Thursday, 15 August 2013

Discovering the truth behind the Beowulf legend

The origins of the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf are being explored in a major archaeological dig in Denmark. Experts working in Lejre, the royal centre of Denmark in the sixth to tenth centuries AD, are uncovering what life would have been like in the great royal feasting hall Heorot, in which many of the poem's pivotal events are supposed to have occurred. Archaeologists have discovered the remains of seven separate buildings used for feasting, all of which stood on the site at various times over a period of 500 years. The earliest of these may have inspired King Hrothgar's hall as described in Beowulf.

I wonder how long it will be before they find the bleached bones of a once monstrous arm, or a huge, deformed skull buried somewhere on the site.

A map of Scandinavia as it was in the Dark Ages.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Art of Beowulf

The legend of Beowulf - and his battles with Grendel, the monster's mother, and, of course, the dragon - have inspired artists down through the ages.

Here are just some of the more recent takes on the Scandinavian superman and his enemies...

And what sort of art will BEOWULF BEASTSLAYER inspire? You'll just have to wait and see...

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Beowulf Pulled My Arm Off

Kari Maaren has a new album of geeky songs available. It’s called Beowulf Pulled My Arm Off and it’s described like this:

This album collects 14 of the geeky ukulele songs Kari Maaren wrote and performed in 2011 and 2012 at Toronto’s Chiaroscuro Reading Series. The songs tend to be about monsters, heroes, and other highly fictional properties. No mythical beasts were harmed in the making of this album.

You can listen to the album by following this link, and should definitely check out the titular track Beowulf Pulled My Arm Off!

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Beowulf - The Gamebook!

“Listen! We of the Spear-Danes in the days of yore, of those clan-kings, heard of their glory, how those nobles performed courageous deeds!”

I am delighted to announce that BEOWULF BEASTSLAYER has been mentioned today on In fact, there's not just a mention - there's a full-blown interview with me about the project.

You can read the interview for yourself here (and thanks to Dave Bradley for making it happen).

In other BEOWULF BEASTSLAYER-related news, it looks like I have both a publisher and an artist on board for the project, so the Kickstarter to fund production of the gamebook is gradually moving closer to launch.

And in case you'll still wondering just what exactly BEOWULF BEASTSLAYER is, it's a Choose Your Own Adventure-style re-telling of the Anglo-Saxon epic. In the book you will play the part of the eponymous hero battling such monsters as Grendel, Grendel's mother and a dragon, as well as sea serpents and all manner of other creatures along the way. Will your adventure follow the course of the original story or will you carve out a new epic all of your own?

To express your interest in this project, please visit the BEOWULF BEASTSLAYER Facebook page, click 'Like', and share the link with all your friends.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Clemency Slaughter and the Legacy of D'Eath - Competition Time!

A while ago I threatened to run some sort of competition or other if (or more accurately when) I ended up with both 1,000 followers on Twitter and 1,000 friends on Facebook.

Well that magic number was exceeded a while ago now (as of writing I have 1,018 followers on Twitter and 1,030 Facebook friends) so I thought it was about time I made good on my promise.

Your Part of the Bargain

I want you to do all you can to promote the Kickstarter project I am currently running with the artist Tom Brown and publisher Ian Whates, Clemency Slaughter and the Legacy of D'Eath. I don't care how you do it - blog posts, social media campaigns, YouTube videos, get in mentioned in the press, on the radio, on TV! - just do whatever you can to get word out to the masses about this exciting adventure in publishing!

You have until the end of the month (11:59pm on Sunday 31 March) to enter - in other words ten days - and email me a link to whatever it is you've produced at

Be imaginative, be creative, be prolific, be persistent! But whatever you do, to be eligible for the big prize, you must let me know about it.

Our Part of the Bargain

The three of us (Jon, Tom and Ian) will decide who has mounted the most effective campaign and, as long as the project funds on 13 April, you will be invited to the grand London launch as our guest, with all that that entails (book, goodie bag, drinks reception, etc.) but without having to stump up £100 for the privilege yourself. (You must arrange and pay for your travel to London.)

And that's it!

