A Tudor Novel

A new and second edition of my historical novel ‘Tom Fleck’ is now available on Amazon Createspace:
Amazon UK


‘Tom Fleck’
A novel of Cleveland and Flodden.

It is now listed on Amazon and elsewhere

    • Paperback: 266 pages
    • Publisher: Creatspace Sept 2012
    • Language English
    • ISBN-10: 1478308915
    • ISBN-13: 978-1478308911
    • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.5 cm
    • Recommended price £7.99 or $12.99

A version for Kindle is now available at £2.12 or $2.99

Back cover synopsis:

‘Sharp as quivering hares are the Flecks. We’ve eyes and ears for things other folk miss.’

Much later, in the aftermath of Flodden, a young man finally understands his father’s words.

The year: 1513. The place: North-East England.

Tom Fleck, a downtrodden farm worker but gifted archer, yearns to escape his masters. He unearths two objects that could be keys to freedom: a torque of ancient gold and a Tudor seal ring. He cannot know how these finds will determine his future.

Rachel Coronel craves an end to her wanderings. When the torque comes to rest around the neck of this mysterious woman, an odyssey begins which draws Tom Fleck into borderlands of belief and race.

The seal ring propels Tom on a journey of self-knowledge that can only climax in another borderland – among the flowers and banners of Flodden Field.

To see if ‘Tom Fleck’ is the sort of story you would like to read, here is the opening chapter (my apologies for this site’s refusal to preserve indents):

Chapter 1
Green and White

29th June 1513. North-East Yorkshire.

Wings clattered through branches. A young man stayed his axe in mid-swing as two wood pigeons flung themselves into the mist. He looked down at the dog as her throat rumbled. She raised a paw, shot him a glance, then – ears cocked – faced back along the track. Metal clinked somewhere.
Tom Fleck whispered, ‘Hush now. Come away.’
Soft-footed, man and dog crept off the path and into a thicket to huddle together, among ferns and willow stems, as the crack of twigs grew louder and voices filtered through moss-coated trees.
‘It’s thinning. A wind’s sprung up.’ The helmeted man seemed a giant as he squelched past their hiding place. Two other burly men followed; all three wore green and white tunics. One of them groaned as his leg plunged into the mire. He wrested it free.
‘Shite! My boot’s full o’ clarts! How much more o’ this, Sarge?’
‘The river’s close I reckon.’ The giant paused. ‘Though it’s a few years since I enjoyed the charms of this path.’
Five more tunic-clad men pushed out of the mist; all had round shields on their backs and swords at their belts. They trudged alongside a pair of black horses; each horse carried a man cloaked in red. Three brown-smocked labourers, pulling on the ropes of pack-ponies, took up the rear. The column wound beneath dripping alder trees until halted by a fallen monster.
Tom tried to work out who they were. He’d seen that green and white before – at the manor house. It meant power that cared naught for the likes of him – power that could seize a man and take him away. In these times it made sense to hug the ground and just watch.
The giant raised an arm. ‘A dead wind-throw. She’s hacked about like someone’s been at her for kindling – I did hear an axe.’ Tom shrank lower as the seamed face looked around. ‘But we need to get on. We’ll work our way around her. Dobson, see to it nobody tumbles into that root-pit.’
Tom squinted through the sodden ferns. The shattered roots of the ancient alder reared above the strangers’ heads like the antlers of stags entangled in combat. Then the mass groaned as the trunk settled deeper into the mire. A horse snorted and shied away, the rider cursing as he clung on. Tom flinched as the mount staggered sideways off the track and sank onto its forelegs in the ooze. With gasps and snorts it heaved free, pitching the rider from the saddle. A pair of full-fleshed buttocks thudded into the mud.
‘God damn you, nag!’ The man clambered to his feet. He glowered at his stained breeches then punched the horse on the neck. ‘Blast you! You and this bloody bog . . .’ The reedy voice choked into a squeak.
His lean companion looked down from the saddle. ‘Hold yourself together, York. After the ford we’ll be on ground more to your comfort, and just two hours from the mattress you crave.’
Tom wrapped one hand around the dog’s muzzle and stroked her neck with the other. He watched two bearded men grin at each other as they splashed forward to grab the horse’s bridle. One shoved a biscuit under its nose while the other calmed the shivering beast and held it for the rider to remount. Back in the saddle the barrel-shaped man, face as red as his cloak, wiped his brow then yelped, ‘My ring! It’s gone from my hand! It’ll be in the mud. Find it! I’ll give a reward.’
The dog’s muffled snort went unheard amid laughs as soldiers’ fingers grubbed among the rushes. The pack-ponies stood in a line with heads drooped as their drivers squatted to chew on crusts, indifferent to the pony-dung that thudded around them. As the mist condensed into drizzle the two gentlemen pulled down their hats and moved to the shelter of a tree on drier ground. With their backs against the trunk they drew out corks and sipped from flasks. Tom caught the searchers’ low banter:
‘Yon will have a sore arse, he hit the deck like a sack of cabbage.’
‘He went down more like that feather-bed wench at the inn last night, when she skidded on your slopped ale.’
‘Hast’ seen his cacky bum?’
‘Get on with it, Jones.’ The giant spat, then growled, ‘And have a care – if York hears thee mock him, he’ll not forget.’
‘It should fetch a bit of coin, eh, Sarge? What’s the reward?’
‘Knowing him – a piss-pot of sour ale,’ someone cackled.
‘We’ll have to see. Now shut your gob, Bentley! Get cracking or we’ll be sleeping in this muck.’
Taking a final sip before pushing the stopper back into his flask, the lean gentleman called out, ‘Sergeant! Stop all that, it’s far too late, if we don’t make Norton before dark, we sleep rough. In an hour the tide runs up river and we’ve yet to ford the Tees. Two men will return at dawn to search again.’
‘Aye, sir.’ The giant snapped a branch off the fallen tree, broke it twice across his knee, and pushed the bits upright into the mud. He rubbed his big palms together. ‘That’s marked the spot, now let’s get shifted.’

