Rock, Paper, Swords!
By Matthew Harffy & Steven A. McKay
Bestselling authors Matthew Harffy and Steven A. McKay chat about writing action and adventure stories, diving into some of the more quirky and unusual aspects of history, with a detour through music and its role in their process.
Each episode covers different exciting themes, often with brilliant guests who help shed light on what Matthew and Steven have decided to talk about that week.
Rock, Paper, Swords!Sep 16, 2022
Angus Donald - Vikings, Robin Hood, and lots more!
Our guest today is Angus Donald, author of the Outlaw Chronicles, about a medieval gangster called Robin Hood, a 17th-century series about an unusual but rather brilliant chap called Holcroft Blood. And writing as Angus Macallan, he has also tried his hand at fantasy with the Gates of Stone.
His most recent novels are in the Fire Born series, set in 8th century Europe. Book four in the series, King of the North is published by Canelo on 28th September.
Welcome to RPS, Angus.
Paul Finch - 1066, crime writing, being in a "shieldwall" & Black Sabbath!
Our guest today is Paul Finch. Paul Finch is an English author and scriptwriter. He has a diverse and very successful career, from the popular TV programme The Bill, to horror and fantasy stories and films, Doctor Who spin-off stories and the incredibly successful gritty crime series of DS Mark Heck Heckenberg novels, with over 1 MILLION book sales!
Paul’s latest pivot has been to move into the historical fiction genre, writing under the name P.W. Finch. USURPER, set in the cataclysmic year of 1066, was published earlier this year.
Welcome to RPS, Paul.
Dr Joanne Ball, Roman/battlefield archaeologist!
Our guest today is Dr Joanne Ball. Joanne is a Roman archaeologist and battlefield archaeologist based at the University of Liverpool, with a PhD in Archaeology on the subject of Roman battlefield archaeology.
She is a regular contributor to several magazines focused on ancient history and was co-editor of Ancient World Magazine. And is soon to have published the Publius Quinctilius Varus: The Man Who Lost Three Roman Legions in the Teutoburg Disaster.
Welcome to RPS, Joanne.
Ethan Bale/Clifford Beal - The medieval action adventure author joins us today!
Our guest today is Ethan Bale, author of The Swords of the White Rose series.
Book 1, Hawker and the King's Jewel came out last year and the follow up, The Lost Prince, has just been published.
Ethan Bale (Clifford Beal), is a former defence journalist. Despite writing about modern military technology for much of his career, he was always passionate about history, particularly the Renaissance and early modern Europe.
Over the years he has been flung about in military aircraft, trained in 17th century rapier, fired flintlock pistols, messed about in boats, and ridden both horses and motorcycles. These days he is usually found wielding a pen and not a sword.
Welcome to RPS, Ethan!
Darren Hardy of Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing. Indie authors check this out!
Our guest today is Darren Hardy, manager of the UK Author and Editorial Programmes at Amazon. Before that Darren was UK Manager for Kindle Direct Publishing. With nearly 20 years working at Amazon, Darren is the perfect person to answer all our questions about what goes on behind the scenes at KDP and what new and exciting plans Amazon has for the future.
Join us today as we chat about things like:
The Kindle Storyteller Award - how to enter, and what you can win (20 grand!)
The "magic formula" for understanding Amazon's algorithms (there isn't one!)
Amazon's new book categories and how to use them best
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how it might affect KDP in future be it for "writing" nonsensical books, or affecting the charts
And a load more!
If you have a question that we didn't ask Darren please post it here, or on our social media pages and we'll pass them on!
https://www.facebook.com/RockPaperSwordsPodcast and Twitter @rock_swords
Jason Kingsley OBE - Modern History TV & Rebellion - Judge Dredd, 2000AD, Sniper Elite & more!
Our guest today is Jason Kingsley, an incredibly successful businessman and a technologist who is also obsessed with the past. He is CEO of Rebellion Developments, game developers responsible for such games as Alien Vs Predator and the hugely popular Sniper Elite. Rebellion Publishing purchased 2000AD in 2000, and publishes comics featuring some amazing characters such as Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog, Roy of the Rovers, and Slaine.
