than book one. I do think that knowing I could write a full-length book helped, having set one out and established the characters and the story. I had the space to just get in the detail and bring the story more to life, there is a lot in book two I never planned, it just came to me as I wrote it, and it felt very natural, I really had a lot of fun writing this book, it was a very enjoyable experience, and I hope that those who read it will want to continue with the next book.”

Having spent a great deal of time walking through the falling snow, another very relevant aspic of Robin’s work is apparent as we return to the warm surroundings of his home in the form of his family. Apart from publishing two books this year, Robin also became a father for a second time, with the birth of his daughter Iona shortly before The Bowman of Loxley was released. Iona carries the name of very important character who appears for the first time in book two, and I wonder if his own sense of family is what bonds the family of Lox so closely. Robin’s father was separated from his life from the age of four, and he was reunited at the age of 30, it’s a large gap, and yet today they seem as close as any other father and son. “Is the bond between Robbie and his father a reflection of that of your own father and yourself?”

“It is, very much so. I think both of us have worked very hard to repair the vast span of time we missed out on, and although it has not been easy, I think we are very like Robbie and his father in the books today. Growing up without knowing whom your father is, does give you a strong inner sense of independence, but there is always something lacking. We don’t always agree on things, but I think we are as close now as could be.”

“Is it true it was his love of book one that convinced you to publish?”

“Very much so. I never expected him to like it to be honest, there are parts of the story that are just pure fantasy, and my dad is a very grounded person. I am not sure to be honest why I thought he wouldn’t enjoy it; it was a massive boost and a nice surprise when he did. It is true I had no intention of publishing it; writing was just my way of expressing the creativity that builds inside me, it was my dad who convinced me to try and get it published. He really has played a massive role in supporting me through this, I think he certainly has a lot of Lox in him.”

One of the main characters from book one is of course Billy, who plays a very devious and dirty role behind the scenes, at the mention of his name it obvious from Robin’s partner he is not a popular character. “What made you write the role of Billy as the villain? He really is quite devious in this book, where does that come from?” 

Robins gives a hearty laugh. “I love writing Billy, he is such a wonderful and rich character. It’s so easy to hate him, yet there is so much more to him than first meets the eye. Billy comes from a lot of places; there have been one or two people who have passed through my life who are very like him. I think people are too hard on him, but it’s been interesting to listen to those who have read the books and absolutely hate him with a passion. I don’t think this book will help endear him to the readers much more, but like everything with HTTK he has his place, and of course his own destiny to fulfil.”

It is true that I have not spoken to a single reader who shares any sympathy at all towards the ex brother of our hero Robbie, yet listening to Robin talk, I have to admit I am a little intrigued. Book two in the series of Heirs to the Kingdom does without doubt grip you hard and leave you with many unanswered questions, so the most obvious question to ask at this point would be about the third in the series. “The Lost Sword of Carnac has been out now for almost two months, it was released just six months after the first book, does that mean we have only four months to go until the next book?”

“I am not sure at the moment, I do want to keep the momentum going with the series, but I have a lot planned for the start of this year, so I will sit back and watch what happens with Carnac. There is no doubt it will be released next year (2010) Its just that no specific date has been set for it, the manuscript is pretty much done, I just want to have another read through and see if it needs a little tweak before I put it through its final proof read. Once I am 100% with it I will look at the calendar and make a decision.”

“Can I ask what you have in store for us all with book three?”

He gives a happy chuckle. “You can ask, although it will not get you very far. (More chuckles) as the web site states ‘beware the darkness’ book three will take you all in another direction, and it is a slightly darker book than the first two, I think it will surprise and delight the readers, and as with all the books, it will increase the depth of the story and show more insight into each of the characters. It will be out as soon as I think its right.”

Once again Robin plays his cards close to his chest, yet it’s been a very interesting and enlightening day out in the snow. Again I have far more notes than this space allows, but its been nice to see Robin so relaxed and sharing a little more of the man behind the books. Since he began writing this series back in early 2007, he has not stopped, and I am sure we still have the very best of this story to come. I am encouraged by his remarks of increasing the depth, and I am looking forward to the third part of his beautifully depicted story at some point in this coming year. The adventure will continue, and I am sure I will have more opportunities to write about HTTK and its author in the future for VCP, until then I will sit back and give the books another reading, and try to work out more of what I think future books will hold. Heirs to the kingdom part three entitled, The Darkness of Dunnottar will be with us at some point, so cross your fingers and hope its sooner rather than later. If you have not had a chance to read these books, then you have the time to catch up with the rest of us, for now I say a hearty thanks to VCP for the invite to write here, and to Robin, who I know hates interviews, for such a pleasant afternoon in the snow with his family.