Novel Number Three: The Running Wolf (about the Shotley Bridge Swordmakers)

To be published by Impress Books on 10 November 2020

Last weekend, I finished writing Sunwise, the sequel to Widdershins and sent it off to my publisher, Impress Books. There’s sure to be a lot more rewriting and editing to do before it’s published later this year or early next, but in the meantime, I need to get started on novel number three.

constellation of Cancer. The cover is crowned with a sunburst of 9 swords. The spine is gold, with white writing and shows a running wolf emblem as well as the Impress Books logo. It's set out in the shape of a sword.
The Running Wolf (published by Impress Books on 10 November 2020)


This novel will be inspired by the Shotley Bridge swordmakers, who originated in Solingen, Germany. I’m calling it The Running Wolf (a reference to the Solingen blade mark).

As with Widdershins and Sunwise, this novel is set in the seventeenth century, and it needs a huge amount of research to underpin it. I wrote Widdershins for my MA in Creative Writing at the Manchester Writing School and I’m writing The Running Wolf for my PhD in English at the University of Aberdeen. The name of the research project is ‘Elsewhere to be’.

So far, I’ve carried out a literature review and read lots of books about swords, swordmakers, swordmaking, early metal working, metallurgy, and local history in both Derwentside and Solingen. Next, I buried myself in the archives to study the swordmakers’ correspondence. It was a deeply humbling experience to read letters to and from the swordmakers, which were written over three hundred years ago.

Other research will include practising blacksmithing techniques and later this year, I’ll be making my own sword! This can be a helpful way to carry out research; for Widdershins, I did some herbal medicine training at Dilston Physic Garden, and went on to grow my own herbs and make herbal remedies at home. It was a great way to get inside characters’ heads, and it helped me to create the characters of Meg Wetherby, and Annie and Jane Chandler.

Later this year and early next year, I will go to Solingen to visit the blade museum there and to soak up the place where the swordmakers originally lived. And I plan to visit the Köln museum to see the original Solingen indictment that ordered the swordmakers to return home.

The Running Wolf will be published by Impress Books on 10 November 2020.

Best wishes, Helen

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