Today’s 7 Questions are a bit different, as we are hosting a blog tour (you know us, we’ll try anything once!). So, today’s 7 Questions candidate is author and journalist Jenny Ensor. Whilst this is not the traditional 7 Questions format, you can still find her on Twitter @jennie_ensor
1. New book? Tell us more.
It’s a project I’ve worked on since 2005, on and off, and has been a real hard slog at times. So I’m relieved, excited and greatly chuffed that it is finally on the verge of publication! The date is set to be this Saturday 23rd July, in just two days. So much has happened over the past few weeks I can barely keep up with it. One big thing was the change of title. My book has been retitled Blind Side from ‘Ghosts of Chechnya’ (before that it was ‘Nikolai’). This was at the suggestion of Unbound. After several weeks of them insisting – I mean me contemplating – I agreed to change it Though the new title works very well, I’m still not quite used to it!
What Blind Side about? The novel has changed a fair bit since I started it, but all the essential ingredients are still there, amplified – suspense, thrills, mystery, danger, creepy heart-fluttering bits, love, sex, crime, war, terrorism… For a comparison, think Claire Kendall’s stalker novel The Book of You meets a slimmed down Gone With The Wind. As far as genre goes it’s a thriller, the psychological/domestic noir type with some recent-historical political stuff thrown in for good measure.
2. Have you ever been compared to Brian Cox?
Not once, unfortunately Claire. He is far better in front of the camera than I would be and I’m sure he knows much more about the universe than I ever will. On the other hand, my first degree was in physics and astrophysics, during which time I sometimes peered through big telescopes and talked excitedly about celestial objects.
3. If you were going to be stuck on an island for a year and could only take 3 books, which would you choose?
Western Philosophy: an anthology. A book sitting on my shelf that I’d love to actually read one day.
The collected poems of Jo Shapcott, Elizabeth Bishop or Billy Collins.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. I need to finish this book and it’s very long. Lately I only have time to read when I can’t sleep night, or during the day. (I listen to audio books on my i-Phone while walking the dog.)
4. What are your thoughts on Pet Couture?
In a word, why?
5. Do you have a favourite badger?
Our dog, an Airedale terrier, has a fair streak running from the tip of his tail (which curls up in an ‘O’ on top of his back), under his belly and up his chest. He is my honorary badger.
6. If you could have dinner with one of your characters, which would you pick?
It would have to be Nikolai, my Russian character from Blind Side. My husband might not like it though, given that Nikky is tall, dark and handsome – also very capable physically He’s also unpredictable and moody, so I’d never know what he might say next. Nikolai is a fascinating character I think, tormented by the horrors of the war that he was conscripted to fight in, and the things in his past that he doesn’t dare mention to Georgie. But he’s found solace in playing the piano and writing music. He can be quite a charmer too, and wonderfully quick witted. And that Russian accent… I would probably end up just sitting there listening to him speak, as Georgie does in the novel. Perhaps I’d better pick someone else.
7. Have you ever met a kangaroo?
Actually, yes. After studying how the universe came to exist, I realised I was more interested the ‘real’ world and set off to see it. I ended up in Australia. There I was inspired by John Pilger’s investigative reporting, took up journalism and learned how to tell stories (real ones, at first). I also fell in love with the rugged landscape – I’d go hiking and camping in the wilderness with nature-loving friends. All sorts of creatures would sniff and nudge our tent at night. Once at sunset I saw a kangaroo bounding past – an incredible sight.
Seven Questions is a section of Newsnibbles where we ask one of our Twitter followers seven questions (duh). Because we do it via email they are free to answer in more that 140 characters, which is nice.
Today’s is a bit different in that our participant found us in a Facebook group, but since we aren’t prejudice we went with it!
Cat Cale speaks six languages, plays music and has recently published her first novel, all at the age of sixteen! We just had to find out a bit more.
1. Six languages, wow! Did you live all around the world or are you just interested in language?
My dad is German and my mum is Scottish so I grew up bilingual. When I was 7, I moved to Spain where I had to learn Spanish and Valenciano, a regional language that most people in my town spoke. Then, of course, when I entered secondary we started to learn French. Finally, the year before last I started learning Italian for a GSCE exam. Even though, I’ve now lived in 3 different countries, I would say that I am just interested in languages and that it comes quite naturally for me.
