I have the pleasure of welcoming Mike Ward to Chat About Books today 🙂

Mike Ward (social media profile pic)

Dear Mike,

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?

My name is Michael Ward. I’ve worked with words all my life, as a reporter, a journalism academic and a copywriter. ‘Rags of Time’ is my first venture into fiction – a historical murder mystery set in 17th century London on the eve of the English Civil War.

Where do you get your ideas from?

The people who lived in the 17th century – their hopes, fears, plans, prejudices, loves and losses.

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?

One or two have elements of people I have known, which I think is inevitable as a writer.

How do you pick your characters’ names?

Quite carefully. Although it’s easy to avoid the Brooklyns and Britneys, there are a number of more run-of-the-mill first names that were not in common usage in the 17th century. I sometimes use the lists of passengers sailing to the New World in the 1600s – guaranteed to be authentic.

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

I start out with a central idea, what the book is about, and then devise a schematic to deliver the idea. That informs the story’s structure which finally develops into a (very) flexible chapter outline. Then it’s just a question of getting something on the page that I can work on, reshape, refine and, on occasion, throw away. 

Who are your top 5 favourite authors?

Hilary Mantel, Patrick O’Brian, CJ Sansom, Bernard Cornwell, Toby Clements.

If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Hilary Mantel. I would want to know the same as everyone else – how did she develop the brilliant immersive narrative that illuminates every page of her Cromwell trilogy?  

Were you a big reader as a child?

Not especially. I made good use of my local library but was just as happy playing football.

When did you start to write?

I started writing fiction about five years ago. Although I had been writing factual content for many years, it took me a long time to feel ready for fiction. I knew how difficult it would be, and I wasn’t disappointed!

Is there a book you wish you had written?

Wolf Hall

If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?  

In a Minute  (those who know me would get the joke)

If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?

Captain Jack Aubrey, the marvellous creation of Patrick O’Brian. I would get the Royal Navy’s permission for us to take coffee on the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth…and just watch his face.

Tell us a random fact about yourself

My first ever journalism interview was with Frank Zappa at the age of 16.

What are you working on right now?

The sequel to Rags of Time. It features more adventures for Tom Tallant and Elizabeth Seymour as London collapses into chaos and the outbreak of Civil War. Due out next March.

What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?

Sleep!

How can readers keep in touch with you?

They can follow me on Twitter @mikewardmedia or email me at mike@mikewardmedia.com.

I love hearing from readers and getting feedback on my books.

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

That Vivian Stanshall was a comic genius. I never miss an opportunity to share that knowledge.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Mike 🙂

‘A satisfying, brooding mystery set in Stuart England anticipating the coming Civil War.’ Paul Walker, author of State of Treason

London.

1639.

Thomas Tallant, a young and ambitious Spice Merchant, returns from India to find his city in turmoil.

A bitter struggle is brewing between King Charles I and Parliament, as England slides into civil war. The capital is simmering with dissent. The conflict is ready to boil over.

But Thomas soon has other troubles to contend with. A wealthy merchant, Sir Joseph Venell, is savagely killed; then his partner Sir Hugh Swofford plunges to his death, in the Tallant household.

Suspicion falls on Thomas, who is sucked into a mire of treachery and rumour within the City of London. As the merchant struggles to clear his name, he becomes captivated by the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour, whose passion for astronomy and mathematics is matched only by her addiction to the gaming tables.

Pursued by the authorities, Thomas races to unmask the real killer who claims a third victim to implicate him further, toying with his future in a deadly cat and mouse game.

In a desperate race against time, Elizabeth applies her powers of logic and deduction to unearth the clues that will point to the killer, but her way is barred by a secret message from the grave.

Can she crack its code before Thomas, now a wounded and exhausted fugitive, succumbs to the chase?

And, if she succeeds, has Thomas the strength to face his tormentor and win his life and reputation back?

Rags of Time is the first book in an engaging and entertaining new historical crime series, set during the upheaval of the 17th Century. Recommended for fans of Andrew Taylor, CJ Sansom and SJ Parris.

Praise for Michael Ward:

‘I loved it; a wickedly dark murder mystery set in Stuart London.’ Jemahl Evans, author of The Last Roundhead

Michael Ward is a former journalist and academic. He now runs his own consultancy providing content services and training to a wide range of British companies and public sector organisations.

happy reading 🙂

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