I am conducting an interview with author D.W. Bradbridge, who wrote the book The Winter Siege, which I recently reviewed on this blog. How have you been, Mr. Bradbridge?
Fantastic, thank you, and very busy. I’m very appreciative of the interest shown in The Winter Siege.
1. I understand that you are very familiar with the actual town of Nantwich in England. Is it this relation to the city that fueled the passion you used to write The Winter Siege?
Partly. I live near Nantwich and became involved in learning about the town’s history due to an interest in genealogy. But I’ve always had an interest in the English Civil War. I think awareness of that period in history is ingrained in the mentality of most Englishmen. Most of us instinctively know which side we would have been on in that particular conflict. It was an interest in this, which made me realise what a fascinating story the events surrounding the Battle of Nantwich provided.
2. The research into the English Civil War and this time period must have been extensive for you. Can you tell us some of the resources you used to write the book?
Fortunately there’s a couple of excellent local history books on the history of Nantwich and there are several contemporary accounts of the siege, all of which I used to some degree. However, I also read extensively about the Cheshire cheese industry and the salt making industry as well as researching how local government functioned in the 17th century and the role of a constable at that time.
3. Was the town of Nantwich during the English Civil War truly primarily on the side of Parliament?
Most of the inhabitants were on the side of Parliament and this became more so as the garrison became established. This was because the town became a haven for puritans and Parliament supporters from surrounding towns that were under royalist control – particularly Chester. However, as I indicated in the book, support for one side or the other was never black or white. There was a sizable minority of townsfolk who supported the King and who were later heavily sequestered because of that support.
4. Some of the characters in The Winter Siege were real. Could you tell us a few of the people who really lived that make an appearance in the book?
The main military protagonists – Fairfax, Byron, Brereton and Booth, were of course all real people but so were James Lothian, Thomas Sandford and the bloodthirsty Irishman, Connaught. Many of the prominent townsfolk such as Thomas Maisterson, Randle Church, Lady Norton and the two Roger Wilbrahams were also real historical figures. What I wanted to do though was to go a little deeper than that so I named several of the other characters in the book after real townsfolk – so that Davenport family were real, as was Alexander Clowes, who really was the town bellman during the Civil War.
5. The mystery part of The Winter Siege was excellently written and kept me until the very end wanting to know who the murderer was. Where did you learn to write such a good mystery?
To be honest, as this was my first novel, I wasn’t really sure whether the mystery aspect of the book had succeeded until I started receiving reviews. In retrospect, I think planning is vital in writing a good mystery. I’ve spent the last 25 years writing articles for business magazines as well as marketing analyses and business reports. They also require meticulous planning, so I guess I used 25 years experience to make sure that everything fitted together. I’ve spoken to a number of authors about their creative process since I wrote The Winter Siege. Many say they don’t really plan and just let their story flow. However, for me, I found it much easier to have a firm structure and let the character and plot grow within that structure.
6. Can you tell us some about your next writings that you are working on? Are we going to see anymore with Constable Daniel Cheswis?
Yes, I’m already working on the sequel to The Winter Siege, which will continue to follow the fortunes of Daniel Cheswis and Alexander Clowes. The sequel will be called A Soldier of Substance and will see Daniel dealing with events in Chester, Lathom House in Lancashire and Bolton. The sequel should be available around October 2014.
Thank you for allowing me to do this interview with you, Mr. Bradbridge, and I look forward to any future books you are working on. I look forward to reviewing those when they come out, too!
DW Bradbridge was born in 1960 and grew up in Bolton. He has lived in Crewe, Cheshire since 2000, where he and his wife run a small magazine publishing business for the automotive industry.
“The inspiration for The Winter Siege came from a long-standing interest in genealogy and local history. My research led me to the realisation that the experience endured by the people of Nantwich during December and January 1643-44 was a story worth telling. I also realised that the closed, tension-filled environment of the month-long siege provided the ideal setting for a crime novel.
“History is a fascinating tool for the novelist. It consists only of what is remembered and written down, and contemporary accounts are often written by those who have their own stories to tell. But what about those stories which were forgotten and became lost in the mists of time?
“In writing The Winter Siege, my aim was to take the framework of real history and fill in the gaps with a story of what could, or might have happened. Is it history or fiction? It’s for the reader to decide.”