Through the tracery of twigs, Tom Fleck’s keen eyes had also marked the spot. A shower of heavy drops, from the leaf canopy overhead, began to drum against his leather skullcap and the shoulders of his battered jerkin, but he did not move. Midges were becoming lost in his young beard; he scratched at the itches but stayed crouched. When the last pony had faded into the gloom, he listened on. After a few minutes the agitated tew-tew . . . pity me . . . pity me . . . cries of the pair of sandpipers that nested on the riverbank told him the travellers had reached the ford.
At a snort from the dog he took his hand from around her jaws. ‘They’re away now, Meg – whoever they were. Stay hushed while we see what might be sniffed out yonder. Come on.’
He scanned the flattened bog plants mangled by boots and hooves, then the bruised earth, until he became aware of a hollow. Shaped by a beefy backside, he thought – so one stride away is where the rider’s hands would grab the ground to crawl back onto the track.
Stretching out an arm, he snapped his fingers. ‘Seek!’
The little black mongrel rushed to the spot, tail wagging in a blur. She circled a few times, nostrils sweeping the ground. She stopped, lifted a paw, stiffened her tail, pointed her nose close to the earth, and let out a whine.
‘Shift,’ he whispered and pushed her snout away to rake his fingers among the roots. They closed on a hard, round shape. He wiped the lump on his sleeve, held it up and saw a golden gleam. Trembling, he looked around, but the vague shape of a night screecher, perched on a high branch, made the sole witness. The owl bobbed its head a few times then launched on silent wings deeper into the trees.
He dropped the object into his skin bag, safe among the moss that wrapped a clutch of mallard eggs. The dog’s ears got a quick rub before he slipped the axe into his belt, picked up a bundle of firewood and heaved it across his shoulders.
‘Right, let’s away for our supper.’