2. What would you say the inspiration for your book was?
I hadn’t written anything in ages and one day I began to write a letter to my boyfriend. It was probably just filled with cliched stuff but it gave me the idea for my book. Basically, it started off with me picturing a newspaper or magazine with a headline that suggested that (what would later become) the two main characters (the writer Ruby and the musician Oli) of my book had been in a relationship when they were younger. I thought it was something that I could play on because obviously the media isn’t always right (especially when it comes to celebrities).
3. Some people might say that 16 is too young to have published a novel, what would you say to them?
I don’t think age matters that much. At the moment, I am still learning, but publishing my book is an experience that I can learn from. I know that this book isn’t going to be the best that I will write because there will be many more to come and each time I will learn something new. Therefore, each book will get better. So, it doesn’t matter if I’m publishing a book at 16 because it will hopefully just be the first of many and I have and will learn from it. Plus, the young age means more years of experience when I’m older, people my age will only be starting to publish books then.
4. Where do you stand on the controversial “pet couture” debate?
I’m not so sure about this debate, I don’t know much about it. Howbeit, I’d say it probably is wrong for us humans to dress animals. We seem to think that we are the most superior creatures and that everything has to be how we want it. These animals should have rights too. I have seen people forcing their unwilling pets into outfits they don’t want to wear. In contrast, if the animal isn’t too fussed then why should we be? Although, I don’t understand why we’d want to dress pets anyway.
5. Who is your favourite author, and if you could ask them one question, what would it be?
I think my favourite author would be JK Rowling or Gayle Forman. I admire JK Rowling because of how clever and creative her stories are. Also, at the age of 6 we both wrote a book originally named ‘Rabbit’, however mine was later changed to ‘Thumper’. Gayle Forman, on the other hand, managed to captivate me with emotional story lines. If I could ask them both one question it would probably what moment in their life inspired the best of their story lines.
6. Who or what would you say inspires you?
To be honest, I’d say that musicians inspire me a lot. There are a lot of songs that have their own stories that motivate me to change the path of my book. The Wombats, The Kooks, The 1975, Paramore and Ed Sheeran are the main people that I listen to. A lot of their music is upbeat and makes me feel happy enough to write. Otherwise, I just love buying colourful notebooks and using colourful pens to write my stories. Having these colours surrounding me motivates me and makes me want to finish the notebooks to be able to buy more. Plus, I also have quite encouraging people surrounding me too.
7. What would be the ideal soundtrack to your novel?
If you read my book, you’ll find out as I have mentioned quite a few songs that would fit in certain scenes. Basically, it was all of the songs that I was in to at the time of writing my book. They are mostly from the artists that inspire me. However, as one of the characters is a musician, his music would soundtrack my novel quite nicely when he tours Europe.
Well, this is it. We hope you enjoyed Sophie’s Shaun Hunt, we will now have to find something else interesting to post in the travel section, do feel free to send us your ideas, and thanks for following along.
39. Air Fleece
See those marvellous men in their flying machines?
Please can I keep this one? I just love it.
11. Shaun of the Jungle.
Just watch out for that tree!
21. Wish Ewe Were Here.
Well that’s it folks, my rounding up days are done, I hope ewe enjoyed the journey.
Seven Questions is a section of Newsnibbles where we ask one of our Twitter followers seven questions (duh). Because we do it via email they are free to answer in more that 140 characters, which is nice.
Today we catch up with Amber Naralim or @Naralim33 as we know her, to find out more about life, writing, and of course, pet couture.
1. If you could take any of your characters out for dinner, who would it be and why?
I would take Reese. He tends to hide from me the most. If I’m right there threatening to take his dessert away he wouldn’t be able to deny me anything.
2. Who would win in a fight between a vampire and a werewolf?
Werewolf hands down. They’re faster, stronger and meaner. People like to think keeping a cool head will win every fight. And sometimes they’re right. But when you have half a ton of angry shifter, pointy on five ends the vamp will be toast before he comes up with his witty remark.
3. Who would you cast for the movie version of your books (if you had an unlimited budget)?
Vincent Hale would be played by the sexy as hell Ian Somerhalder. Not only is he easy on the eyes, but he can convey my Vincent’s snark, and the sorrow in him with equal aplomb. Ellie Fredricks would be played by Chloe Grace Moretz. She’s pretty enough, but what I really like about her is her spunk. She can be a bad ass, and she’s got a determined set to her chin that would do my Ellie well. And Finally, my third lead Reese would be played by Christian Kane. He’s got that good ol’ boy southern charm my Reese is known for, but not only can he kick a little ass he can also be funny. All things needed to give Reese his honeyed sweetness.
