On Writing – Part 1

My love of writing stretches back a long way; I still have an old copy of Wolf Watch magazine which contains an article I contributed many years ago in praise of wolves.

Shackles of Loyalty, by Paul Hencher
My first novel, Shackles of Loyalty, was originally titled The Leopard of Dramoor.

Even the first novel I wrote – The Leopard of Dramoor, now published under a new title Shackles of Loyalty – was penned while I was still living in Northumberland. Inspired by the social injustices of nine hundred years ago, along with my twin passions of history and nature, Shackles of Loyalty is still a book I’m proud of. I feel it’s a story that can be read on several levels, the background being an attack by a Franco-Scottish force on a castle commanded by the earl of Northumbria’s son, but at its core is a very human tale involving deception, betrayal, and loyalty.

For me, the sense of place is important. Northumberland is steeped in history, where inspiration is easily afforded by many ancient castles, and with much of the county lying north of Hadrian’s Wall. My own family roots are there, the name Hencher being a derivation of Henshaw, an Irish clan that settled in the region back in the mists of time. Their original home, the village of Henshaw, is close to the road known locally as the Military Road, which leads to Carlisle in the west.

Among my favourite authors are creators of historical novels, such as Bernard Cornwell and Robert Harris. I admire good writing whatever the genre, so I also enjoy books by JK Rowling, JRR Tolkein, Clare Francis, Alex Scarrow and Clare Mackintosh. I don’t know whether Clare M would want reminding, but she acted in the pantomime Robinson Crusoe, which I directed when she was about ten years old.

I don’t know how other writers feel, but from my perspective, writing is a bit like giving presents one would hope to receive – I write the sort of books I would want to read.