In 2017 Jason started a medieval history YouTube channel called Modern History TV, along with his brother Chris Kingsley, and senior producer Brian Jenkins, under the banner of Rebellion Productions. The YouTube channel has over three quarters of a million subscribers and provides a wealth of information. He also hosts the podcast, Future Imperfect.
In 2012, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for service to the economy.
Jason has a brand new book due out on July 18th 2023, Leading the Rebellion: Questing to Succeed in Work and Life
Welcome to Rock, Paper, Swords, Chief Judge Kingsley! ;-)
Alex Gough - Carbo Chronicles, ancient Rome, swearing in historical novels, music and loads more!
Alex Gough is an author of Roman historical adventures. The Carbo Chronicles, including Watchmen of Rome and Bandits of Rome, was written as a result of a lifelong obsession with ancient Rome, and the culmination of a lot of research into the underclasses of the time. He has also written a collection of adventures following Carbo and other characters from Watchmen of Rome, where you can learn more about their rich lives.
Alex loves our theme song so much that he recorded a cool tribute to it which you can find at the end of the episode.
If you're a musician and want to record your own cover version, send it to us and we'll use it in a future episode (unless it's really, REALLY bad lol)!
A couple of announcements!
This is a super short episode just to give listeners an update on how we're planning on moving forward with the podcast. Matthew's latest book, "Forest of Foes", gets a paperback release, and Steven has also just made a brand new MODERN DAY short story available for pre-order, called "Have You Seen This?" so we discuss those a little bit too.
Enjoy, and we really hope you liked the latest episode with Robin Warder of The Trail Went Cold podcast. Look out for our next episode on June 23rd which features an interview with bestselling historical author ALEX GOUGH!
HAVE YOU SEEN THIS? buy link (FREE with Kindle Unlimited!)
FOREST OF FOES paperback buy link (also FREE with Kindle Unlimited!)
Robin Warder/The Trail Went Cold - true crime inspiration for historical fiction tales!
TRIGGER WARNING! At 13:16 there's a VERY creepy answerphone message, listener discretion advised, don't listen alone in the dark... Today’s guest Robin Warder has written articles for various websites including Cracked.com, but he’s most well known for his excellent podcast The Trail Went Cold which is a true crime podcast he’s been doing since 2016, publishing more than 300 episodes in that time.
You may be wondering what this has to do with "historical action and adventure" but readers of Steven's Forest Lord novellas Faces of Darkness and Sworn to God will know they were based on true stories - true stories covered in episodes of The Trail Went Cold! We chat about those in this episode, and much more. This is something a little different and we really hope you enjoy it.
Welcome to Rock, Paper, Swords, Robin!
Trail Went Cold episode 18, Cindy James (Faces of Darkness inspiration) - https://www.trailwentcold.com/2016/10/12/the-trail-went-cold-episode-18-cindy-james/
Trail Went Cold 159 (Sworn to God inspiration) - https://www.trailwentcold.com/2020/01/29/the-trail-went-cold-episode-159-charles-southern/
Robin's articles on Cracked.com (brilliant stuff this!) - https://www.cracked.com/members/Robinwarder
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the impact it might have on writers, artists, and creatives in general. Scary stuff! Or is it...? Includes an AI-written song!
Artificial Intelligence, or AI for short, is a hot topic at the moment. Perhaps the HOTTEST topic. It is cropping up in the news every day and there are predictions that it will take our jobs away or even take over the world! It probably isn’t quite as dire as those predictions would have us believe, but there is no doubt that AI generated text and images are here to stay, not to mention many other uses that we haven’t even foreseen yet. There will be impacts on our daily lives and creatives are especially worried about their livelihoods as computers become more and more adept at doing what only humans could do till now.
We’re not experts on the subject and it is a HUGE subject, but we thought we’d have a quick chat about what AI can do now, what it might be able to do in the future and some of the complex issues arising as a result of this new technology.
Cover image was created by AI from directions Matthew gave it. It's supposed to be Beobrand from his Bernicia Chronicles lmao!
