Tag Archives: Demons

Jake Savage – Character Profile – a man and his demons

Hell has its DemonsIf you have read my latest novel, Hell has its Demons, then you might be interested to find out more about one of the main characters: Jake Savage.

Here’s the character history I wrote for him while I was planning the novel. Hope you enjoy it! The cover of the book might be Jake – you never no – it’s not only hell that has demons – Jake does too.

Jake’s family moved to St Brett’s when he was 11, a year after the Plague first struck in 1348. His young sister died, but otherwise his family was relatively unharmed. The village where they lived all but disappeared though. His father sold the small plot of land they held and left the village before their lord could demand the fine payable for villains leaving his manor. They arrived in St Brett’s and found that they were able to get a burgess plot on the cheap – the abbey desperate for money with half the town’s tenants having died.

As a child Jake was entranced by stories of knights and seeing them go past in their armour, with their fancy ladies – visiting the abbey for instance or coming into town for the fairs that happened three times a year. He was taken in by the romance of these stories and the pageantry of the knights he saw. He would later bitterly resent the wealth of these nobles and his own foolish hope that he might become a knight too.

His father earns a living through a variety of enterprises, becoming most successful at brewing and running a tavern. John is a shrewd businessman and also sees opportunities for speculating on the trade of cloth manufactured in the town. He encourages others to invest capital into ventures, thereby avoiding risk, but takes a good share of the profits. He uses his son, Jake, to ensure the shipments reach their destination safely – Jake is physically intimidating and also John trusts him. Jake is party to occasional deception of John’s business clients. Jake travels to London and ports in East Anglia on business.

From the age of 16 to 17 John is able to send his boy Jake to the grammar school briefly. Jake learns quickly but can’t stand the discipline of study and the hypocrisy of the monks. He is expelled for a prank on the teacher – who will later be an obedientary or abbot?

The Abbey observes the success of the cloth exports from St Brett’s and the lack of income it derives and seeks to impose levies on St Brett’s merchants – whereas previously it could tax merchants coming to fairs at St Brett’s to buy produce.

These taxes affect John and his associates – a group of wealthier burgesses who control the cloth trade and regularly drink in his tavern. In 1361 when the abbey imposes these tolls the burgesses rebel and the abbey’s tax-collector is murdered.

His Mother died during second coming of the Black Death in 1362.

In 1363 when the abbey bring in local gentry to support their collection of the tolls there is street-warfare. The abbey is briefly besieged. The Abbot promises to withdraw the new tolls, but asks instead for increased tolls for use of the Abbey mills. John is happy with that – he has organized house fulling mills in the workshops of his suppliers.

Jake is supportive of all this activity and helps his father – they are always seen together and effectively control what happens in the town.

Jake is a keen sportsman, football, archery and poaching in the Abbey’s forest.

Jake has some of his own money now and plans to set-up on his own. He buys his own tavern.

Jake marries in 1365 a girl called Edith. She died in childbirth as did the child. Jake has given up on being a father now. Is it worth bringing a child into such a world?

Jake’s tavern is struggling to make a profit. He has become more distant from his father. He no longer represents him on business trips – he doesn’t have time – he is running his own business now, but also morning his dead wife and child.

The conflict with the abbey has died down. The abbey still demands its rights and seems to exert more control – but only over the lesser people of the town – John and his cronies have come to an arrangement. In 1367 they form a new fraternity and pay for an endowment to the abbey. Jake has offended his father by going off on his own and rejecting his advice – his father is quietly cutting him out of his dealings and making him suffer for going against him.

Jake finds Margery and her mother camped out on his doorstep one cold morning early in 1369. He is ready to turn away the two beggars who have appeared from nowhere, but something stops him. He lets them in and cooks them some hot food. His housekeeper, who has taken a shine to him which he hasn’t realized, immediately takes a dislike to them – witch she calls the old woman, who mutters superstitiously under her breath. Jake allows them to board at his house. The old woman does not last the winter. Jake and Margery become lovers, the housekeeper is sacked and Margery lives with Jake (in sin). She has a hold over him.

His father is jealous of Jake’s romantic success and plots against him, first having others accuse him in the abbey’s canon court of fornication. Jake promises to marry. John tries something else, pointing out Jake’s poverty to Margery.

Jake leaves St Brett’s in 1369 (when he was 31) after his father marries Margery (when she was 27). Jake tried to kill his father and Margery shortly before he left in an angry confrontation.

Jake joins a retinue being assembled to support the Black Prince’s forces in Aquitaine. From 1370 to 1374 involved in chevauchées, sieges and skirmishes in various parts of Western France. Involved in war crimes – but this is part and parcel of being a soldier? Jake has become cynical – life has dealt him a cruel hand so he feels it is alright for him to take it out on others. He has realised that only get what you can take in this world.

In 1374 effectively becomes an outlaw in France with a gang of other unpaid soldiers. They capture Roger and some other clerks on their return from Avignon. They plan to ransom the priests for money. But for Roger their plan fails, the other priests are worth something, but not Roger. The other soldiers plan to kill Roger and take his stuff. Jake protects him and saves him. They part. Jake returns to England, but ends up in gaol. Roger hears that he is in gaol and helps secure his release if he will become his servant. Roger is on his way to Oxford to take up a post as Master of Astronomy at the University.