The ground lifted in a gentle rise as the wetland faded. He pushed out of the sodden alder carrs and stopped in the meadow to breathe in air that was not loaded with rot. Through fading drizzle loomed a yellow glow that brightened in a shaft of weak sunlight. The glow sprang from the mass of gorse blossom on the slopes of Whinny Bank and gave the bearing for home.
He halted his stride through the buttercups to kick down a fresh molehill. He scattered the moist earth with one sweep of his clog. It did no good to let them harden; let them set and next thing there’s hummocks sprouting with thistles that cows wouldn’t put their noses near. Besides which, it was always worth seeing what black mouldy-warp had tossed out. Stooping, he flicked aside a few scraps of the usual red pot to pick out a round bit of metal. He gave it a rub with his thumb and saw the familiar faint outline of a horse. He would keep it with the other horse coins the little tunneller had shovelled up.
A line of five cows now straggled around him as they made their way home for milking. Tails swishing at flies, they sauntered along carefully, nursing the weight of full udders. The cattle gazed with soft eyes – they knew him well. One or two paused to spatter the track with cow-clap in a companionable manner. Meg trotted behind at a safe distance, herding the heels. He strode between the kine, happy to pull into his nostrils the warm belches of fermented grass.
He grimaced as he neared the cow byre, it looked like a broken-backed ship. Could he manage on his own? While he was fit, Dad had done his best with running repairs – but now . . . A lump came to his throat. Those walls were bulging – the wattle-and-daub giving way. The thatch should have had new reeds last year. That eastern end, leaning where the ground had gone soft with ages of cattle piss . . . It needed a good fettling. Only the thick back wall held the building together. Those long forgotten men had sense, building onto the wall of the ruined chapel. He stopped by the lean-to. Just this morning he’d patched it where the bull had smashed his head through. The auld lad got restless when he caught the scent of his cows ambling past twice a day.
Tom reached the middle of the byre’s front and pushed against the planks of the only door. The cracked leather hinges groaned. He stooped beneath the lintel with his load of firewood and ducked as a cluster of fledgling swallows flew to the opening. They fluttered around his head, then darted into the open air. Their parents swooped chortling from the byre’s sagging ridge in greeting. Once inside he turned to the right and set down his burden. The cattle followed, but turned to the left.
His clogs rustled through a layer of straw as he squeezed between a stack of buckets and a churn. On a barrel stood tinderbox and candles; his fingers worked fast with the flint and soon the wick’s flame melted a pit into the tallow lump. Tom carried the light behind a partition of woven hazel stems and knelt on the floor beside a pallet of hay. He drew back the corner of a sheepskin.
‘I’m home, sister. How are you feeling?’
In the candlelight, Hilda’s forehead gleamed like oyster shell.
‘Ah, Thomas. You’ve been out a long time. I’m not good. I’ve not been on my feet much today. Just rested here in a sort of dream, seeing Mam and Dad’s faces coming and going in them cobwebs fluttering under the thatch, and sometimes listening to the squabbles of the mice.’
Tom looked into the drawn features, framed by red hair studded with hayseeds. Beneath green eyes lay crescents of dark skin. His stomach tightened. She’s not combed through her locks today – them tangles are not like her.
‘Your belly still hurts?’
‘Aye, today it’s lower down. It nags at me all the time. Will you put your hands on me again, please?’
‘I’ll warm them first. Tell me when you’re ready.’ He cupped his hands around the candle flame and faced away from her so that she could roll back the bed-covers and pull up her shift.
‘I’m ready.’
She had draped her private places with the sheepskin. He saw only the rise and fall of the shallow dome of her stomach. Except for the pink of two flea bites, it had the colour of milk. She followed his movements as he clenched and unclenched his fingers before placing them on either side of her navel. She closed her eyes and he closed his own.
Murmuring, ‘Breathe easy and think good thoughts and I’ll do the same,’ he moved his hardened palms over her soft skin. ‘Is this where it hurts?’
He felt her become tense. ‘No, it’s further down.’ His hands slipped beneath the covering. She uttered a gasp, ‘Aye,’ she whispered, ‘just there . . . ah . . . ah . . .’
He concentrated on his palms and, holding them still, thought of how much he loved his sister.
She breathed out a sigh and he felt the hardness leave her stomach. The warmth of her flesh mingled with the coolness of his hands. He took his mind to the region around his heart. The comings and goings of their breath came together as though they were one.
Minutes later he murmured, ‘Is there summat you’ve not said?’
‘When the time comes,’ she whispered. ‘That’s helped. You can ease off.’
He covered her with the sheepskin. ‘You’ll be famished. I found a mallard’s nest; do you fancy a couple of duck eggs?’
‘Oh, I don’t know whether I could hold them down.’
He considered for a moment. ‘I’ll boil them, then mash them in a drop of hot milk and mix in some chopped sorrel-dock. You can shift them with a bit of bread and butter – how’s that sound?’
‘My mouth waters – by rights I should cook for you.’
‘Don’t fret on that. I’ll make supper once I’ve seen to the beasts. Meg will stay by you.’

