Quantcast Author Interview with Bernard Cornwell from HarperCollins Publishers Australia
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Bernard Cornwell


The following is an edited version of an online chat with Bernard Cornwell on community.news.com.au Wednesday, 1st December 1999 8pm AEDT. Host Mark Hello everyone and thanks for joining us tonight (today in other parts of the world). Tonight we are joined by Bernard Cornwell. Bernard joins us live from the US to talk about his books, including his new novel, 'Stonehenge: A novel of 2000BC'. Jonathan Hungin from Brighton, England - is there no chance of any more books in the Warlord Chronicles area? Bernard Cornwell None. No chance at all. I am planning a similar series but not about Arthur. Craig asks... I have read several books in your Sharpe series. What makes the books is the level of detail. How are you able to be so specific? Bernard Cornwell Because when I don't know I make it up! :) I have been reading this stuff for 30 odd years. Diana from Mildura asks... What was your inspiration behind this novel and why did you pick to write it in this era?? Bernard Cornwell Because Stonehenge has always been a mystery. You can visit the stones and come away with no real idea of what they are or why. And I wanted to provide those answers, even if only in fictional form. Host Mark So what sort of research did you do, as you are quite renowned for the level of research in your books? Bernard Cornwell All the research possible...mostly archeological reports, there's a lot know about Stonehenge itself, and a lot known about the society that built it. What we don't know is their theology. So I read all I could about Neolithic societies and then started making things up. Jonathan Hungin asks... When did you first visit Stonehenge, and what were your first impressions? Bernard Cornwell I first visited Stonehenge as a child but my first impression was probably disappointment because there was no explanation as to what it is. I think a lot of people are disappointed...they know its famous but as the poet Byron asked..."what the devil is it". I think my last visit was three months ago (about 100 other visits in between) and I found it very impressive, but by then I knew a lot more about it. Host Mark Did you actually get to go to the stones? Aren't they cordoned off? Bernard Cornwell We were allowed in to launch the book. And they are much more impressive when you get inside. Actually you can make an appointment to get inside. Megan from Sydney asks... Where do you find the names for your characters in books like Stonehenge? Are they based on names of the time? Are they real names? Bernard Cornwell They are not real names. We don't know what anybody was called in Britain 4,000 years ago, but there is a theory that there was no Celtic invasion. That the people we know as the Celts were already in Britain so I used primitive Celtic forms. There is a theory, which is a bit of a stretch, that some place names in Britain might date from that era. Diana from Mildura asks... What have you got on the drawing board for your next novel? Bernard Cornwell Another Sharpe...the poor man goes to Trafalgar. Tom Svoboda asks... How many Sharpe books have you written? Bernard Cornwell (laughs) I think it's 16....yep 16 and Trafalgar will be the 17th. I hope you have them all Tom. Jane from Sydney asks... Would you like to have lived in 40000BC? Bernard Cornwell God no. I would have hated to have lived anytime before penicillin. Host Mark I've just started to read Stonehenge and there is a lot of reference to healing and primitive medicine...is that from research or again fiction? Bernard Cornwell It's probably from research. People in Neolithic Britain we quite as bright as we are but they didn't have the knowledge we have. If we are hit by a plague scientist tell us what the cause was and give us an antidote. If they are hit by a plague they have no notion of virus so like other primitive societies they would ascribe ill fortune to supernatural forces and in the absence of scientific medicine they would use spiritual methods. Romy74 from Tasmania asks... What place names in Britain, are you referring to? Bernard Cornwell There are places with the syllable Kenn in it, and there is one man who believes Kenn is the oldest name in Britain. I think it is very dubious as to whether that would have been transmitted over hundred of years. We have a lot of Celtic names, but 90% of places were renamed by the Saxons. So trying to push the 10% back into pre-history seems over hopeful. Host Mark How do you go about starting to write a book like Stonehenge? Does the idea come first? Bernard Cornwell Usually the idea comes first. In the Sharpe books, it tends to be the events that come first ie the book I am writing is about Trafalgar so before I begin. I already know what the