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BLOG TOUR – GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: “Blue Eyed Stranger” by Alex Beecroft

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“Four things Reenactment taught me about life”

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My qualifications for writing a novel with a reenactor for a hero come largely from the fifteen years I’ve spent myself as a member of Regia Anglorum, which is, in my estimation, the best Saxon, Viking and Norman reenactment society in the UK.

I’d like to make it clear here that Martin’s homophobic group leader does not reflect any person, living or dead, from any real life society I’ve ever been a member of. A book’s got to have villains, so sometimes the author has to make one up.

At any rate, I have progressed from being a new squishy on the battlefield, clad in a tunic made from a dog blanket to being a thane of the society, dragging an authentic tent and pole lathing equipment in a trailer with me to big shows. I’ve attempted with no success to learn the Saxon hearpe, and I just generally know about the culture because I’ve been part of it for so long.

These days morris dancing has more or less taken over from reenactment as the thing I’m most likely to be spending every spare leisure moment on – but I managed to fit morris into the book too.

 

Anyway, I thought I was doing a four things post? Here we go, then.

 

  1. It can’t be too difficult to make it yourself.

We live in a very commodified sort of society. We expect to be able to go out and buy whatever we need. But sometimes it can be hard to lay your hand on a pair of authentic leather turn shoes, or a chain mail hauberk. Sometimes the price you might have to pay for a hand-woven, hand-sewn tunic is a great deal more than you can afford. The solution – make it yourself. Reenactment has taught me that there are few basic skills necessary for life which can’t be learned relatively easily. As a result I’m now confident that I can spin and weave cloth and sew it into clothes, I know how to make a pair of shoes, to joint an animal and start a fire, to make wooden bowls, cups and axe handles, to make a bow and use it.

As a result of which, I no longer feel quite so helplessly dependent on our society’s continual functioning. I’ve got a head start on the zombie apocalypse. It can be very comforting to know that even if we reverted to the stone age, you have the mental tools necessary to at least feed and clothe yourself. And it’s shaped my attitude to books. If I don’t see the kind of book I want to read available in the shop, I’m going to write it myself.

 

  1. Never let the fire go out.

It sounds metaphorical, doesn’t it? I suppose it could be a metaphor, if you chose. But yes, when you’re getting up in the morning and the fire has been rained on and the ashes are cold, and you know you’re going to have to build the whole thing from scratch, using wet wood, that’s when you know it’s going to be at least four hours until breakfast.

To put it less obscurely. Fire is difficult to kindle. It’s far easier to keep it going – to keep feeding it with more wood, taking away the ash, keeping the new wood dry so it won’t put the blaze out before it catches. This is true of many other things, relationships, housework, a writing career, any other kind of career. It’s easier to put a constant small amount of effort into keeping it going than it is to let it go out and then have to start it up again.

 

  1. ‘Effortless’ results are achieved by working very hard.

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but when the public aren’t looking reenactors do in fact re-join the 21st Century. It probably is coffee in those drinking horns. The first thing one does in the morning (well, after building up the fire and putting water on to boil) is to clear away the beer cans and crisp wrappers and nylon camping chairs of the evening before. Some things really are better in the modern world – chairs with lumbar support, coffee, chocolate. Baked potatoes! By the time a show opens to the public, the reenactors will have spent at least three hours tidying the place, putting anything modern out of sight, flinging furs over the top of their air-beds. We do wear modern supportive undergarments. It’s a performance, and like every other performance, it requires a great deal of effort and thought to go into making it look as if it happened naturally.

This is true of any kind of art, I feel. The things that support the performance don’t necessarily show in the final product, but without them it probably wouldn’t happen.

 

  1. Yes, that probably is real blood.

OK, this is more of an anecdote than a life lesson, but even fighting with blunt weapons can be dangerous. A while back my other half got hit in the head by the rim of his shield. His eyebrow split and he bled all over the place, making a pretty splatter pattern. We could hear the public around us knowingly telling each other ‘it isn’t real blood, you know.’ Actually it was. The ‘holly bark boiled in goat’s milk’ might actually be coffee, but the blood, sweat and tears involved in this hobby are amply real.

 

Blurb

Billy Wright has a problem: he’s only visible when he’s wearing a mask. That’s fine when he’s performing at country fairs with the rest of his morris dancing troupe. But when he takes the paint off, his life is lonely and empty, and he struggles with crippling depression.

Martin Deng stands out from the crowd. After all, there aren’t that many black Vikings on the living history circuit. But as the founder of a fledgling historical re-enactment society, he’s lonely and harried. His boss doesn’t like his weekend activities, his warriors seem to expect him to run everything single-handedly, and it’s stressful enough being one minority without telling the hard men of his group he’s also gay.

