Paul Hodson's Dragon Prow ShadowBy Paul Hodson
I was lucky enough to grow up with fantastic Grandparents. They’d take me and my cousins out and we’d go and explore the castles, cliffs and coasts of North Lancashire and Cumbria. Of course it was mainly ruse on my Grandad’s behalf to find a country pub he could get a decent pint in.
He had a knack of telling stories, and the knack of sitting in the front of the car ‘reminiscing’ with my Gran such that those 6-7-year olds eavesdropping from the back seat would find it all the more believable. Tales of how he stormed Lancaster Castle with Robin Hood to save Marion. Of how he hid Excalibur from Mordred in a hollowed-out oak in Silverdale, taking care of the sword for Arthur. It was he who burned the cakes, but Alfred took the blame as my Grandad was always getting in trouble for doing something wrong. This was further evidenced by my Gran’s constant berations. He’d even been at Hastings, told William to stop waving sharp sticks about as he’d have somebody's eye out. We saw a copy of the Bayeux Tapestry, and there he was, right there, the one with the big nose.
A regular haunt was Half Moon Bay at Heysham, with its 6th Century ruined chapel on the cliff tops, Viking rock cut graves and Hogback stone. And it was the Vikings with whom he got into the most scrapes, the ferocious men of the North, who came in their dragon boats, leaving an indelible mark on our landscape, language and place names. And so, my fascination began.
When I was 20 I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. This was a catalyst to do different, to think different. As part of that I grew interested in how the words and labels you use to describe the world can change your experiences, everyone is having a subjective experience. People can be in the same event and come away with a completely different sense of what happened.
Dragon Prow Shadow was born from melding those strands of interest. The title alludes to the shadow these people cast and left on these lands. I wanted to write a book that incorporated that passion for the Norse, their way of thinking and their stories with some sort of altered perspective, and what better way to do that than from the point of view of a child? I wanted to write a story that highlighted the Viking DNA that runs through where I live (north west England) but didn’t roll out the usual trope of the fury of the Northmen. These were people who were skilled, artful, traders, makers, builders, poets and wordsmiths, wove incredible stores that still enthral us and made beautiful objects that perfectly combine form and function. They were a pragmatic, problem solving bunch, who just got on and dealt with what was in front of them - an approach that given my experience as a 20-year-old, has a strong appeal.
Head over to our Facebook for you chance to win a signed copy of the Dragon Prow Shadow by Paul Hodson now.