If you love the idea of a historical mystery, then The Last Treasure of Ancient England is definitely a book that you should pick up. Written by two co-authors, this novel begins after the Battle of Hastings, way back in the year 1066.
To be honest, I didn't know anything about this book until the authors and I corresponded a few times over the wonderful worldwide web (hello, skynet!). I enjoyed getting to know them through their interview and I think that you will, too. Give their book a try - support independent authors and pick it up today!
Interview with M. J. Colewood
THE LAST TREASURE OF ANCIENT ENGLAND
You may be surprised to learn that M.J. Colewood is in fact not one author, but two: Mark Colenutt and Jacqueline Wood.
Welcome to Writing Belle! Tell us about yourselves, and how you became a writing team.
We were both teaching at the same school and if I remember rightly, the first conversation that we ever had was about books. Many a lunchtime was spent discussing authors and eventually we were brave enough to talk about our own writing. Over the years we’ve been involved in our own projects, but Mark had an idea that he particularly wanted to see come to fruition. One day he asked if I would be interested in co-authoring a book. When he told me what it was about I was only too happy to get involved.
Tell us about the novel you wrote. How did it come about - and where did you get inspiration from?
The Last Treasure of Ancient England is what can only be described as a historical mystery adventure story. It begins in 1066 in the aftermath of the Battle of Hastings when the corpse of King Harold is looted. The disappearance of a particular item enrages Duke William, and only one of his knights knows its whereabouts. In his remaining years, this knight has to make a decision: will he ever share his secret, or take the greatest enigma in English history to the grave.
When Chester Bentley arrives at his new boarding school in 1981, he is unprepared for the mystery it conceals. Then, the discovery of an age-old riddle lures him and his friends into a quest to uncover the secrets safeguarded by the stately manor house. Hidden somewhere in the county is an extraordinary treasure and the school holds the key to its location. But something is lurking in the dark, shadowing their night-time adventures, and a ghostly legend puts fear into the bravest of pupils. Can they succeed where others have failed and even died, in a chilling hunt to reveal the last treasure of ancient England?
The idea for the story came from Mark’s own time at Buckland House School in Devon:
“One finds that classroom time is quality daydreaming time and I put those endless hours to that fine use. My school had an ancient history, with its Norman foundations and that coupled with a few other notable characteristics set my mind meandering during many a Latin lesson. I later went on to do a degree in Medieval history and that added more fuel to what was gradually transforming itself into a story. Just 35 years later I had it all worked out, more or less, which if you were to ask any of my bygone teachers was pretty quick going for Master Colenutt.”
The story covers three eras, the 1980’s which comes from Mark’s own experience, the 1930’s and 1066. Mark has an MA in history and did meticulous research around the subject. The challenge was, taking a famous person like William the Conqueror and portraying him in an accurate light. The battle speech for example is so convincing that it’s hard to believe that those weren’t his actual words.
There is a lot of research involved for everything. You must get the details right and it’s essential to stop and question everything: what did people wear, eat, do and say? It’s a bit like spotting a spectator wearing glasses in the hippodrome as Ben Hur flies past in his chariot, or plastic bottle of water in the background of a television drama set in Victorian times, people will pick up on it immediately. William the Conqueror would have benefited from having a mobile phone in his pocket to plan his military campaign, but it just can’t happen.
How long did it actually take you to write the book itself - from day one to publication?
Just over a year. We began by planning the storyline, clues, chapters and characters. Because it’s the first book in the series, we also had to think very carefully about how we want the characters to be in the future, to ensure that their development throughout the first book is consistent with that plan. Then came the writing and lastly the moment of truth when we gave the book to our first readers. They came back with comments which we considered, then we made some changes, even at the last minute before publication.
Are you planning on writing any more books after this?
Yes, this is the first of Chester Bentley’s mysteries and we have a very good idea of what those mysteries will be. We also have our own projects on a back burner. I have a children’s book which needs to see the light of day and Mark has several self-published titles already out there in his Hispanophile series covering Don Quixote and Old Seville among other topics. He also has two non-fiction history titles: Under Providence, about how Britain really took power in India and a further revisionary title concerning the Raj which he is presently seeking representation for.
Where can readers connect with you guys online?
We’ve got a website www.chesterbentleymysteries.com where you can find out background information about us and the book, as well as contact details. You can connect with us on Twitter: @MJColewood, Facebook: Chester Bentley Mysteries and you can also find us on Goodreads.
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