Ben Kane! Rome, Spartacus, medieval/ Richard the Lionheart, now Vikings in Ireland!
Ben Kane will need little introduction to many of our listeners, but here goes anyway. Ben is a historical fiction novelist, best known for his books set in the ancient world, particularly the Roman empire. His series include The Forgotten Legion, Spartacus, and the Hannibal series of books.
In 2013, Ben along with fellow novelists Anthony Riches and Russell Whitfield - walked the entire length of Hadrian's Wall for charity, wearing full Roman military kit. Then in 2014, they walked again in, but this time in Italy, raising over £26,500. A film was made of their walk, entitled The Road to Rome with Sir Ian McKellen providing the voiceover.
More recently, Ben has diversified into the medieval period with a trilogy of novels about Richard the Lionheart. His new book, published on 25th May 2023 is, Napoleon’s Spy and marks a further time shift into the early 19th century.
Welcome to Rock, Paper, Swords, Ben!
Viking Blood & Blade, and Kindle Storyteller WINNER Peter Gibbons chats to us today!
Peter Gibbons is an author based in Kildare, Ireland. He completed a Law Degree in Liverpool University before embarking on a career in the Insurance Industry.
After many years working in the UK & Ireland he decided to follow his dreams and wrote his debut novel, Viking Blood and Blade.
After smashing into the independently published historical fiction scene in 2021, he had his second series picked up by a publisher and went on to win the prestigious Kindle Storyteller Award in 2022.
Welcome to Rock, Paper, Swords, Peter!
Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson talks Norse/Viking mythology and his new album - RökFlöte!
Incredibly, we managed to get an interview with the legendary Tull frontman (Steven's favourite band in case you didn't hear him mention it on every previous episode...)!
Ian talked with us about the brand new, rocking Jethro Tull album RökFlöte, Norse mythology, Vladimir Putin appearing at a Tull meet-and-greet, the time journalists demanded details of his upcoming gender reassignment surgery, Broadsword 40th Anniversary boxset details, Under Wraps getting REAL drums, how he's a "bit of a fan" of Motörhead despite the umlauts, bands like Mötley Crüe using backing tapes on stage instead of playing completely live, how performing helps his asthma (not COPD!), how work is going on the NEXT album and its planned release date, and how he's a cranky old guy like Morrissey these days!
We were told we'd get, at most, 45 minutes with Ian but we ended up chatting for over 80 minutes and it was just brilliant. We think you'll enjoy this episode. Give it a listen and check out RökFlöte, it's superb!
Book covers! What makes a great cover ? Also, Steven's new book's COVER REVEAL is today!
On today’s episode we’re going to talk about the first thing that most readers see before they’ve read a single word of a book. The old adage goes that one should never judge a book by its cover, but we all know that the majority of people do just that.
A great cover can get a prospective reader to take a chance on a new author, and a bad cover can put people off, even though the story might be amazing.
We’ll take a look at some of the things that make covers work and also talk about our own journey with the covers to our books and the decisions we’ve taken.
Steven’s cover designers, More Visual - https://bookartwork.com/historical/
The first cover for The Abbey of Death - https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=1757691654257875&set=a.146569898703400
Blog post about creating the axe for Wolf of Wessex - https://bernicia-chronicles.blogspot.com/2019/06/art-imitating-art-birth-of-axe.html
Original The Serpent Sword cover - https://bernicia-chronicles.blogspot.com/2015/02/potential-cover-reveal-serpent-sword.html
Lots of great quotes/tips in this article: https://nybookeditors.com/2016/10/create-standout-book-cover-beginners/
Slash's bass player and all round ROCK GOD Todd Kerns joins us today!
Another episode and another musician guest. Todd Kerns (aka Todd "Dammit" Kerns) is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and producer. He is most noted for being the bass player and backup singer in “Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators”, and for being the front man of “The Age of Electric”. His latest album is with Heroes and Monsters and it ROCKS! Check this out - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-KGpbcH8qU&ab_channel=FrontiersMusicsrl
While touring the world, playing to sold out audiences, he has had the opportunity to share the stage with some of rock's biggest names, including some of his own personal heroes including Slash, Lemmy, Alice Cooper, Duff McKagan, Fergie, Bill Murray, Sammy Hagar and many more.
