Sunday 11 November 2018

A conversation with Historical Fiction author Steven A. Mackay #HistoricalFiction #TheDruid #Giveaway @SA_McKay

A conversation with Historical Fiction author
 Steven A. Mackay
Welcome to Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots! It is so great to have you on the blog. Would you mind telling my readers about who you are, if they don't already know, and what you do.

I’m Steven A. McKay, a 41-year-old married father of two pretty amazing kids. Apart from writing, my favourite hobby is music, particularly listening and playing guitar to heavy metal.

Music is my favourite hobby too, after writing of course! I hear you have a fabulous new book out. What inspired you to write The Druid?

There’s a British TV show from the 1980’s called Knightmare which I used to enjoy as a child. It was an early attempt at using computer generated graphics and human avatars to tell an interactive fantasy story. It was really quite imaginative and made the viewer think, rather than just vegetate in front of the TV. Anyway, I was watching a rerun of that recently and there was an actor portraying Merlin. I looked at him and thought, “Hmm, a druid would be a good character to base a book around.” It all developed from that one spark.

Knightmare is such a classic. I always wanted to go on it and ride the dragon! It didn’t happen.
What were the challenges about researching the era The Druid is set in?

Well, it’s not known as the “dark ages” for nothing! The entire period is somewhat shrouded in mystery – place names, languages, religion, even the long-held belief of a violent Saxon invasion of eastern England is now being questioned. However, this uncertainty is actually quite liberating for an author as it allows us to, well, make stuff up, frankly. Of course, I read a TON of books to try and immerse myself in the period, and, since The Druid takes place not long after the Romans left Britain SOME things are known about the era and locations.

Many Britons were converting to Christianity, for example, but a letter from St Patrick to the king of Strathclyde upbraids the ruler for taking Christians as slaves – that would suggest folk in Strathclyde were still “pagan”, and it allowed me to place my titular druid in that location.

On the other hand, nothing much is known about Stonehenge or why it was built so I chose to use it as a location for a magical ritual. Some people will disagree with that, because they somehow know better, but it’s my book and it makes sense to me so…

I really just tried to immerse myself in the period and then draw as realistic, and entertaining, a picture as I could for the reader.

I know exactly where you are coming from Steven, my books are set in the Dark Ages as well. What would you say sets your books apart from other stories that are set in the Dark Ages?

The main one would be, I think, my hero: a giant, warrior-druid who isn’t like Merlin, or Gandalf, or the usual depictions of these sorts of mystics. No long white beard, no pointy hat, no back bent with age – Bellicus is almost seven feet tall with a shaved head and, at only twenty-six years old, he is a skilled swordsman. He’s a cool action hero I think!

Secondly, this is no fantasy novel. The druid’s magic is based in reality. He uses people’s perceptions to make them do his bidding. He plays on their superstitions to further his own ends. I believe the book is no less interesting for the lack of dragons or spells, quite the opposite, although it will depend on the reader of course.

Finally, this is one for any other writers: the cover art is stunning! A great cover can really help a book sell and my designers did a fantastic job with this one. I made a very crude mockup of what I wanted – all the elements were there with the carnyx, stone circle and big fonts—but my designers (More Visual) took my crappy version and made something really beautiful.

As this question suggests, a book needs to stand out from the crowd to be a success, and, for the reader, that process starts with the cover art.

Bellicus sounds amazing, and your book cover is as well. I love it. Could you share with us what you are working on at the moment?

I’m doing this interview in November so, at the moment I’m editing a standalone novel about a female Roman slave, called Lucia. I’m very excited about this as it’s not like any other book I’ve written – they have all been historical action/adventure-type things, but this, well, I’m not sure how to pigeon-hole it. I was listening to audiobooks like Jane Eyre, Rebecca and Wuthering Heights when I came up with the idea for Lucia so it’s more like them than The Druid or Wolf’s Head although with my writing style, there is, of course, the odd fight scene…

I believe it’s a really interesting novel and I have high hopes for it!

By the time this Q&A is published I will have finished Lucia though, and hopefully be almost done with the sequel to The Druid¸ which is titled Song of the Centurion and carries on where Bellicus left off.

The Druid of Wolf’s Hall, now that is a book I would like to read. Lucia sounds like it is going to be another amazing story.

