Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
I cannot really claim to have five top places I like to read and write but I shall list some places that have inspired me and where I have made notes. I carry a notebook with me as inspiration comes at any time and in any location but I actually do the vast majority of my writing in my studio in England or my glorified shed in France. For total escapism I love to visit Scotland where I can spend time away from the modern technical world totally isolated and free to just sit and read or write with the mountains as my backdrop.
I was lucky enough to have travelled quite extensively in my early formative years to places such as Cyprus, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, and Jordan as well as other countries around the world due to my father’s profession. Cyprus, the island of love as it is known, certainly had a profound effect upon me where I lived for many years and is really where I started my writing so I would put that as perhaps number one on my list.
I have based Outremer very heavily upon real people, events and genuine historical records of 12th Century, but by writing it as fiction, I was able to let my imagination run free…whilst hopefully still keeping it believable and credible. As fiction I was able to indulge my own understanding of the period, but also incorporate so-called otherworldly facts that would have otherwise seemed utterly ridiculous, perhaps unbelievable and out of place in such a book.
Having grown up with a love of history and having read just about all and everything I could ever lay my hands upon regarding the Crusades, Grail romances, the mysteries of the Middle East and India etc, I was fortunately already pretty much deeply engrossed in the period when I penned my first draft outline synopsis for Outremer. Double checking facts, when certain facts were presented by different sources, such as Arabic chronicle versions set beside Latin versions that differed, caused perhaps some difficulty…as in trying to establish which ones were more factual, historically accurate or exaggerated. I had to therefore seek several sources and other contributory evidence to establish a definitive account of an action or event. Example being the surrender of Latin forces after the Battle of Hattin 1187. Differing accounts present different versions. But I believe I established, in my mind at least, as near to the actual event as possible after cross referencing several authentic written accounts from the period. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of writing about this period was the use of swear words, or modern words that appeared too out of place. I had to compromise when it came to using modern words; one example being ‘homosexual’ as this was a word not even used until centuries later. Plus locations such as Ireland, Scotland, Iraq, Turkey etc are all new names, so I had to insert these modern names in brackets the first few times I mentioned a location in its 12th century name so the reader knows where I am referring to. I also learnt that the letter J was not used in the early name of Jesus as it was written as Iesus.
When I was nine years of age I went to Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire on a school trip. I loved the architecture and the feeling of spiritual peace that I sensed there. That trip revealed I had a natural talent for drawing architectural scenes. I visited many castles and ruins and my fascination simply grew from there. The beauty, scale and history of them utterly captivated me…but gave me a sense of sadness too for all the carnage of war that was visited upon them and their occupants. Consequently I asked myself, why, why would people fight wars of such unbelievable brutality? That question was rammed home after learning how the Christian Crusaders captured Jerusalem in AD 1099 and massacred all of its 70,000 inhabitants regardless of religion. I seriously questioned the real motives for the first Crusade with a deep sense there was far more than we are taught. Many more questions would follow and so my research began in earnest. I feel an affinity with the 12th century period but also ancient India and Egypt. I personally feel that the events that unfolded during the period of 1045 to 1194 were instrumental in shaping our world today. I believe the majority of people are simply not aware just how momentous the events of this period were, and will prove to be. It is another reason why I chose this particular period to set Outremer.
Back in 2005 I had the basics of the story behind Outremer; the main characters and the main facts I wished to convey. I penned a large 175 page synopsis of the chapters and what each one should contain. I already had most of the research in my head from my years of studying so it was not a lengthy process to put together. When I sat down in 2013 to start working upon the actual book, more details came to light as I crossed referenced information, which in turn led to additional scenes and scenarios being added, but also new characters as the plot began to develop in different directions I had not even previously considered. This is why my idea of a single volume of 140,000 words turned into 1,247,000 words, and four separate major volumes. When I actually write, I just type away at what I am trying to say and reveal. I write as if I am talking to someone sat opposite me. I have never been stuck for words…so far, nor suffered writers block. Perhaps I write too much, but I view that as not a bad thing. I always go back over what I have written to check for missing words, spellings and whether I have conveyed accurately, or believably enough, what I am trying to say.
