Norman invasions, religious crusades and Archbishops running for their lives. There's peril around every corner in this era.
Ben Kane was born in Kenya, courtesy of the fact that his dad was working out there as a veterinarian. He moved to Ireland (where his parents are from) when he was 7, and that’s where he grew up. He did the usual school thing, whilst becoming an avid reader of just about any genre, but especially military and historical fiction. Ben spent nearly all his pocket money on books and devoured the contents of the local library. Favourites included Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s medieval tales, Sir Nigel and The White Company; he did love the Sherlock Holmes books too though. Other top books were Rosemary Sutcliffe’s Eagle of the Ninth and The Silver Branch, Henry Treece’s Viking sagas, as well as loads of fantasy – JRR Tolkien, Guy Gavriel Kay, Julian May, Roger Zelazny and Stephen Donaldson. He could go on…
Although Ben loved reading, he never really thought about studying English or writing. Why, he’s not completely sure. As a real animal lover, all he’d ever wanted to be was a veterinarian, so that’s what he put on his university application form. Five years in college followed – a great time was had by all – and then a career in veterinary started. In 1996, Ben moved to the UK to concentrate on ‘small’ animal practice, but his itchy feet took him abroad in 1997, on a 3 month solo trip along part of the ancient Silk Road. Visiting the ruins of Merv, in Turkmenistan, started his interest in the Roman campaign into Parthia in 53 BC.
Ben felt the urge to travel again soon after returning, and in 1998, he set out on a trip around the world which lasted for nearly 3 years. It was during this prolonged time abroad that he first had thoughts of writing military historical fiction – sparked first he thinks by wondering what he could do apart from being a veterinarian.
Ben returned to the UK in early 2001, dragging himself back to ‘reality’ and the ‘real world’ of a career, a mortgage and so on. The terrible Foot and Mouth outbreak occurred a month or so after his return, and he volunteered almost immediately. The work took him to the stunning county of Northumberland, and the buzzing city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where he was to spend nearly a year. While the work of slaughtering livestock was truly awful – to put it mildly – he was able to visit some of the amazing Roman sites and museums along Hadrian’s Wall as well.
These were places that he had longed to visit as a child, and his imagination ran riot as he stood on the craggy ridges looking north, and wondering what the Italian legionaries first posted here must have thought. How had the Scottish tribes reacted to the mighty structure which dwarfed anything they’d seen before? Ben’s determination to become a writer emerged then, and he started writing not long afterwards.
What started as a hobby soon became an obsession, and about four years later The Forgotten Legion emerged into the light. Through the hard work of Charlie Viney, his amazing agent, he managed to land a book deal in the summer of 2007. The rest, as they say, is history.
Ben also has a fantastic collection of novels based in Roman times.
Kevin Ashman is the author of twenty-two novels including the best-selling Roman Chronicles and highly ranked Medieval Sagas.
Always pushing the boundaries, he found further success with the India Sommers Mysteries as well as three other stand-alone projects, Vampire, Savage Eden and the dystopian horror story, The Last Citadel.
Kevin was born and raised in Wales in the United Kingdom and now writes full time having been signed by a major publishing company. He is married with four grown children and enjoys cycling, swimming and watching rugby as his hobbies.
Recent works include the Blood of Kings trilogy and the follow-up books, Warrior Princess and The Blade Bearer.
The most recent project is a six-book series about the Templars during the 12th century.
It has been Paula's ambition to one day be a writer since she was a little girl, coming home from school to sit at the table with her notebook and write stories that buzzed around in her head. A prolific reader, she loved nothing better than to spend weekends with a book in her hand. Earliest influences such as Rosemary Sutcliffe, Leon Garfield, Charles Dickens, C.S.Lewis, inspired an interest in history. Unfortunately life got in the way, and it was not until much later in life that she would achieve her lifelong aspiration and write the book she had promised herself she would one day write.
Her début novel, ‘Sons of the Wolf’ was first published with the assistance of SilverWood Books in 2012. More recently it was republished under her own publishing company, Longship Books. It is a story set in the years leading up to the Norman Conquest of England and the first in the Sons of the Wolf series, about this amazing time in English history. Her second novel, The Wolf Banner, has also been published in paperback and kindle and the third, is a WIP, Wolf's Bane and will be published later this year in 2021.
She has always admired the works of Sharon Penman and Bernard Cornwell, Edith Pargetter and Mary Stewart, amongst many others. History is a great love of hers and her interest in the subject goes beyond that of the keyboard. She also enjoys Anglo-Saxon re-enactment with Regia Anglorum, a great source of research for her writing. Paula says: “Ignore those who say you should write what is trending. Write for yourself first and foremost, for if you don't enjoy what you write, then you cannot expect others to."
Paul has a long-standing love of all things historical. Educated at the Skinners' School, Kent and the University of Leeds, Paul graduated with a Master's degrees in Anglo-Saxon History. Despite having carved out a thirty year career in IT governance at a major financial institution, history has never been far from his mind. His dream to become an author was finally realised in 2017 when his first novel (a second world war thriller that imagined a British plot to assassinate Hitler) was published. Since then, Paul has gravitated to more familiar ground with the Huscarl Chronicles trilogy which charts the adventures of Thurkill during the tumultuous period around 1066. His latest novel, Blood Price, is also set in the 11th century and is a murder mystery, inspired from the pages of the contemporary Chronicle of Ramsey Abbey. Paul is married to Julie, with whom he has two children, and lives in Cheshire.
More books set in this period
Griff Hosker writes in other categories and eras too. Check out his profile here.