Having played with so much rock royalty, that must make Todd “Rock Nobility” at the very least!
Welcome to Rock, Paper, Swords, Todd!
David Gilman, author of the Master of War series, chats with us today!
David Gilman has worked as a firefighter, professional photographer, he was a soldier in the Parachute Regiment’s Reconnaissance Platoon and a Marketing Manager for an international publishing company in South Africa. From 2000 until 2009 he was principal writer on the TV series A Touch Of Frost.
His MASTER OF WAR series follows the fortunes of Thomas Blackstone, a village stonemason in England sent to fight with King Edward’s army as an archer against the French in the 14th century in the 100 years war.
David is also the author of two standalone novels for adults, The Last Horseman, set during the Boer War and Night Flight to Paris, a WW2 novel that pits a reluctant hero against the Nazi forces in Paris in 1943.
The Englishman is a new thriller series introducing Dan Raglan, a contemporary knight errant who served in the French Foreign Legion. The second book in the series, Betrayal, published in 2022, was followed by Resurrection, in 2023.
His DANGER ZONE YA adventure series, featuring plucky hero Max Gordon. THE DEVIL’S BREATH won the prestigious French award, Le Prix Polar Jeunesse, was shortlisted for the Manchester Book Award and the Spellbinding Award, nominated for the Carnegie Medal, and picked for the UK government’s recommended reading list for boys. It was also shortlisted for the 2010-2011 Isinglass Teen Read Award in New Hampshire, USA.
Welcome to Rock, Paper, Swords, David!
VIKINGS! Jethro Tull - RökFlöte album review.
It's a first for us here at RPS - an album review! Well, ROCK, paper, swords, right? There's two very good reasons for us doing this review (even putting aside the fact Steven is Tull's biggest fan):
1 - We were sent advance copies of the album, so it's only fair we did our best to listen to it and get an honest review out before the album is released. So here it is!
2 - Ian Anderson is hopefully going to be a guest on this very podcast, to chat about his career and RökFlöte in particular. It's an album based on Norse/Viking mythology/religion so it is absolutely perfect for us to review and discuss, given both Matthew and Steven are writing/have written books about the Vikings. Truly a match made in Valhalla!
We hope you enjoy this bonus episode and check out the album when it's released on the 21st of April. It's FANTASTIC as you'll hear in our review. You can pre-order it here:
Huge thanks to Inside Out Records, Ian Anderson, and The Publicity Connection for the review copies of the album!
Stay tuned for our regular episode this Friday, as historical novelist and screenwriter David Gilman is our guest. You don't want to miss it...
Starting our new books! What are they about? - Episode 30
We've both just started work on our new books. Join us to hear about the process. Research, challenges, pressures, deadlines, and, of course, fun! You probably already know that Steven's writing about Alfred the Great and the Vikings, but listen to find out what new historical period Matthew is venturing into...
The King Alfred coin - https://twitter.com/SA_McKay/status/1641745580954189827?s=20
Big Big Train bassist/songwriter Gregory Spawton interview!
We are delighted to have another musician on today’s episode. Gregory Spawton is the founder of progressive rock band, Big Big Train.
Big Big Train have released 14 studio albums and several live performances too.
Big Big Train have been named Prog magazine’s Band of the Year on numerous occasions as well as winning Prog’s Album Of The Year awards several times. Their most recent album, Welcome To The Planet, was released on 28 January 2022.
Gregory is also now a publisher. Formed in 2019, Kingmaker is a book publisher dedicated to the rock music sector. It is run by Gregory and Prog magazine journalist/Big Big Train manager Nick Shilton.
Welcome to Rock, Paper, Swords, Gregory!
IAN ROSS - The Twilight of Empire author joins us today!
IAN ROSS is the author of the “Twilight of Empire” series, six historical novels set in the early 4th century AD, the era of the Roman emperor Constantine.
