If I Ruled the World by Elaine S Moxon

We asked local author Elaine Moxon to give us her version of the perfect world. We just didn't think that would involve taking us back a few thousand years!

This is tough to answer! Everyone has their own concept of Utopia and I would be the last person to insist that anyone lived the way I dictated. However, this is part of why I write historical fiction – to live in another time and experience a world I would like to live in. Dark Ages Britain is not an ideal world by any means: it is full of conflict, invasion, oppression, rivalry and a failing economy thanks to the departure of the Roman Empire. What draws me to this time is the simplicity of everyday life for the common people. Let me explain.

Pollution is minimal. Yes, everyone is burning wood, but there are no cars, aeroplanes, diesel locomotives or fuelled sea vessels. Travel is on foot, by horse or ox-drawn cart meaning distances take longer to cover. Life is therefore slower and without the technological interruptions we force upon ourselves today, such as social media, telephones and television. You don’t have to remember to log your every move on Facebook or keep up with episodes of your favourite television series. Instead, if you want to speak to someone you have to visit them to share news. Communal halls and temples are where large groups can exchange news and ideas for the community, sipping ale or mead and listening to someone sing songs of historic events.

Ever wanted to work from home instead of slogging through that daily commute? Live in the 5th Century AD and you can! You might have to rise a lot earlier than you do now (with the cockerel’s crow at the break of dawn, rather than an alarm clock tuned to your favourite radio station), but you’ll have fresh eggs from your own fowl and warm goats’ milk. Vegetables and herbs will be grown in a plot beside your home – enough to feed you and your family and perhaps some for barter at markets. Oh yes, and there is no coin – money no longer exists. Following Rome’s departure around 410AD coin held less and less value and bartering returned to Britain. You’ll need to fatten that pig so you can get a good price, or have plenty pork to salt and store through winter.

Do you spend half your wages on new clothes and beauty products? In Dark Ages Britain you’d be making both yourself. If you’re lucky enough to own goats or sheep you’ll have a supply of wool to spin and weave into patterned fabrics, having dyed it with vegetables and plants to your own choice of colours. There is no need to fret over that dress size you’re trying to get into – a peplos is ‘one size fits all’! Shoes (if you are wealthy enough to afford them) and belts are made of leather, possibly from another crafts person in your own village and you can knit your own stockings. If you are nobility you’ll be able to add some sumptuous brocade to the edges of your tunics, the fashion status symbol of the time. Beauty products can be made using milk and animal fats, scented with herbs or plant essences.

Many people today are becoming more and more interested in self-sufficiency and this is something I do like to see. We must remember after all, that we are an island. It makes sense to know you can grab some eggs from the bottom of your garden and pick a few spuds and cabbages if you need Sunday dinner accompaniments. Allotments are making a comeback and I often see people at garden centres investing in fruit trees.

Another trend is sustainable energy and the amount of homes with solar panels is growing week by week it seems. If there was one thing I would bring to this simpler Dark Ages life it would be advances in clean energy and medicine. There are already many who have built new homes with sustainable materials, living the eco-friendly life.

I myself have two apple trees and am making preparations to grow my own vegetables. I use flowers from my own garden as cut flowers to save on the cost of purchasing expensive bouquets and currently buy fruit and vegetables from a local supplier. Living close to the land and its changing seasons and making use of the immediate community harks back to these simpler, more ancient times I write about. Farmers’ markets and summer fêtes are lingering reminders of a close-knit ethos that once existed throughout Britain. Whether you live in a village or a bustling city, you can still become part of a community, buying locally and ethically; we can still grasp an essence of earlier times. Turn off your televisions and have a conversation, share wisdom and interests with those around you. The future is what we make it and perhaps we can learn a little from the past.

 

Elaine’s debut novel ‘WULFSUNA’ (Book 1 in the Wolf Spear Saga series) charts the journey of the Saxon tribe of the same name as they return to Britain. Their mission: to reunite with other ‘Wolf Sons’ they left behind who settled on the isle when the Roman Empire departed. Betrayal finds them and unbeknownst to their Lord’s son Wulfgar, an ancient legendary Saga is weaving his fate. When they discover a dishevelled young Seer on the roadside, destinies are altered for many and the lives of Morwyneth and the Wulfsuna are irrevocably entwined.

‘WULFSUNA’ has already garnered several 5-star reviews from readers and fellow historical fiction authors and was in the May issue of the ‘Historical Novel Society’ Indie Reviews. Elaine is currently writing Book 2 of the Wolf Spear Saga, due for release in 2016. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads and runs a blog and website. She lives in Birmingham with her family and their crazy chocolate Labrador, and loves baking, language etymology and of course, history! She has recently begun making her own 5th Century Saxon costume to wear at events (or round the house).

‘WULFSUNA’ is available as a paperback and eBook and can be purchased from the following sites: SilverWood Books, Kobe, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com

PowWow Litfest 2013 – Organised by writers, for writers

By Elaine S Moxon PowWow litfest-2013-bw-largeFurther to my previous article on my local writers’ group ‘Prince of Wales Writers on Writing’ (PowWow), I would like to share details of our fun and informal literary festival, held each year in Moseley village. This year we have an exciting line-up, packed full of events and talks, expanded to two venues to cater for increased demand.

Saturday 14th September 2013

Moseley Exchange, 149-153 Alcester Rd, Moseley, B13 8JP

‘Book Doctor’ - Luke Brown, editor/author: half-hour consultations on how to improve your work for submission to agents/publishers. [Must book in advance.]

‘Writing for Children’ - Karen King, established children’s author/magazine contributor: how to create characters and stories children love.

‘Writing Flash Fiction’ - Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn, author/creative writing tutor: tips on packing punch into restrictions of very short fiction.