When Billy’s and Martin’s societies are double-booked at a packed county show, they know at once they are kindred spirits, united by a deep feeling of connectedness to their history and culture. But they’re also both hiding in their different ways, and they need each other to be brave enough to take their masks off and still be seen.

 

About the Author

Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.

Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel,Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in theCharleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.

Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.

Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.

She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.

 

Connect with Alex:

  • Website: alexbeecroft.com
  • Blog: alexbeecroft.com/blog
  • Facebook: facebook.com/AlexBeecroftAuthor
  • Twitter: @Alex_Beecroft
  • Goodreads: goodreads.com/Alex_Beecroft

 

 

GIVEAWAY

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a draw for a $15 Riptide gift card. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 11. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Don’t forget to add your email so we can contact you if you win!

18 comments on “BLOG TOUR – GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: “Blue Eyed Stranger” by Alex Beecroft

  1. Barbra
    April 9, 2015

    You really spin and weave your own cloth? Wow. But I know what you mean about costly. When I go to Scarborough Faire the homespun stuff is outrageously expensive. They’re usually weaving it on site and it’s probably worth every penny they charge but it’s just too pricey for me. I’m really enjoying this tour… Thanks!

    Like

    • Barbra
      April 9, 2015
    • Alex Beecroft
      April 9, 2015

      We don’t hand spin and weave all the cloth ourselves. Most people have got something that either they’ve made from scratch or they’ve bought from someone who did. That teaches them exactly how much work goes into making cloth! But it would be time prohibitive to try to make everything involved in an outfit yourself, so some of it you do buy. It varies from person to person depending on how much money or time they have :) Thank you!

      Like

  2. susana
    April 9, 2015

    Great post! I wish I could do more things myself, but I’ve discovered I’m quite useless when trying to work with my hands…I’ll problably end injured. My partner is amazing though. Give him a piece of rubbish and he’ll build you whatever you need. It’s incredible how he does it
    Congrats on the new release. I enjoyed Trowchester Blues, and can’t wait to read Blue Eyed Stranger
    susanaperez7140(at)gmail(dot)com

    Like

    • Alex Beecroft
      April 9, 2015

      Thanks Susana! Embarrassingly enough I discovered that I was good at stereotypically female things (like embroidery and weaving) while my husband was good at things like woodwork and shoe making. I hope this was just a coincidence. I hate to think of those things as necessarily gendered.
      Thank you!

      Like

  3. Jeanine Beaulieu
    April 9, 2015

    love to hear more about the book it sounds really good

    Like

    • Alex Beecroft
      April 9, 2015

      Thanks Jeanine! Most of the rest of the tour is morris dancing themed so I’m not sure how much you fancy that ;)

      Like

  4. debby236
    April 9, 2015

    Great post. I have tried weaving but it is not costly but timely.
    debby 236@ hotmail dot com

    Like

  5. Kim W
    April 9, 2015

    The new book sounds good. I have read and enjoyed the Under the Hill series and Blessed Isle.
    kimandpete at me dot com

    Like

    • Alex Beecroft
      April 9, 2015

      Thanks Kim! Ooh, I’m so glad to meet someone who liked the UtH books. I am so proud of those, and they don’t always get a lot of love :)

      Like

  6. Antonia
    April 9, 2015

    Thanks for another interesting post! amaquilante(at)gmail(dot)com

    Like

  7. Serena S.
    April 9, 2015

    Interesting post. Thanks for the giveaway and good luck with your upcoming works!
    serena91291@gmail.com

    Like

  8. jenf27
    April 9, 2015

    Thanks for the great list! I especially find #3 to be true. I’ve been enjoying the tour.

    jen.f {at} mac {dot} com

    Like

  9. Allison
    April 9, 2015

    Learning how to make things like that would be part of the fun to me. Not that I’d want to ‘have’ to do it of course. aahickmanathotmaildotcom

    Like

  10. Trix
    April 9, 2015

    It’s really been an intriguing tour so far!

    vitajex(t)Aol(Dot)com

    Like

  11. flutterfli
    April 9, 2015

    I’m looking forward to reading this. I’m enjoying the blog tour. Please count me in.
    flutterfli01 (at) yahoo (dot) com

    Like

  12. H.B.
    April 9, 2015

    Thank you for the interesting post. I need to do more of #1 and I can get behind #3. Thank you for sharing those four items.

    Like

  13. juliesmall1959
    April 10, 2015

    This has been a great tour! Awesome post!

    Like

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