The milking would take an hour. He washed and dried the udder of the first cow. Seated on a stool he rested his forehead against her warm flank and wrapped his fingers around just two of the four teats; the other two quarters were for her calf. He drew down the milk with a steady rhythm, first on one teat and then on the other. Squirt, splash, squirt, splash – the milk spurted into the wooden bucket. The smell of cow hair, mixed with the vapour of foaming milk, drifted around his face. After humming for a while, he sang in a lilting voice:

‘I cannot get to me lass
her freckles to see,
for the flood o’ the Tees
gans between her and me.

I maun wait on the moon
when the heron gans yem,
and the shiv’ring salmon
has done her last run.

When the watter o’ the wath
drains down to the sea,
then I’ll sharp gan across
and she’ll sit on me knee.

We’ll sing the words fluted
since Adam was born,
like the coo o’ the cushat
from yonder blackthorn.’

He sang to help the cows let down their milk and because his sister enjoyed his made-up songs. As the buckets filled, his mind wandered, sometimes back to the marsh, sometimes to imaginings of the future.
The cows waited meekly, in a row of stalls, with their heads swung towards the end of the byre where a group of tiny calves bawled. The calves spent their days confined when their mothers roamed the pasture. They now gathered, shoulder to shoulder, peeping with hungry eyes through the slats of their stall. After the milking, Tom unhooked a gate and they tottered out, each one to find and nuzzle its own mother’s teats.
Outside in the dusk, among softly fluttering moths, he fed and watered the bull in the lean-to. The beast snorted and nodded his great head.
‘Never mind, auld lad.’ He patted the hard brow. ‘Tha’ll be on grass tomorrow, for some of the girls are wanting thee.’
Back in the byre, he built up the fire in the chimney alcove.
‘Not much longer. I’m about to boil watter.’ He filled a blackened iron pot and hung it on a hook above the blaze. With the eggs unwrapped from their layers of moss he paused, took out his find and gave it a rub. Rotating the ring in the firelight to admire its gleam, he saw the engraving of a rose surmounted by a crown. Staring at the symbol he became lost in thought.
A creak came from the bed-place. ‘What’s happening in there, brother? Have the fairies got you? Apart from that cow with a bad cough it’s all gone quiet.’
‘Nowt’s happening. I’m just sat here, thinking.’
‘You take after Dad, he was always doing nowt – just thinking. What are you thinking on?’
‘Pictures keep coming into me head of a farm on dry ground; one that has a hollow spot with a patch of mere where snipe and plovers nest. It has good black kine, grass that talks in the breeze, and it’s all our own.’
‘Ah, if only the fairies could weave us a magic spell – ‘ She broke off to cough. ‘You’ve made that fire smoke and it’s getting on my chest.’ She coughed again, spat, then wheezed, ‘Tonight’s milking song was bonny – about crossing the wath to see a freckled lass – is it another one you’ve made up?’
‘It came today when I was chopping at the dropped alder. The words floated up in me mind, like bubbles in the duck pond. I’ll get the wise-woman to make a potion for that chest if it gets no better.’
The water simmered. Tom lowered five clay-coloured eggs into the pot and watched them sink. Rising from his squat he tiptoed to the centre of the back wall – the old chapel wall, double skinned and built of chiselled sandstone. He located the unmortared joint just above head height. The stone squeaked as he drew it out. His fingers groped inside the void until they closed around a skin bag. He opened it and dropped in the ring. It made a faint clink as it fell against another object. After pulling the drawstring tight he replaced the bag and eased the stone back into position.
Tom knelt once more to watch the eggs, remembering his mother’s words: ‘Boil them hard. You’ve to go canny with duck eggs – ducks are mucky feeders.’
After shelling two eggs he mashed them in milk and stirred in the chopped sorrel; the tang of it pricked at his nose. He arranged the food on a trencher board, into what he considered a pretty mound, then from a bucket ladled ale into a wooden bowl.
‘Food’s ready. Stay put, I’ll bring it through.’
He set the meal beside her and propped her up against a linen bag of feathers.
‘I can manage, brother!’ Her voice sharpened. ‘And that pillow needs burning – it’s alive and feeding off me.’
‘I’ll change the feathers tomorrow.’ He squatted on the floor to peel himself an egg.
‘Why did you go raking about behind the loose stone?’ she snapped.
‘Raking about?’ She’s hurting inside, he thought.
‘Yes, you rummaged in Dad’s secret place.’
‘There’s nowt wrong with your lugs today. It’s just summat I found that’s worth keeping hold of.’
She picked at the food, and sniffed. ‘So – what is it then? Aren’t you going to tell me?’
The words formed slow at first, then flooded out. As Hilda listened, she leaned back and frowned. Seeing her reaction, Tom faltered until the words dried up. Hilda straightened, narrowed her eyes and looked hard at him.
‘Brother – you’re daft! Think for a bit. If we try to sell it there’d be questions and we’ve no answers.’
‘It’s gold and might buy a cow or two. We could set up on our own instead of slaving at the beck and call of those hard buggers at the manor.’
‘I don’t like you using words like that, our Tom – Mother would never stand for it. You can’t sell that ring either – it’s a special one; we’d be found out and then what? That dreamy, duck-pond of a mind will get us hanged.’ Her green eyes flashed.
Tom’s mouth spread into a grin. ‘That’s better, it’s good to see a bit of spark and spit; you’re not bad looking with your freckles aquiver.’
She flicked egg at him from her spoon. ‘Now don’t you try to butter me up. I mean what I say. I’m older than you – you’re nowt but eighteen remember, and I’m not having you getting us into trouble.’
They ate in silence. From the corner of an eye Tom saw her hands tremble. She looked up from her trencher and glanced at him. ‘Tom . . . When will you wed?’
‘That’s a queer question. I’ve never given it a scrap o’ thought and I’ve no mind to. Why ask?’
‘It struck me today that I never want yoking to a man, though I can’t bide alone. If you do wed, maybe we could still shelter under the same roof.’
‘A dripping, crook-backed roof like this one, you mean? Scraping along beside the beasts, among the cow-clap and black-beetles?’
She fixed him with a desperate stare and struggled to speak. ‘Where else can we live? We can’t just wander the tracks from parish to parish. But I don’t want to stay here, not now Mam and Dad are gone.’ She let out a sobbing cough.
Tom stopped eating and moved to her side. He put his arms around his sister and felt the trembling of her thin shoulders. ‘Now, don’t fret. We will have our own spot. There’ll be apple and damson trees, with hens of all colours scratching about underneath. Mind – thou will have to tend them. Meg can have some pups and they’ll have white stars on their foreheads like her own. I see a milking nanny goat to build you up and you’ll have a cosy bedchamber – with a mirror of polished brass so you can see to comb through your bonny locks.’ He stooped to kiss the crown of her head.
She straightened up and hugged him. Then, pushing him away, she wiped her eyes with the back of her hands and giggled. ‘Have a care! I might hold you to that! Now eat your supper.’

