Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Author’s Inspiration ~ Gunpowder, Treason and plot ~ Tony Morgan #HistoricalFiction @MorgantheBook

Please give a warm welcome to historical Fiction author, Tony Morgan.

Author’s Inspiration
Gunpowder, Treason and plot

This blog describes what inspired me to write two novels focused on the events and aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot of the early Seventeenth Century.

In truth, it all started with a creative writing exercise. I was tasked with coming up with a six-word sentence which could be the first line or even the title of a book. Pique the reader’s interest. Make them want to ask questions. Lure them in to wanting to find out more. (That’s what I was instructed to do anyway! Whether I got it right or not, only readers and potential readers can judge…)

The time of year was late autumn, a few days after Halloween, around the time in the UK when our evening skies are filled with fireworks, smoke from bonfires and burning effigies of a man called Guy.

It was around 7:30pm. I stared through the window into the darkness. I let my mind wander and wondered. The words “Remember, Remember the 6th of November” came into my head.

Perhaps people will want to know why I’ve selected the 6th and not the 5th, I thought. Some people might even be riled enough to tell me I’ve made a mistake. If they did so, at least they’d be engaged was my view. As it turns out quite a few people (mainly from outside the UK) have told me I’ve got my dates wrong…

So, I had, what I thought, was an intriguing title but no story. What about writing an account of the Gunpowder Plot, I asked myself? And I was sitting in York where the apparent protagonist (and the man on the fire) was born but the more I thought about the subject the more I realised how little I knew.

I started researching and reading. Hard copies, paperbacks, histories. My Kindle creaked with the facts. My favourite work was “The Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith in 1605” by Lady Antonia Fraser. I began to learn and understand. The parallels with modern life jumped out at me – religious unrest, terrorists on the streets of London, conflict with Europe, conspiracies, the topic of increasing government surveillance.

What’s more, other than the name of Guy Fawkes and an attempt to use gunpowder to blow up Parliament, myself and so many other people knew so little about it. I had to find out more.

George Cruikshank's illustration of Guy Fawkes,

This was history at its most compelling. A critical point in a nation’s, perhaps even the world’s, timeline. Why were people on both sides (Protestant and Catholic, plotter and establishment) doing what they did? Why did events turn out the way they did? What if things had been different?

In short, I was hooked…

I wrote a short story. It was fact heavy and frankly a little bit rubbish. I started again and wrote a better novel-length story, with two intertwined timelines. One was set in the first week of 1605. This told the history through the eyes and actions of Guy Fawkes, Robert Catesby, the plotters and their families, King James, Anne of Denmark, Robert Cecil, his rumoured lover Katherine of Suffolk and others. The second timeline was set in a subtly altered modern day. I trialled a draft on a number of people, including a book club. A few loved the modern element but the majority, including the book club members, raved about the historical section.

I re-wrote the story to create the final version. I dropped the modern-day thread and extended the historical sections. The plot developed into a thriller set over the first week of November 1605, leading not just into the 5th but the 6th also. I did get my dates right after all. The reviews on Amazon etc to date have been excellent. I hope you like it. Please let me know either way.

The initial Kindle ebook came out a year before the BBC’s Gunpowder mini- series, which debuted in 2017. I watched with interest but also a little disappointment. In an attempt to create an exciting story, my view is the producers diverged too much from the actual facts and ended up not getting either quite right. And you can't get much more exciting than what really happened anyway!

On the positive side, the timing of the TV show was excellent. It coincided with the release of a paperback version of “Remember, Remember the 6th of November”, the ebook release of the sequel “1617” and helped me sell more books and raise even more money for my chosen good causes.


The inspiration for the second book “1617” is quite simply “what if?”, specifically “what if the Gunpowder Plot had at least partially succeeded?”. If the King had been killed, history would have taken an alternate route. What a great opportunity for an author to close their eyes for a moment and imagine…

Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan lives in Yorkshire in the UK, close to the birthplace of Guy Fawkes. His books have been described as a perfect read for lovers of the works of C.J. Sansom and S. J. Parris and anyone interested in how historic events have shaped our own times. Profits from his books to date have raised hundreds of pounds for good causes, including Save the Children UK and York Teaching Hospital Charity’s dementia appeal.

Tony Loves to hear from readers, you can find him: Website Twitter

Remember, Remember the 6th of November

Remember, Remember the 6th of November is a thrilling retelling of the story of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. England in 1605 is a country concerned about terrorism, religious tensions, government surveillance and conflicts with Europe. A small group of conspirators led by charismatic Robert Catesby and Guy Fawkes plan regime change. In a race against time can spymaster Robert Cecil and his lover Katherine Suffolk prevent the country descending into all-out civil war


1617 is the exciting sequel to Remember, Remember the 6th of November - a thrilling alternate history filled with secrets, treachery and intrigue. Queen Elizabeth has transformed England into a centre for religious tolerance but conflict is brewing across Europe and there are continued troubles in Ireland. A peace envoy is needed. Sir Everard Digby appears the perfect choice but he’s a man with a secret past which the Queen must never discover…



  1. Such an interesting post! Thank you for sharing your inspiration with us!

  2. as interesting and informative as ever! Thanks for sharing

  3. This this is simply an amazing post. I love that book by Antonia Fraser. I must re read it sometime. It was a birthday gift years ago. Now I have to read your novel, Tony. Perhaps both. Writing madly so it will be a while. I adored everything about this post.


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx