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Fulvia and Florence, a Formidable Pair

8 Apr

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that when I announce that I’ve got an article in a magazine, I usually provide a tasteful, cropped photo of the article – an image that shows enough to help you find it in the magazine and hopefully want to read more, but not enough to upset the people at the magazine who deal with copyright and fair usage.

This time is a bit unusual because, although I currently have an article in two magazines, I don’t have a copy of either of them. I moved home almost a year ago, but while I thought I had updated my address with all my contacts while I was still having my post forwarded, in fact I obviously didn’t, and the magazines are probably confusing the person at my old house, or sitting in a forlorn corner of a sorting office. It makes me wonder what else I may be missing…😕

Anyway, it seems fair to assume that this sort of thing didn’t happen much to either Fulvia or Florence Nightingale. Although they both moved around a fair bit, Florence was fearsomely organised. Fulvia probably was too, although less material survives about her; she was certainly fearsome.

Flo and Fulvia

Florence and Fulvia – they probably wouldn’t have been the best of pals.

What is most remarkable about these two women, though, is not so much their administrative skills as the way they both played a public role as women in societies where public roles for women didn’t really exist (unless you were Queen Victoria or a vestal virgin).

Of course, it helped that they were both from rich and important families, but there’s no need to hold that against them. While it’s possible that there were many poor and obscure women who would have achieved just as great things if they had had the same opportunities, those stories don’t lend themselves so well to popular history articles.

Florence and Fulvia both made convincing use of the opportunities life had given them. One transformed hospitals and established nursing in Britain as a proper profession, the other started a war that nearly changed the course of Roman (and therefore European) history. You can probably guess which was which.

You can find the article on Florence Nightingale, ‘the Lady with the Lamp’ to those who loved her, ‘the Bird’ to those who didn’t, in the April edition of Premier Christianity magazine. You can find the article on Fulvia in the April edition of History Today magazine. (I can’t tell you what she was known as, because most of it wasn’t repeatable.)

Enjoy! And then send me your copy once you’re finished with it 😉

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Limbo

18 Mar

I seem to be in a strange kind of limbo, writing-wise at the moment. I’ve finished my latest novel, The Sarcophagus Scroll, and I’ve given it to my editor and a couple of beta readers (at their request), but as my editor has just given birth and beta readers (in my experience) rarely do much reading, there’s no news. It almost feels as if I never finished it and it simply doesn’t exist.

Then there are a couple of magazine articles that are due to come out in April – which in magazine terms actually means mid to late March – but as they’re out of my hands, and not yet out in the shops, they are sort of in limbo, too.

And finally there’s Twitter, where I usually chat to writer friends, and plug my books, and roll my eyes at everyone else’s book plugs. I decided to give up Twitter for Lent,* just at the very last minute, so I didn’t even announce it before I left. I don’t expect too many of my followers are wondering where I’ve gone. The sense of community on Twitter is largely an illusion. But it makes me feel cut off from the land of the living (or at least, the tweeting) which adds to my sense of limbo. I’ve started texting my brother-in-law more, because who else am I going to share my current-affairs-related mild witticisms, now that I don’t have about 600 perfect strangers to do it with?

At least my blog is no longer in limbo. And I have started work on a non-fiction book on alchemy (although that will be a very long road), so I am still plodding along in my writing career even if I don’t seem to be externally.

There’s a vaguely appropriate concept in alchemy called palingenesis, which involves bringing something back to life in a new and improved form. It would be nice to think something like that will happen to my visibility as an author, but as the techniques of palingenesis tend to be pretty extreme (you have to reduce the original thing to ash, and that’s just the start of it!) maybe I’ll just be patient a little longer.


*If you’ve clicked through to this from a notification on Twitter, don’t worry, I haven’t slipped; it’s just that I’ve got automatic notifications set up.

Beautiful Bute

7 Feb

I’m just back from what my sister called my “overseas tour” – speaking to a literary society on the Isle of Bute.

