First Writings

I’ve just found something I had completely forgotten. It’s a little green notebook, tattered and stained and it contains the first poems I ever wrote.

I browsed through it and was intrigued, though not too much surprised, at how the things I wrote about then are similar to those I am writing about now. I’m fairly sure that the writers we loved when we were younger influenced what and how we write now (my series of talks with historical novelists shows how many were influenced by Rosemary Sutcliff, for example.) But it’s still something of a shock to find that the themes and issues which excited me when I was ten or eleven still fascinate me today.

Here’s the first poem I ever wrote. I was ten years old and I wrote it balancing a sheet of paper on my knee as I watched the Remembrance Day programme on the television.

Scarred with Red

Alas, the cream of Britain’s men are dead

And the fields around are scarred with red,

There’s Pete and Tom and Mick and Ned

There’s all my mates so very dead;

What can I do to help them now

Apart from make a solemn vow,

In days to come none shall forget

Those men their deaths so bravely met.

I am still fascinated by the First World War. I have written a collection of three short stories, ‘For King and Country’ which focuses on the pressures, sacrifice and courage of the participants in that terrible conflict. I am also planning a new novel set in those years.

The rest of my notebook shows the themes and concerns that still excite me: Warfare, injustice, blind obedience and the difficult fight against it, the seasons and the natural world.

Thankfully, I will share you any more of my Juvenilia.

It was later in life, when I was a young man, when I first began to write about clever young people fighting to make their way in the world against the hindrances and opposition of people determined to put them in their place. But that was, I’m sure, pretty much a working out of my own frustrations and aspirations.

Maybe my titles even hint at my favourite themes:

The Lost King: Resistance

The Lost King: Wasteland

The Lost King: Mercenary (to be published later this year)

Artful

Outcasts

My work in progress, about a very Machiavellian young woman at the court of Henry VIII will probably be called ‘Beguiled’. I don’t think I aspire to be Henry Tudor but I would like to know my protagonist Alice Petherton. In fact, I’m quite beguiled by her. She was originally only going to be a short story.

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About Martin Lake

Martin Lake lives in the French Riviera with his wife. After studying at the University of East Anglia he worked as a teacher, trainer and company director. A serious accident shattered his arm and meant that he had to rein back his work. He decided to concentrate on writing and is now writing full-time. He writes a wide range of fiction. His main interests are historical fiction, short stories and fiction for young adults. Martin has a series of novels 'The Lost King' which are set in the years following the Norman Invasion of England. They concern Edgar Atheling, last representative of the ancient English royal dynasty and his fight to regain the throne from William the Conqueror. Martin has also published 'Artful' the further adventures of the Dodger and 'Outcasts' a novel about fall of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. His latest novel, 'A Love Most Dangerous' is about a maid of honour who becomes the lover of Henry VIII. Martin’s work has been broadcast on radio. He won first prize in the Kenneth Grahame Society competition to write a story based on 'The Wind in the Willows.' You can get the collection, 'The Wind in the Willows Short Stories' from Amazon.
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