1066 Turned Upside Down: Coffee Pot Club Blog Tour
Have you ever wondered what might have happened if William the Conqueror had been beaten at Hastings in 1066? Or if Harald Hardrada had won at Stamford Bridge? Or if Edward the Confessor had died with an heir ready to take his crown? If so – here is the perfect set of short stories for you.
1066 Turned Upside Down explores a variety of ways in which that momentous year could have played out very differently.
Written by nine well-known authors the stories will take you on a journey through the speculative ‘what ifs?’ of England’s most famous year in history.
Featuring Helen Hollick
Today we feature 1066 Turned Upside Down author Helen Hollick and an excerpt from the first of her two alternative history stories:
In The Wake Of The Dolphin
by Helen Hollick
When the wind shifted further to the south, with his English navy, the schypfyrd, waiting near the Isle of Wight, Harold knew things might, at last, begin to happen. There was a new uprush of expectation among the men. Daggers were eased loose, hands gripped tighter on the oars of the warships – the sturdy thirty-two and forty-oared Dragon Craft. All eyes were keening southwards. Towards Normandy.
The English spies knew how many ships Duke William had mustered, how many – how few – would be under oar, showing that he was no sea warrior. The majority of William’s fleet relied on sail, requiring a fair-set wind to accompany them across the ninety-odd miles between Dives-sur-Mer and… and where? That, the English spies could not discover, only conjecture; and that too, might depend on the fickleness of the wind. Once he set sail, William could beach anywhere along the English coast. He had to be stopped before then – and the English were good at blockading against sea-borne attack. Cursing the poor sea conditions, Duke William would also have been waiting and watching, ready to set sail with his fleet. All summer men had been watching the weather, waiting… At last, one day in mid-August, the wind changed…
A voice, distant but clear, sounded from Dolphin’s steerboard side; Eadric swung round, questioning, then raised his hand in acknowledgement to Bjarni Redbeard from the Sea Star, a craft that matched the length and speed of Dolphin. Eadric cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted back; ‘Nay! I see nothing – but they are there, mark you. I know they are there!’
‘Aye, we all feel it! That Duke would be moon-mad, I am thinking, to pass by this opportunity.’
Bjarni was about to say more, but his shout was abruptly silenced for the horn sounded, distant, from the south, from where Wave Dancer was patrolling. All the men came alert, breath held, listening. Again, the long mournful cry of the war horn… and a third time.
Eadric himself was the first to break the enchantment. He leapt, in four strides, from stern to mast, took up Dolphin’s own long and curving aurochs’ horn, and blew three blasts in response. The sound scudded over the creaming waves, was caught by the wind and lifted to the high clouds. In that instant, the men, too, had come alive, racing for the rowing benches. Hands tight-gripping the oars their heads turned, expectant, towards Eadric their master, awaiting his signal.
For a long moment he stood there amidships, fists bunched against his hips, legs spread, feeling the eager roll of his tight-held ship. The salt taste of the sea stung against his lips, the song of the wind whistled past his ears. His attention snatched to a white wake that folded around the hull – and another, and another. A silver glistening back; a fin…
He pointed and laughed, ‘Look, my brothers!’ he crowed, ‘we have our friends to accompany us as we go to meet this bastard Duke of Normandy! Look! The dolphins have come to run with their sister!’
A shout of exultation was tossed to the height of the mast, the strain was taken up by arm muscles, and Eadric shouted the command they had so eagerly awaited.
‘Lift her! Lift her!’
Dolphin and Sea Star began to glide forward through the choppy sea. From the west, the answering boom and boom of the war horns from Moon Crest and Sun Singer. From the east, Cloud Chaser and Gull. From behind, Shape Shifter, Sea Eagle and Red Sail; from ahead, Wind Whisperer, Wave Prancer and Spindrift… from more and more of the fleet: Sword Song, Tern, Breeze, Hawk…
The wolf pack was loose, and running fast towards the Chase and the Kill.
What happens when the two fleets meet… read 1066 Turned Upside Down and find out!
“1066 Turned Upside Down is the exemplar for how analytical counterfactual history should be done, combining the best elements of fiction and non-fiction to create an immensely impressive achievement.”
“As a collection, the quality of the writing is exceptional and the variety of possible outcomes presented is truly fascinating.”
“The collection is assembled in such a way that between the ‘alternatives’ are the related facts as they happened, as far as historians and archaeologists know – which still leaves room for these experienced writers’ imaginations.”
“A book I will read and re-read. I heartily recommend it”
“The real joy of a collection of stories like this is, of course, that you are likely to be introduced to writers you may not have come across before.”