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Hell has its Demons – Free on Kindle this weekend

Hell has its DemonsMy new novel, Hell has its Demons, will be free on the Kindle this weekend.

The promotion should be starting today, Friday, 28th June, and will last until Saturday.

Get it while you can at Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | and their other stores!

Here’s a bit more about the book:

What if the demons portrayed in the Middle Ages were real and could be conjured by necromancers?

And what if those seeking power decided to use demons to get what they wanted? In Hell has its Demons a plot unfolds to use demons to take the ultimate prize of all – the crown of Edward III, King of England.

Investigating an infestation of demons in the town of St Brett’s is the last thing that Jake Savage wants to do this summer. But for his master, the controversial Oxford scholar Roger Sotil, it is a chance to prove that demons can be conjured and avoid charges of heresy.

In St Brett’s Roger sees demons possessing the townspeople. Jake thinks they are just acting very strangely. The people are scared and want answers fast. A beautiful woman, Isabel Haukwake, is accused of witchcraft. Roger feels sure that she isn’t guilty. Jake knows she isn’t. He was once engaged to marry her, until his father took her from him.

Hell has its Demons is the first novel in a trilogy.

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Writing Plans: Jake Savage Adventures and Hell has its Demons

I have been mulling over what to write next. Currently I have a novel that’s a Work In Progress, with the first draft nearly completed – Hell has its Demons. I broke off this to put the finishing touches to Chivalry: A Jake Savage Adventure and also to work on some ideas about how a series might develop involving the two principal characters of Hell has its Demons – Jake Savage and Roger Sotil.

I now have a good idea on paper for a follow-up tale to Chivalry, involving Jake Savage. It will be a dark fantasy tale again based in war torn Medieval France. My plan is to write the first draft of this story and another story with the same setting and Jake as a central character during the month of November. These will then get sent out for critiquing and I’ll turn once again to finishing off Hell has its Demons.

Hell has its Demons is my first novel and the task of creating characters that will work across such a large piece of work is one that I have been grappling with – indeed the characters have changed during the course of the book more than I expected. So once the first draft is nailed down, I’ll need to go back and re-evaluate the characters and determine what is going on, what stays and what goes, and what needs to be added in. I can see that taking the first part of 2012.

However, its also likely that there will be two new Jake Savage Adventures out early next year!

And hopefully with any luck I’ll find a publisher for Hell has its Demons sometime later in 2012 – that’s the plan anyway!

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Time to reflect: Novel Update

A quick novel update here for Hell has its Demons

When I write “Time to reflect” I mean in the novel rather than here on this blog.

Just started a new chapter where Roger is about to go off and start his investigations. His first witness is the Precentor. In the Abbey’s he’s basically the person who looks after the Church liturgy and arranges the music and psalms sung by the monks. Now I could have just plunged straight into the interview, but I decided to start the chapter with a bit of reflection from Roger.

Why? Well Roger’s a scientist and he’s not very good with people, and he’s been thrust into the role of an investigator by an Abbot who’s desperate for answers about the demon’s infesting his town. So I thought it would be useful for Roger to reflect on how this change made him feel – he’s nervous about it, but also excited about the prospect of finding out about what’s going on.

So a paragraph or two at the beginning of this chapter for Roger to reflect and then off to see the Precentor I think. It just felt write to stop the narrative at this point for the reader to find out more about what Roger is thinking in detail rather than just in passing while the action progresses.

New Year, New Blogging?

Happy New Year to you all and thanks for dropping by at my blog. I sincerely hope that you find something of interest here.

I’m wondering about the direction of this blog at the moment as I’m having trouble finding the time to update with concrete posts on the medieval world and fantasy and science fiction writing, as I have been doing in the past.

Luckily for me this is because I really am dedicated as much free time as I have to two important projects: firstly my novel Hell has its Demons, and secondly editing the Alt Hist magazine.

One thought I had was to use the blog for the moment more as a commentary on the first of these activities – my current writing and to perhaps make the blog more of a diary for the moment. So expect to see some more regular posts from me.

Hell has its Demons Progress

Just a quick update about the writing of my novel, the historical fantasy, Hell has its Demons.

Things are progressing steadily on a daily basis. I’m really glad I have set myself a low daily limit of 250 words. Although this isn’t much, and sometimes can only take ten minutes to write, it does mean that I have no excuse on nearly any day to get the words done. And with only the odd exception I have been able to do this, even on occasion doing a bit more. So I’m now at about 30,000 words, and I think I’ll end up with about 150,000 words in total. This is very much the first draft though, and because I don’t have much time to write on a daily basis, I’m not doing any editing or polishing work. My aim is to get it all down and then go back through the whole thing.