After bolting the rest of his food he pulled on a tattered cape. ‘I’m off out for an hour. I’ve one or two things to see to. Meg – you stay here.’
He ducked out into the drizzle and hurried downhill towards a cottage a half-mile distant.


The story opens in a wooded marsh on the Yorkshire bank of the river Tees. The location is now buried beneath main roads and housing estates.

54 Responses to A Tudor Novel

  1. Pingback: Author Harry Nicholson on The 500th Anniversary of Flodden and more. | Chris The Story Reading Ape's New (to me) Authors Blog

  2. missrmjones says:

    Hi Harry

    I’ve just finished reading ‘Tom Fleck’ and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m a freelance writer and am researching an article on Flodden. I’ve been surprised by the relative scarcity of work which is dedicated to the battle, rather than mentioning it as part of a more general work. I’ve read Niall Barr’s ‘Flodden 1513’ and Peter Reese’s ‘Flodden: A Scottish Tragedy’, and found your fictionalisation of the place and time really evocative.

    I thinkbI’ve always really regarded Flodden from a Scottish perspective, but I’m particularly interested in what it all meant for the people of the North of England (and the people of Northumberland in particular), given that the ‘northern’ war was the one against the Scots, and the ‘southern’ war that against the French. The symbolism of that divide really fascinates me.

    Do you feel that the English rank and file at Flodden would have been conscious of a sense of it as being a war between the North of England and Scotland? The North of England had borne the brunt of Scottish reivers- I wonder whether they felt this was their battle by right?

    I’m also wondering to what extent you feel Flodden really changed things between 1513 and 1603?

    I’d love to get your views on this, if you’d be willing!

    Thank you for an excellent read!


