Posts by: James Aitcheson

Today’s the day that The Harrowing is officially released into the big, wide world! Almost three years have passed since I first began working on it, so to see it finally in bookshops is hugely exciting.

The Harrowing in the London Review Bookshop

Signed copies of The Harrowing in the London Review Bookshop.

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone at Quercus Publishing who has worked on the novel over the course of its long journey from manuscript to finished product, including my editors Jon Watt and Stefanie Bierwerth, as well as Kathryn Taussig, Olivia Mead and Jeska Lyons, whose hard work has been invaluable.

Signed copies of the book are already available in several bookshops across central London, including but not limited to Foyles, Waterstones Piccadilly, Goldsboro Books and the London Review Bookshop. I’ll be continuing my book tour over the coming weeks with events across the country.

The Harrowing in Goldsboro Books

A stack of 100 signed copies of The Harrowing in Goldsboro Books

The Harrowing is also available online through all the usual retailers, and of course is published in digital formats as well to meet your e-reading needs. If you’re based outside the UK and would like to get your hands on a copy, I recommend ordering from the Book Depository, which is based in England but offers free worldwide delivery.

The Harrowing in Waterstones Piccadilly.

The Harrowing prominently displayed in the hardback fiction section at Waterstones Piccadilly.

I hope you enjoy reading The Harrowing as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it, and I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback over the coming weeks and months! Feel free to get in touch with me at any time, either by emailing me via the Contact page, or through Facebook and Twitter.

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Those of you reading this who follow me on Facebook and Twitter will most likely have already seen the pictures that I posted recently of the finished hardback edition of The Harrowing, which will very soon be published by Heron Books.

For those who haven’t glimpsed it yet, however, here it is in all its splendour:

The finished article!

The hardback edition of The Harrowing.

As you can see, the jacket design is quite different to those for my Conquest Series, but I feel that it fits the mood of the novel perfectly. In fact I fell in love with the design from the moment I first saw it, and the final product lives up to my expectations in every way possible.

To see this ambitious project come to fruition and to be able to hold the finished book in my hands – nearly three years after I first began work on it and knowing just how many hours’ work is represented in those pages – generates feelings that are difficult to put into words.

Even more exciting is knowing that in just a little over two weeks on Thursday 7 July, this fine tome will appear in bookshops up and down the country. (If you haven’t already done so, you can pre-order your copy either online or from your favourite high street bookshop so that it arrives on the very day that it’s published.)

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The title page, where I’ll be placing my autograph at the many book signings and other events coming up in the next few months.

My events calendar for the summer and autumn is taking shape nicely, with signings and talks planned so far in Nottingham, Bath, Cambridge, Oxford, Marlborough, Newbury and Croydon among other places, and more dates to be announced soon.

If I’m not yet scheduled to appear at a venue near you, please do get in touch with your local bookshop or library and ask them if they can invite me to come and do an event.

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Always eager to find new ways to connect with my readers, this week I’m launching my official podcast channel on SoundCloud. In my first podcast I talk about my new novel The Harrowing, which is due to be published in the UK in July (Heron, £16.99).

In the coming weeks and months I’ll also be discussing some of the history behind my novels, including the infamous Harrying of the North, which is the subject of The Harrowing.

I’ll also be talking about this year’s 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, and about the third volume in my Conquest Series, Knights of the Hawk, which is due to be published in the US in paperback format in August (Sourcebooks Landmark, $15.99).

Stay tuned for further podcasting adventures!

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The first printed copies of The Harrowing arrived in the post recently, courtesy of my excellent publisher Heron Books, to my immense delight. But this isn’t the finished edition of the book; these are what are known as bound proofs, also sometimes called advance review (or reading) copies (ARCs).

The Harrowing

Bound proofs (ARCs) of The Harrowing.

The bound proof is the first time that the author gets to see his or her words on the page, and as such it’s an exciting moment: a preview of how the final article will look. It has a soft cover, whereas the edition that will be hitting bookshops in July will be a hardback, and the text inside doesn’t necessarily bear the author’s final changes, but the typesetting and binding are otherwise exactly as they will appear in the published version.

The Harrowing

There’s no doubt as to who the author of this fine tome is!

So if you haven’t already done so, mark Thursday 7 July in your calendar. If you’re super-keen to read the novel as soon as it’s published, you can already pre-order your copy either online or from your favourite local bookshop.

I’m also starting to put together my calendar of talks and book signings for this summer and autumn. As always, check my Events page to see if I’m appearing at a venue near you. If not, please do get in touch with your local bookshop or library and ask them if they can invite me to come and speak.

Keep a look out for more news on The Harrowing in the coming weeks. For now, here’s one final photo to whet your appetite. And so it begins…

The Harrowing

Here’s what it looks like on the inside.

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Regular visitors to this website can’t fail to have noticed the very large and eye-catching announcement on the home page – my long-awaited fourth novel, The Harrowing, is due to be published on 7 July!

It’ll be available in hardcover and as an ebook, courtesy of my wonderful new publisher Heron Books, an imprint of Quercus Publishing.

The Harrowing

The Harrowing • James Aitcheson • Heron Books
448 pp. • Hardcover • £16.99

Originally conceived as “The Canterbury Tales meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road“, the novel has been almost three years in the making, but I feel – and I hope you’ll agree when you come to read it – that it’s been worth every moment spent working on it.

Set amidst the turmoil of the Norman Conquest during a particularly brutal episode known as the Harrying of the North, The Harrowing centres upon five English refugees fleeing the devastation who are forced to band together for survival.

You can find the full synopsis here. I’m currently in the process of arranging my book tour for the summer, so keep checking the Events page to see when I’ll be visiting a bookshop, library or literature festival near you!

Earlier this month I was thrilled to be invited back to Huddersfield New College in West Yorkshire for a second year in a row to give an event as part of their celebrations for World Book Day, which fell this year on Thursday 3 March.

Huddersfield New College - World Book Day 2016

A previously undiscovered section of the Bayeux Tapestry.

As last year, I not only gave a talk to Year 12 and 13 History students about Anglo-Saxon England, but also ran a creative writing workshop for aspiring poets and prose writers, focussing on overcoming the fear of the blank page and on letting the imagination run wild.

The workshop involved a series of short exercises including a 3-minute free writing sprint, and various word- and picture-based challenges, after each of which we shared what we’d written with the rest of the group. It was a huge amount of fun not just for the students but also for me. As always in these sessions, I was massively impressed by the richness and diversity of the writing that emerged, and I hope that the students went away as energised and full of ideas as I did.

Huddersfield New College - World Book Day 2016

The writing workshop was a huge success, and tremendous fun too. Photo credit: Rebecca Wilson.

I was also given the honour of presenting the certificates at a lunchtime prizegiving ceremony to the winners – as chosen by staff – of the College’s annual short story competition. Needless to say it was a hectic day but also hugely enjoyable, and I’d like to thank the College librarian, Rebecca Wilson, for organising the event, as well as Mark Sheridan, Jean Westacott and the Principal, Angela Williams, for making me feel so welcome.

Student short story competition - prizegiving

Presentation of the certificates for the winning entries in the student short story competition. Photo credit: Rebecca Wilson.