last third of the book will be. With the Arthur books they were character driven, because legend had conveniently provided me with an all star cast. Stonehenge was different because all there was was a pile of rocks so everything had to be invented. Host Mark Did you worry about people, especially historians being critical? Bernard Cornwell Not particularly, mainly because there is only a handful of historians who deal with that period and I rip them off mercilessly :) So they will be criticising their own conclusions (laughs). Host Mark If you had to say specifically, what do you think the reason behind Stonehenge was...do you give any credence to say UFO stories? Bernard Cornwell NO! Stonehenge appears to be a temple dedicated to the Sun. There is a lunar aspect but it is not nearly so obvious as the monument alignment is on the rising midsummer and setting midwinter sun. Other older henges are far more complicated. Many of them have stellar alignments and one tentative conclusion is that Stonehenge is a simplification of an older more complex religion ie that the people who built it had decided that the Sun was the most important of the Gods. On the other hand, all this could be wrong. Almost every Christian church in medieval Europe was built on an East-West axis so future archeologists could well assume that they were built in line with the rising sun. They would be wrong and perhaps we are wrong about Stonehenge. Jane from Sydney asks... Are the settlements in Stonehenge real? Bernard Cornwell Yes, absolutely. What I call Ratharryn is Durrington Walls, which has now disappeared because a road has been driven straight through it, but was once an enormous and impressive settlement. Cathallo is now called Avebury and is well worth visiting....many people find it more impressive and overwhelming than Stonehenge. Hunting the Harlequin - An interview with Bernard Cornwell Before becoming the bestselling novelist we all know today, Bernard Cornwell worked for BBC TV for seven years, mostly as producer on the Nationwide programme. He then went on to take charge of the current Affairs department in Northern Ireland, and in 1978 he became editor of Thames Television's Thames at Six. He now lives in the United States with his American wife and is the author of three bestselling series - Sharpe, Rebel and his historical Arthurian trilogy. He returns with a new series, The Grail Quest. When Thomas of Hookton's village is sacked by French raiders, he makes a promise to God: to retrieve the relic stolen from Hookton‘s church. Escaping his father‘s ambitions, he becomes a wild youth who delights in the life of an army on the warpath. Driven by his conscience and protected by his fearsome skills, he enters a world where lovers become enemies and enemies become friends, where his only certainty is that somewhere, beyond a horizon smeared with the smoke of fires set by the rampaging English army, a terrible enemy awaits him. This enemy would harness the power of Chistendom‘s greatest relic: the Grail itself.We talked to Bernard Cornwell about the first book in the series, Harlequin.. Harlequin is the first of a whole new Cornwell series. What sort of scope do you see this series entailing? I don't know, to be honest. I tend to start people off and see where they go. In many ways Harlequin ended up being a book which was much like Sharpe in the 14th Century and you can't really go on like that. You have to take him away from battle. But we've got the Black Death coming up and we've got one or two other things. I think it becomes a quest for the Holy Grail. Whether he finds it or not I don't know. We‘re just loosing him off in the 14th Century to see what happens. So in some ways it is a question of a character similar to Sharpe? I don't see him as that similar but yes, he's a soldier, because they tend to be quite good at looking after themselves. I know he's got a sidekick who we haven't met yet. I think basically it's saying 'this is an interesting period to be alive in, so let‘s push him off the edge and see how he does'. Would you consider setting a novel in contemporary times? Sure, I mean I wrote some some years ago which came out under Michael Joseph. But they are more difficult in a way, since in historical novels you've got all the history whereas in contemporary stuff you've actually got to make things up, which is terribly different. How did you research the background for Harlequin? Well just reading everything that's possible to read. Which is not as much as it is on the Sharpe period. I think that's the only way you can do it. For a period you tend to immerse yourself in medieval sites, medieval buildings. 