    • Hello Rebecca,
      You raise interesting questions that take me back to some of the motivations I felt, motivations that drove the story and coloured it.
      I wanted to explore the social fabric and mind set of the broad underclass of northern England in the early 16thC. This was partly to better appreciate the lives of ordinary inhabitants prior to the beginning of Parish Registers (Circa 1566) – my family roots are largely Durham County and Northumberland back to late Tudor times.
      We have hardly any sources for those people prior to 1566, what sources we have are of people of significance, landed families and aristocracy.
      For the background to the characters in ‘Tom Fleck’, I kept in mind:

      1. The Anglian kingdom of Northumbria ran up the east coast from the Humber as far as the Firth of Forth. The Anglian settlers overlaid two main tribes of Britons, the Parisii and the Brigantes. Later Danish intrusion and settlement was mainly Yorkshire. Durham, Northumberland, and the Scottish Borders east of the Cheviots remained essentially Anglian (the northern division of the Anglo-Saxons). In view of this:
      2. The people of Durham, Northumberland, and the mid and eastern Scottish Borders as far as the Forth derive from a common culture and language. Archaic words (many still used) in NE English are frequent in modern Scots. Both sides of the border once had a common culture and language.
      3. The boundary we find in Tudor times is almost identical to today’s, but earlier it was fluid (for a short period after the Norman conquest the realm of Scotland extended to the Tees and so included Durham and Northumberland).
      4. The modern border was fixed by Norman/English and Norman/Scottish monarchs. That frontier cut through an Anglian population, divided it, caused language drift, and fostered antipathy.
      5. International conflict was initiated and managed by the descendants of Norman overlords (with at least the exception of the Bulmer family, who were Anglo-Saxon survivors). The foot soldiers on both sides were largely of common Anglian or British descent, with a stiffening of Dane. These people had to follow their master’s bidding.
      6. The border raiders, the rievers: This activity for profit was often based on clan rivalry rather than international ill-will. Families on both sides of the Tweed recognised each other as relatives, banded together and made joint raids on other clan families on either side of the border. Their loyalty was to each other as much as their respective monarchs.
      Of course, Tom Fleck and his compatriots would not have carried these ideas around with them. My hypothesis is that the cultural weight of their history would still be with them and colour their attitudes – how can we know for sure? But ‘Tom Fleck’ can only be a work of fiction supported by the scaffolding of recorded history.

      Now your question:
      ‘Do you feel that the English rank and file at Flodden would have been conscious of a sense of it as being a war between the North of England and Scotland? The North of England had borne the brunt of Scottish reivers- I wonder whether they felt this was their battle by right?’

      Yes, I suppose, on balance I do feel that. The Borderlands were maintained as a lawless buffer state for the convenience of the heads of state. By the time of Flodden, it had become an ‘us and them’ war with hatred on both sides, a hatred fostered by the overlords. Henry VIII was in France with the Holy League campaign; he took the army of the south with him and left the northern counties to hold off the Scots. Even though the need to drive back the Scots would have been urgently felt – I try to remember not to live in the mind-set of the usurping baron, and landed yeoman (all well recorded), but try to keep hold of the consciousness of the landless Anglian labourer ordered to the frontier to hack at men of similar life experience. The northern English peasant probably was more akin to his Lowland Scots neighbour than he was to his south England equivalent.

      Your other question:
      ‘I’m also wondering to what extent you feel Flodden really changed things between 1513 and 1603?’

      Ill-will and distrust can only have deepened between the day of Flodden and the union of the crowns – raiding and skirmishes increased. Beyond that, the Flodden damage to Scottish pride and self-esteem, the awful tragedy of it and its foolhardy failed ambition have made deep marks. Scots seem to be still partisan and energised, and maybe hurting, over Flodden, whereas the English seem quite disinterested or hardly conscious of it.

      Henry VIII seems to have played it down, did not celebrate – his French adventure could not equal the fame earned by Surrey – he might have been a rather jealous.

      Well, Rebecca, somewhere in that lot – have I addressed your questions?

      • missrmjones says:

        Harry, that’s really great insight. I really invest in the idea that a northern English foot soldier had at least as much (or perhaps more) in common with his Scottish counterparts than with his southern compatriots. I’m also interested in your mention of Henry VIII and his reaction. Considering his Henry V complex, the relative inconsequence of the Battle of the Spurs in comparison with Flodden would surely have jarred? I also wonder how the people of northern England felt about 1603 and what that meant to them- and whether feelings again differed between northern and southern Englishmen.

