Tag Archives: myth

The Raven’s Wing by Michael Wombat – Enchanted and seduced…

Sometimes a book comes along that both entrances and seduces you,
and I was mesmerised by
Michael Wombat’s The Raven’s Wing.

The Raven’s Wing - Michael Wombat - Enchanted and Seduced Mediaeval Mystery and Magic - The Last Krystallos

I’ve said it before, I don’t often blog about books, I love reviewing them, but every now and then I’ll be so blown away they have to feature on my blog, like Ghostbird by Carol Lovekin, The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, and Nobody Told Me: Love in the Time of Dementia by S. R. Karfelt. I’m a sucker for a book that draws me in with fantasy and quirky magic.

I’ve read several books by this author before, and always loved them. He has a knack for portraying truth and using description to weave you right into the story. We also collaborated, a couple of years ago, on Human 76, where Michael Wombat was a vital part of collating and helping to create a very original collection of stories.

The Raven's Wing by Michael Wombat extra photos by © Lisa Shambrook

The Raven’s Wing by Michael Wombat extra photos by © Lisa Shambrook

The Raven’s Wing is a labour of love and the resulting book is an incredibly authentic mediaeval novel with a hint of truth and chronicle behind it. Read the blurb:

They say you should follow your dreams. They never tell you what to do when the dreams start following you.
The year is 1322. Minstrel John has enough on his plate with his wife’s funeral. He could do without the naked woman who keeps forcing her way into his dreams, the angel dropping skulls in the village church, the stranger that attacks him for no reason, and the sexy, one-eyed, fire-dancer who is after only one thing – his music. Then there are the voices in his head, compelling him to investigate a mystery that just keeps on growing.
Based on a true story, this is not history, this is the 14th century as experienced by those who lived there, and who saw it as the leading edge of time. As John discovers, demons and magic can be very real.

white and dark feathers by the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The story begins with an intensely erotic dream, if you know Wombat’s writing you’ll know nothing daunts him, down-to-earth honest, bawdy realism and coarse language intertwine with sheer beauty and descriptions that will whisk you away to another time. After this you are introduced to John, a simple minstrel, and his friends as they deal with the loss of John’s wife. It could be an unassuming tale, but John’s life takes a turn that will change him forever as a mysterious skull is found at the funeral.

You will be drawn into his life and the mystery that shrouds him. You’ll love his friends and you’ll will John on as he humbly searches for answers. Wombat will take you on a tour of mediaeval Britain complete with myth and magic, and you’ll be left wanting more.

Print of Winter's Raven painting by Amanda Makepeace

Print of Winter’s Raven painting by Amanda Makepeace

Now, think about the 14th century and imagine you want to write something that truly reflected the period… I asked Michael Wombat about how much research went into The Raven’s Wing:

‘Since I first heard Steeleye Span’s ‘John of Ditchford’ 20 years ago I’ve thought it’d make a good root for a story. When I finally got round to building a proper tale around it, it took 6 years to research and weave a satisfyingly deep story around what was in real life a thuggish murder. I made sure to keep copious research notes (thank you Scrivener!), and included the most interesting things I discovered in the Notes at the back of the book.’

The back of the book Notes are a real treat. Knitting realistic 14th century dialogue, words, places, and much more into a modern-day written story isn’t easy, though Wombat has done it so well; the tale is both fluid and beautiful to read. Chapter-by-chapter Wombat analyses and explains his terms and wordage to both educate and fascinate you.

Six years of research must have brought up intriguing facts and stories, so what was his favourite?

‘The most fascinating part of the research for me was the songs I discovered. Songs of love, lust and weird stuff aplenty. And of course the medieval recipes.’

A friend of mine, Miranda, recently made Pentecost’s waffres, and said they were delicious!

I said earlier, once this tale is done, you’ll be left wanting more. Michael Wombat commented:

‘As for the future, I’m putting together a pocketbook of ‘Raven’s Wing Extras’ – sketches I made while writing the book, behind the scenes stories, character backstories and so on. Beyond that, I kind of left Jenifry and Moss with a massive cliffhanger – one day, maybe, I’ll write their continuing story.’

I definitely want more from this period of time and Wombat’s characters.

Michael Wombat and The Raven's Wing

© Michael Wombat

I am a big fan of Wombat’s writing with many of his books on my Kindle and on my bookshelves, and I look forward to reading more. Wombat is an eclectic writer with a penchant for the extraordinary, and reading his bio will let you know what you’re getting yourself into:

A Yorkshireman living in the rural green hills of Lancashire, Michael Wombat is a man of huge beard. He has a penchant for good single-malts, inept football teams, big daft dogs and the diary of Mr. Samuel Pepys. Abducted by pirates at the age of twelve he quickly rose to captain the feared privateer ‘The Mrs. Nesbitt’ and terrorised the Skull Coast throughout his early twenties. Narrowly escaping the Revenue men by dressing as a burlesque dancer, he went on to work successively and successfully as a burlesque dancer, a forester, a busker, and a magic carpet salesman. The fact that he was once one of that forgotten company, the bus conductors, will immediately tell you that he is as old as the hills in which he lives. Nowadays he spends his time writing and pretending to take good photographs. You can have a good laugh at his pathetic blog or his photographs, but most of all please go and mock him mercilessly on Twitter or Facebook. Michael Wombat has published over one book. Other authors are available.