4. Pet couture, pro or con?
Con. Unless you’re an adorable English bulldog and then I am all for a sweatshirt. It’s got a pjs vibe that goes so well with my favourite breed.
5. If you could ask one person one question, what would you ask and to whom?
I would ask Gerard Way of My chemical Romance fame whether Sunshine the little girl from the Danger Days album -The best album ever by the way- was Party poison’s daughter. I think she was.
6. Do you have a favourite badger?
Why nobody could outshine the honey badger. That critter simply has too much sass
7. Why should people read your books?
Not only are they full of pulse pounding, edge of your seat action. The characters are beautiful. Not good. Not evil. They are human with all the nobility that entails and all the depravity we are all so capable of. Besides, nobody can beat a great love story. If you love Beauty and the Beast, these are the books for you.
So, to recap, Badger discovered Feathers and Toast – the best thing on Youtube. She wrote a review, and Twitter stalked Tallulah into doing a Newsnibbles interview – never underestimate the power of social media, or a persistent badger. You may remember that we also opened up the questions to you at home, and had a whole one response, which was very exciting. You may recall that,
Judith from Bristol asked:
“When I boil water it gets incredibly hot, to the point that it is a health and safety concern. What am I doing wrong?”
Well, Tallulah has addressed the issue in her latest Vlog (it’s like a blog, but it’s a video, so it’s a Vlog. That’s really a thing, we didn’t make it up).
We hope you all find this video instructive and that it answers your questions. Judith herself was so excited by the fact that a real internet celebrity had answered her question she immediately followed the advice in the film and submitted the following picture to the newsdask.
She also had a follow up question, which we submitted to Tallulah, which was:
Now that I am confident boiling water, should I leave my ice lollies frozen, or boil them?
And Tallulah responded as follows:
Oh darling. Well a reasonable question to be honest. I would say try both and see what you prefer. It’s a matter of taste when it comes to the ice lolly and no woman should be ridiculed for wanting it her way. May even like to try roasting them and see what you think of that one.
As always Tallulah’s magnanimous nature is an inspiration to us all. And if you are now weeping that you did not take the opportunity to ask your own question, fear not. You can tweet her or comment on her Youtube. Or if you are too star struck you can email us and we will pass it on for you.
A few people have suggested, following my first LARP review, that I should write entirely In-Character from beginning to end. Kindly permit me to explain: There are countless IC accounts of every Event, I am sure many of them are excellent and have avid fans. This is a review. My switching in and out of character here reflects my experience at the event itself. To assist clarity, passages hereafter in italics reflect moments in character.
Additional Note from the Editor
We quite enjoyed the switching in and out of character and it’s our website, so nah. Also, we quite like pink, so in addition to italics we will make the “IC” stuff pink, because we can. Editorial notes and thoughts, general sarcasm will be blue, so you can tell it apart.
We arrived at the event on the back of a week-long road trip covering half of England. My partner and I work in publishing; we came fresh from a book launch in Bristol to celebrate with a long weekend of Fantasy immersion at Empire 2 2016. Finding our team-mates, we set up camp, our base situated conveniently beside the Temeschbar, close to the Orphan’s bar, and nigh to Illiannia’s Meadery. Other significant locations were also near.
In character, we became Prince Drogon, his bodyguards Lucky Flint and Nathrach MacNebb, and Nathrach’s wife, Akora.
The Harlequin I
The good prince bought a newspaper, from the Pledge Press directly opposite our Crimson Cartel tent. Here we learned one of the major ongoing storylines of the weekend: The three Egregores of the League, which is to say the three chiefs of the League, had vanished; the headline read “Egregone!” (Isn’t that a book/film?!)In their place now was The Harlequin, a jolly, rotund chap dressed in a red and black diamond pattern befitting his name. Prince Drogon returned from his first foray, incensed that this mountebank had so transparently seized power in the League. The Prince and his bodyguards resolved to investigate.