        Thank you again- I would very much like to quote you in my article if I may?

    • Please feel free to quote, Rebecca. I’ve replied by email.

  3. bonsai eejit says:

    Hi Harry,

    What can I say? I just finished Tom Fleck on my kindle. An excellent historical novel than has a real feel good vibe to it. So easy to get wrapped up the the main characters. I’ll be telling a few of my reading friends to look for it on Amazon.

    Only one question, Did Riley go back to Antrim and start the piggery or did he have to make do with that cave ? I’m always concerned about the outcome of the Irish, especially an Ulster man 🙂

    Any plans for the next novel?



    • Hello Ian. I’m delighted by your response to the story – thank you.
      I’m considering a sequel that might occur 23 years later (1536 – the year of The Pilgrimage of Grace) so I’d be hard pressed to find a place for Riley; we can imagine that he is nicely settled back in a cosy home in Antrim.

  4. oleester says:

    Goodreads reviews drew me to buy a copy at smashwords. I’m Asian ready to brave your English and dive into Tom Fleck’s adventure.

    • Hello, Olee. I’m enchanted by your response to ‘Tom Fleck’. Some of the dialogue is lightly spiced with turns of phrase that are regional to North-East England but I think they will be comprehensible within their context. If there is anything that remains a mystery, please leave a question on my blog ‘Tom Fleck’ page.
      I’ll be very interested to know how you get on.
      Harry Nicholson

  5. Effortlessly atmospheric. A great introduction that has awoken within me a thirst for more.

  6. Ina says:

    This is a wonderfull beginning of your novel 🙂

  7. I love the excerpt, love the 15th century. I’ll have to see if I can still get this for my Kindle at Amazon. I’d love to read it.

    Congratulations on the book, and much continued success.

  8. Hi Harry, this looks great. Would you like to feature it on my historical fiction blog, Royalty Free Fiction ? I can’t find anywhere on your blog where I can contact you, but you can find my email address on any of my sites.

  9. Pingback: Guest Post with Harry Nicholson: Tom Fleck | Angel Haze

  10. Pat Cegan says:

    Ok, I am hooked with the excerpt. Thank goodness for my Kindle as getting a book in Brazil jungles is not easy. Looking forward to reading the whole story. Congratulations on the whole project. Hugs, pat

    • Hi Pat. I had not realised you are in Brazil – how wonderful! There will be orchids growing from real trees and there will be mazarine butterflies.
      The eBook has only been in existence three weeks. You would be the first to download it outside of the UK . . . I’m delighted.

  11. rebecca says:

    This is quite an interesting excerpt from the novel and I settled into the story rather quickly and wanted to continue reading even after it ended.

    • Hello, Rebecca
      You might be the first visitor from California.
      I’m cheered that the story drew you in. Should you wish to read further and have a Kindle – it has recently appeared on the Amazon.com list.

  12. Pingback: Books: Tom Fleck | mangetout and other stories

  13. Pingback: Reading: a few thoughts | mangetout and other stories

  14. Dridhamati says:

    Hi Druvasimha,
    Looking forward to reading it. Rud tells me it’s a good yarn and I like historical novels.
    Hope you and Ratnamahi are well.
    All the best,

    • How good to hear from you, Dridhamati. You were fortunate to be visiting the North Island and not to be in Christchurch a few days ago! I’m pleased I took your advice about starting a blog instead of a website – I’m enjoying this. But I must soon get out into the garden before it becomes a complete wildlife park.
      Ratnamayi and I have come through the Winter bug attacks with enhanced immune systems – I hope.

  15. vivinfrance says:

    I’ve echoed Tilly’s advice, and posted a review on Amazon. I reckon you’ll be sold out by the end of the week.

    • You are gorgeous, Viv! Your review popped up while I was messing about on my Amazon Author’s Page.
      The way my boxes are emptying I may need another hundred. But it can never go out of print in the normal way. It is print on demand, so Amazon hold a tiny stock and order the factory to print more based on demand. All by digital magic!
      Waterstones etc are not holding stock as yet – but will supply via POD.
      Amazon.com in the USA seems to have a small stock and they can POD the book in the States.
      Incidentally there are no reviews yet on the Amazon.com site, or the Amazon.eu site(German and French). Do you fancy trying to paste your review onto those? They might not allow it – but it would be interesting to try.