'There are not that original documents to go on, and what there is is rather misleading. The accounts of the battle of Crecy tend to be by chroniclers who are writing for an aristocratic audience who weren't there themselves. And they say the things that will please their patrons.'There are clues in other places, such as the musculature of archers. And thank god a lot of clever historians have looked at all this stuff so I don't have to do it. I've got all the originals on facsimile and I read them or their translations. The central character in Harlequin is an archer. Why were the archers so essential to the army at the time? This is really interesting because when I wrote Stonehenge I found out that in 2000BC we had longbows, made of the same wood, yew, about the same length. So this is not a new weapon, and it's an incredibly simple weapon. There is a certain skill, obviously, in making a long bow, but its still not a really advanced technology. 'It's an ancient technology, its very well known anyone can make a longbow, so why is it that only the English used longbows? Remember, this weapon is so damn good that if you had had a thousand longbowmen up against two thousand of Wellington's veteran troops, the longbows would have won. 'Ben Franklin said, ‘If we could have longbows the American revolution would be won in three years'. This is a brilliant weapon. It seems to me as though the men who used the longbow in Neolithic Britain were experts, and only a few people could be experts. It took a lifetime to become good at this thing. Although it‘s terribly simple, there is one enormous problem, which is if you drew it back to your ears so you got parallax in aiming.'It seems that what happened in the 12th and 13th century is that a craze for longbows occurs in parts of England and Wales. Literally an enthusiasm, like skateboarding, and suddenly villages were having competitions between villagers to see who was best at the longbow. If you didn't start a kid off at seven or eight he would never become a longbowman. 'One thing you had to develop was strength. The draw weight of a longbow is 120lbs plus. My wife weighs 109lbs, so it‘s heavier than her, and you're picking that up every time you pull the thing. They found archers' bodies with overdeveloped bones in the upper body. So it takes ten years to make a longbowman who's any good, and only in parts of England and Wales did this enthusiasm start and provide enough men to be assembled to make a force. Twenty longbowmen are no use, but 2000 longbowmen are an appalling weapon. This thing is accurate at 200 paces, it‘s pinpoint accurate.' What advantage did the longbow have over the crossbow? Crossbows were accurate, very accurate, with probably a slightly longer range, but they were so slow to load. You could only get two shots off a minute, whereas longbowmen could get off eight, nine or ten shots a minute. But they're far more accurate than a musket and you can fire them much faster. When you sat down to write this book, did you plan out chapter by chapter what's going to happen? I had no idea what was going to happen until I wrote it down. Well, I knew it was going to Crecy, so if you like all the while I was basically trying to work out how to get it to Crecy. I always think for readers the joy of reading is finding out what happens. Basically it's the same with writing - you sit down every morning and find out what's going to happen. Is the writing process a nine to five job to you? Yes. 6:30 in the morning to 5:30 at night with an hour and a half off for lunch. Do you reread and edit your work at the beginning of each day? I always go back over what I did the day before, and that's the first rewrite. Then when I get to the end I go back to the beginning again. For me writing is like climbing a mountain - you get halfway up and turn round and you see a much better route. Then really at that point you have to go back and start again on the new route, and then you get three quarters of the way up and turn round. So I'll write chapters one to four, then I‘ll write one to six, then one to ten and then I'll write one to fourteen and so on. If a book takes five months then maybe I'll only have written the last chapter in the last three or four days, because I'll have rewritten everything else about ten times. How do you explain the speed at which you work? I'm not writing difficult stuff. I mean this isn't rocket science, it's not going to win the Booker prize - it's a story. And there's no such thing as writer's block, well I'll believe in writer‘s block the day a nurse can have a block. What made you first decide to become a writer? Love. I fell in love with an American woman. I mean literally, I saw her come out of a lift in Edinburgh and I said 'I'm going to marry that woman'. She couldn't live in Britain for family reasons, I could live in America but I couldn't get a work permit so I airily said I'm going to write a book. Been doing it ever since and we're still married. What advice would you give to someone wanting to