One problem I have had, and this is probably a symptom of not being able to write for extended periods of time, is that I don’t have long to sit and ponder plot and characters while I’m writing. In a way this is quite exciting and produces the freshness that you can get with automatically writing whatever comes into your head, but also it leaves me a bit rudderless – will the novel ever lurch to the ports that I want it to visit? To this end I have decided to write an outline on a daily basis too, which will consist of a long paragraph or two describing each chapter or scene (I tend to write in scenes a lot). Previously my outlining was a bit too process driven containing notes about character arc, bullet points about conflict etc, whereas now I’m just writing what happens in a narrative summary format, which ends up being a bit more natural.

Inevitably the outlining will get a bit ahead of the actual writing, but should remain close enough to it to keep things fresh. I don’t want to do the whole outline and then come back and do all the writing – I think even with everything written down, or maybe because everything will be written down, that will really take the edge of the excitement of writing the book.

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Who would like to read Hell has its Demons on my blog?

Just wondering if any of you readers of my blog would be interested if I posted draft chapters online of Hell has its Demons? You’d be reading early drafts and able to provide feedback and perhaps contribute to the shaping of the novel.

Or is this a dumb idea as it would be just polluting the web with more sub-standard fictional drivel?

What do you think? Yes or no?

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Knowing When Your Own Writing is Just Too Boring

I know, you probably think it’s all boring don’t you!

Well I am working on a novel as well, which you can’t see any examples of on this blog yet, but I have blogged about in the past, called Hell has its Demons. So far I have written the first two chapters, and outlined in detail several more. I am planning to get the first couple of chapters out for critique soon, so read through them with a view to making edits etc. I liked chapter 2, I thought it was funny, had a lot of tension and conflict and captured the tone of the book and the character of one of my main protagonists quite well. Still needs a lot of editing, but it is in the right ball park.

But the first chapter is sadly lacking in anything very interesting. I had made some attempt to introduce tension and some inner conflict within the viewpoint, but not much in truth was really happening. So what to do about it? Well I decided that we really needed to know a lot more about this character and what drives him, as well as using conflict to make the scene come alive. Also there needs to be a connection to the plot as a whole. The need to make a major change was born out of the realisation that I had to be braver as a writer and create something that would get readers interested, rather than just relay facts. They want to know about the character, not just what the roads were like on his ride through the countryside. I am now looking forward to completely revamping this chapter, rather than going through the tedium of attempting to improve and tweak what I already had.

From Bird Talk to Hell has its Demons: the evolution of short story to novel

I am currently working on a novel called Hell has its Demons. This is based on story called Bird Talk, which was recently published in Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction. I have been aiming to write a few posts to talk about Bird Talk and promote the story, and this lead me to consider how much the story has changed going into the longer novel format. The plot of course is much expanded, but I have also developed the characters and setting considerably too.

Firstly the character names change: Roger stayed as Roger, but his surname changed from Draper to Sotil. My thoughts being that as Jake emerged as his partner in crime, I wanted to use their surnames to allude to their very different characters, so Jake is Jake Savage, and Roger is Roger Sotil. My hope is that they will be a demon fighting duo, whose characteristics complement each other, thus I would like to have a subtitle for each book of A Savage and Sotil Aventure (sic). “Aventure” is a Chaucerian style spelling of Adventure to add to the fourteenth century of the books.

Another name that changed was the name of the town, from St. Dunstan’s to St. Brett’s. St. Dunstan was an actual saint and I was concerned that using that name might bring with it too much baggage. Also by creating a fictional saint, I could then weave elements of that saint’s fictional history into the story. St. Brett felt like a good English name to me, and also there’s a link with the Angl0-Saxon term Brett Walden (meaning King of Britain), which would also add further to the saint’s mythology.

But more than that the actual character’s have developed quite a bit.  The weak, foolish, lovestruck Roger Draper, a chantry priest in “Bird Talk” becomes a more esoteric character. Still obsessed about magic and still not very realistic about the world. but on another level entirely. I decided that he needed to be more of an outsider and also to have more knowledge and authority. In effect he is called in to solve a problem by the Abbot of St. Brett’s, so he must have some experience or knowledge that helps. So instead he is an Oxford don with knowledge of astrology and magic, well-known for his unusual views. As well as being an expert on magic, you could say he’s also slightly insane.

Jake started off as a veteran of the French wars who had fallen on hard times in St. Dunstan’s and become a beggar. In “Bird Talk” he is a character who knows a lot more than one would expect and is actually more intelligent than Roger, in fact he gets them all out of the mess they’re in. We don’t get to know much about what makes him tick though.

What happened to Jake when I expanded the story for the novel? Like Roger he had to come from outside, but I wanted to have one of my main character’s having a real emotional investment in the town and people of St. Brett’s. They have to care about what’s happening there. Jake was my man and this brought about the major change to the lead female character Margery.

Margery became Isabel because the name Margery was much too un-sexy. And she stopped being the spoilt daughter of the town’s leading merchant. Instead she became the one-time lover of Jake and now wife of Jake’s father John, having rejected Jake. So providing lashings of emotional baggage for Jake and her to work through. She’s still into magic though and this time her life will hang in the balance as she’s accused of witchcraft.


“Bird Talk” is also now available to purchase as a separate story via Smashwords and Amazon.

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