Steven, thank you so much for coming onto the blog and I am sure all my readers wish you the very best for your new release — The Druid.

The Druid

Northern Britain, AD430

A land in turmoil. A village ablaze. A king’s daughter abducted.

In the aftermath of a surprise attack Dun Buic lies in smoking ruins and many innocent villagers are dead. As the survivors try to make sense of the night’s events the giant warrior-druid, Bellicus, is tasked with hunting down the raiders and thwarting their dark purpose.

With years of training in the old ways, two war-dogs at his side, and unsurpassed skill with a longsword, Bellicus’s quest will take him on a perilous journey through lands still struggling to cope with the departure of the Roman legions.

Meanwhile, amongst her brutal captors the little princess Catia finds an unlikely ally, but even he may not be able to avert the terrible fate King Hengist has in store for her.

This, the first volume in a stunning new series from the bestselling author of Wolf’s Head, explores the rich folklore and culture of post-Roman Britain, where blood-sacrifice, superstition and warfare were as much a part of everyday life as love, laughter and song.

As Saxon invaders and the new Christian religion seek to mould the country for their own ends one man will change the course of Britain’s history forever. . .

. . . THE DRUID.

Steven A. McKay's archetypal villains and heroes step vividly onto the page from a mist-veiled past of legend to battle for the life of a princess and the fate of Britain.

Dark age adventure at its gripping best."
 MATTHEW HARFFY, author of The Bernicia Chronicles


*Giveaway is now closed.

Steven A. Mckay is giving a way two ebook copies of his fabulous book, The Druid. 
To be in with a chance just answer this question...

Who is your favourite druid / wizard / mystic, and why? 

Giveaway Rules
• Leave your answer in the comments at the bottom of this post.
• Giveaway ends at 11:59pm BST on November 30th.
You must be 18 or older to enter.

• Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.

•Only one entry per household.

• All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
•Winners will be announced in the comments.

• Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Can't wait that long? Grab your copy of The Druid on Amazon today!

Steven A. McKay

Steven A. McKay was born in Scotland in 1977. His first book, "Wolf's Head", came out in 2013 and was an Amazon UK top 20 bestseller. "The Abbey of Death” is the final book in the Forest Lord series which has over 100,000 sales so far.

Steven's new book, "The Druid" is the first in a brand new series set in post-Roman Britain and was published on November 1st 2018. He is now finishing off a standalone novel about a slave in Roman Britain.

He plays guitar and sings in a heavy metal band when they can find the time to meet up (which isn't often these days to be honest).

Check out his website at

and sign up for the email list - in return we'll send you a FREE short story which is not available anywhere else, as well as offering chances to win signed books and other goodies!


  1. No question, it has to be Gandalf!

  2. Dumbledore is the greatest wizard ever! He is a headmaster, and as a teacher myself, I cannot help but admire him!

  3. Apart from Bellicus, I think I'd say Merlin. Or Gandalf. Allanon is pretty badass too though. And Raistlin Majere....
    Nah, it has to be Merlin!
    Or maybe Rincewind...?

    1. I should really say Merlin and I hate myself for not saying his name, but I adore Dumbledore and my two youngest children love him too, which is a good enough reason for me.

  4. I have to go with Dumbledore as the greatest wizard. He not only had tremendous powers but used them for the betterment of his people. He also made it possible to teach wizarding powers to the young, thereby continuing the legend.

  5. Mary Stewart's Merlin - what an amazing set of books that was. Had me from the start.

  6. My favourite wizzard has to be Terry Pratchett's Rincewind, he may be completely useless at magic but he excels at running away!

  7. Merlin - was most known of mystical wizards

  8. My favourite is Getafix. Always wise and helpful. He takes care of everybody and is sometimes very funny. He can fix anything.

  9. Got to be Merlin for me, having read different novels, and watched different films Merlin always stands tall. I have always as you mentioned in the Druid expected him to play the part of i'm frail, i'm old. but in reality a sharp mind great thinker and strong resourceful and i remember the Program Knightmare. yep if ever i could be a character Merlin would i be though i dont think i could do it justice. Stacy

  10. Drum roll...

    Dave Bates and Beatrice Rivers you have book won an ebook copy of Steven A. McKay — The Druid.

    Please email to claim your prize!


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