The Virtue of Ambition
That first night, there was much drinking. In the Temeschbar, Nathrach was drawn into a theological debate with a pair of drunk Inquisitors. The question was Nathrach’s remark that the Virtue of Ambition, or any other, was necessarily served by the appreciation of its antithesis. The case in point began with the notion that an Ambitious man should measure his reach with humility, and proceeded to the observation that Pride in one’s skill at debate should yield, on occasion, to Pride in one’s skill at arms. At this point, the priests withdrew. Aware that he had been deliberately entrapped into the discussion by an erstwhile ally, Nathrach refrained from drinking more that night, and readied himself for further trouble with the theocracy.
Nathrach rose early, while most others were still taking council of their hangovers. The proof of his philosophical persuasions would be seen in whether or not the Inquisition arrived to press the matter further. Nathrach sat upon the bench outside the Crimson Cartel’s tent, a cigarette upon his lip, a flagon of tea by his side, and a great sword in his lap.
I love camping. Having a huge canvas bell-tent strewn with weapons and armour inevitably added to the experience. Outside, a literal tent city of the same sprang up, resplendent with banners and flags, people in bright costumes wandering the streets, and a panoply of weapons and armour on display. The evil weatherman had predicted rain; a brooding thunder head wore a speculative expression, in an otherwise clear sky.
The camp stirred. We stuffed ourselves with fried potato and vegetarian sausages, finished our tea,
and joined the general movement towards the muster point for the main battle of the day.
1st Battle: Orcing
As I understood it, the objective of the human Heroes was to retrieve some holy and/or magical artefacts from the forest near the city of Sarvos. The territory had been recently seized by orcs of the Grendal nation. Our objective, on the orc team, was to intercept the expedition to retrieve said artefacts.
At the muster point, there was much joy to discover that besides the fearsome orc-masks and surprisingly realistic breastplates, our kit now included suitably orcy helms. Armed, face-painted and masked, we formed up in our designated units and made a passable show of marching to the battlefield.
There’s an ancient maxim that applies in these situations: “Hurry up and wait.” This we duly did, rolling our orc masks up onto our brows to smoke in the final minutes before battle. Then the order came down to mask up, and we assembled for a good shouting at by the commander of the orcish horde. His oratory was interrupted by a referee, with the message that the human side had already taken the field. The orc commander then shouted at the ref instead.
What then ensued was not, overall, a great day for the orcs. The lines of battle went back and forth, not to mention around and all directions in between. We fought half a dozen engagements from as many angles around the same network of paths. The orcs were driven back, and the humans assembled en mass in the centre ground. The orcish line became strung out, unable to effectively form except in the narrow paths through undergrowth.
At these passes, moments of heroism ensued. Orcish skirmishers fought rearguard actions while the shield-walls reformed. Falling back with a small squad, I found myself momentarily alone against a swordsman all in black. Even his face was black; painted so that only the whites of his eyes showed. We exchanged blows, but the reach of a two-handed sword gave me the edge, and the fight ended with a frankly beautiful slash across his throat with the very tip of the blade. His eyes bulged and his tongue poked; he reeled back with one hand to his neck, only half acting. Then he grinned and sold it with a nod, clutching one hand to his throat as he stumbled back to the human lines.
Though mostly dry, the forest still contained muddy channels and streams. Generally, we avoided fighting near them. The frequent reforming of the orc lines, however, forced us to occasionally retreat at speed through these muddy hazards. At one point, while I was leaping with enviable agility across dry islands in the mud, some cheap git shot me in the back with an arrow. I completed my final leap to dry land, and dutifully crumpled to the ground. Laying dead for awhile, I was witness to the human advance, and found myself behind the lines. I wandered to the respawn point, a circuitous route that led eventually back to the same tangle of paths through the woods.
The humans had entirely formed now. With a squad of skirmishers, I tracked along the entire length or their line, seeking anywhere to engage other than at the by now familiar tangle of woodland paths. A solid mass of packed troops confronted us, with no sign of any orcish column to join in breaking through. Our squad returned to the woody paths, where we found a band of humans heavily beset by our orcish brethren. We joined the fight, outpacing human reinforcements. One human warrior still on his feet was cut down, and a woman trying to aid a fallen comrade chopped in the neck. The humans pushed forward en mass, and our line began to fall back.