The first of the series, “War at the Edge of the World”, was published in the UK in 2015, and the sixth, “Triumph in Dust", in 2019. His books have subsequently been published in the USA, Australia, Spain and Italy.
His forthcoming novel, “Battle Song”, the first of a trilogy set in medieval England, will be published by Hodder & Stoughton on March 30th 2023.
Welcome to Rock, Paper, Swords, Ian Ross!
Listener Questions PART 2!
The second of our episodes where we answer questions sent in by listeners. Some great ones again here, really got us thinking and we both enjoyed it! If you have any more for us, please do send them via Facebook, Twitter or our websites.
Next week we'll have a longer episode with another AMAZING guest (the one and only IAN ROSS!), but we'll do more episodes answering your questions if we get enough of them.
Giles Kristian, author of Viking and award winning thriller novels joins us today!
During the 90s Giles Kristian was lead singer of pop group Upside Down, achieving four top twenty hit records! As a singer-songwriter he lived and toured for two years in Europe and has made music videos all over the world.
Giles is half-Norwegian and his family history inspired him to write his first historical novels: the acclaimed and bestselling RAVEN Viking trilogy. For his next series, he drew on a long-held fascination with the English Civil War to chart the fortunes of a family divided by this brutal conflict in The Bleeding Land and Brothers’ Fury. Giles also co-wrote Wilbur Smith’s No.1 bestseller, Golden Lion. In The Rise of Sigurd novels he returned to the world of the Vikings. His Sunday Times bestseller, Lancelot, is currently in development for TV. He followed Lancelot with Camelot, and now, Where Blood Runs Cold is his debut contemporary thriller.
Welcome to Rock, Paper, Swords, Giles Kristian!
Listener questions PART 1!
We recently posted on Twitter and Facebook asking for listener questions. Today we're going to answer some of those questions and they really provoked some interesting responses from Matthew and Steven! We’ll be answering more in a future episode and it might well become a regular thing, so if you have any questions you’d like us to answer, post them in our social media.
We checked after the recording, and the last Aurochs was killed in the 17th century! https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurochs
Some news and big announcements!
Another bonus episode! We chat about the brand new FULL theme song and how it came about, and we also have a couple of pretty BIG announcements, so tune in, and don't drop out!
Rock, Paper, Swords FULL THEME SONG!
So many people have told us they really enjoy the short intro/outro music we recorded for the podcast so...We've written a full four minute theme song complete with daft cheesy lyrics, full-on rock vocals, and searing guitar solos (two of the buggers!). It's just a bit of fun, we hope you like it...
Look out for another bonus episode tomorrow with some news about the podcast!
Dio, Maiden, Queen,
And everything in between,
If you like your rock,
Come hear us talk,
And we'll keep it (mostly) clean
We chat about writing scenes,
And native British greens,
Adventure and action,
Get your book traction,
It's the podcast of your dreams
History comes to life,
With a wicked Saxon knife,
Lord of the Rings,
And other things,
Enjoy it with your wife
From cowboys to ancient celts,
We'll tell you just how it smelt,
With special guests,
We're druid blessed,
We're gonna make faces melt!
Dan Jones, historian, novelist, TV star, and rock fan joins us today!
Dan Jones is a bestselling historian, TV presenter and award-winning journalist. His books, which have sold more than a million copies worldwide, include THE PLANTAGENETS, THE TEMPLARS, THE HOLLOW CROWN. His book CRUSADERS was published in autumn 2019. He co-authored the Sunday Times bestseller THE COLOUR OF TIME and THE WORLD AFLAME, published in March 2020, with Marina Amaral.
Dan has also written and presented numerous TV series including 'Secrets of Great British Castles' (Netflix, Channel 5), 'Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty: The Plantagenets' and 'London: 2000 Years of History'.
Most recently Dan's historical fiction debut, ESSEX DOGS, the first installment in a trilogy set during the Hundred Years War, was published by Head of Zeus on 15 September 2022.
Welcome to Rock, Paper, Swords, Dan Jones!
Dr Who, Star Wars, 2000AD, hip-hop author, and games designer Steven Savile!