So check out the Clemency Slaughter Kickstarter page, Facebook page, and blog, get thinking, and good luck!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Kickstarter 101

Anybody who might be hesitating about whether to back the Clemency Slaughter project or not, it's worth remembering the following fact about Kickstarter.

You will not actually be charged as a backer unless the Kickstarter reaches its funding target on its deadline day, in this case Saturday 13 April at 1.00pm.

Also, if you'd like more than one reward, you could always pledge to each one using a different card or account.

You'll find the Clemency Slaughter Kickstarter here.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Clemency Slaughter and the Legacy of D'Eath

Today - 13th March 2013 - marks the true start of the Clemency Slaughter and the Legacy of D'Eath Kickstarter.

Artist Tom Brown, publisher Ian Whates, and myself, want to bring you the tale of Miss Clemency Slaughter, her ill-fated family, and the legacy of Lord Daedalus Drummond D'Eath that awaits whoever is lucky (or unlucky) enough to inherit in the end. But we can only accomplish this task with your support, via Kickstarter.

We have a host of wonderful rewards on offer, including original artwork, invitations to a launch party, signed books, and bespoke jewellery. Bids start at only £2 and there's even going to be a digital version of this macabre picture book, as long as we achieve our funding goal of £7,500.

So now it's up to you. Please 'Like' our Facebook page, pledge your support via the Kickstarter page, and then tell all your friends via the medium of social media - and not just today, but every day! That's how we'll draw in the new backers we'll need to make this project happen.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


How do you visualise the iconic monster Grendel?

Like this?

Or this?

Or this?

Or do you see him in some other way? I'd love to know how you imagine him to be, and any budding artists out there, feel free to send me your interpretations of the malevolent monster.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Dr Janina's Secret Knowledge

In case you missed it, Dr Janina Ramirez was on BBC4 again the other night, this time talking about Viking art.

I can just imagine some of the items she examines being found in the great feast hall of King Hrothgar himself...

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Michael Wood on Beowulf

Historian Michael Wood traces the birth of English poetry back to the dark ages, focusing on Beowulf and other Anglo-Saxon classics to reveal the origins of England's literary heritage. Travelling from East Anglia to Scotland, he is joined by Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney, actor Julian Glover and local enthusiasts to bring the story and language of the famous poem to life.

If you've not seen this documentary before, it's well worth a watch, for Julian Glover's performance alone. It is showing on BBC4 tonight at 11.00pm.

Friday, 25 January 2013

John Howe's take on Grendel

John Howe, who is currently probably best known as one of the imagineers of Middle Earth, produced a number of illustrations for a Beowulf boardgame eight or so years back.

You can see many of the wonderful, dramatic paintings on his website here.

I'm particularly interested in his take on Grendel, as the look of the monster is something I am very aware I need to get right for my own project, whilst at the same time making him seem fresh and new.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Beowulf Beastslayer

While I was running my YOU ARE THE HERO Kickstarter, a number of people asked about the possibility of new gamebook content. Well, following on from the success of YOU ARE THE HERO, I'm planning on crowd-funding a brand new gamebook, based on the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf.

In BEOWULF BEASTSLAYER you will play the part of the eponymous hero - the first superhero of the English literary tradition - battling such monsters as Grendel, Grendel's mother and a dragon, as well as sea serpents and all manner of other creatures along the way. Will your adventure follow the course of the original story or will you carve out a new epic all of your own?

To express your interest in this project, please visit the BEOWULF BEASTSLAYER Facebook page, click 'Like', and share the link with all your friends.

So, until next time...

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Beowulf as re-imagined by dreamweaver Neil Gaiman

There have been a number of different versions of the Anglo-Saxon epic committed to film over the years - including Beowulf & Grendel (2005) and Outlander (2008) - but one of the best is the Robert Zemeckis-helmed 2007 version, written by award-winning comic-book writer Neil Gaiman and Pulp Fiction co-writer Roger Avary.

Beowulf adds a bold new dimension to the story of the hero's battle against the monstrous Grendel, in its interpretation of the monster's 'hag-like' mother, and very effective it is too. And then there's the fact that it was all created inside a computer. (Ray Winstone has never looked so buff!)

Zemeckis creates a dark fantasy full of haunting images, and the film's on TV tonight, on ITV1, at 11.00pm.