write a novel? A serious piece of advice? You have to do what I did. Again, I'm assuming that this is not Booker prize stuff, right, you just want to write a book? You probably already know what sort of book you want to write and it roughly falls into one genre or another. Assume for the sake of argument you want to write a book on the adventures of a soldier or sailor set in the Napoleonic war. Now if you wanted to make a new car from scratch one of the first things you would do is go and get three or four other cars and take them to pieces and see what makes them work. What works well and what doesn't work, what doesn't work your going to improve on. So what you do is what I did: I took a Hornblower and an Alexander Kent, and literally just disassembled them. I found out their tricks, where was their action, where was their romance, and I had huge charts on the wall, huge colour-coded charts showing what went on in different parts of the structure of these novels. I'd already decided what I didn't like about them so I put a bit less of that in, and what I did like I put more of in. So in the end I produced a blueprint of a novel based around other people's work. And that's how I wrote my first two or three books, I haven't looked at them since, naturally. Is that how a writer should start - by taking other books to pieces? You don't just read other people‘s books, you disassemble them to learn the tricks, because there are tricks. I'm always amazed when I speak to people who want to be writers and they say 'I never thought of that' and I think 'Well why not?' You know, if you're writing your first book, and you get to chapter five and you've got a long period of exposition and you think maybe this is too long well you go and you look how other people dealt with it. What happens in their chapter 5, and you ask 'Did I get bored when they did the same thing?' All the answers are there, they're on the shelf all you've got to do is go and find them. I say go and analyse someone who's successful, then do better. What are you working on at the moment? Another Sharpe. Probably called Sharpe's Fury. We can't think of a title. He's going to Copenhagen. He's going to be beastly to the Danes. There was a campaign in 1807 which was a very easy away win. Not the Nelson trip because obviously Nelson's dead by then, that was 1801 or 1803, I can't remember. We sent an army to Copenhagen in 1807 with Wellesley and beseiged the city. Most unfair and unjust. An easy away win. Life at the Sharpe End - An interview with Bernard Cornwell Bernard Cornwell's Richard Sharpe is one of the most memorable characters in historical fiction. For twenty years now Sharpe has been roaming Europe and the world, fighting his battles and making history, all in his own inimitable style. Now, in Sharpe's Fortress, Sharpe is back, and finally his dream of being an officer in Sir Arthur Wellesley's army has come true. But Ensign Sharpe still has a few old scores to settle, and a few enemies - on both sides - to vanquish. Historical fiction seems to be undergoing something of a renaissance as the millennium draws to its close. But while it may seem that we can't turn the television on these days without seeing a Hornblower or a Pimpernel, there is still one character who stands head and shoulders above the rest, singular in his determination, his bravery and his humanity. Richard Sharpe has had more adventures than lesser historical figures have had hot dinners, and his popularity has never been higher. Twelve of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels have now been made into highly acclaimed films. As you can read in the following interview, Bernard Cornwell was congratulated twenty years ago for creating a historical hero who didn't let his enemies off when he had them by the throat. A character who was inspiring, sympathetic, and true to his age. Richard Sharpe has fought many battles in his life, and now he returns to fight against a huge mountain fortress which is just as fearsome as any of the living enemies he has so far had to face. Following on from Sharpe's Tiger and Sharpe's Triumph, Sharpe's Fortress is the third and final Sharpe novel set in India, during the Mahratta war. We speak to Bernard Cornwell about Sharpe's Fortress and the particular charms of Richard Sharpe himself. What can the armies of Sharpe fans out there expect from Sharpe's Fortress? What differences will people who have 'discovered' Sharpe through the television adaptations find when they pick up a Sharpe novel for the first time? I hope they are going to get what they always want from a Sharpe book, which is a good adventure story. As for people who discover Sharpe through the television adaptation, I think they get more action in the books because military action is very expensive to film, mainly because of the cost of the extras. I think there's also more depth in a book, simply because of the constraints of a two hour script, so the books can offer more historical detail and background. Sharpe's Fortress finally sees Sharpe becoming an officer, which is what he has always wanted, and yet in some ways he is disappointed by the results? Which I think is probably typical and normal. 