An orc warchief attempted to rally us, settling on yelling abuse at me as the only orc apparently listening. On his orders, I took up yelling abuse at the retreating orcs too. The shieldwall reformed, and there ensued a ferocious fight. The humans crashed into us. I was caught in the frontline, without a shield. I’d been doing a lot of shouting all day, and now the adrenaline fully kicked in. My habitual kiai-shout in combat became a continuous roar. I joined a berserk assault that scattered the human shield-wall. My last blow was an overhead chop, neatly crowning the unfortunate chap directly in front of me. He staggered back, comically stunned, and we all paused. Then he shook his head clear, raised a hand to signal he was okay, and the fight resumed. The ref’s hand landed on my shoulder, and I voluntarily withdrew to catch my breath. About ten seconds later, the adrenaline crashed and last night’s drinking hit me in the gut. I withdrew to the respawn point, and rested out the remainder of the battle until word arrived to head home.
I spent the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon stretched out in our tent, exhausted. We had set up a stall out front, but trade had been poor. I suggested changing the sign to simply say “Shoppe.” Almost immediately, we sold our first tankard. Trade proceeded well throughout the rest of the day, and my partner began to settle into her role as Akora MacNebb. From trading tankards, runestones and marzipan at our little stall, she progressed to attending Prince Drogon’s haggling over the more exotic resources and items of the Empire.
Not for the first time nor the last, my partner remarked at the incredible cleanliness of the site. Even Green Gatherings have more litter. Disposable containers and packaging are not period and people just don’t use them; across the entire site, there was barely a single scrap of litter to be seen.
The Harlequin II
Later, in the Temeschbar, Nathrach was approached by The Harlequin. The rumour in camp was that this man claimed to be a legitimate Egregor, who had escaped from some mysterious imprisonment just in time to step up and replace the missing usual three. It was also rumoured that The Harlequin had on his person three items, each belonging to one of the missing Egregors. Through careful questioning, Nathrach extracted the confession that the Harlequin himself held the Egregores hostage, and might release them for a price.
That evening, Nathrach MacNebb attended the captain’s meeting of the League. Here he met General Gabriel and the Highguard’s General, the latter designated Field Marshal for the morrow’s expedition. The mission would be to intercept a party of orc engineers, on their way to destroy a bridge. Close behind these would be bands of orc wizards, set to curse the river and flood the region, denying us any hope of reclaiming it from the orc invaders.
The battleplan was simple; while the Highguard and the Field Marshal occupied the centre of the field, the League and other forces would scour the woods for the enemy.
Photo Credit: Sally Heath
Photo Credit: Sally Heath
Photo Credit: Sally Heath
Photo Credit Steph Morris
Photo Credit: Kate Hickson
Photo Credit: Sally Heath
2nd Battle: Heroing
Setting out for battle for the first time as Nathrach MacNebb, I hoped to acquit myself reasonably well. Our small squad numbering Nathrach, Drogon and Lucky was joined by Caith De Tassitos, and we four of the Crimson Cartel’s battle-squad marched initially with the much larger contingent of the Torn Banners, our allies who ran the Temeschbar.
Our first objective was to break through an orcish shield-wall on open ground, before proceeding into the woods. We had barely engaged when the enemy unleashed a drake from the woods on our left flank. This monstrous flail-wielding thing crashed into our lines directly behind me. A smoke bomb went off and I spun about to find the thing bearing down directly upon me. Seeing that the beast was armed with a pair of +3 Morning-Stars of Nope, I got the hell out of its way sharpish.
The orcs charged, and the human shield-wall bowed inward. Half of us were flung into the gorse bushes, where a vicious female orc hacked me brutally on the arm. I staggered from the fight, to where an archer of our own side was seeking pot-shots into the mob. This good-hearted chap administered first-aid, a few moments roleplaying yanking my dislocated arm back into place.
Fortunately, the right flank of our army had done far better than we on the left: Even as the orcs pressed us hard, our right flank closed upon them from the other side. Our forces eventually broke through, and we began the advance into the woods.
Again the right flank advanced strongly, and the most part of the left merged in with them, forming a powerful two-pronged column. The orcs flanked the unguarded left, and the Crimson Reaper Cartel broke off from the Torn Banners to reinforce that side. Here ensued a truly awesome swordfight, and I have witnesses.