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1066 Turned Upside Down is a collection of eleven alternative history short stories of a ‘what if’ nature imagined by nine well-known successful authors:
JOANNA COURTNEY Ever since Joanna sat up in her cot with a book, she’d wanted to be a writer and cut her publication teeth on short stories and serials for the women’s magazines before signing to PanMacmillan in 2014 for her three-book series The Queens of the Conquest about the wives of the men fighting to be King of England in 1066. Her second series, written for Piatkus is Shakespeare’s Queens exploring the real history of three of the bard’s greatest female characters – Lady Macbeth, Ophelia and Cordelia.
ALISON MORTON writes the award-winning alternative fiction Roma Nova thriller series featuring tough, but compassionate heroines. She blends her deep love of Roman history with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical, adventure and thriller fiction. A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, she started wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women. She has recently branched out into a contemporary crime setting with Double Identity, the first of a planned series.
ANNA BELFRAGE Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy set in 14th century England. Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. His Castilian Hawk – returning to medieval times and her most recent release, The Whirlpools of Time, a time travel romance set against the backdrop of brewing rebellion in the Scottish highlands. Anna has won several awards including various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.
ANNIE WHITEHEAD is an historian and prize-winning author. Her main interest in history is the period formerly known as the ‘Dark Ages’. Her first novel, To Be A Queen, is the story of Aethelflaed (daughter of Alfred the Great), who came to be known as the Lady of the Mercians. Alvar the Kingmaker, tells the story of Aelfhere of Mercia, a nobleman in the time of King Edgar. Cometh the Hour goes further back in time to the seventh century, to tell the story of Penda, the last pagan king of Mercia. Annie has twice been a prizewinner in the Mail on Sunday Novel Writing competition, she won first prize for nonfiction in the new Writing Magazine Poetry and Prose competition, and was the inaugural winner of the HWA (Historical Writers’ Association)/Dorothy Dunnett Society Short Story Competition and is now a judge for that same competition.
Annie has had two nonfiction books published. Mercia: The Rise and Fall of a Kingdom (Amberley Books) has been an Amazon #1 Bestseller. Women of Power in Anglo-Saxon England was published by Pen & Sword Books in 2020.
CAROL McGRATH is the author of The Daughters of Hastings Trilogy. Her fifth historical novel, The Silken Rose, first in The Rose Trilogy, published by the Headline Group, is set during the High Middle Ages. It features Ailenor of Provence and was published in 2020. The Damask Rose about Eleanor of Castile was published in 2021. The Stone Rose, Isabella of France, follows in 2022. Carol has also written Historical Non-Fiction for Pen & Sword.
ELIZA REDGOLD is an author and ‘romantic academic’. Her bestselling historical fiction includes her Ladies of Legend trilogy, starting with Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva released internationally by St Martin’s Press, New York. Her historical romances are published by Harlequin Historical, London (Harper Collins). They include Playing the Duke’s Mistress, Enticing Benedict Cole, The Scandalous Suffragette and The Master’s New Governess. They have been translated into multiple languages including Italian, Polish, Czech, Danish and Swedish, and are available internationally.
G.K. HOLLOWAY After graduating from Coventry University with an honours degree in history and politics, he worked in education in and around Bristol, England, where he now lives. After reading a biography about Harold Godwinson, he studied the late Anglo-Saxon era in detail. When he had enough material to weave together facts and fiction he produced his novel. 1066 What Fates Impose, a story of family feuds, court intrigues, assassinations, plotting and scheming, loyalty and love, all ingredients in an epic struggle for the English crown.
HELEN HOLLICK moved from London in 2013 and now lives on a thirteen-acre farm in North Devon, England. Born in London, Helen wrote pony stories as a teenager, moved to science fiction and fantasy, and then discovered the wonder of historical fiction. Published since 1994 with her Arthurian Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, followed by her 1066 era duo. She became a USA Today bestseller with her story of Queen Emma: The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK), and its companion novel, Harold the King (titled I Am the Chosen King in the U.S.A). She also writes the Sea Witch Voyages, a series of pirate-based nautical adventures with a touch of fantasy. Commissioned by Amberley Press she wrote a non-fiction book about pirates in fact, fantasy and fiction and a non-fiction book about smugglers, published by Pen and Sword.
Recently she has ventured into the ‘Cosy Mystery’ genre with her Jan Christopher Mysteries, the first of which is A Mirror Murder. She runs Discovering Diamonds, an independent online review site for Historical Fiction, primarily aimed at showcasing Indie writers.
RICHARD DEE was a Master Mariner and ship’s pilot, now living in Brixham, South Devon. His novels include Science Fiction and Steampunk adventures, as well as the exploits of Andorra Pett, a reluctant amateur detective.
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