I came up with the basic idea for SHADOWKNIGHT back in 2005: our beautiful Shire mare Mollie who we had rescued and who had become the centre of our lives was gravely ill. Our second rescue horse Murphy 'Duke of Diamonds' had just joined us as a youngster of four and was beset with all sorts of behaviour problems caused by the abuse he had suffered before we got him.
I came back from the yard one day, bruised and battered from trying to deal with Murphy's 'teenage tantrums' and scribbled half a page of A4...trying to straighten out my feelings of love and frustration with the equine species as a whole. I was also going through the pain and uncertainty of a hunt for my real mother at the time - I'm adopted and have never been able to find my birth mother - I suppose I put a great deal of this longing and uncertainty into the character of Andrew.
Anyway the outline languished in a file for three years while I did other stuff...but the story always nagged at the back of my mind...as if Andrew Bellows, Archolus, Silus Bennett, and of course that absolute rotten apple Richard Brightling needed me to give them life.
I've always been a bit of a daydreamer and I replayed Andrew's adventures over and again in my head but it was to be three years before I sat down with a blank word processing screen to set them down. I wrote with fervour (but not much available time) for the first six months until I 'did a silly' and quit smoking...not that that's a bad thing mind...I'm still off the weed and feel much better for it...but it gave me horrendous writers block by my associating ciggies with the writing process!
I got over it in the end but SHADOWKNIGHT had a four month holiday during it's writing! A year after setting out on the journey of writing my first Novel I was done, and felt somehow elated and saddened at the same time.
Almost immediately I started out on SHADOWREAPER (now re-titled FOALSONG), book two in the series because I felt Andrew and Archolus still had so many more adventures to have together. Work has slowed on this at the moment as the whole process of trying to get SHADOWKNIGHT published has somewhat 'taken it out of me'.
I am at the moment on the 'rejection road'...laying in the gutter but looking up at the stars!
For those of you interested in my own adventures with our horses Murphy and Chestnut see my blog here http://ash-horsetales.blogspot.com/
By the way, Maltberry Bower the little village where SHADOWKNIGHT is set is imaginary….but is an amalgamation of two little villages where I grew up on the Isle of Wight, Queens Bower and Alverstone. I overlaid these with Sewardstonebury and Highbeech in Epping Forest near where our horses are stabled. I hope I have created a fairly typical English village of the early 21st century, where the institutions that used to rule village life, the Church and the pub, are under attack and under the peaceful rural exterior unemployment and the collapse of small scale farming has caused bitterness to lurk in dark places. The country has always had its ugly secrets… it’s just that now some of those secrets are all too often extremism and xenophobia.