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Interview with Philippa McDonald from the ABC

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

Being interviewed by ABC reporter Philippa McDonald at the 'Skulduggery' book launch was probably one of the most exciting times in my life. This moment brought twelve months of hard work to a climax.

Skulduggery was a year in the writing and contained part of my heart and soul. The research that went into it was formidable as knowledge of the lives of ordinary people living on the moors of Yorkshire in 1590 was difficult. The history of these people is rarely thought of and even less rarely written about because there are few records as most would have been illiterate at the time.

Having the ability to research and describe what life may have been like gives my readers the ability to step back in time. It was important for me to describe in detail the day to day hardships and adventures and not sanitise the story for the modern literary world. Most importantly, I wanted to use a simplified Yorkshire dialect which at times is not easy but adds to the realism and tone of the story when one becomes 'fluent'.

One of the questions that Philippa asked me was about the description of the Kings Arms, the local tavern. Research, deduction and imagination allowed me write this:

Thomas ducked his head going through the doorway and was immediately stunned by the sharpness of the smell, urine-soaked straw and rotting food that had been thrown or dropped on the muddy, manure-covered floor. A man stumbled with a toilet bucket spilling more over the sides than what he was putting in; he tried at drunken modesty when seeing Margery, and turned toward the wall to save embarrassment. Another used a form as a bed, face down still clinging to the almost empty Jack, a leather waterproofed mug lightly held for a future swig before staggering home. The window had no glass and shutters kept out the evening draught, which on some nights, depending on the way of the wind, rid the room of the layers of smokiness...

She asked me about the character Thomas Rushworth and how I had made my great grandfather x10 the main character in the story. I explained how I had found his name on a Haworth Manor court roll from 1590. I was able to identify from a very old Haworth map where he probably lived because of the lands owned by Lord Birkhead, Lord of the Manor at the time. I also knew he was a 'copyholder' and leased the land in exchange for his labouring services on the lord's demesne.

I explained to Philippa that Skulduggery was born through a love of genealogy and mystery coupled with a sense of humour and a devotion to the culture and harshness of the time. Those who have walked the moors around Haworth, Yorkshire or up to Top Withins even in autumn can relate.

Thank you so much Philippa

Paul Rushworth-Brown is the author of three novels:

Skulduggery- An exciting, mysterious, fictional and historically accurate adventure pulls no punches about the life and hardships of peasant farmers living on the moors of Yorkshire in 1590.

"Was excellent reading . I intended to read it over the next week but once I started I could NOT put it down . Really enjoyed it !"

Winter of Red- Come on this historic journey, which twists, turns and surprises until the very end. If you like history, adventure and intrigue with a dash of spirited love, then you will be engrossed by this tale of a peasant family unexpectedly getting caught up in the ravages of the English Civil War in 1642.

"A fictional, historical novel about a loving peasant family caught up in a 1642 shocking Civil War. Humour, romance, adventure and excitement are here to enjoy. A great story.

"Dream of Courage- Soon to be released!

The much anticipated story of the Rushworth family and their journey out of poverty.

King Charles has been executed and England becomes a Republic under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell. Highwaymen, thief-takers, pirates and broggers tell

the story in this mysterious and bone chilling historical thriller.


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