Lucky and Nathrach advanced left, spacing out between a line of trees that formed a natural defence on the edge of a wide clearing. The orcs broke cover on the clearing’s far side, a shieldwall beginning to form even as a trio of skirmishers advanced to flank the human line. Nathrach knew Lucky was on his left, and saw a small squad of men on the right mustering a firmer defensive line. His attention flicked to the orc directly ahead, armed likewise with a two-handed sword. Nathrach twitched his own blade in salute and attacked, driving the orc back with a flurry of blows. A second orc lunged in from the left and Nathrach parried, twitching his sword back and forth between them, holding both at bay. Trusting Lucky to despatch the third orc unaided and guard his back, Nathrach herded the pair of orcs back. The orcish swordsman lunged suddenly, the axeman at his side swift to follow. Nathrach parried and cut, ducked a blow of the axe, parried and cut again. Both orcs fell. Lucky grabbed him by both shoulders, spun him about, and head-butted him, grinning maniacally.
Photo Credit: Kate Hickson
I saw that! And I thought, does he need help? Then I thought, no, he doesn’t; he needs a headbutt! Fire in yer eyes, man! Rarrgh!
– Lucky Flint
Not long after, we were attacked by another drake. This one was armed with a pair of cleavers, and I joined the general mob in hacking and jabbing at the thing as it rampaged through our lines. Lucky pursued it relentlessly, and ultimately struck the killing blow.
Prince Drogon had last been seen dashing into the fray. Nathrach spotted him through the melee, and started towards him. Even as he arrived, Drogon fell, wounded in the side. Nathrach pitched into the line to rescue him, hauling the Prince back from the fighting. The orcish shield-walls crumbled, and the Imperial forces broke through to their camp at the back of the woods. Here, we found the engineers. These were human traitors who had joined the invading orc army. At a previous battle, many brave heroes had been killed trying to rescue these presumed enslaved captives of the orcs. The thankless wretches had then taken up arms on the orc side, mounting a cowardly ambush on their intended rescuers. This time, there was no mercy; the traitors were butchered without quarter, and the soldiers of the League withdrew to rejoin their Highguard allies waiting in reserve.
The plan, to secure the centre ground so that the Highguard could cover the League’s retreat, worked well enough until the League forces actually passed through the Highguard lines. The Highguard, in close order and holding off an orcish advance, were forced to open ranks to let the retreating League through. Disordered, they were unable to reform in time to prevent an orcish flanking action that came near to encircling the human line.
Nathrach joined a skirmish unit on the flanks, clearing a unit of orc archers and swordsmen from the sparse trees on the edge of the field. Looking back, he saw that the human lines had reformed, and took a breather. There, he discovered Caith De Tassitos beside him again, and the pair took a moment to loot the fallen orcs in the vicinity. They found one orc still alive, whining piteously in a fashion that put the general courage and ferocity of the breed to shame. Caith was so disgusted with the creature’s wheedling for mercy that he felt moved to bosh it in the balls with his mace. The pitiful thing only wailed harder, protesting that this did not help at all. Nathrach silenced the wretch forever by slashing out its throat.
Seeing the flag of the Torn Banners still upon the field, Nathrach and Caith hastened to join what both feared might be a last stand. The fight was fierce, human columns closing up into shieldwalls to stave off the orc pincer-movement. Nathrach found himself by chance directly at the Field Marshal’s side when she gave the order to retreat. Pausing only to hack down an over-bold orc skirmisher, Nathrach ran to find the captain of the Torn Banners, and relay the Field Marshal’s orders. Then he sought the captain of the Ashen Tower, and finally Prince Drogon himself. The human forces withdrew in good order, before the orcs were able to cut off their retreat. The traitor engineers had been slain, but the orcish wizards had escaped; the battle could at best be called a partial success.
Nathrach returned to camp, pausing to inform Lady Illiana at the Holberg Meadery that her husband Caith was alive and well, and that they had walked together from the battlefield. Then he presented himself to his wife Akora, much to her relief, and awaited the return of Drogon and Lucky from the field.
Bessie The Bard, Artiste
Later, Akora engaged the services of Bessie The Bard to paint a portrait. The experience was so funny, Nathrach sought out Prince Drogon to get a royal picture done. The good Prince was sufficiently amused as to hire Bessie to attend the Crimson Cartel at the party planned later that night.
The Honest Armourer
Numerous traders visited our little shoppe. My partner began negotiating deals in earnest, and acquired for me not only a suitably heroic belt, but also the services of a leather-worker to make loops and fixings, solving much of the carriage problem that afflicts period costume. Modern day clothing, see, is equipped with pockets. A top tip for anyone coming into LARPing; decent belts hung with sufficient pouches are top of the kit list.