Slaine from 2000AD. Sherlock Holmes. Dr Who. Primeval. Stargate. Return of the Jedi. Ghost-writing for genuine legends of the rap and hip-hop scene.... Our guest today is probably the most prolific and best-selling author you've never heard of! And he also writes for games, including the major Xbox/Playstation hit, Battlefield 3!
Not only that, he used to write the odd story for classic "top-shelf" magazines like Fiesta and Escort, and no, those were NOT about 80's motor cars, they were FAR sexier than an RS2000 or XR2...
Join us today, as we chat with Steven Savile!
Simon Scarrow! We chat to the legend!
That's right! We interview one of THE best loved historical fiction authors of the past twenty years today - Simon Scarrow! Join us as we chat about his writing, his upcoming musical (yep, you read that right), Romans, and loads more.
First ever image on the internet - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Horribles_Cernettes
Dr Mark Deeks of metal bands Winterfylleth and Ard!
Matthew and Steven chat this week with a musician for a change! Dr Mark Deeks is a choirmaster, as well as the piano player for one of Steven's favourite black metal bands, Winterfylleth, and also has his own "monastic doom metal" project called Ard. Ard put out a concept album which is kind of a historical novel in musical form so we were really happy to get Mark on the podcast and discuss a broad range of topics.
Mark also gives piano lessons online HERE
Theme music by Steven and Matthew. The short piece of music at the outro is Steven's attempt at doom metal!
Happy New Year 2023 from Rock, Paper, Swords!
Christian/Miles Cameron interview!
Another fantastic guest this week, as Christian (also known as Miles) Cameron joins Steven and Matthew to chat about his books, research, re-enactments, historical fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, being a member of US Intelligence, and loads more!
Christian's website - https://christiancameronauthor.com/
Christmas Special 2022! Merry Xmas one and all!
Christmas a humbug?! Join the boys as they look at all sorts of winter traditions, ancient and modern, from Saturnalia shenanigans to Yule logs to "old" movies.
If you like Christmas stories, check out Steven's brand new novelette, The Pedlar's Promise,
and Matthew has a new novel out too, Forest of Foes!
Burning a Yule log - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sw3unDRU6Eg&ab_channel=CountryDirtKid
Total Christmas podcast (from which I stole the terrible joke....)
Santa or Father Christmas had been pictured with a red coat on hundreds of years before Coca-Cola, but the modern image of Santa is clearly based on the 1930's Coke adverts IMO (Steven).
Jean Gill, author of The Ring Breaker!
Matthew and Steven are chatting this week with Jean Gill. The interview covered a lot of really interesting subjects so we're sure you'll enjoy the episode! Look out for our Christmas special next, and then we'll have our first interview with a musician early in 2023, with lots more fantastic guests lined up for the coming year!
LINKS to things mentioned in the chat:
Here is the jet ski guy on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/mfroos
This was also nice: https://youtu.be/00dGeSzoLdg
I'm assuming you've found the Draken Harald Hårfagre channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XORSpUUy0lQ
This was useful too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NGQF_xbOTA
The Making of a Knife Named Silk-Splitter https://youtu.be/GnHwwXuLGqo
Eolya: the Hávamál Album
Danheim https://youtu.be/KvyGq05xSkc https://youtu.be/st-ZjwCy4uo
Dr Jackson Crawford https://www.youtube.com/c/JacksonCrawford
The voyage of the Sea Stallion https://youtu.be/Q8jhnrNHk3g
Books to read
Secrets of the Viking Navigators - Leif K Karlsen
Fantasy novel - The World Breaker's Requiem - Luke Tarzian
The annual Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off #SPFBO8
Historical research! What resources do we use for our own novels?
Matthew just makes it all up as he goes along.