Bute is really not that far from Glasgow, so I was half embarrassed that I had never been there, half unable to believe that I had really never been. I spent the first few minutes as the ferry docked in Rothesay dredging up childhood memories of seaside towns I had visited, like Tarbert (ok, lochside, not seaside) and Millport, and mentally holding them up for comparison. But no, none of them fitted.

Rothesay, the capital, is bigger than I realised, and surprisingly town-like. (I was expecting a village.) It has a cinema, swimming baths, lots of social housing, a decent library and actual shops selling things other than postcards and scented candles.

As for the rest of Bute, I never saw it, although there do seem to be a lot of tourist sites (famous gardens, impressive buildings), and three different people told me I must visit St Blane‘s church on the south of the island. So I expect I will go back some day, probably in summer when the weather is a bit less dreich. After all l it’s only two hours and 20 quid from the centre of Glasgow.

As for the North Bute Literary Society, they were very welcoming and listened intently as I took them on a flying visit to the late Roman era and the dark ages, although they asked some seriously challenging questions afterwards! And could I remember the date of Constantine’s conversion off-hand? No reader, I could not. But I survived, and they seemed to enjoy it, and now it is on to the, ahem, international leg of my tour. (I’m away to England.)

And just so you don’t say I’m not nice to you, here’s another lovely picture of sunrise on Bute.

Robin Hood on Tour

2 Feb

Next week I’ll be travelling to Robin Hood’s heartland which is, of course, Yorkshire!

On this mini-book tour I’ll be speaking to the sixth formers at my old school, Sheffield High, but I’ll also be doing a public event at Stannington Library. Stannington is a suburb of Sheffield that is still almost like a village, and is conveniently close to Loxley, of Robin Hood fame.

It’s on Tuesday 12th of February at 7pm, and it takes the form a discussion between myself and a storyteller called Carmel Page, who has written fictional stories about the young Robin Hood.

Entry is free, but as it’s a volunteer library, donations are encouraged. I will also have copies of my book Why Everything You Know about Robin Hood Is Wrong available for sale.

There’s a PDF of the event poster here, which you may share as widely as you like, and there’s this adorable wee gif that Stannington Library created for me. (If it doesn’t play automatically, try clicking on it.)

two_heads

By the way, if you have an idea of an author event for me, or would like to invite me to speak to your school or organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch using the “Get in Touch” section (obviously). ➡️

 

 

Isaac Newton – Mathematician, Physicist and … Theologian?

28 Jan

20190126_113909In the latest edition of Premier’s Christianity magazine you will find my “Ten-Minute Guide to Isaac Newton”.

Why would Isaac Newton be featured in a series of short guides to figures in church history? Because he had some wacky, but sincerely held, theological views. Although he’s best known for dabbling in maths and physics (you may have heard of one or two of his wee laws of motion that revolutionised the science of the time), his real passions were biblical criticism (especially trying to construct a universal chronology of all human history after Noah’s flood) and alchemy.

While I was researching this article I also happened to be reading Somerset Maugham’s brilliant novel, The Magician. The result was that I quickly became deeply fascinated by the history of alchemy, to the extent that I want to write a book on it someday.

Apparently not everyone shares this fascination, because one of the boxes I had written to accompany the article, about alchemists who were also Christians (or Christianish, in Newton’s case) was cut in favour of some interesting Newton quotes. That’s not anything unusual. When a book is edited, you spent time going back and forth with your editor discussing and negotiating changes; when a magazine is edited, time pressure means that you only find out afterwards.

However, you lucky people who follow my blog can still enjoy the deleted box! Here is a rundown of some of famous Christians who also dedicated themselves to the pursuit of the philosopher’s stone.

morienusMorienus – Christian hermit who introduced alchemy to the Islamic world.

dunstanSt Dunstan – abbot of Glastonbury and later Archbishop of Canterbury. A work on how to produce the philosopher’s stone is attributed to him. [Although to be fair, it could all have been false accusations by his enemies. But he was awfully good at metalwork, which is associated with alchemy. Just sayin’.]

sylvester iiPope Sylvester II – French pope who was deeply interested in arts and sciences, including alchemy, and helped to introduce Arab knowledge to Europe.

albertus magnusAlbertus Magnus – Dominican monk who taught Thomas Aquinas and spent 20 years setting down in Latin the knowledge of every branch of learning that existed.

