A year ago I wrote a rather contemplative blog post about a new venture I’d embarked on – editing an anthology of short stories by a dozen authors inspired by the subject of my own two books, namely King Richard III. Demonized particularly by Shakespeare (following St Thomas More and other writers keen to pander to the dynastic requirements of their Tudor overlords), King Richard wasn’t of course much like the grotesque portrait that’s long been painted of him – and many modern writers are keen to provide their own take on his life and character.
My blog post can be found at https://authorselectric.blogspot.com/2018/11/dotting-is-editors-role-alex-marchant.html and focuses in particular on the process of editing other people’s fiction writing – something that I found very different from the more practical style of copyediting I’ve long practised in my day job. But it was a process I enjoyed – together with collaborating with a number of other authors with similar interests, who were willing to contribute their work for a charitable enterprise. For the book, Grant Me the Carving of My Name, has been sold in support of Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK), a charity that supports people today who have the same spinal condition as Richard – as was shown when his grave was discovered under the car park in Leicester in 2012.
As I mentioned in last year’s blog, at least as many more authors wanted to contribute to any future project as donated stories to the first one, so – guess what? Glutton for punishment that I am, I decided to do it all again this year.
The result is Right Trusty and Well Beloved…, a second anthology, this time of both short stories and poems, all in some way about King Richard, his life and times. It’s remarkable just how much interest the first collection attracted – so much so that we decided on a competition for submissions to the second. With a small entry fee going straight to SAUK, it was fundraising for SAUK from the start.
I learnt rather a lot from putting the first anthology together. One major thing was that it would be better to take more time over it, rather than try to pull everything together in just two months like last year. Mind you, there was no real selection process for the first book – I simply contacted a few writers I thought might be interested in donating stories. To my surprise, they all said yes, so we immediately had enough material to fill a slim paperback volume (ideal for a Christmas stocking filler at only £5.99/$7.99). This time, with the competition, there had to be sufficient lead times built in. So an announcement was made in February, with deadlines set for submissions, announcement of the selection, and the editing process.
I am rather a ‘last-minuter’ in most areas of my life, and this turned out to be no exception. The day before the announcement of the selection (and of the winners of outstanding story, poem and flash fiction), I was still trying to pin down the final choices – attempting to ensure a good variety of style, mood, genre, length, etc. My editing overran a little – not because it was an onerous task (I was as light touch as for the previous anthology), but simply because everyday life interfered. And arranging the cover went right down to the wire. I’d put it off again and again, thinking something would come up… Fortunately something did – with the kind donation by Frances Quinn of her lovely image of King Richard and his loyal knights haunting Ambion Hill, on the battlefield of Bosworth. I managed a very simple cover design which hopefully complements it, and we were done.
|(c) Frances Quinn, https://www.deviantart.com/echdhu|
Done, that is, apart from finding someone to write our Foreword. Last year not only did I have the good fortune to secure the permission of Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy to use a line from her poem ‘Richard’ for our title, but bestselling historical novelist Philippa Gregory agreed to write a Foreword. Philippa is herself responsible for many people’s good impression of King Richard, following his portrayal by Aneurin Barnard in the BBC’s dramatization of her The White Queen in 2013. Aiming high again, I contacted another Philippa, one whose name will always be indelibly associated with King Richard – Philippa Langley, whose tenacity and sheer hard work in the Looking for Richard Project over a number of years led to the rediscovery of his grave. You may remember her from the documentary about the search and the archaeological dig – ‘The King in the Car Park’.
|Philippa Langley, second from right, alongside her Looking |
For Richard Project colleagues, Dr David and Wendy Johnson
and Dr John Ashdown Hill. Photo courtesy Philippa Langley
I love it when a plan comes together (as someone once used to say…) Right Trustyand Well Beloved… was duly published (on time!) and launched with a Facebook event at the beginning of November. Of the sixteen authors involved this time, eight or nine (including one all the way from the USA) will be congregating in York on 14th December for a pre-Christmas ‘bricks and mortar’ launch too. I’m looking forward to meeting some of these authors face to face for the first time and to raising a glass of something festive to our collaboration. And of course also looking forward to raising shed-loads more cash for a worthy cause, while raising awareness of both the condition and of Good King Richard himself. Cheers!
|Ricardian authors at York Explore launch of Grant Me the Carving... May 2019: |
L-R: Jennifer C. Wilson, Alex Marchant, Marla Skidmore, Joanne R. Larner,
Susan Lamb and Wendy Johnson
Right Trusty and Well Beloved... can be bought as ebook or paperback from Amazon at mybook.to/RightTrusty or bought direct from Alex Marchant, or can be read FREE on Kindle Unlimited.
The blurb for Right Trusty and Well Beloved…
I want you to tell my real story…
Use any talent you have to show me in my true light, not painted black with Tudor propaganda. My new army must be wordsmiths, not soldiers; artists, not knights; musicians, not warriors. We will lay siege to the towers of Tudor lies and bring them crashing down…
Who, for you, is the real Richard III?
Is it the boy, exiled in fear aged seven? The loyal warrior, brother to Edward IV? The young man struck by tragedy? The just and rightful king? Or Thomas More’s and Shakespeare’s infamous villain?
You can meet them all within these pages … or can you?
This follow-up to the 2018 anthology Grant Me the Carving of My Name showcases short stories and poems by international authors inspired by all aspects of King Richard III.
Sold in support of Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK) with a Foreword by Philippa Langley MBE and edited by Alex Marchant. With contributions from Rebecca Batley, Terri Beckett, Sue Grant-Mackie, Kim Harding, Wendy Johnson, Joanne R. Larner, Kit Mareska, Máire Martello, Liz Orwin, Elizabeth Ottosson, Nicola Slade, Richard Tearle, Brian Wainwright, Kathryn Wharton and Jennifer C. Wilson.
Our first 5* review:
“Another nice mix of Ricardian fiction …This second anthology contains poetry as well as prose, thus adding to the variety. There should be something to appeal to various tastes.”