Not long after our visit to the armourer, he knocked again at our tent door. During the adjustments to my belt, a magic-item ribbon had fallen off. The nature of the game, beginning with the detail that combat revolves on all parties being honest about their Hit Points, puts the rules inherently on the honour system. Personal weapons, armour and camping equipment are out-of-bounds for theft, but In-Character items such as coinage, magic effect cards and enchanted item ribbons are considered fair game to keep if found or even outright stolen. Yet the armourer brought back a rather valuable magic item, and bade us attest that the White Raven are honest traders.
3rd Battle: Orcing
An opportunity arose to go orcing again, one of numerous minor battles that took place over the weekend. We layered on orcish tabards, masks and helms, and marched out again in a passable column, this time to the open field. From here, we advanced upon the humans emerging from the trees. The line of our march missed them completely; they moved to flank us at once, our column dissolving into a loose skirmish line to head them off. A unit of Imperial orcs arrived, fighting on the human side, and the humans we had almost trapped scampered back to safety. A number of brave Imperial orcs fell and an Imperial orc commander was captured that the humans might escape. Two of the humans were cut off from their friends, about a hundred yards behind the orc line. An orc warchief yelled at me, “Kill that one!”
There’s something about being yelled at by an orc warchief. I grunted an affirmative and ran, chasing down the nearest human straggler, roaring at him to fight me. He ran away instead, but two Imperial orcs dashed out to save him, and obliged me in a brief exchange of blows before themselves turning tail. I chased the trio to the edge of the woods, roaring wordlessly until the snarling of my own breath in my lungs alerted me to another near-berzerk rush. Anticipating the adrenaline crash to follow, I signalled the nearest ref and volunteered to help a fellow player who had sprained her ankle from the field.
The Harlequin III
Bright spring reigned that afternoon, and a full festival air ensued. We traded and interacted, gossiped and rumoured, and joined in the multitudes of unfolding stories as opportunities arose. Our tent was situated centrally in the League camp, and most of the drama of the League faction played out at our door.
The Harlequin appeared, accompanied by a band of mummers, and put on a play. It rapidly became clear that their purpose was to publicly question the self-proclaimed Egregor. In the discussion, he presented the ring of the missing Duke, confirming the rumour that he at least possessed items belonging to the missing three. The questioning seeming to lead nowhere, Nathrach MacNebb broached certain details to the Fool overseeing the performance. His questions were relayed, but the Harlequin boldly claimed that he had been lying at the time, only further muddying the truth.
A Friendly Duel
A dueling circle formed, a skilled bravo with sword and buckler putting on a highly entertaining show against a string of opponents. Watching, I found myself in discussion with a fellow zwei-hander, and we squared off for a friendly bout. This was a real high point, the chance to cross swords one-on-one with an exponent of the two-handed sword. We proved roughly evenly matched, though I concede my opponent was impeccably sporting.
Bessie The Bard Sings
With twilight drawing in, there was a party in the woods. Dancers capered and a fire-show held most of the audience captivated. Throughout, we were entertained by the musical styling of Bessie The Bard. Perching on one leg, her guitar braced at a bizarre angle, occasionally laying on her back with her guitar upside down, amid a range of other bizarre poses, she strummed ferociously and sang such classics as ‘Aromnomnomnomnom’, ‘Kakakao! Kakao!’, ‘Oh Please Help Me I Am Being Threatened By Angry Armed Men’, and the unforgettable, ‘Who Is This Idiot who Hired Me For This Party, I Am Very Afraid Now And It Is All His Fault’.
The final morning saw a few last character developments, even as people began packing down to go home. Following his natural actions in the latter half of the battle, Natrach MacNebb volunteered as a battle-runner for the League. Later, he was stopped by the Harlequin, who enquired whether all was settled since the public denouncement.
“If you would understand my manner, sir,” Nathrach said, gruffly, “I am the Prince’s bodyguard, my chief concern is his safety. While the disappearance of the other Egregors was a mystery, and your own legitimacy unproved, it was my duty to be suspicious.”
“Very wise.” the Harlequin’s eyes twinkled. “And humble.”
I was lucky enough to have at my live launch event a very talented young singer; Jazzy Heath perform some acoustic tracks. With a haunting style the reminds me of Dido (who, having researched, I discovered was 00s, which makes me feel a bit less decrepit), but with more attitude. The launch was all a bit crazy, with readings from a multitude of talented folks, music and the most amazing falafel burgers from Number 7 Kitchen, but I found the time to catch up with Jazzy and ask a few questions.