Each of these men is fascinating in his own right, and well worth looking up. Or if you’re feeling lazy you could just wait, possibly several years, until I write that book I mentioned. But don’t wait years to read the article on Newton – it’s only available this month, and if you’ve never subscribed to Christianity before, you can even get a free trial copy.

The Story of Robin Hood in Pictures

21 Nov

When I was preparing my new book, Why Everything You Know about Robin Hood Is Wrong for publication, I initially intended to have an accompanying image in each chapter. I ditched the idea, mostly because it would make the book to expensive (always thinking of you, my dear readers) but I thought you might like to see them anyway.

So in this blog you will see the pictures that would have been in the colour edition of the book, in order, along with their original captions. They may not make total sense out of context. To fill in the blanks, you will have to read my book – which is released tomorrow! (22nd November 2018, that is.)

(By the way, most of the images in this post are licensed for resuse, but not all. Check the caption for the origin if you plan to reuse them.)
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Why Everything You Know about Robin Hood Is Wrong – book launch

14 Nov

After much to-ing and fro-ing, the book launch for Why Everything You Know about Robin Hood Is Wrong is set for Saturday 24th November at the Virgin Money Lounge in Glasgow, on the corner of Royal Exchange Square and Queen Street. (Here’s a handy map.)

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Are you feeling lucky, punk?

31 Oct

Because if you are, you could enter my Twitter prize draw to win a copy of Why Everything You Know about Robin Hood Is Wrong before it’s released! And five runners-up will win an .epub copy. Enter by retweeting this tweet and following @kcmurdarasi. See the terms and conditions, if you’re having trouble sleeping.

On the other hand, if you’re not feeling so lucky, there’s a more certain way to get your hands on a copy. Everyone on my mailing list will receive an .epub copy when the book is released on 22nd November (or as soon after that as I manage).

But what if you don’t feel lucky and you still want a paperback copy? Then you can pre-order it, like everybody else, can’t you? Do I have to do everything for you? 😉

Robin Hood is in the shops! (kind of)

11 Oct

9781916490901I have been feverishly scanning the internet for signs of my forthcoming book, Why Everything You Know about Robin Hood Is Wrong, and it is now listed as available for pre-order on Amazon! It doesn’t show my uber-stylish cover yet, but that should follow in due course.

You will be able to get copies from me, of course, by dropping me a line using the contact form to the right, or by coming to a book event (more details to follow), but it you prefer the convenience of Amazon you can pre-order now. You can pre-order from your local bookshop, too, or ask your local library to stock it. Speak to them; people who work with books are generally nice. (Except the baddie in my current novel, but that’s another story – literally.)

creat-work-earn-front-coverMy other news is that Create Work Earn has just been published. This is a book about freelancing and creativity. It’s compiled by Vivienne K Neale, but I have a chapter on portfolio careers. What is a portfolio career? Read the book and find out! (Or you could just Google it; it’s not hard.)

Miss_rabbit

Miss Rabbit – the ultimate portfolio careerist

The wonderful, awful business of being an author

8 Sep

As I obviously have oodles of time on my hands, trying to finish a novel (The Sarcophagus Scroll) while simultaneously preparing a non-fiction book for publication (Why Everything You Know about Robin Hood is Wrong), this must be the perfect time to host a question-and-answer time on AMAfeed (Ask Me Anything).

Anyway, whether I am superhuman, or thrive on challenge, or am simply mad, I have scheduled the Ask Me Anything for Tuesday 11th September at 2.30pm, UK time. You can post your questions before then (and I can answer them), but they won’t show up until Tuesday afternoon.

If you know anyone who’s curious about the business of writing professionally, encourage them to pose a question for me. If it throws up anything interesting, I may post the link again once the Q&A has closed.