A brilliant debut writer who knows how to set the tone and the pace for the reader. Introducing Steven McKay to IBR readers. His book Wolf’s Head is the journey of legendary Robin Hood, from a fun-loving young boy to a forest lord. Almost. This is the first of the series.
– Shana Susan Ninan
Shana: Action from the word go. How exciting was it to write an action-packed novel as yours?
Steven MacKay: How exciting is it to READ an action novel? Well, double that. Writing a novel is an opportunity to let your imagination run free. Of course, I’m not writing fantasy so there are limits, but in general, Wolf’s Head was so much fun to write that it never became a chore until well into the editing stage. When we read a book we place ourselves in the shoes of the protagonists, but actually creating the protagonists is even more exciting. Working a full-time job, as I do, then coming home and spending hours writing a novel would be impossible if the writing wasn’t so much fun. Come on – how hard can it be to write about a 7 foot tall giant like Little John, kicking everyone’s ass about a forest and drinking ale with his mates?! I loved it!
SSN: So many versions of Robin Hood’s story out there in the world – in classics, movies and cartoons. How does your Robin stand out?
SM: I think my Robin stands out because he’s different to all the versions people are familiar with nowadays. The modern version of the myth has become all about a disinherited nobleman, or, like Angus Donald’s, some kind of medieval gangster. The original ballads were about a normal man, a yeoman, not a nobleman – that was all a much later addition to the legend. My Robin is a frightened teenager who slowly grows in stature until he and his friends eventually become local heroes. Wolf’s Head isn’t a story about a rich man trying to regain his wealth and property from more rich men, it’s about a normal young man fighting to survive and live a regular life without being hunted down and killed like an animal.
SSN: The violence and the gore, I enjoyed it. But I’m sure a lot of readers might find that not too easy on the eye or the mind while reading. What do you feel?
To be honest, I haven’t thought about it. A few of the reviews on Amazon have complained about the swearing, but none have mentioned the violence. When I was writing the book, right from the start I wanted it to reflect reality as much as possible. The middle-ages were a hard, extremely violent time and people today are used to seeing that violence recreated in movies or described in books by guys like Bernard Cornwell and Simon Scarrow. I don’t want to offend anyone, and I certainly don’t want to stop people reading any future books of mine but, honestly – being hit in the face by a sword can’t have been a pleasant experience. I hope the pain and terror of something like that comes across in my writing.