Tuesday 5 December 2017

Today I am very pleased to share with you a guest post, written by one of the authors of The Fate of Kings, Mark Stibbe.


As the Terror begins to cast a great shadow over France, Thomas Pryce, the new Vicar of Deal, crosses the Channel to find the parents of his beautiful French wife. Facing grave dangers, he makes his way to Brittany where he not only discovers the fate of his in-laws but also uncovers a plot which threatens to topple the British monarchy. Fighting against a sinister secret society in a race against time, Pryce battles to thwart the plans of a Parisian spymaster and his agents in London. The Fate of Kings is the first in a series of gripping spy thrillers that will engross readers of C.J. Sansom, Dan Brown, as well as the many avid watchers of Poldark and Grantchester. In the first years of the British Secret Service, Thomas Pryce truly is the original James Bond.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the launch of The Fate of Kings in the wonderfully quirky Libraries on St Martin's Lane, where attendees were treated to cocktails, delicious canapes and suited and booted French soldiers, fresh out of a time machine. 

The authors, Mark and G.P. Taylor gave insightful speeches on the process of writing the book, and their own background which I found very interesting. 

As you can see, they went all out setting the theme of the book, here are the authors with the aforementioned soldiers. 

As you can see I couldn't resit either!

How easy is it to turn your hand to fiction after writing nonfiction?

That’s a question I’ve been asked a lot, not just during the writing of my novel The Fate of Kings, but also since its launch in Covent Garden.

As it’s a good question.

If you’d asked me before I started writing The Fate of Kings, I would have said, ‘It can’t be that difficult. I’m sure it will be a smooth transition.’

But I would have been wrong.

Very wrong.

Up until New Year 2013, I had written nearly 40 books of nonfiction. Some academic books, some instruction manuals, some compilations, and some devotional books. Many had been bestsellers and won awards. I therefore thought I’d got the art of writing taped.

When the figure of Thomas Pryce emerged in my imagination – the hero of The Fate of Kings – I began to turn my hand to writing fiction. I thought I was doing okay until I showed draft chapters to my friends in publishing, including the publishing of fiction. They were not very complimentary.
Literary agents, not being friends, were even less polite. 

My ego shrank, and my confidence with it.

Then, one morning, I saw an advert online for a fiction writer’s workshop in California. My twin sister Claire lives in the USA and is also a fulltime writer. She too was launching into novel writing – a strange synchronicity, if you ask me. I emailed her and asked if she was free. Just happened it was the only weekend she was available in the whole of that summer. Her husband was going to be flying model airplanes nearby, so it transpired.

I was penniless at the time, but I managed to scrape my way to the workshop, driving for thirteen hours without a break through the Nevada Desert to the hotel where the three-day class was being held.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, my late Mum used to say.

My twin sister and I met up and sat at the black of a classroom for the first time since we were seven years old.

And those three days changed everything.

I had learned the academic skills to analyse stories when I was a senior scholar of English Literature at Cambridge University back in the early 80s.

But critiquing is not the same as creating.

Many a fool can comment on a game of professional football and criticise players. And generally speaking, many a fool does. But very few can play the game at that level – creatively, incisively, effectively.

The same is true of stories. Anyone can tell you what they don’t like about a novel or a film, what’s wrong with it, what should have been done better. But precious few have the actual skills to create a tale that hooks and enthrals readers and viewers.

That’s an art.

But it’s not a mystical or innate skill – given from heaven, imparted at birth.

That would make it wholly inaccessible.

No, it’s one that can be learned, provided we have the humility to cultivate a teachable spirit, even when we think we’re already God’s gift to writing!

And so, I sat and listened to a novelist with a wonderfully unusual capacity to describe the essential skills for fiction writing, and to equip us to activate those skills on paper.

When those three days were over, I drove to a large Californian house that I was looking after for two months, sat at the dining room table with my laptop, and began to type away about Thomas Pryce.

The novelist had given me the skills to bring structure to my story, life to my characters, heft to my dialogue, and drama to my scenes.

I’m not saying I’m great at all this yet, but my sister and I are both discovering the truth that our father imparted to us. 

If you’re determined enough, you can succeed at anything.

Now my sister and I cannot stop writing. She’s on the fifth of a crazily brilliant series about a British detective in the Albuquerque Police Department. I am writing the second in the Thomas Pryce series, a novel called A Book in Time, planning a trilogy of very dark ecclesiastical thrillers, and publishing a Christmas story next September called Desperado.

So, if there’s one thing I recommend to all writers, whatever their genre, it’s this: never stop learning.

The book is available as an original paperback and as an ebook on Amazon – see the links below:




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  2. Fascinating interview- I am currently reading 'The Fate of Kings' and find it gripping.

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