What comes first, the melody or the lyrics?
I get asked this a lot and to be honest, it can be either. I don’t really have a set formula for writing music, it just happens and usually I forget how I’ve written the song in the first place. A song could start with anything from a thought or a feeling. For example, I write a lot when I’m travelling around and I’ll usually think of a lyric or a tune that’ll get stuck in my head. I’ll then write it down or sing it into my phone or whatever I’ve got at hand. I’ve written entire songs just sat on a bus before, the most uninspiring place I can think of, but I think when I’m just sitting and day dreaming, I can think of ideas much easier.
What would you say inspires you?
Lot’s of things inspire me; my friends, family, my surroundings. When writing music, I find it difficult to write about things that I haven’t experienced or felt a connection with on an emotional level. I write about a lot of people and situations that I’ve come across. A theme that seems to be reoccurring in my music is the ocean and I think that’s because I grew up on the Isle of Wight, not ever being able to walk too far without finding the sea. I find it absolutely memorising and I love creating metaphors with the ocean theme. For example, in one of my newer songs ‘Your Sea’, which I sang at your book launch,has the ocean theme reoccurring throughout despite the song not actually being about the ocean at all.
I heard a rumour that you do a spot of acting on the side, can we find out a bit more about that?
Yeah haha, I’ve been getting into acting a bit more recently. I loved it growing up and I wanted to get into it again. My most recent acting endeavour was in a short film called The Raid. I won’t give too much away but it’s a film about two people, James and Kezia, who are part of an underground rebel scheme against a strange drug. I was asked by my friend, Abigail Robinson, who wrote and directed the film, if I would play the role of Kezia and I had such a good time filming it.
How would you describe your style?
I’d say that I’m a bit of a mixture really. When I’m playing solo, I’m acoustic pop with a singer song writer vibe, but when I’m playing in my band, Pretty Censored, the music is the complete opposite. It’s heavy rock music with a hint of metal and some pop influence. I guess it would probably be classed as Alternative Rock.
What is your stance on the whole Pet Couture issue?
I really don’t like the idea of dressing animals up for people’s personal fashion and gain. Sure, it doesn’t hurt to put a bow tie on a dog or anything but when people go full out with costumes, I think it’s pretty unnecessary and I doubt the animals actually enjoy it. On the other hand, I have a friend who had a little dachshund and she had a little coat for in the winter because she was quite old and it gave her extra warmth. I don’t think there’s a problem with that. There is definitely an issue when people stop seeing animals as living beings and start seeing them as fashion accessories though.
If you could perform with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
This is a tough question. I’d love to perform with someone like The 1975 or Demi Lovato. I think they both make really fun music and I can imagine being on stage with them would be a crazy atmosphere. I’ve seen The 1975 live twice now and both times the atmosphere was incredible. I’m also a big fan of The Beatles so it would be really fun to perform with them.
Do you have a favourite badger?
I’m not going to lie, I’ve never thought about it. I guess my favourite badger would have to be the one in your book, when we recorded chapter seventeen and Murray played him. If I had my own badger, I’d want him to have the voice that Murray did for his role. I don’t think I’d ever be sad again if I had a Murray voiced badger.
It’s the end of the world and you have to flee the zombie hordes, you can take one book, one CD and one sandwich. What would they be?
This is a really tricky question! Although, I know for sure that I’d want a (vegan) patte and lettuce sandwich. It sounds strange but it’s honestly the best sandwich filling ever. It tastes best in a baguette, just incase you ever want to try it. Also, it’s fairly healthy so it would probably be helpful in an apocalypse. For a book, I’d probably take The Boys Book of Survival by Guy Campbell. I know it’s a book for boys but screw gender roles; if I’m in a zombie apocalypse, then I need Guy Campbell’s wise words and advice to keep me alive. As for music, I wouldn’t even know! There’s too much choice and I know that if the apocalypse lasted a while, I’d get bored of listening to the same songs over and over. Thinking about it, I’d probably take Tourist History by Two Door Cinema Club because I usually listen to that album when I go running, and I’d probably be doing a lot of running in a zombie apocalypse.
What would you wear to the apocalypse?
Definitely not heels, that’s for sure! I’d probably wear my running trainers, camo trousers and vest. Keep it sensible, you know.