Frequently asked questions

Here is a selection of questions which the author is frequently asked. If your query isn’t here, why not submit it?

Q. Is The North Beyond fantasy?
A. Yes, but if only there was another way to describe it, I would use it.

Q. Why?
A. Because it contains almost none of what has become accepted as the standard paraphernalia of fantasy such as wizards, werewolves, goblins, elves, dwarves, vampires, dark lords, spells etc etc etc.

Q. I love fantasy, so does this mean I won’t like The North Beyond?
A. Why not try it and see! Have a look at the ‘Readers’ Reactions’ section of the website.

Q. I hate fantasy. Will I like it?
A. You might be surprised. Lots of readers who say they never read fantasy have liked it a lot – again, see their reactions on the website.

Q. Is The North Beyond like The Lord of the Rings?
A. No, not at all. Well, except that it’s also very long. This tends to be the $100 question, so let’s leave it for more extensive treatment in the author’s blog. Meanwhile, whether you like or loathe LOTR, please, please read The Road to Middle Earth by Tom Shippey. Also Roots and Branches by the same author. Or indeed anything at all by Tom Shippey.

Q. Is The North Beyond one book or a series of four?
A. It is one book containing one story and most emphatically not a tetralogy. It was split into four parts for publication because it was too long to be printed in one volume. The four parts, Numirantoro, Maesrhon, Haldur and Artorynas are not stand-alone narratives in themselves but are available separately from Amazon, both as ebooks and paperbacks.

Q. How long did it take to write?
A. Four years.

Q. Is there a map?
A. Yes: a very large, very tattered sketch map which is now rolled up in a tube. It was consulted repeatedly while the book was being written and is now almost illegible.

Q. Can readers get a copy?
A. Many readers have asked for a map. One can now be downloaded from the website. It's in four overlapping sheets so you can join the whole thing together if you wish.

Q. What was the inspiration behind The North Beyond?
A. Believe it or not, the very first ideas were prompted by those motorway signs on the A1(M) in England that say ‘The North’ – which was actually the original working title of the book. There were other sources of inspiration, of course. See What lies behind it all in the Author's Blog

Q. Did you do any research before writing The North Beyond?
A. Not really. However the following books were occasionally consulted and all are extremely interesting in their own right: The Forgotten Crafts by John Seymour; The Hunting Peoples by Carleton S. Coon; and The SAS Survival Handbook by John Wiseman. It was also instructive to know what the requirements for Roman legionaries were (very, very tough – no wonder the Roman Empire eventually included almost all the known world).

Q. Are the characters or locations in The North Beyond based on real people or places?
A. Absolutely not.

Q. Where did the names in the book come from? Are they invented? How?
A. That’s three questions! Well, the names, like the story, came out of the author’s head. Obviously, characters couldn’t be called Tom, Dick or Harry because that would tie the story to the present day. Equally, to use names like (say) Hereward or Ghengis or Beowulf would tie it to history or legend. So, what to do? In the case of The North Beyond the answer was to invent just enough of a new language to be able to use it as the building-blocks for names, both of people and places. From this you’ll be able to deduce, quite correctly, that all the names actually mean something. If anyone feels that more information on this, or a glossary, list or guide to pronunciation would be useful, contact the website and we’ll see what we can do.

Q. Are there any other books by the author of The North Beyond?
A. Yes, just one at the moment.  It's called The Yule Stone and it's a fast-paced, funny and off-beat take on the traditional run-up to Christmas.  Fantasy in a contemporary setting, it's aimed at a readership in the nine to twelve age range and would also appeal to the kind of adult who enjoys re-reading favourite children's books.  At present The Yule Stone is in search of an agent or publisher.