Today I want to talk about Captain Thomas Maria Wingfield. When you write historical fiction, eventually you’re going to have to write about historical people. One way to write historical fiction is to minimize these characters, focusing on a historical event that your fictional character has to deal with. In the middle of the plot, you pepper the story with those historical characters, having them interact at certain plot points. This is what I have done with Captain Wingfield.
Captain Wingfield is a mercurial character. An Englishmen with family ties to the Irish government, history tells us that he took charge of the Royal Irish Army in Ulster. It also tells us that he had campaigned in Ireland for quite some time. We have much more information about his brother Edward Maria Wingfield. Edward fought in the Netherlands, fought in Ireland, was a Member of Parliament, and eventually was a leader of the London Virginia Company that started Jamestown. He worked with Captain John Smith and was eventually a rival. There is a very good chance that Thomas Maria Wingfield followed his brother from political position to political position.
Captain Thomas Wingfield plays the councilor and friend to my protagonist, Captain Philip Williams. He explains things to Philip, encourages him when things are down, and helps in other ways throughout the book. I won’t say too much about what happens to Wingfield, but he does play a pivotal role in the story at several times.
So, what happened to the captain? Well, we don’t know. I have read documents that said he served as a Member of Parliament around the end of the 16th century – which would place him in England after the events of the book. I have also read that he may have moved to Virginia with his brother, but the information is sketchy.
Does he survive Ulster in my book? You’ll have to read and find out.
Colleen’s story is a little tragic. She is Philip’s love interest in The Gallowglass. She is only 17, an age we now consider the end of childhood and the cusp of legal responsibility today. An age where we are still forgiving about the mistakes of youth. However, in 16th century Ireland, Colleen is a fully grown woman responsible for herself.
Philip is immediately smitten with Colleen. The way she walks, the way she talks, even the way she smiles and giggles when Philip is being stuffy or clumsy with his actions and words. She has long, dark curly hair that bounce around her fair skin. She is a voluptuous woman with ample curves. Finally, Colleen has sparkling violet eyes – a rarity anywhere. Physically, she is unique.
But the world has not been kind to Colleen. Through her dialogue and her actions we learn that she has been on her own for at least a year or so. Away from family and anybody who could help or protect her. Colleen has come to accept that her only real asset in this world is her looks and she is going to use them to the best of her abilities. This combined with her youth leads to a tragic story.
As a man, it was really hard to write complex female characters without falling into one of many different tropes. My editor told me Colleen was one of my most problematic characters at one point. I spent many hours in the re-writing process trying to change Colleen and make her more realistic.
Some might see Colleen as a conniving woman and maybe even a gold digger. I don’t see her that way, though. I see her as a woman who understands that she lives in a man’s world. Moreover, her beauty is something men want. Colleen understands that to get what she wants, she needs to weaponized her beauty. The question for the reader is how well does she do it? Find out by getting The Gallowglass.
Mannan is a minor character in my debut novel, The Gallowglass. He represents one of the thousands of Irishmen who left during the Desmond Wars as a child and moved into the harsh terrain of the Scottish Highlands. Like many of those desperate men, he became a mercenary, too. Mannan is Black Irish, meaning he has coal black hair but a faire complexion. He is a beefy, thick man of medium built with a wild beard and long, stringy hair. If you saw him you would probably mistake him for an Old Testament profit. In fact, at one point Philip compares Mannan to the Judge Gideon.
If you’ve known me for a while, you know that I used to perform at the Southern Californian Renaissance Faire back in the 1990s. If you really know me then you know that I have based this character off of my friend, Roger Boone. In fact, the character name was the faire name Boon still uses when he works faire. But my Mannan is a little different.
My Mannan is a bit more dour, a LOT more reserved, and, unlike my friend Roger, my Mannan is a Calvinist. He follows Philip from France into Ireland and is actually one of the company’s sergeants. He is deadly with a dirk, a pike, and even a wheel lock pistol.
I liked the character very much. Unfortunately, the way the story went, I didn’t have enough space to really delve into Mannan’s story and reasons for being in Ireland. He remains a minor character, unfortunately.
To rectify that I plan to publish a Novella about Mannan sometime in the autumn of this year. It will be a fast paced, action filled story about blood feuds and spiraling violence.