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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.
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.
OMG, The time is finally here! After six years of writing and publishing short stories. After glad handing and building relationships throughout the writers community, I will be publishing my first novel, The Gallowglass, on Wednesday, July 10th. It has been a strange and weird voyage from the time I quit teaching full time until now. I will go over that journey another day. Right now, I want to talk about how The Gallowglass came to be.
My formative years were in the 1980s. The decade of the action movie. Commando and Indiana Jones. Escape from New York and Beverly Hills Cop. Terminator and Rambo. If it had a gun in it I wanted to watch it. So I grew up craving action.
When I was a young kid, my mother had to work until 4 or 5 PM. School got out around 2, so I spent the time in between at my grandparents house. If you grew up before the 1990s then you know television was a big part of any kids childhood. I watched a LOT of TV.
During one afternoon I stumbled on a show that would change my life. It was called Matinee at the Bijou. It was a nostalgic mashing of old Warner Bros. Cartoons, old news reels, serial nobody watched and B level films. As an 8 year old I ate that stuff up. I particularly loved the war movie. As time went on I scoured syndicated television for great, old fashioned war movies. Movies like What So Proudly They Hale, and The Buccaneer. It didn’t matter if the good guys were fighting Nazis with machine guns or Brits with flintlocks. I ate it up.
You can imagine how happy I was when Last of the Mohicans came out with Daniel Day Lewis. (And yes, it makes a mockery of the book.) When I saw that movie for the first time and I saw the Native attack on the Brits after the surrender of Ft. William Henry, my mind went into overdrive. I would be fair to say I was obsessed with that film – particularly that battle. I particularly liked it because the good guys (supposedly the British,) lost. I couldn’t remember a film where that happens. (Zulu and Empire Strikes Back were the exceptions.)
At the same time I started working at the Renaissance Faire in Southern California. I joined the Guild of St. Andrews, also known as the Clan MacColin. Now, if you’ve never worked at out faire, please understand we take history seriously. Every group had a required reading list. MacColin’s list had an older book called The Twilight Lords. That book got me fascinated about Tudor Ireland. As I read and learned I came across a story called The Battle of the Yellow Ford. It was very much like the battle I saw in The Last of the Mohicans. Beleaguered English/British troops getting ambushed by Natives who knew the territory better than they did.
And that was it.
Now, I tried to write this book about half a dozen times between 1996 and 2016. I would get 45 pages in and lose interest. Or my computer would die when I was 85 pages in. But the idea always stuck in my head. I wrote a draft of this book back in 2014 that was awful. I made all the rookie mistakes. Then in 2015 I realized after having a couple of short stories published that I had to do a page one re-write. So after throwing myself a pity party I started to re-write the novel from scratch. Later on I added one subplot, then another. I rewrote fight scenes. I added a romantic subplot.
So the book I have uploaded on Amazon has been trying to get out of my head for almost 25 years. It is almost here.
The Gallowglass will be released on Wednesday, July 10th. For pre-order, click the link here.