'The bleak Pennine moors of Yorkshire a beautiful, harsh place close to the sky, rugged and rough, no boundaries ‘cept the horizon which in some places goes on forever. Green pastures and wayward hills, the colours of ochre, brown and pink in the Spring. Green squares divide the land on one side of the lane and on t'other. Sheep with thick wool and dark snout dot the hills and dales. One room cruck house cottages scattered, smoke billow out of some and not others. Dry stone walls divide and fall, a patchwork of green, green and greener. Long grasses whisper while swaying in the chilled wind waiting for the summer months. As the sun goes down, the silvery beck glistens amongst the ghost-like trees that line the bank. The countryside sings its songs to the beat of the day, a chorus of echoes from the undulating hills. Clouds line the horizon and widen the gap between the blue and the moor.'
Skulduggery was my first attempt at writing historical fiction and I took on board feedback from many readers who purchased it. Is it a best seller, probably not, but it was mine and it took a year of my life to write. This was a labour of love and as I said in a previous post, it was my way to go back in time and somehow experience what life was like living on the moors of Yorkshire in 1590.
I knew then and there that it would be a boring read if I spent 190 pages describing the life and times of the Rushworth family and to be honest, I would have been bored writing it. For this reason, I engineered a number of things too, lets say brighten up the story. There had to be some twists and turns, some intrigue, mystery and most importantly a love story. It had to be historically accurate and my Great Grandfather x10 Thomas Rushworth was going to be the protagonist. All the rest of the characters are inventions of my imagination, the names have been changed to protect the innocent well, all except Lord Birkhead who was actually Lord of Haworth Manor in 1590. Even though the characters are fictitious, their presence and social standing are historically accurate for the time.
I used the Yorkshire accent and dialect in the dialogue as much as I could to emphasise the mood and ambience of the time and place. I wanted to use old English words that are no longer used to bring a realism to the story. Most importantly, I wanted the novel to be very descriptive, so much so that reading it would allow the reader to paint their own picture of the landscape, the people and the time. Now some readers, especially in Australia, have criticised this, stating that it makes the reading too difficult. In hindsight, I thought it was a brave move to write such a way and I have toned it down somewhat in the second novel 'Winter of Red; however, the use of old English words and dialect will continue to be a feature of my storytelling.
The other thing that I was emphatic about, was the truth of the story and the realistic way in which it was told. There is no doubt that peasants living on the moors of Yorkshire in 1590 were a rough bawdy lot lacking in contemporary etiquette and manners, so this is the way it is written.
Excerpt from 'Skulduggery': 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 air which on some nights, depending on the way of the wind, rid the room of the layers of smokiness. The shutters also served the purpose of denying the vicar’s representative, that occasionally walked by, to collect notes on the immoral goings-on after dark. Three-legged stools and the odd cut barrel were used as a gaming table. Wide, rough planks rested on full size-barrels separating the barkeeper from the clientele and shelves behind housed pewter dishes, leather jacks and the odd pewter tankard for the patron with a more modest income. Most of the light came from the fire in the hearth, but the odd tallow candle chandelier and grease lamp provided enough light for the card games, arguments and political debates.
Skulduggery: Dishonourable proceedings; means dishonesty or trickery, bribery and graft. An instance of dishonesty or deceitful behaviour; a trick.
Paul Rushworth-Brown is the author of two 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.
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.
Dream of Courage-Coming Soon