D.W. Bradbridge was born in 1960 and grew up in Bolton. He has lived in Crewe, Cheshire since 2000, where he and his wife run a small magazine publishing business for the automotive industry.
“The inspiration for The Winter Siege came from a long-standing interest in genealogy and local history. My research led me to the realisation that the experience endured by the people of Nantwich during December and January 1643-44 was a story worth telling. I also realised that the closed, tension-filled environment of the month-long siege provided the ideal setting for a crime novel.
“History is a fascinating tool for the novelist. It consists only of what is remembered and written down, and contemporary accounts are often written by those who have their own stories to tell. But what about those stories which were forgotten and became lost in the mists of time?
“In writing The Winter Siege, my aim was to take the framework of real history and fill in the gaps with a story of what could, or might have happened. Is it history or fiction? It’s for the reader to decide.”
Hello D.W.! Welcome to Layered Pages and it is an honor to be chatting with you today. Please tell me about your story, The Winter Siege.
The Winter Siege is a traditional murder mystery novel set against the backdrop of the English Civil War. The main character, Daniel Cheswis, is a small businessman from the town of Nantwich, who is fulfilling his duty to act as the town constable when war arrives. The town, which supports Parliament, is under threat of siege by the royalists, and when local people start being found murdered with red scarves tied around their bodies (the sign of a royalist), Daniel has to identify the murderer before the town is attacked by the royalist army.
It is not often I read about this period and Charles I. When did you first become interested in this period and subject?
I studied the English Civil War at my high school many years ago, so I guess I’ve been interested since childhood. However, I began to revisit the subject a few years ago when I moved to Nantwich. I volunteered to help organize the annual Civil War re-enactment that takes place here each year and through that I realized that the events surrounding the Siege and Battle of Nantwich were a story worth re-telling.
Is there a battle scene(s) in your story? If so, did you find it a challenge to write about it?
Yes, I do describe the course of the Battle of Nantwich, although, to be honest, the description of the battle itself is relatively incidental to the rest of the plot. The Winter Siege is not a blood and guts style military story in the Bernard Cornwell vein. I preferred to focus on the murder mystery and the personal experience of the main character.
Please tell me a little about your main character. What are his weaknesses and strengths?
Daniel Cheswis is somewhat reserved and often finds himself being dragged into things against his better judgment. He is also wary of romantic relationships, having been betrayed by a woman he loved as a young man. He really just wants to get on with his life and run his businesses without the hassle of having to be the town constable, but he is reluctantly dragged into solving the murders by the course of events. Daniel is a likeable character, loyal and honest, and he turns out to be rather good at solving crimes, but he is by no means perfect and his willingness to please everyone results in him making commitments he really shouldn’t.
What do you like most about history?
One of the things which has fascinated me about history is that it consists of a series of eye witness accounts, not all of which can be trusted – so you can never be sure what really happened. What I tried to do with The Winter Siege was to write a very detailed history of the events surrounding the Siege and Battle of Nantwich as well as some accurate descriptions of life in the town at that time. I then tried to weave the fictional story in among the history, with the aim of challenging the reader to decide what real history is and what fiction is.
Who are your influences?
Reading CJ Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake novels was what initially inspired me to write something in this genre but the likes of Wilkie Collins, Agatha Christie and Ellis Peters have also been influential.
What are you working on now?
I’m about half way through the second Daniel Cheswis mystery, which will be called A Soldier of Substance and will see Daniel following the course of the Civil War through Chester and various parts of Lancashire. Hopefully the sequel will be published by the end of the year.
Where in your home do you like to write?
Anywhere where I can get some peace and quiet! I need to be alone when I write in order to immerse myself properly into the action. I find the best place to do that is my conservatory, which is very peaceful and looks out onto my back garden.
Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?
Just a big thank you to those people who have invested their hard earned money in my work so far. I truly appreciate it, and I hope it gives some insight into a period of history, which I find truly fascinating. I’m always open to interaction with readers, so if anyone has any comments to make, positive or negative, about The Winter Siege, please feel free to contact me via my website.
Buy the Book
Virtual Book Tour Schedule
Monday, April 7 Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, April 8 Review at Must Read Faster
Wednesday, April 9 Review at Staircase Wit
Friday, April 11 Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Monday, April 14 Review at Princess of Eboli
Tour Hashtag: #WinterSiegeTour