Thursday marks publication day for Shields of Pride. It's a novel that was first published in the UK in 1993. In those days (she says, feeling ancient), I was still writing historical adventure fiction with imaginary protagonists rather than biographical fiction. I took actual historical events and wove my characters into the goings on.
In the case of Shields of Pride, my starting point was the rebellion of Henry II's heir The Young King in 1173. My hero was a mercenary captain who was the bastard son of a high ranking baron, and my heroine the young wife of one of the rebellious lords. Both had been damaged by the past and had to find a way to heal themselves and each other as they strove to stay alive and keep a balance as the conflict intensified around them and became personal.
'Shields' was my fifth novel and almost my last! Around that time Robert Maxwell's empire collapsed and authors were hived off to various publishing companies. I went to Signet, a publishing venture of Penguins which was short-lived. Historical fiction had hit the doldrums and the market was dead. Paperback sales of my earlier novels were dire. Basically they were published to fulfil the contractual obligation and then pulped. Other authors of historical fiction bit the dust around this time too and some never made it back. Fortunately for me, I was picked up by LittleBrown who bought The Conquest and The Champion, and had the bottle to stay with me through some very lean times indeed. Historical fiction has since picked up and everything is ticking over nicely at the moment, although I never rest on my laurels or anything else. It's still very precarious out there.
To return to Shields of Pride: Due to all the above misery, it was never published in paperback in this country, although there is a small print run hardcover edition. This is the cover. If you
own a copy, it's probably worth good money as they were only published for the library and collector's market.
Little Brown has now re-issued the novel in paperback form and I've overhauled it in the light of experience and increased historical knowledge.
Scroll down for more of its incarnations in other languages. I've also included the 'teaser trailer' which I've put up at Youtube.
Next year I begin reworking my first ever published novel The Wild Hunt for re-issue. That is indeed going to be strange and interesting to do after so long a time. I seldom revisit my material once it's published, so I don't remember much about it!
The Swedish version
HowBallantine in the USA saw it. Plate mail - yikes!
The Germans were more sensible!
The large print version - hmmm...
The audio version - looks a bit like a scene from
the Maciejowski Bible