In 2016, when the plot for Bakerton was filling my head, I also had ideas for a couple of other books. One of them revolved around a young Anglo-Saxon girl, probably aged sixteen or seventeen, who found herself caught up in the great Viking invasion of Britain in the 9th century. For those who need a little historical background, I should say that, after years of skirmishing and minor attempts at invasion, the Vikings finally launched their attack in 865AD, when Ivan the Boneless led what became known as the “Great Heathen Army” ashore in East Anglia. Modern-day experts are unsure of the size of this army, with estimates as low as 1,000 men to over 10,000. What is clear is that the famed Viking longships could carry only around 30 men, so the sight of the mighty armada must have been impressive, while at the same time frightening indeed.
As it turned out, the Vikings had not carried horses with them, so the local Saxons obligingly gave them mounts in exchange for their safety, allowing the Vikings to plunder and pillage their way across great swathes of the country, eventually setting up their base at Norvik, which later became York.
My heroine would have to fight these Vikings in an effort to free her younger brother, who they had abducted and transported north into Northumbria.
When I created my young leading character, I wanted her father to be the village blacksmith so that he could make a very special sword for her, one cast from iron and steel, which was a time-consuming and specialist skill at that time. I had already sub-titled the girl as being “Maid of Steel”. I hope you appreciate the double-meaning of that!!
I then had to give her a name. A real Anglo-Saxon name. In my book, she needed to be strong and capable, which led me to “Meghan”, which means just that. Perfect!
Then, at the end of 2016, another woman, perhaps less heroic than mine was going to be, appeared on the scene. No, she wasn’t after a red-haired Viking, but she had her eyes set on conquest. Meghan Markle came ashore, scuppering my book in the process. Nobody would believe that my heroine predated Miss Markle, so I toyed with changing the title of my book. Instead of Meghan: Maid of Steel, I briefly toyed with Darel: Maid of Steel. While Anglo-Saxon Darel means “tenderly loved”, which my character definitely was, it didn’t have the same ring to it. So I shelved the project.
Perhaps now that MM has left these shores with her booty (probably for the last time), it might be opportune for me to resurrect Meghan: Maid of Steel.
What do you think?