‘Poetry’ - Matt Nunn, experienced poet/co-editor of Nine Arches Press: use of rhythm and imagery to enhance your poetry.

‘Self-Publishing’ - David Wake, award-winning published playwright: find out what it’s about and be guided through the process.

‘Kick Start your writing’ - Karen King, Falmouth University lecturer of Professional Writing and Illustration/mentor/writer: for anyone struggling with ideas and where to start, both new and established writers.

‘Collaborative Writing Workshop’ - Heide Goody and Iain Grant, best-selling authors: fun games and activities to develop a story with a partner matched with you in the workshop.

http://moseleyexchange.com/

Sunday 15th September 2013

Prince of Wales garden marquee, 118 Alcester Rd, Moseley, B13 8EE

There will be the usual on-stage interviews and discussions, audience participation with question and answer, which is always fun and the chance to network with our speakers and other writers.

  • Adam Foulds, multi-award winner; one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists 2013
  • M John Harrison, legendary writer of speculative fiction
  • Suzi Feay, influential book reviewer and literary prize judge
  • Danuta Kean, publishing analyst and cultural commentator
  • Stan Nicholls, award winning, million selling author of the ‘Orcs’ series
  • Mark Edwards, bestselling self-published crime writer
  • Lucy Luck, literary agent

I’ll be there and shall be writing a follow-on article, with feedback from attendees and photos of the weekend. If you love writers/writing/reading come along. I’m sure you will find something of interest.

Further information can be obtained from the website.

By Elaine S Moxon who can be contacted on Twitter @word_seeker or discover more about her work on her blog.

POW-WOW! It's a Writing Group!

By Elaine S Moxon PowWow group collagePow-Wow Writers’ Group (Prince of Wales Writers on Writing) is located within a cosy back room of the Prince of Wales pub in Moseley, Birmingham. On winter nights a log fire crackles in the hearth and there is an unspoken race by attendees to arrive in time to snatch a spot on the old sofa. We all settle in with our various beverages, laughing as we jostle and squeeze ourselves onto benches, stools and armchairs. The group organiser, Andrew Killeen, leads us off into a structured though relaxed evening.

We meet on a Tuesday evening from 8pm and each session begins with each of us giving our names and a brief run-down of the past week’s writing, if any. Three weeks out of four we have a discussion for the first half of the meeting with topics voted on by members each month. The second half of the meeting is for two people to read an extract of their work for critique. The last week in every month is a pure critique night where 3 people read and monthly on a Wednesday there is an extra critique night.

Affection and understanding wrap around you, enriched with encouragement and constructive criticism. Honesty abounds and you can leave each week, confident that you have the tools and map to rewrite your mistakes. Everyone falters from time to time and, now and then, we triumph with a piece of prose. Whether you can attend every week, every month or only occasionally, it matters not. All are equal. We are published writers, unpublished writers, poets, short story writers and novelists. We span all genres, ages and styles. We are Pow-Wow and we are a writing family.

If you want to find out more about Prince of Wales Writers on Writing, visit our website with Members’ Forum and updates on what we are up to here.

On 14th and 15th September 2013 PowWow Litfest will be on in Moseley. Tickets are available now. It will be an ideal opportunity to meet members and discover what we are all about, as well as learn from some interesting guest speakers and workshops, which I will be detailing in my next article. Follow us on Twitter.

By Elaine S Moxon who can be contacted on Twitter @word_seeker or discover more about her work on her blog.

Photos by Elaine S Moxon and Peter Gough.

Meet the Writer: Katharine D’Souza

By Elaine S Moxon Katharine D’Souza is a Birmingham writer. Her novel ‘Park Life’ features locations in and around the south of the city, such as Moseley and Kings Heath, and charts the story about two very different people thrown into each other’s lives because they become neighbours. Katharine attends the PowWow writers’ group in Moseley and is involved in organising the PowWow LitFest - a festival for writers to be held in Moseley September 2013. In addition to her writing she works for a university, sings in a community choir, reads for a talking newspaper for the blind and enjoys theatre and cinema trips.

PicMonkey Collage

1) What inspired you to set your novel in Birmingham?

I came from London to Birmingham over twenty years ago and stayed because I like it so much. There’s loads going on. Everything is more accessible and cheaper than equivalents down south, plus the people are friendlier; it’s that in particular that sparked the train of thought, which ended as a novel. ‘Park Life’ is a celebration of the things I like most about Brum: the people, the independent businesses (especially the cafes!) and the parks. We like to throw facts around about Birmingham: second city, more canals than Venice, etc, but the fact I’m most fond of is that we have more parks than Paris - one reason why it’s nicer here!

2) Do you have a favourite landmark in Birmingham and why?

That’s a tough one. I’m fond of Old Joe, the University clock tower (tallest free standing clock tower in Europe, fact fans!). It caught my eye when I first came to Brum to see my brother graduate from Birmingham University and I see it on a daily basis. I love driving past Selly Manor; Brum has so many new buildings and I like the reminder that people were busy here even before the Tudor period, which is when the building dates from. If I have to pick a favourite it would be the new library. I know others disagree with me, but I think it looks great from the outside, although I reserve the right to change my mind if the inside turns out to be a disaster when they finally let us see it!

3) Are there any places you mention in 'Park Life' that are particular favourites in relation to the story?

Definitely the parks; Highgate Park is one of my favourites because it’s that little bit wilder than the others, although if I still lived in Moseley the ‘secret park’ would win. If my fictional café Tall Trees actually existed, I’d have to pick there.  In its absence, I indulge my need to eat cake in many of the other great independent cafes we’re lucky to have.

Contact Katherine via Twitter @KatharineDS or visit her website to find out more: www.katharinedsouza.co.uk

Interview by Elaine S Moxon who can be contacted on Twitter @word_seeker or discover more about her work on her blog.