It is May, 1798, and Ireland is a country at war. One hundred thousand peasants have risen up against the Crown to the tales of men, women and children butchered as traitors. It is whispered that the feared and despised ghosts of Oliver Cromwell’s New Model army have returned seeking bloodshed, and no one is safe. Major Lorn Mullone, a man forged by war and torn by past failures, is sent by the government to apprehend Colonel Black, a dangerous and shadowy figure, who is harming the fragile peace talks with his own murderous retribution. In a race against time, Lorn must journey across a country riven by fighting, where at the walled town of New Ross, he discovers a new horror. In the desperate battle for peace, Lorn must survive for the sake of Ireland’s future. Liberty or Death is an authentic historical story set against the brutal backdrop of Ireland’s Great Rebellion, the first novella in The Soldier Chronicles series.
David’s books are well researched, gripping and for this reader, quite an eye opener. I started with the third in the series, “Blood on Snow”, which is about the Flanders Campaign of 1794 – something that I had little knowledge of and Cook brought it to life with historical competence and splendid details. The novel comes with a variety of well chosen characters that felt authentic and made for a fascinating and compelling read. The weather and living conditions, interactions with the locals and the morale and discipline in the regiment are described exellently. A very recommendable novel and a writer to watch.
Interview with David:
I’ve been scribbling away since I was 16 years old. It was only reading a soldier’s journal about life in Egypt in the early 19th century in 2006 that I decided to put my ideas together and write my Napoleonic story I’d been putting off.
What is your interest in history and the eras you write about? Do you have a preferred era?
I write historical-fiction. The Soldier Chronicles relate to a Napoleonic series I’d like to have published, but my interest is not only military. I have a written a story about Robin Hood and a band of outlaws who are fighting back William the Conqueror.
How do you come up with your story?
The Desert Lion (unpublished) is the start of the Napoleonic series and it was from reading the journal that I started with. I finished the story and sent it off to agents. In the lull I wrote backstories which have formed The Soldier Chronicles.
Online, read and visit places. The only place I haven’t managed to visit is Egypt. Hopefully, I can soon remedy that.
Do you prefer to stay in one era and genre or do you see yourself spreading out?
I’m happy – or I should say – I work best in the past. I have always loved our country’s (UK) history and I think I’ll stick with that. I will say, however, that I have an interest in pursuing a modern day ghost story but I don’t know when that will happen.
Were the plot and subplots completely planned from the start or did they change during the process, and if so, how?
I wrote all the outlines and the first five stories of The Soldier Chronicles about six years ago. They have remained the same, however I always start with a brief outline and let the words flow. I don’t usually know what will happen until I see the words. For instance, Heart of Oak was originally going to finish at the fort, but both the protagonist and antagonist wanted more!
I‘ve only read one of the books so far. What is the idea behind your series?
The chronicles are snapshots of military history in the periods of 1793-1815. I wanted to write them as standalones, to be read in any order, but the characters feature in the main Napoleonic series. There’s this connection that I want to explore. I didn’t want to write them as novels, so decided on novellas, but if they prove popular there is scope to make them into novels at a later date.
The best is how the story unfolds. I love research, but it’s not knowing what will happen until it does. It’s very exciting as I’m sure you feel the same. The worst has to be marketing. It’s not terrible, but for an Indie author its hard work to get your voice shouting louder than everyone else. I work full-time and writing isn’t a hobby, it’s a future way of life and I have to work hard at promoting it. It’s very tough and sometimes it’s very lonely.
How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?
For some reason I always find myself starting the next book just as I’m finishing the last. There’s no transition period it seems. I just seem to be always writing. You have to juggle marketing your book and concentrating on the next book’s story. I can’t really afford to take a break between the stories, not until I’m relatively successful anyway.
What is your main reason for writing?
I want to tell people of these stories. I want people to like them and to transport them back to a time of that period. I hope I can evoke the past.
What do you do when you don’t write?
I work full-time as I said, so when not doing either I try to have a social life. Try is the word here J Spending time with my family, friends, go for walks, visit new places. Relax. It’s good to get out, to get up from the writing chair. If I didn’t, I think I’d have a permanent chair seat-shaped arse.
You have created great characters. Which one is your favourite?
Thanks but that is a tough question. I like them all – can’t choose. Sorry.
Who would you cast to play the characters in a movie?
I updated my facebook page the other day with this question. For Lorn Mullone who is the protagonist in Liberty or Death, I’ve had Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne, Michael Fassbender, and Gerard Butler. In fact, I would agree that they would all do Lorn justice as a screen version. In my head and perhaps in the readers mind, Mullone would look very different.
I think a part of me is in every character to be honest. I’ve drawn out my idiosyncrasies and given the characters foibles.
Tell us one odd thing about you and one really mundane thing.
One odd thing would be that I can eat chocolate at any time of the day. Mundane thing is that I have to have coffee with my breakfast.
Who are your editors and how do you quality control your books?
My editor is Catherine Lenderi (@cathlen78 on Twitter) and she was recommended to me by several authors. She’s excellent, professional and one of the planet’s nicest people. I’ve learned to proof-read until my eyes bleed and then give it to Catherine. Who then spots mistakes and gives ideas to help the story flow or other recommendations.
How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?
I self-published in April this year and after a few formatting issues, it was very easy to add to Amazon KDP, CreateSpace (and Smashwords for the first three books). I’m looking at the sales per day which can be wonderful to heart-breaking.
What is your advice to new writers?
Just keep at it. Keep writing, keep reading. To be honest I’m really not qualified to give advice. This reminds me of Chandler Bing when asked in Friends. He said ‘‘I’m not so good with advice. Can I offer a sarcastic comment instead?’’
Who are your favourite authors?
Oooohh there are lots…Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow, Lee Child, Stephen King, C.J Sansom, George R.R. Martin…
What is your favourite book?
It’s ‘Sharpe’s Siege’. It was given to me as a Christmas present by my father and it introduced me to Richard Sharpe and his world. I’ve been reading them ever since.
What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
A complete change of genre for me, but I’ve just started ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn. I’ve heard amazing things about it which piqued my interest.
How do you handle criticism of your work?
Take it on the chin and move on. If someone slates my work then that’s their opinion. I’m not going to worry about it. Often I read stories where authors have ranted on social media and made fools of themselves. I say just let it go and move on. There are far more important things to worry about than someone else’s opinion.
You can find David and all of his books on
and connect with him on http://thewolfshead.tumblr.com
David has been interested in history since his school days, and developed a love for the Napoleonic Wars era from his father, who painted and amassed a lead model army of the Battle of Waterloo. From there David became fascinated with The English Civil Wars and English medieval history, particularly the legend of Robin Hood. David is writing a novel titled The Wolfshead, a story of Robin Hood, but based on the original medieval ballads as the source.
For more information and updates please visit http://thewolfshead.tumblr.com
1794, 1798, author David Cook, Flanders Campaign, Great Rebellion, Heart of Oak, historical fiction, history, interview, Irish History, Liberty of Death, Marksman, Napoleon, New Model Army, review, Snow on Blood, Soldier Chronicles