Sunday, 7 July 2013

Interview & Excerpt ~ Duncan M. Hamilton author of The Tattered Banner

Duncan M. Hamilton

About Duncan
Duncan is a writer of fantasy fiction novels and short stories that are set in a world influenced by Renaissance Europe. He has a Masters Degree in History, and is particularly interested in the medieval and renaissance periods. He doesn't live anywhere particularly exotic and when not writing he enjoys cycling, skiing and windsurfing.   


Book Info

Unique talent always attracts attention…
The Tattered Banner (Society of the Sword, #1)

In a world where magic is outlawed, ability with a sword is prized above all else. For Soren this means the chance to live out his dreams.

Plucked from a life of privation, he is given a coveted place at Ostenheim’s Academy of Swordsmanship, an opportunity beyond belief.

Opportunity is not always what it seems however, and gifts rarely come without conditions. Soren becomes an unwitting pawn in a game of intrigue and treachery that could cost him not just his dreams, but also his life.

Genre: Fantasy
Self Published
Word Count: 124,000
ISBN: (paperback) 978-1481013222
(Kindle) 978-1-62347-203-0
Release Date: March 2013
Format: Paperback and e-book
Available from Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Nook UK, Kobo, iBookstore, Smashwords.


When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I don't think I ever had a moment like that; it's just something I've done for as long as I can remember!

Who are your influences? 
I tend to read history for the most part, so that heavily influences what I write. I don't think I could pick out any individuals though!

Who is your favorite author? What is your favorite book?
Probably Raphael Sabatini. I love his classic swashbuckling adventures; Scaramouche, Captain Blood, and The Sea Hawk being among my favourites. I also really like The Three Musketeers and The Count of Montecristo.

In terms of more modern stuff, I'm also a big fan of a Spanish writer called Arturo Pérez-Reverte. I don't speak a word of Spanish though, so happily all of his books are in English translation!

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Cycling, windsurfing and skiing when the weather is right. With all the sword fighting I write about, I thought some first hand experience might help, so I recently took up fencing. It's really good fun. I read a lot too, history for the most part, medieval and renaissance periods being my main interest.

What inspired you to write The Tattered Banner?
I wanted to write a story based in a renaissance style city-state, filled with opportunity, intrigue and danger. The story grew out of playing around with that concept. It started out as historical fiction, but the freedom that writing in a fantasy setting allows was too attractive to pass up, so I made the sideways move and haven't looked back since.

How many books are there going to be in the Society of The Sword series?
It's a trilogy, with the next book coming out (hopefully) in the early autumn and the final part a few months after that. I've written a couple of other books set in the same world, which explore characters who make a brief appearance in the Society of the Sword trilogy. They will be stand-alone novels though, hopefully to be released over the course of next year.

What's your favorite thing about the medieval period?
You know, I really can't say! History generally has fascinated me ever since I was a kid, and I've no idea why!

What is your favorite thing about writing?
I can give you a more definite answer on this one! Sitting down at my desk in the morning with nothing more than an idea, and getting up from it in the evening with new people, places and events taking shape in front of me. Creating all these things out of nothing just keeps me coming back to my keyboard with a smile on my face every time.

Are you going to stay in the fantasy genre in the future?
I've certainly got a lot more stories I want to tell and ideas I want to explore, specifically in the Middle Sea world that The Tattered Banner is set in. I don't think I'll ever completely depart from fantasy, as I enjoy the creative freedom it offers too much, but I think it would be a shame not to explore some of the other genres out there too. Action/Adventure and Sci-Fi have always appealed to me too, and I've written stuff in both in the past.

In terms of keeping your writing fresh, I think it's a useful exercise to vary things a little from time to time.

Do you have any projects in the works?
Lots! The follow up to The Tattered Banner is away being edited at the moment. I finished the first draft of the final part of that trilogy not so long ago, and I'm about half way through writing my next longer piece, which will probably end up being a trilogy also, the first part of which I hope to have ready to publish late next year.


The customer was well dressed, not as well dressed as a noble or a wealthier merchant, but neat, clean and tidy. A servant perhaps. Shrewd though, he was haggling hard and this was creating Soren’s chance. The haggling was intense and the opportunity was growing greater by the moment. With as much nonchalance as he could muster with the smell of the different foods all around nearly driving him to madness, he walked quickly, but not too quickly, past the customer and into arm’s reach of a beautifully shaped, golden loaf of bread. A series of inviting diagonal grooves were cut across its back, betraying its crusty shell and no doubt hiding delicious fluffy bread underneath.

His hand was shaking; the thought of the bread set his mouth awash and his heart was racing. The bread was firm to the touch, but yielded to the slight pressure of his hand. Then he had it, clutched to his chest. Keep walking, he thought, slow and steady, it is as easy as anything. The weight of anticipation was beginning to lift from his shoulders when disaster struck.

