Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for David Wragg’s The Black Hawks. More about the book later – first, a guest post!
Where did the Black Hawks come from?
Or “Whence came the Black Hawks?” if you like your titles pithy but archaic
Minor spoilers ahead, but if you’ve already read the blurb there shouldn’t be anything too destabilising
History was one of my favourite subjects at school. It’s no secret that you don’t have to look far with many works of fantasy to see their historical inspirations (cough Wars of the Roses cough), and I’m no great exception to the rule – no matter what horrors you can imagine, there’s always some historical bastard who got there first, often with considerably more enthusiasm. The period that most fascinated me was the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th Centuries, featuring treachery, intrigue, mercenary companies and wars by proxy, shocking assassinations and an overmighty church intent on carving out its own territorial legacy. Astute readers may be able to draw some parallels in the book.
I grew up immersed in Classic Quest Fantasy, from the Hobbit onwards, and internalised much of what I read as How Things Should Be Done. There should always be a journey, and a rag-tag band coming together to save the day from a terrible threat. Against that, however, we must balance…
My spiteful nature
I’m a contrary sod, and have an alarming tendency to do the opposite of what’s expected of me, simply because. The Black Hawks is the first of a two-part story (the Articles of Faith series) – a bilogy, not a trilogy, as my agent has begged me to stop calling it. I planned it as two instead of three just to be different. Many of the book’s events and characters are likewise a reaction to my much-loved fantasy tropes, starting with…
Fantasy has a tendency to put heroes front and centre (especially Heroic Fantasy, for some reason), from common-or-garden chosen ones to the Greatest Warrior Who Ever Lived to the Last Scion of the Bloodline and so forth. I thought it would be satisfying to focus more on those at the sharp end, who are just trying to scrape a living together while a fantasy plot-line rages on in the background. What might happen, for example, if you or I found ourselves caught up in the whirlwind of your standard fantastical intrigue?
Well, we’d almost certainly die immediately, so I had to take a few liberties with the story.
It’s not a huge spoiler to say Chel, the main character in the book, gets hurt.
As well as a genre fiction, I’ve enjoyed a bounty of chronic pain in various forms since my teens. I thought it might be nice to share some of that day-to-day unpleasantness with my protagonist.
(Hell is) Other people
I’m old enough to have had a lot of jobs and worked on many projects, and in every one of them it’s been the people alongside me who have made or wrecked the experience. It’s possible to perform horrible, mindless drudgery and still look forward to a day of glorious chat with brilliant colleagues; conversely, a shower of dreadful bastards can swiftly torpedo the dreamiest posting. Given the chance, I’d assemble my own mercenary crew in a heartbeat. But you don’t often get to pick your colleagues – and nor do my characters.
This modern world
The book, and its sequel, contain a few more modern parallels than I’d first intended. Some will be obvious, some more subtle, but it shows we can’t help being influenced by our creative climate. Black Hawks 1 was first drafted in 2015 in relative peace (then revised many times since), but book 2 was written in the chaos of 2016. You can see what you make of it next year.
The Black Hawks are unleashed on 3rd October.
The Black Hawks by David Wragg is published by HarperVoyager. Many thanks to David Wragg for the guest post, and to the publisher for the copy of David’s book for review. You can find David Wragg on twitter at @itsdavewragg, or at his website https://www.davewragg.com/
Life as a knight is not what Vedren Chel imagined. Bound by oath to a dead-end job in the service of a lazy step-uncle, Chel no longer dreams of glory – he dreams of going home.
When invaders throw the kingdom into turmoil, Chel finds opportunity in the chaos: if he escorts a stranded prince to safety, Chel will be released from his oath.
All he has to do is drag the brat from one side of the country to the other, through war and wilderness, chased all the way by ruthless assassins.
With killers on your trail, you need killers watching your back. You need the Black Hawk Company – mercenaries, fighters without equal, a squabbling, scrapping pack of rogues. Prepare to join the Black Hawks.