New mentor service for historical fiction authors

The other day someone said to me, “You know, Angus, what you should do is write a spin-off series about the son of Robin Hood! No need to thank me – you can have that idea for free!” It was someone I care about, so I gritted my teeth and said nothing. But God I hate it when people give me advice.

I should qualify that last statement. I hate it when people give me unsolicited advice. And particularly when they haven’t read any of my books but still think that they know in which direction I should go next.

My readers will know that – spoiler alert: if you haven’t read The Death of Robin Hood yet (cover below), look away now! – Robin’s true son Miles gets killed in the end, so no spin-off is possible. And the other son Hugh – who is actually the bastard child of Ralph Murdac, who raped Marie-Anne in Outlaw – is a dull, priggish sort who probably wouldn’t have any decent adventures at all.

The Death of Robin Hood - Angus Donald
Spoiler alert: everybody dies in this one

So, given that I don’t like taking advice, you will no doubt think me the most putrid of hypocrites when I tell you that I have signed up to a mentoring scheme to give other aspiring historical fiction writers advice and help. The big difference is this would only be for people who asked for it! I’m not going to stand in the street and give my sage opinions to random passersby.

The mentoring scheme has been set up by The History Quill, which is a support organisation for budding historical fiction authors. This outfit, run by the charming and brainy Andrew Noakes, offers a bunch of editorial services and they’ve added a new string to their bow – mentoring writers.

Mentor – a mythical beast that is part man, part Citizens’ Advice Bureau

It’s an odd word, “mentor”, I was thinking about it the other day a little too hard – you know how if you repeat a word too much it sometimes loses all meaning – well, I happened to be talking to my eight-year-old son about the Minotaur and centaurs (he’s into classical mythology right now) and I wondered what sort of mythical beast a Mentor would be. Part man, part citizens’ advice bureau, I decided, perhaps because it had been a long day and I’d had a couple of G&Ts.

But I digress. Anyway, I’ve signed up with Andrew to be one of the mentors at The History Quill. It is all organised by them and, if you apply and they accept you as a suitable candidate, you pay a monthly fee and get to choose a mentor from a small selection of successful historical fiction authors, including Matthew Harffy, Charlotte Betts, E. M. Powell . . . and, er, me.

We provide a monthly video conference of 60-90 minutes via Skype or Zoom or some other bit of tech, in which we discuss your work and offer feedback, support, suggestions and critique. You can email us a number of times each month and we will help you as much as we can with your writing, plotting, story structure, genre definition, and so on, and also to navigate the world of publishing. Obviously, we cannot guarantee that you will become a bestselling author overnight, or even that you will be snapped up by a major publisher, but we can vastly improve your chances.

If you’re interested, this is the link here, and if you want me to be your mentor, I’d be delighted to work with you, but you have to go through The History Quill process first. Application start on Monday, 11 May, 2020.

If you don’t know my work, here is a bit of info about me, a short biog . . .

About me and my work

Angus Donald is the author of the bestselling Outlaw Chronicles, a historical fiction series that has so far sold more than half a million copies worldwide. His set of nine adventure novels about gangster-like Robin Hood and his loyal lieutenant Sir Alan Dale, which is played out against the political backdrop of late 12th-century Europe, has been translated in Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Dutch and German. The final book in the series, The Death of Robin Hood, was one of The Times Books of the Year in 2016. 

Angus has also written the acclaimed Blood trilogy of historical novels about Holcroft Blood, a mildly autistic 17th-century English artillery officer, who was the son of the notorious Crown Jewels thief Colonel Thomas Blood. The first book in the series, Blood’s Game, was shortlisted for the HWA Sharpe Books Gold Crown Award in 2018. Before becoming a full-time author in 2008, Angus was a journalist for 18 years, working for international publications including the FTThe Times, the Hong Kong Standard and the Sunday Telegraph Magazine

. . . And you want to read something of mine, you might like to buy a copy of my latest novel Robin Hood and the Caliph’s Gold here.

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