'Be careful of what you want because you might get it'. Plainly when he was a sergeant or even a private he had no real conception of what an officer's life was. Now that he is an officer he feels superfluous to requirements - although of course that will change as the years go by. The story of Sharpe's Fortress is told on a very visual level. Do you write with the images in front of you? I suppose so. It helps enormously to have visited all the battle sites, so the ground over which Sharpe is fighting is real to me. I also think that when you're writing a book which is set in history, or which describes vast events like a battle, then you have to offer the reader a visual guide. If I wrote a novel about - I don‘t know - police procedure in the 1990's in Britain, you don't need to tell people what a high street looks like, or what the inside of a bank looks like, or even the inside of a police station, because on the whole they know, but if you're writing about early nineteenth-century warfare in India they don't know because none of us were there. Most people won't have much idea of the scenery either, so it's my job to tell them. The descriptions of the battles and the sieges are pretty frightening, and yet they are also enormously exciting. If you had been born 200 years earlier would you have been a Sharpe yourself? I think the real thing was even more frightening. No, I suspect I would have been a hack, writing away in Fleet Street. But I‘ve always been interested in the Napoleonic Wars, and I‘ve always thought that they provide an incredibly rich backdrop for a writer. The naval side of the wars has been well mined by half a dozen authors and it has always amazed me that nobody was doing the same for the army - until I came along - and in many ways the army stories are even richer than the naval ones. So it‘s a godsend to an adventure writer - you have this ready-made background full of the most unlikely events which all happen to be true. One of the fascinating things is getting to the end of Sharpe's Fortress and reading the true story behind it. Right - the extraordinary heroism of Archibald Campbell. I don't want to give away the book's ending, except to say that the fortress of Gawilghur was reckoned to be impregnable, and the assaulting British forces were certainly in an enormous amount of trouble when Captain Campbell found a short-cut that ended the siege in a wonderfully dramatic manner. Sharpe, of course, has to be the hero, so he shamelessly steals Campbell's thunder, for which I hope Campbell's ghost will forgive him. Some readers might think Sharpe's exploit was well nigh impossible, but it actually happened - just as it's described at the novel's end. The book is a quest on many different levels - Sharpe is not only seeking a victory in a military context, he's also seeking respect from his fellow officers; on another level entirely, he's constantly trying to keep his hands on the piles of jewels he has acquired. Do you find it easy to write on so many different levels at once? I'm not really aware of writing on different levels. Instead I try to put myself in Sharpe's head and whatever concerns him is going to emerge in the book, and as he is worried about winning, and about holding onto his ill-gotten fortune, and gaining the respect of his officers (and, as well, getting the girl), those things co-exist quite easily. Sharpe, as the main character, can have many ambitions all at once, though the other characters in the book are usually restricted to one - thus Sir Arthur Wellesley wants victory and Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill, my favourite character, just wants Sharpe. The whole book is so focussed on the fortress at Gawilghur that it almost becomes a character in its own right. Did you go there yourself to research Sharpe's Fortress? Yes. Dreadful place. I went there two years ago. It's totally scary, even more scary now because it's completely deserted. Nobody lives there at all. There‘s nothing but monkeys and snakes up there. It‘s miles from anywhere. It was so remote that once the battle was over it was really abandoned; they never repaired the breach. In fact it is the only place I‘ve ever been where you can climb a real breach. Which is very difficult because it was much steeper than I expected. The assault must have been terrible - I certainly wouldn‘t want to have done it. On a hot day wearing a woollen uniform, it must have been murderous. The context of Sharpe's Fortress is the