Tag Archives: history

In which the Author gives a class on writing non-fiction…

Do you have the next A Year in Provence in you? What about another bestseller like The Suspicions of Mr Whicher? Did you know it is generally easier to get non-fiction published as compared to a novel?
My next bijou writing class will be on Saturday 7th November and will cover all kinds of non-fiction. Location: Gers, Southwest France.
Ideal for anyone interested in writing:
    Autobiography / memoirs / biography
    History of any kind
    Practical / how-to books
    Travel / Exploration / Guidebooks
    Arts / Culture
    Science / technology
    The paranormal / folklore / mysteries
    Social sciences
    True crime
    … you name it
We’ll cover:
    Universal basics of writing non-fiction
    Research, Illustrations, Copyright
    Structure, Narrative, Style & Voice
    Getting Published
Fee is €23 for the full day.
Your tutor is the author of 36 non-fiction books (and much more besides).
To book tel 05 62 09 91 19 or email geoffholder1@mac.com
WRITING NON-FICTION poster

In which the Author has some Zombies reviewed on The Spooky Isles…

There’s a genial review of my book ‘Zombies From History’ on The Spooky Isles site. “Holder’s humour and writing style is very engaging,” apparently. The book serves as “an excellent and entertaining introduction to famous

historical figures” as “he hammers home facts which you may not forget in a hurry.” Oh, and “The illustrations are also rather amusing and really well done.”

And the reviewer, a former sociology student, appreciated the joke about a resurrected Karl Marx leading the

Living Dead faction of the anti-capitalism movement with the slogan “Zombies of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your brains”.

zombies cover

The full review is here. And ‘Zombies from History: A Hunter’s Guide’, the definitive work on what do do when the

historic dead return during the zombie apocalypse, can be purchased on that there Amazon for ready money here.

spooky isles

My thanks to MJ Steel Collins.

Bloody History of Britain cover

In which the Author proofs his next book: Bloody British History…

Bloody British History is my next non-fiction book for The History Press. It deals exclusively with the sanguinary

moments in British history, from prehistoric cannibals and the reality of  Iron Age warfare to First World War

Zeppelin raids and the Gestapo’s detailed plans for ‘rationalising’ an occupied Britain in 1940.

Along the way you will encounter bloody massacres, revolting peasants, battles at sea and on land, foul murders,

royal executions, piracy in the English Channel, and a multitude of inventive punishments. There are also

explorations of the tactics of Roman Special Forces, how to boil people to death, and a medieval case of sex, lies and witchcraft.

William the Conqueror, Richard the Lionheart, Mary, Queen of Scots and the seven putative assassins of Queen

Victoria all get a look-in as well. Other episodes instruct you how to use medieval chemical weapons to blind your opponents, why the Wars of the Roses were like the longest football match ever, and the use of cheese as an

instrument of torture.

Yes, cheese.

One of the key moments between an author delivering the manuscript and the book actually being published is the revising of the proofs. These are the pages of the book printed out on double-sided A3 pages. The author combs

through the proofs, correcting any typos, formatting errors, incorrect image captions and so on. I’ve just completed this stage, and it’s a pleasure to see my prose matched with full-colour images on every page – not to mention

liberal splashes of graphic designer gore.

Here’s a preview of the cover, which may change a little between now and publication. Bloody British History will

be published in September. Bloody History of Britain cover

And so: there shall be blood.

In which the Author takes part in the Creative Process Blog Tour…

The Creative Process Blog Tour

My thanks to Hilary McGrath for nominating me for this round of the Creative Process Blog Tour, where writers get to answer four questions and whitter on about their innermost creative processes.

Note: every word below is the absolute unvarnished truth.

Except for the lies.

What am I working on?

1) VAMPIRES. 

I’m sending my completed iconoclastic vampire novel Palefaces out to literary agents. The tagline:

Cops – vampires – vampire cops.

There will, almost certainly, be some blood.

 

There will, almost certainly, be some rejections.

the vampire

2) CRIME. 

I’m half way through the writing of Sex, Lies and Croissants, a softboiled crime novel set in southwest France,

featuring a handsome but irredeemably grumpy British detective mixed up with porn stars, religious maniacs and

drunk Frenchmen with guns. First in a series, if the gods be kind.

3796019-gun-and-blood-splatter-murder-scene 5875090-fresh-croissants

3) BLOODY HISTORY. 

I’m working through the proofs for The Bloody History of Britain, which will be published by The History Press in September. This will be my 31st non-fiction book. Expect:

Cannibals from the Dawn of Time

Anarchy in the UK (12th century style)

Pirate Monks

The Six Executions of Henry VIII

Plus Norman genocide, Nazis, Zeppelins, Jacobites, and a surfeit of lampreys.