BONUS Episode - Funny (and not so funny!) Amazon reviews of our books
Since last week's interview with Carol McGrath had some audio issues that forced us to shorten it somewhat we thought we'd put out this little bonus episode as a bit of fun - a freebie if you will! We read out some funny or just odd reviews of our own books. This was something Steven suggested because he thought it would be a right laugh but, in fact, as we started putting together the material for the episode it became clear reading 1 star reviews of our stuff wasn't as hilarious as we'd expected - it was actually a bit depressing! So this is a short bonus rather than a full length episode. Enjoy! ;-)
We'll have a regular episode next week as usual, and we'll be discussing what we use to research our novels. Books, websites, podcasts....Make sure you're subscribed so you never miss an episode, and please do leave a 5 star rating if you enjoy what we're doing!
Carol McGrath, author of The Handfasted Wife!
Today we are chatting with bestselling author Carol McGrath. She's written books like The Handfasted Wife and Sex and Sexuality in Tudor England. We had a good long discussion with Carol but there were some audio issues which forced us to cut down the episode. Hopefully you still enjoy the interview!
To make up for the slightly shorter episode, we'll be dropping an extra BONUS episode next week in which we read out some dodgy reviews of our own books, so look out for that, it's just a bit of fun...
Carol McGrath - Following a first degree in English and History, Carol McGrath completed an MA in Creative Writing from The Seamus Heaney Centre, Queens University Belfast, followed by an MPhil in English from University of London
The Handfasted Wife, first in a trilogy about the royal women of 1066 was shortlisted for the RoNAS in 2014. The Swan-Daughter and The Betrothed Sister complete this highly acclaimed trilogy.
It's Hallowe'en! Join us to get in the spooky spirit...
The boys discuss the history of Hallowe'en! Includes some chat on Steven's spooky novella Knight of the Cross, and Matthew's short tale, Kin of Cain. Sleep paralysis, black eyed kids, folklore, Beowulf, pumpkin and turnip carving, and loads more... Turn out the lights and lock the doors for this fun look at everyone's favourite spooky night of the year!
Interview with Prue Batten
Farming, historical fiction, and, of course, music are all discussed in this exciting new episode. Check it out and don't forget to SUBSCRIBE and give us a 5 star rating if you're enjoying what we're doing!
Links to websites/software mentioned:
Byzantium 1200: http://www.byzantium1200.com/
The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of The Roman World: https://orbis.stanford.edu/
Aeon Timeline: https://timeline.app/
Music and the power it holds....
Matthew and Steven discuss the music they listen to while writing and just enjoy in general. Rock, classical, black metal, it's all over the place here! Join us to find out how music affects our writing process...
Even includes a song Matthew recorded a few years ago with a band - it's awesome, you need to hear it! The band can be found here: https://purplefishband1.weebly.com/ The track is called "Sail On" and was written by Roger Marsh and Matthew Harffy.
ENSLAVED - Below The Lights full album: https://youtu.be/z6rA6pXi53g
BATHORY - Hammerheart full album: https://youtu.be/dvCHHYwGjfY
OPETH - "Black Rose Immortal": https://youtu.be/XLkSFOvhyeI
WINTERFYLLETH - "The Shepherd": https://youtu.be/bsAIkI7llBI
CRAFT - White Noise and Black Metal full album: https://youtu.be/MiCLnDDZ4w0
Bernard Cornwell, the Godfather of historical fiction!
Another BONUS EPISODE this week, as Matthew and Steven got to chat with their literary hero, Bernard Cornwell, for this episode of the podcast.
We found out some big news about his forthcoming book, Sharpe's Command, talked about his love of acting, The Last Kingdom series, the King Arthur books and new TV show, Merlin's 'magic', and even picked up some great writing tips.
We loved speaking with the man who inspired us both to write and we're sure you'll enjoy listening to him!
Bernard mentioned that he had been reading the Pacific War Trilogy by Ian W. Toll and recommended them to anyone interested in that history. The trilogy is made up of:
Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942
The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands, 1942-1944
Twilight of the Gods: War in the Western Pacific, 1944-1945
Bernard's website - https://www.bernardcornwell.net/
The Last Kingdom - https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/80074249
Viking author Tim Hodkinson interview!
Matthew and Steven chat with Irish author Tim Hodkinson.
Includes a rather amusing anecdote about one of the extras in Game of Thrones!