    • vivinfrance says:

      Harry, it’s arrived, and it’s gorgeous, and I’m blushing and filling up at your acknowledgement. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou etc ad infinitum.
      PS I’ve put a heads up on the First Class OUSA writers forum.

      • I’m pleased that I can still cause a lady to blush; perhaps I should get out more. I’m pleased too that the cover design has such a response – looking at the usual covers for historical novels, exposed bosoms, bloody axes, Spartan helmets and suchlike, Tom Fleck’s cover is a bit unusual.

        I’ve lost contact with the OU site – I will try to reconnect somehow.
        But thanks for posting a ‘heads up’ – though I’m puzzled as to what that might be.

      • vivinfrance says:

        This is a heads up: Vivienne Blake writes:

        Harry Nicholson – whom many of you may remember from A215 days – has published his marvellous novel Tom Fleck (which started life as 1513 during his OU days). The signed copy looks magnificent, with one of Harry’s paintings on the cover.


        Ordered a copy. He’s also got a short story in YouWriteOn’s bestseller chart right now – I remember that story – fascinating to see YouWriteOn at work for a friend! Michael was looking into YouWriteOn too, have you heard from him?


      • I’m just back from the Robin Hood’s Bay painting group (I had a go at painting Ksitigarbha from memory while thinking about how to answer your question on who he is). Then switch on and find three posts from you.

        It is superb what you have posted on the OU site, Viv – and the responses! I realise now how much I miss it.

        I had no idea that Livia visited YouWriteOn. The short story has only recently made the best sellers list. It will probably go into Egton Writers next anthology.
        And Mike too! I’ll try to find him.

        Many thanks for taking up Tom’s standard, Viv.

  16. Pingback: Buy The Book (1) « The Laughing Housewife

    • That is heartwarming, Tillybud-Linda. You have lifted my spirits as much as Whitby bookshop did when they took some copies from me this morning. The bookshp owner believes in promoting local writers – her surname is Keats.
      Your copy went in the post yesterday. Tom Fleck has not had a review posted on Amazon, or anywhere else yet. What you have written would be a splendid start – should you fancy doing that.

  17. Thanks for the heads up on YouWriteOn, Harry. I’ll definitely be checking it out. I appreciate you taking the time to tell me about it. Thank you.


    • It is a uk site – but there are lots there from North America.
      I write under the name ‘Sarsen’.
      There are good, sound people on that site – with a sprinkling of dotty ones to add interest.

  18. Hi Harry,

    I just read the excerpt of Tom Fleck. I wanted to know what happens next; the sign of a good writer.

    I went on Amazon and ordered a copy. Unfortunately, as I now live on a rock in the middle of the ocean, lol, I probably won’t receive my copy until the middle of March. I kid you not. I’m looking forward to reading it though. 🙂

    Well done on getting the novel published, Harry. I hope to get mine out sometime this year. That’s the goal anyway.

    Best Wishes,


    • Hello Paul, that is heartening to hear. Now, I’m curious to know the nature of the novel you are writing.

      • Hi Harry,

        It’s a detective novel, set in and around Bolsover. The working title is ‘King of the Castle’. Not sure if that will be the actual title but it’s the one stuck in my head. lol

      • Hello, Paul,
        I can recommend the site YouWriteOn: http://youwriteon.com/
        You can post up to the first 7k words and have it reviewed by peer writers once you have done a review yourself. If it does well it can earn a review from Random House or Orion – and might get taken up by them. It costs nothing and is a great stimulus. My novel was on that site and is published through them.

  19. Thanks, Janet. It was lovely that you and George risked the sleet to visit us today. We are still enjoying the fire I lit in your honour.

  20. john Morgan says:

    Hi Harry send me your email address i have made a little slide show to music of your picts.
    This is made by the Spirit of Hilda !
    cheers John Ps blue leader has seen your site now.
    great picts book sounds interesting Hilda cant wait

    • Blue Leader! That name takes me back to places beset by midges and rain. Ah youth and good ale! Pipes and darts and friends. Pitching tents in the House of Elrond. Sharing rum in a survival bag – and no breakfast, ‘cos Blue Leader had gone off with the food. Aye, aye . . .

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