war in India, against the Mahrattas, and yet Sharpe's greatest enemies are on his own side - How did that come about? That‘s a necessity of writing novels. Sharpe has to have enemies on his own side because they're the people he's closest to. If his enemy is on the other side then he's hardly ever going to meet him. So the villains are almost always English just because Sharpe is English. In the Peninsular War, of course, there are French villains, but Sharpe obviously is not going to spend that much time with the French; he's going to spend much more time with the British, so the villains are going to come from the British side. For a hero, Sharpe is a pretty brutal character. Do you think his ruthlessness is a part of his appeal? I imagine it is. It always seems to me that soldiers - at least the best soldiers - are people who fight battles for people who can't fight for themselves. Yes he is brutal. I‘m sure the SAS is brutal. And if you‘ve got someone fighting for you, you want them to be a bloody effective soldier. And I think it‘s part of the joy of Sharpe. I remember somebody saying to me way back at the beginning, I mean twenty years ago, with Sharpe's Eagle, how astonished they were that Sharpe had got the villain at his mercy, with a sword at his throat and the villain is screaming to be let off, but Sharpe just killed him. He said this is something new in fiction, that a hero would do this to an unarmed man. It didn't seem unusual to me, but I'm steeped in the Napoleonic period and it was a very brutal time. Sharpe has had a very brutal upbringing and he's serving in an incredibly brutal army. The Duke of Wellington said of his own men, 'I don't know what they do to the enemy, but by God they terrify me'. But I hope Sharpe uses that huge anger and ferocity and brutality in the service of good. Perhaps he isn't such a force for good in the Indian books, because here he‘s fighting for himself, but in the later books, when he‘s got more responsibility, I think you‘ll find he‘s on the side of the angels. How do you think the character of Sharpe has developed over the series? In one sense I‘ve undeveloped his character by going back to India because he's much younger, so this is a more callow Sharpe, but over the series as a whole, up to Waterloo, he becomes much more reluctant to fight with every passing book. He begins almost to resent the fact that this is the one thing he's good at. I also suspect that anybody who fought as long as Sharpe did - and there are plenty of men who did - in the end they didn't have anything to prove to themselves and they became ever more regretful of the necessity to go on beating the French. I‘m sure it was a huge relief when the whole thing was over and they'd done their job. I think they were in it as much for personal satisfaction as they were for the victory. Of course they wanted victory, but above all they didn't want to let themselves or their mates down. The following is an edited version of an online chat with Bernard Cornwell on community.news.com.au Wednesday, 1st December 1999 8pm AEDT. Host Mark Hello everyone and thanks for joining us tonight (today in other parts of the world). Tonight we are joined by Bernard Cornwell. Bernard joins us live from the US to talk about his books, including his new novel, 'Stonehenge: A novel of 2000BC'. Jonathan Hungin from Brighton, England - is there no chance of any more books in the Warlord Chronicles area? Bernard Cornwell None. No chance at all. I am planning a similar series but not about Arthur. Craig asks... I have read several books in your Sharpe series. What makes the books is the level of detail. How are you able to be so specific? Bernard Cornwell Because when I don't know I make it up! :) I have been reading this stuff for 30 odd years. Diana from Mildura asks... What was your inspiration behind this novel and why did you pick to write it in this era?? Bernard Cornwell Because Stonehenge has always been a mystery. You can visit the stones and come away with no real idea of what they are or why. And I wanted to provide those answers, even if only in fictional form. Host Mark So what sort of research did you do, as you are quite renowned for the level of research in your books? Bernard Cornwell All the research possible...mostly archeological reports, there's a lot know about Stonehenge itself, and a lot known about the society that built it. What we don't know is their theology. So I read all I could about Neolithic societies and then started making things up. Jonathan Hungin asks... When did you first visit Stonehenge, and what were your first impressions? Bernard Cornwell I first visited Stonehenge as a child but my first impression was probably disappointment because there was no explanation as to what it is. I think a lot of people are disappointed...they know its famous but as the poet