Please follow him most actively on Twitter, find him on Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, at Cubic Scats and sign up for his Patreon for new and exciting stories.

My last words for The Raven’s Wing – sometimes I get lost in stories because they seduce me, sentences inspire, and the story takes me somewhere completely new. Maybe you’d like to visit the 14th century? Go on give it a try… you won’t be sorry!

The Raven's Wing - Michael Wombat book coverYou can buy The Raven’s Wing

from Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.

It’s seriously worth every penny.

Creative Feature: Amanda Makepeace – Artist

Two weeks ago I whetted your creative appetite with my first Creative Feature – here’s my next amazing artist.

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Fly Fast – Amanda Makepeace

I first discovered Amanda Makepeace when digital art was something new to me, and my own attempts at digital art meant playing with pixels on Photoshop Elements! Amanda blew me away with her visions of space and science fiction landscapes. It’s been a pleasure to watch her work grow and she never fails to impress me. I have purchased Amanda’s work and been given permission to use her ‘Dragon’s Egg’ picture with my flash fiction story ‘Delicate Strength’. She’s an amazing Photographer with a regular monthly spot on The Shutterworks and she also blogs regularly at Téssera.

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Amanda Makepeace – Artist

Amanda Makepeace – Digital and Traditional Artist

What inspires you?

If I’m honest, what doesn’t inspire me may be the better question. As a child I spent most of my time playing outside, wandering in the woods, creating imaginary worlds to play in with my friends and sometimes alone with my toys. My favorite movies from age 6 to 12 were The Black Stallion, The Neverending Story, Labyrinth, Star Wars and Alien. Nature, Magic, Fantasy and Science Fiction (with a dash of horror) can all be seen in my art from the last decade. Sometimes, things from every day life cast in a certain light will inspire me, sparking an idea that grows and spreads like frost on a window. My imagination does the job of inserting the magic.

Is your art planned or spontaneous? Can digital art be as spontaneous as other mediums, or does it require more planning?

I tend to believe nearly all art is planned. Ideas are spontaneous, but choosing colors, placement of figures, objects – a lot of thought goes into that aspect of art creation. This is especially true with narrative art, where one is trying to also tell a story. Even a still life is planned, whether it’s digital or traditional.

I put a lot of thought into my paintings. I will work on a sketch for a week, making sure I have a scene balanced before I begin painting. My ideas also tend to evolve. There can be many changes from that first spontaneous idea, to the sketches, and finally the painting stage.

On Distant Moons Amanda Makepeace

On Distant Moons – one the first pieces that brought Amanda to my attention.

I know you work with many different mediums. Do you have a favourite medium, or favourite colours, or favourite techniques?

Once upon a time, I would have said watercolors were my favorite. In 2011 I began having some problem with my hands. I suffer from an autoimmune illness, an arthritis that attacks my joints began interfering with my ability to paint in traditional mediums. I’m not sure now what made me try digital painting. It might have been curiosity, but whatever it was, it turned out to be a blessing. Painting with a Wacom tablet is painless and it supercharged my creativity. Even if I could, I don’t think I’d give it up!

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Fly Fast – Detail…those eyes…

What do you consider your best work to date – do you have a favourite piece?

This is a difficult question! I tend to fall in love with everything I paint, but there’s one that continues to standout. Fly Fast was painted last year and it still makes my heart smile. The full title is: Fly fast my friend. Go now. Do not wait for me.

It’s the story of a young woman sending her messenger owl off, with scores of other owls, as their village is attacked by a dragon. In the owl’s eyes you can see a reflection of the dragon. I think this painting will be a favorite for many years to come.

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The Elder – Jackalope

I’ve loved your latest embellishments on your digital prints, what are your future plans with your art?

Keep learning. I am truly still in my infancy when it comes to digital painting and illustration. One of my goals for the latter half of this year is to focus on improving my human anatomy skills!

FSF Delicate The Dragon's Egg by Amanda Makepeace

Dragon’s Egg

Lastly, if you could commission anything for yourself, money no object, what would it be? 

I would love to see some of my paintings become sculptures. A bronze sculpture of the ravens from my painting Stone of Knowing, and the magic stone, for my backyard would be amazing!

You can find and purchase Amanda’s art on her website amandamakepeace.com and in her Etsy Shop. Take a look at her Facebook page to keep up to date.

Makepeace Art Instagram Nov 2013

Three pendants which delighted myself and my daughter at Christmas!

Amanda’s Bio:

I’ve always had an active imagination and a love of nature and the fantastic. My creative journey began in childhood, thinking up imaginary worlds in the suburbs of Maryland. Since those formative years I’ve lived in the southern burbs, moved abroad to London, England (later the Dorset coast), and now call rural Georgia home.

I’m continually inspired by nature, myth and fantasy–emphasis on nature. I love the outdoors and I have a strange (and to some infuriating) bond with animals. I’m also book lover and comic reader. I may also be mildly obsessed with all things Marvel. When I’m not creating you might find me wandering the woods or fields, taking photographs of very tiny wildflowers.

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Stone of Knowing – Amanda Makepeace