All this and murders, torture, massacres, punishments, castrations and executions galore. You’ve got to laugh,

haven’t you?

16833yovdsxdqbr

4) SEX.

 I’m using allure, coquetry and a packet of powerful pheromones in the hope of attracting agents or publishers to a non-fiction book on some of the stranger but universal aspects of sex and sexual culture.

 

5) SHERBERT LEMONS.

Notes are being made and ideas corralled for a YA fantasy involving cryptozoology, time travel and sherbert

lemons. There may also be a fantasy/high-tech film screenplay incarcerated in the oubliette.

Book Collage for Site

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My natural tendency when I am writing is to upset the apple cart of expectations.

When writing about vampires, I want to destroy the entire accepted vampiric mythology and create a completely

new take on their origins, behaviour and sexuality.

If I’m setting a crime novel in rural Gascony – beloved by Terry Wogan and other Brits – my hero has to loathe

other expats and everything they stand for.

In The Bloody History of Britain I avoid the clichés of history and tell stories from the shadows: how Scotland

invented the concentration camp, the reason the Wars of the Roses were like a football match, and why King John was marginally better than that narcissistic psychopath Richard the Lionheart.

My ghost books are sceptical about ghosts. My paranormal books interrogate the paranormal rather than just

going ‘Woooh!’ Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, it is my pleasure to tamper with accepted ideas and default genre preoccupations. Punk iconoclasm, that’s what we need.

 Zombie-Geoff_MONOThe Guide to Mysterious PerthshirePoltergeist Over Scotland

Why do I write what I do?

I wrote my very first book, The Guide to Mysterious Perthshire, because I was living in Perthshire and it was

something I wanted to read – but there was simply nothing like it on the market. I write non-fiction on the weird and the strange because of a longstanding conviction that the world is weirder and stranger than most people think,

and that some of the data gathered may actually lead, one day, to a paradigm change.

And I write fiction because it is a socially acceptable way to kill people.

Zombie workshop the Arches Glasgow 30 Jan 2012 18-61

How does my writing process work?

I don’t actually have any ideas myself. I pay a subscription to an ideas-generating company based in the Cayman

Islands and they send me ten creative suggestions a month.

 

Who I nominate next…

I now pass the baton to those fine individuals and writers Kirstie Swain and Moore & Reppion. Good luck, chaps.

In which the Author publishes a new book on Scotland…

Little Book of Scotland

My latest book, The Little Book of Scotlandhas just been published. Here’s the blurb:

The ultimate compendium of trivia miscellany about Scotland’s unusual history

Take a funny, fast-paced, fact-packed look at the most frivolous, fantastic, or simply strange information that there

is to tell about Scotland. Here we find out about unusual crimes and punishments, eccentric inhabitants, famous

sons and daughters, and literally hundreds of other wacky facts about Scotland. This book contains historic and

contemporary trivia, including such gems as the real story of William “Braveheart” Wallace, which king was

murdered in a barn, and where the World War II Commandos were formed. With subjects ranging from Sir Walter Scott to Sir Sean Connery, Queen Victoria to Mary Queens of Scots, this remarkably engaging compendium is

essential reading for travelers and Scots alike.

scottish sun

The book has already picked up a fair amount of press interest in Scotland: here’s the full-page feature from

Saturday’s Scottish Sun. No doubt more to come.

The Little Book of Scotland can be picked up online here or here or at your favourite bricks-and-mortar bookshop – support bookshops, people, especially independent bookshops, they are Good Things.

In which the author publishes another book (this one’s on witchcraft)…

‘Maggie Wall – The Witch Who Never Was’ is out on December 1st. Telling the story of my investigations into the

famous Maggie Wall Witchcraft Monument in Perthshire, Scotland – the only historic monument to a named witch

in the whole of the UK – it is a non-fiction detective historical story, leading to some very surprising conclusions

about this most enigmatic of monuments. Here’s the blurb:

A remarkable and striking B-listed roadside cross in Perthshire is painted with the words

‘MAGGIE WALL

BURNT HERE

AS A WITCH 1657′

Maggie Wall has subsequently become the most famous witch in Scotland, featuring in folklore, folk history and

modern pagan belief alike.
Which is strange, seeing as she never existed.
This is the story of the Witch Who Never Was.

 

‘Maggie Wall – The Witch Who Never Was’ is  published as an ebook by The New Curiosity Shop out of Edinburgh. It is currently available on Amazon/Kindle, and will soon be downloadable for Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and the Apple iBookstore. The cost is around £2.80 or $3.60. 

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