Byron asked..."what the devil is it". I think my last visit was three months ago (about 100 other visits in between) and I found it very impressive, but by then I knew a lot more about it. Host Mark Did you actually get to go to the stones? Aren't they cordoned off? Bernard Cornwell We were allowed in to launch the book. And they are much more impressive when you get inside. Actually you can make an appointment to get inside. Megan from Sydney asks... Where do you find the names for your characters in books like Stonehenge? Are they based on names of the time? Are they real names? Bernard Cornwell They are not real names. We don't know what anybody was called in Britain 4,000 years ago, but there is a theory that there was no Celtic invasion. That the people we know as the Celts were already in Britain so I used primitive Celtic forms. There is a theory, which is a bit of a stretch, that some place names in Britain might date from that era. Diana from Mildura asks... What have you got on the drawing board for your next novel? Bernard Cornwell Another Sharpe...the poor man goes to Trafalgar. Tom Svoboda asks... How many Sharpe books have you written? Bernard Cornwell (laughs) I think it's 16....yep 16 and Trafalgar will be the 17th. I hope you have them all Tom. Jane from Sydney asks... Would you like to have lived in 40000BC? Bernard Cornwell God no. I would have hated to have lived anytime before penicillin. Host Mark I've just started to read Stonehenge and there is a lot of reference to healing and primitive medicine...is that from research or again fiction? Bernard Cornwell It's probably from research. People in Neolithic Britain we quite as bright as we are but they didn't have the knowledge we have. If we are hit by a plague scientist tell us what the cause was and give us an antidote. If they are hit by a plague they have no notion of virus so like other primitive societies they would ascribe ill fortune to supernatural forces and in the absence of scientific medicine they would use spiritual methods. Romy74 from Tasmania asks... What place names in Britain, are you referring to? Bernard Cornwell There are places with the syllable Kenn in it, and there is one man who believes Kenn is the oldest name in Britain. I think it is very dubious as to whether that would have been transmitted over hundred of years. We have a lot of Celtic names, but 90% of places were renamed by the Saxons. So trying to push the 10% back into pre-history seems over hopeful. Host Mark How do you go about starting to write a book like Stonehenge? Does the idea come first? Bernard Cornwell Usually the idea comes first. In the Sharpe books, it tends to be the events that come first ie the book I am writing is about Trafalgar so before I begin. I already know what the last third of the book will be. With the Arthur books they were character driven, because legend had conveniently provided me with an all star cast. Stonehenge was different because all there was was a pile of rocks so everything had to be invented. Host Mark Did you worry about people, especially historians being critical? Bernard Cornwell Not particularly, mainly because there is only a handful of historians who deal with that period and I rip them off mercilessly :) So they will be criticising their own conclusions (laughs). Host Mark If you had to say specifically, what do you think the reason behind Stonehenge was...do you give any credence to say UFO stories? Bernard Cornwell NO! Stonehenge appears to be a temple dedicated to the Sun. There is a lunar aspect but it is not nearly so obvious as the monument alignment is on the rising midsummer and setting midwinter sun. Other older henges are far more complicated. Many of them have stellar alignments and one tentative conclusion is that Stonehenge is a simplification of an older more complex religion ie that the people who built it had decided that the Sun was the most important of the Gods. On the other hand, all this could be wrong. Almost every Christian church in medieval Europe was built on an East-West axis so future archeologists could well assume that they were built in line with the rising sun. They would be wrong and perhaps we are wrong about Stonehenge. Jane from Sydney asks... Are the settlements in Stonehenge real? Bernard Cornwell Yes, absolutely. What I call Ratharryn is Durrington Walls, which has now disappeared because a road has been driven straight through it, but was once an enormous and impressive settlement. Cathallo is now called Avebury and is well worth visiting....many people find it more impressive and overwhelming than Stonehenge.


About Bernard Cornwell



Books
The Pagan Lord [Unabridged Edition] The Pagan Lord [Unabridged Edition]
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The Pagan Lord The Pagan Lord
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