The hardest thing about writing was brutally editing what I had written. Sometimes cutting several paragraphs, after rereading them and realising what I had written was confusing or simply not clear enough, I have had to bite hard and delete whole sections and start again, which is perhaps the very hardest aspect and trial for an author. Having invested time, and real emotion sometimes, in a paragraph, or whole chapter, to then have to delete it and start again is a sad moment…but sometimes a very necessary one. Trying to be left alone in peace to lose myself in my writing is also hard. I have a small studio I escape to, but even then, there are usually many interruptions and distractions. I tend to therefore write in the evenings, often late into the early hours and many a night until the Sun came up. But also being disciplined when outside the sun is shining and I am stuck indoors. To focus upon the scene or information I am writing about. Keeping things real and accuracy and continuity are perhaps the hardest aspects of writing, especially such a lengthy story as Outremer. I had to write check lists I could refer back to so I did not miss out something I had said would be covered later. Even then I still missed out two elements by the time I got to the end of book 4, which I had to rewrite to incorporate the missing elements. Writing full time is a lonely existence in a lot of ways, but I am comfortable with that.
What I do love about writing is the ability to travel anywhere and be anyone I want to be. But the greatest joy is when my writing touches someone. When it makes them stop and think…when it has had a positive impact and in some cases, as I am discovering, given the reader some answers and comfort…and hope.
My studio in England is not my favourite place to read and write I must confess but it is in my top five. Number one being Cyprus as I said at the start, for that is where it all started for me. Two has to be my small studio in France where it is tranquil and remote with stunning scenery whatever the weather. Three has to be Scotland when I am able…not as often as I would like and comes a very close to France. Cairo in Egypt has to be number four having learnt so much there and immersing myself it its history. Sitting writing with the backdrop of the Giza pyramids will always stay with. Finally number five is my studio in England…but in truth, any forest, ancient ruin, temple or Cathedral that I happen to visit inspires me and out comes my notebook and sketchpad.
Here’s more information about
Outremer 4: Who Controls the Present, Controls the Past by D. N. Carter
A great secret from antiquity is threatened; its eradication, if successful, will lead to mankind’s destruction. There can be no compromise in safeguarding it, whatever the fateful consequences to those entrusted with its continuation.
Paul faces impossible choices, ones he cannot make alone. Who can he trust? How can he protect this secret as the world around him falls apart as Outremer descends into a deliberately orchestrated war of unparalleled violence, with Christianity and Islam pitted against one another?
Amid the horrors of total war, Paul must decipher the secret, how it has been updated and encoded within the mysteries of Mary Magdalene and the sacred feminine, and how it must be restored if is to be preserved successfully so that mankind can claim its true inheritance, one of unimaginable power. Evil forces wish to control and destroy the secret to stop a new dawn of spiritual awakening, cultivating instead a climate of fear, anger, judgment and the eventual enslavement of our souls.
Wiser, braver and nobler individuals step forwards, just as they have always done in the past to intercede against evil, and it is to those men and women Paul must turn. Just when all appears lost, Paul must find true courage, perseverance and faith, and make the ultimate sacrifice. Failure on his part will risk losing this arcane message forever.
The time to act is now.
Information about the Book
Title: Outremer lV: Who Controls the Present, Controls the Past
Author: D. N. Carter
Release Date: 5th September 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
Page Count: 746
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47958361-outremer-iv
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07TKPJ9G5/
D.N. Carter has enjoyed a lifelong love affair with archaeology, cartography and the history, myths and legends of the Middle Ages. As an adventurer he has travelled the world, enjoys parachuting, recently taken up microlight flying and paints in his limited spare time as an artist. Outremer has been forty years in the making and his interest in these matters ultimately led to a career in science and research. Now in his fifties he presently spends his time living between England and France with his family, plus dog and some gold fish, but continues his travels researching and exploring; a path that shows no signs of slowing down.
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Many thanks to D N Carter for his Guest Post and to Faye Rogers at Authoright for providing materials for this post and organising the tour it is part of.