Find out more about Tim's books - Vikings, Templars and more - here: https://www.fantasticfiction.com/h/tim-hodkinson/
Main theme music for the intro and outro was written, recorded and copyrighted by Steven A. McKay and Matthew Harffy.
Rings of Power Episodes 1 and 2 and a review! BONUS EPISODE!
Matthew and Steven have spent the morning watching the first two episodes of Amazon's new show based on Tolkien's Lord of the Rings - RINGS OF POWER. In this special bonus episode they talk about their first impressions of this highly anticipated (and vilified by people who've never even seen it) new show.
Is the casting any good? What about the music? How does it look? Can it compare to the Peter Jackson movies? What the hell is a 'harfoot'?
IS IT ACTUALLY ANY GOOD?
And we also address the burning question so many people had when the trailers started to appear: Is it ruined by being too "woke"?!
Join us on Rock, Paper, Swords! to find out the answer to these questions, and much more. And don't forget, we'll be back again next week with another episode as usual.
Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies! Any good?
Matthew and Steven take a look back at Peter Jackson's trilogy of Lord of the Rings films. Find out what they love about the movies and what they don't like quite as much.
Other non-Tolkien penned books mentioned in this episode:
The Sword of Shannara - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15575.The_Sword_of_Shannara
Journeys of Frodo - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/938210.Journeys_of_Frodo
Robyn / Erin Young, author of The Fields interview!
Author Robyn Young (who also writes modern thrillers as Erin Young) joins Matthew and Steven to discuss writing, pen-names, research and much more, including the forthcoming TV show based on her novel The Fields.
Robyn's website - https://robynyoung.com/
Great beginnings in novels
Matthew and Steven discuss a handful of action and adventure books (including some of their own!) and how their very first lines/paragraphs draw the reader in.
Bernard Cornwell's The Lords of the North
David Gemmell's The Swords of Night and Day
Theme music, "Rock, Paper, Swords" © Steven A. McKay and Matthew Harffy.
Background music in this episode:
Historical weapons and....food?! Episode 2
In which we chat about anachronisms in historical fiction (food related ones) and general points of interest in the historical culinary field. And then we discuss weapons, including spears, swords, and seaxs. And Steven exclusively reveals the title of his next Warrior Druid of Britain novel!
To join in with our giveaway, share our Rock, Paper, Swords! pages on social media and let us know you've done so before the end of July 2022 to be in with a chance of winning the signed books! Links below:
Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/RockPaperSwordsPodcast
Twitter page - https://twitter.com/rock_swords
Stephen Lawhead's Taliesin - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/73906.Taliesin
Lindybeige Youtube video "Spears are better than swords" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLLv8E2pWdk&ab_channel=Lindybeige
Skallagrim Youtube video "The Spear - Weapon of Kings? Or just a pointy stick?" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVQbSl9vXwA&ab_channel=Skallagrim
Scholagladiatoria Youtube video - "Where did they put spears when not fighting?" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2dHETK96jE&ab_channel=scholagladiatoria
Art imitating art: The birth of an axe. Blog post about the making of Dunston's axe that appears on the cover of Wolf of Wessex - http://bernicia-chronicles.blogspot.com/2019/06/art-imitating-art-birth-of-axe.html
Episode 1 - Welcome to Rock, Paper, Swords!
Our first episode! Find out who we are and what our plans are for this new podcast. As the title suggests, we'll be looking at action and adventure from the perspective of historical fiction authors, but we'll also be diving into more general writing questions and, of course, there'll be a little talk about rock music and how it helps us be creative.
Please SUBSCRIBE, and join Matthew Harffy and Steven A. McKay every fortnight for chat, tips, and interviews with some of your favourite authors.
To join in with our giveaway, share our Rock, Paper, Swords! pages on social media and let us know you've done so before the end of July 2022 to be in with a chance of winning the signed books! Links below:
Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/RockPaperSwordsPodcast
Twitter page - https://twitter.com/rock_swords
Rock, Paper, Swords! Trailer
A very short introduction to Rock, Paper, Swords! Join us on July 1st 2022 for our first full episode.