The Winter Siege Virtual Book Tour: Giveaway Guest Post and by D.W. Bradbridge
I’ve always been fascinated by the nature of history. How can you possibly know for sure what really happened during a particular historical event when history consists of a collection of contemporary reports written largely by people who have agendas of their own?
I grew up being told, for example, that Richard III was a scheming and villainous crookback and yet recent debate puts much of Richard’s bad press down to the Tudor propaganda machine.
Similarly, it is reported that when John, Lord Byron, commander of the Royalist forces in Cheshire, heard about the murder of twelve men in a church in the small village of Barthomley on December 23rd, 1643, by some of his soldiers, he wrote a letter to the Marquis of Newcastle saying; “we… put them all to the sword, which I find to be the best way to proceed with these kind of people, for mercy to them is cruelty.”
It is a letter, which earned Byron the nickname of the “bloody braggadoccio.” However, a senior royalist member of the Sealed Knot, who I know well, insists that there is no proof that Byron ever wrote this letter and, indeed, was more likely the victim of a set-up. So who do you believe?
My aim with The Winter Siege, set in the Cheshire salt town of Nantwich during the bitter winter of 1643-44, was to create a very detailed historical framework based on contemporary documents – so many of the events described in the novel did actually happen. Many of the characters in the novel were also real people – not just the recognisable historical figures like Fairfax, Byron and Booth, but many of the minor townsfolk too. For example, Alexander Clowes, the best friend of my main character, Daniel Cheswis, really was the name of the bellman in Nantwich at that time. My idea was to create a “what-if” scenario, weaving a fictional murder mystery plot around the historical facts of the siege and the battle.
The question the reader will want to know is how much of the story is real and how much should be taken with a large dose of Nantwich salt. As is often the case with history, it is for you, the reader to decide. Reality can be what you want it to be.
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
1643. The armies of King Charles I and Parliament clash in the streets and fields of England, threatening to tear the country apart, as winter closes in around the parliamentary stronghold of Nantwich. The royalists have pillaged the town before, and now, they are returning. But even with weeks to prepare before the Civil War is once more at its gates, that doesn’t mean the people of Nantwich are safe.
While the garrison of soldiers commanded by Colonel George Booth stand guard, the town’s residents wait, eyeing the outside world with unease, unaware that they face a deadly threat from within. Townspeople are being murdered – the red sashes of the royalists left on the bodies marking them as traitors to the parliamentary cause.
When the first dead man is found, his skull caved in with a rock, fingers start being pointed, and old hatreds rise to the surface. It falls to Constable Daniel Cheswis to contain the bloodshed, deputising his friend, Alexander Clowes, to help him in his investigations, carried out with the eyes of both armies on his back. And they are not the only ones watching him.
He is surrounded by enemies, and between preparing for the imminent battle, watching over his family, being reunited with his long-lost sweetheart, and trying, somehow, to stay in business, he barely has time to solve a murder.
With few clues and the constant distraction of war, can Cheswis protect the people of Nantwich? And which among them need protecting? Whether they are old friends or troubled family, in these treacherous times, everyone’s a traitor, in war, law, or love.
When the Winter Siege is through, who will be among the bodies?
About the Author
D.W. Bradbridge was born in 1960 and grew up in Bolton. He has lived in Crewe, Cheshire since 2000, where he and his wife run a small magazine publishing business for the automotive industry.
“The inspiration for The Winter Siege came from a long-standing interest in genealogy and local history. My research led me to the realisation that the experience endured by the people of Nantwich during December and January 1643-44 was a story worth telling. I also realised that the closed, tension-filled environment of the month-long siege provided the ideal setting for a crime novel.
“History is a fascinating tool for the novelist. It consists only of what is remembered and written down, and contemporary accounts are often written by those who have their own stories to tell. But what about those stories which were forgotten and became lost in the mists of time?
“In writing The Winter Siege, my aim was to take the framework of real history and fill in the gaps with a story of what could, or might have happened. Is it history or fiction? It’s for the reader to decide.”
For more information please visit D.W. Bradbridge’s website. You can also find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.