‘Stop there! Thief!’

For a moment Soren hoped that the shout had been directed at someone else, but a glance over his shoulder proved that it had not. The merchant had pulled a long thin club from underneath his counter and was striding purposefully toward him. One of the smaller side alleys that ran off the square was his best chance; they led to the warren of tight twisting alleys that riddled the city like veins, a web that anyone who had grown up on the streets was intimately familiar with.

With eighteen years under his belt, Soren had found over the last couple of years that his body had become inconveniently large. The small spaces between adults at leg level that had once provided free passage when he was younger were now closed to him. Instead he had to use his size to try to bash people out of his way to clear a path ahead. It was not the most economical of escapes, knocking from person to person.

With each bump and curse, the merchant got a little closer. Just as one of the laneways came into sight and with only a few heads bobbing between him and it, he felt a firm hand grab a handful of his shirt between his shoulder blades. He spun around, and the first swing of the merchant’s club cracked him on the back of the hand and knocked the precious loaf of bread from his grasp. He watched with agonising hunger as the loaf hit the smoothly cobbled ground and was quickly trampled into oblivion.

Recovering quickly from this setback, Soren pushed backward as hard as he could, driving with his legs and forcing his way past the last few people and into the free space at the entrance to the alley. Unfortunately the merchant had followed swiftly through the void he had left in his wake. Throwing himself backward to avoid the swing of the merchant’s club, he fell into a pile of rubbish; various junk heaped there by the nearby traders. Luck smiled upon him as his hand came upon a piece of wooden doweling rod, which he quickly raised to parry off the next blow.

‘You’ll pay for that loaf, you little shit!’

‘Fuck off, you fat pig!’ said Soren. The merchant could easily afford to lose a loaf of bread. Its value to Soren was ten times what it was to him.

The merchant didn’t reply. Soren’s backchat just infuriated him. He bellowed in rage and kept furiously hitting down at Soren with his club. Soren scrambled to his feet, fending off each attack with his rough wooden rod. He consciously mirrored the stance of the swordsmen in the arena, his feet planted wide apart and his knees slightly bent. The contact of the two pieces of wood made a satisfying ‘thwock’ and Soren found that he was almost enjoying himself, or would have been if it were not for the painful hollowness in his belly and the disappointment at having lost the loaf of bread, which he was still feeling keenly. The merchant swung at him from left and right, the club swishing through the air. Some strikes Soren ducked, others he sidestepped, but the most pleasurable were those where wood struck wood, and Soren effortlessly deflected the club up, down, left or right; to any direction of his choosing. The merchant’s attacks seemed to come at him at a snail’s pace and Soren felt as though he could do as he liked.

The merchant, on the other hand, was not enjoying himself. Each spoiled attack was enraging him further. Instead of the satisfaction of beating the daylights out of a street urchin who had just robbed him, he was presented with the smiling face of a filthy gutter rat who he could not seem to lay a single blow upon. Furthermore, a chase that he had expected to take but a moment, was requiring considerably more time, and his stall was unattended and inviting further theft. Finally reason overcame rage, and he paused, his face red as he gasped for breath. Soren remained in a crouch, gently swaying his weight from foot to foot, his piece of wood held out in front of him, the tip deadly still. With a curse at both Soren and the conspicuously absent City Watch, he flung his club at Soren, which Soren easily dodged, turned and walked back toward his stall. Soren put one hand on his hip and with the other raised his club high, in the salute that Amero had always made after easily defeating an opponent.

As he stood and straightened himself, the bitter disappointment at having lost the loaf struck him and his empty belly with renewed force, but he was quickly distracted by a slow clapping sound. It was not the sharp sound of bare skin against skin, but that of soft, thick leather on leather drumming out behind him.


  1. This sounds pretty interesting. :)

  2. OMG, I love the renaissance period! I am from NY and they have a renaissance festival every year but unfortunately i was never able to go! Also when I lived in Ireland, I used to go to these festivals with jousting and eating huge legs of meat and just throw them to the side like they use to do. They had sword fighting and people would dress just as they use to and it looked and was very awesome! To be honest I am not positive if this was all from the renaissance period but it was far back in history which I loved! Fencing sounds cool! Did you like The Man in the Iron Mask? I was surprised you didn't name it! how about the movies? Did you like the movies to the books you named?

  3. Hey Guys!

    First, thanks to Scout Page for hosting the interview!

    Thanks for your kind words Stacy.

    Jovon, I read The Man in The Iron Mask a long time ago, and haven't read it since. I liked it, but all the others I've read several times and they always stand out in my memory. Maybe I'll take another look at it though!

    I think the best way to answer your question is to say that each book had a movie made about it that I liked! Choosing a favourite would be tough! I do have a copy of at least one movie version of each book, and two of the Three Musketeers, because I can never decide which version I like better!

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