Friday, 20 December 2013

From Carol McGrath A Conversation with Paula Lofting-Wilcox

Today I am interviewing Paula Lofting-Wilcox, whom we all know well at the review blog and whose novel Sons of the Wolf I can highly recommend.

Sons of the Wolf

Carol: I very much enjoyed reading Sons of the Wolf. Can you tell us a little about this novel and how you came to write it? 

Paula: Hi Carol, firstly thank you so much for having me on your blog slot here. I’m very     honoured to be interviewed by you. The idea for Sons was inspired by a book called 1066 – The Year of the Conquest by David Howarth.   
Mr Howarth was a historian and had written this book about the Conquest from the viewpoint of an English village – the village he was living in Sussex, one of the shires that was most affected by the invasion. The village was called Horstede and he described the place so vividly that as I read, I visualised the scene in my head, creating the framework of a novel. He gave me the name of the thegn who owned the land and that of his neighbour and a story slowly developed. I had been looking for a subject to write about and had become very interested in the Invasion and telling it from the English point of view, but there had already been some very good books written about Harold and William, Georgette Heyer’s The Conquest, Helen Hollick’s Harold the King, Valerie Anand’s Godwin series and Hope Muntz’s, The Golden Warrior. What could I bring to the subject that had not already been done? David Howarth’s book inspired me to write from the point of view of the ordinary men and women of the time and he provided me with the inspiration to write about Horstede, set in Sussex where I also live and Wulfhere, the thegn – a real person documented in the Domesday book.   With no other data available about him, I was able to create a fictional character and a storyline, centred around a bloodfeud between him and his neighbour Helghi, entwined with historical characters and facts from the day. 

Domesday Book, Wikipedia.    

Carol: There is much to bring to this subject and I think your approach terrific. The Review Blog which you have inspired has already proved very successful. It is an achievement. Can you tell us how you thought of this facebook linked blog and its associated pages and a little about how you would see it progressing. 

Image of Paula Lofting

Paula: I got this idea one day that there should be a group for sharing and promoting books through the medium of reviews. There were so many writers and book groups on Facebook that promoted and shared links to buy books, but I thought what better way of promoting books and helping fellow authors than by people sharing how much they enjoyed the book. So I created the Facebook group and gradually built up a solid admin base with people who are readers, reviewers and authors. Stephanie Moore Hopkins and I developed the idea of a blog linked to the group and it grew from there. Aside from my lovely team of admins, of which you are one, we have a great team of reviewers. The Review Blog is not just about reviews though, we are more of a magazine type outfit with lots of different features as well as reviews and interviews.

Carol: It is an excellent idea so as an author I thank you for conceiving it. Now, you appear to be a super busy lady, Paula. How do you balance everything, work, writing and reviewing?

Paula: Haha, that’s a good question. My own writing has gone on the back burner for now until January when I may need to have a hiatus from the Review for a bit while I work on the sequel to Sons of the Wolf, The Wolf Banner. I’m almost there!
Carol: Good and I for one can’t wait so hurry up. I love the premise. You are also a re enactor. How often do you participate and can you tell us briefly, maybe a short anecdote, about one of your most fulfilling experiences whilst in Anglo-Saxon persona. And I am dying to know to what extent the Anglo-Saxon reenactor is authentic about gear or clothing or both. I mean, do you have a particular role?

Paula:  I belong to Regia Anglorum Re-enactment Society and am a proud member for 6 and a half years. I initially joined to help me with my writing, now the way I see it is how can my writing help my re-enacting! I absolutely love it. It gives me a feel of what it was like to be around in those days and we are the only UK based Re-enactment Society that has their own base, Wychurst,  a Saxon Long Hall, deep in the heart of Kent, surrounded by a nature reserve called  Wild Wood. It took 10 years to build and was totally built by the people in the society. They have done everything themselves. The first time I spent an evening round the huge hearth with likeminded friends, it was like, *sigh – This must be what it really felt like to live in a Longhall in the 11thc. Regia do pride themselves on their authenticity and are constantly updating their regulations as people do more research. Therefore we are very careful about how we present ourselves to the public. At shows there should be no makeup, no piercings on show, no modern accessories of any kind. We attempt to model ourselves on certain manuscript drawings. We have three types of authenticity, stuff that we are definitely sure about because the items have been provenance at least three times, stuff that is acceptable but the jury is still out and more research is being done, then there is the stuff that is totally NOT acceptable but may have in the past been thought of as authentic like horned helmets for Vikings lol!
That Hastings Hill! Was it there?

Carol: It must be a thrilling experience. Now, there has been controversy over the site of The Battle of Hastings. What are your thoughts?

Paula: Tricky. I’ve got to watch the Time Team programme again and go through it with a fine tooth comb, look at all the evidence before I am willing to commit myself to a firm view. What I will say is that the roundabout is a plausible place for the mustering point but that’s all I can say at the moment.

 Carol: It is not that far from the original site. A thought! I hope that the original still stands as well or one day it could be sold off. Ahem. Why am I so cynical. Finally, Paula, can you recommend three favourite novels, your inheritance novels, which you hold dear or perhaps which you find inspirational.

Paula:  Ah, that would have to be 1066 – The Year of the Conquest! (I often overlook this one).  2 – Oliver Twist and either Sword at Sunset or Dawn Wind by the marvellous Rosemary Sutcliffe. But this will be subject to change as I grow older.

What a lovely conversation this has been.  I, too, like Oliver Twist and I know the Howarth and loved it. It remains for me to say, thank you, and how much I enjoyed this. What an original thinker! Just get the new book out soon.


  1. I really enjoyed reading this interview - it was good to hear from Paula, who's usually so busy interviewing other writers that we don't get to hear much about herself!

  2. I read this interview twice and LOVE!! Thank you to both of you for all you do to support authors, the love of history and readers alike.

  3. What a fabulous interview, I just loved it.