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Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Owl of the Durotriges by Yassmin Sanders

I started writing The Owl of the Durotriges after completing a degree in Archaeology and Classical History at Canterbury in 2008.  I undertook the part-time degree for curiosity and interest rather than a career choice.  My specialist area was deposition in boundaries but the more I read about the late Iron Age, the more fascinated I became with the era in general.  Archaeology tells us about social history rather than the history of kings and queens and I was able to imagine how the people lived at that time.  At the end of the degree I realised that I would lose this knowledge unless I put it to good use and kept up the reasearch and so I began writing.
I was fascinated by the fact that there was a roaring trade between Hengistbury Head and Brittany well before the Romans arrived and I wanted to challenge the classically-biased  belief that we were a bunch of barbarians before Caeser or Claudius.  I set the main action in Hengistbury Head and as soon as I began to write, the characters seemed to announce themselves on the page.  Chela, our heroine, is a healer.  I once trained as an aromatherapist and had to learn all about the medicinal uses of plants and herbs - this seemed an opportunity to make use of this knowledge too.  I also included druids but I wanted them to be politically active rather than simply a benign priesthood.  The story changed and had very many edits and re-edits until I was happy with it.  My main aim, however, was to tell a good story rather than use the book as a platform to promote the Iron Age. I hope I have succeeded, but that, of course, is up to the reader to say.
You can see more on my website:  


Ann Turnbull said...

It surprised me too when I first realised how much trade there was in the Bronze and Iron Ages in Britain - and what great distances people travelled. This sounds an interesting story.

Beth said...

I'm definitely going to be looking this one up - novels about the Iron Age are few and far between and this sounds like a fascinating one.

And I believe you've already been nominated, but I have awarded Royalty Free Fiction the Liebster Blog Award; it's great to see a blog with this sort of focus.