Jacey Bedford, Author of the Rowankind Series

By Carl Slaughter: DAW fantasy author Jacey Bedford continues her Rowankind magic/alternate history series with Silverwolf, released January 3 by DAW.


Jacey Bedford is a British writer from Yorkshire with over thirty short stories and four (so far) novels to her credit. She lives behind a desk in an old stone house on the edge of the Pennines with her husband and a long-haired, black German Shepherd – that’s a dog not an actual shepherd from Germany. She’s the hon. sec. of Milford SF Writers’ Conference, held annually in North Wales.


CARL SLAUGHTER: First, let’s talk about the protagonist. What type of relationships does she have?

JACEY BEDFORD: Silverwolf is the second in the Rowankind series. Rossalinde (Ross) Tremayne is the main character in the first book (Winterwood), and she’s also the narrator in the second. The other protagonist is Corwen Deverell. In Silverwolf he gets a family and a history.

By the time we get to Silverwolf, Ross and Corwen are deeply committed to each other, though it was a rocky start since (in Winterwood) the ghost of Ross’ first husband, Will Tremayne was still hanging around and Ross wasn’t ready to let him go.

Ross had a poor relationship with her mother and younger brother, especially after her father died at sea. She thought her mother didn’t understand her, but later (when it was too late) discovered that her mother probably understood her too well. Discovering that she had a half-brother, David, and then that her mother’s sister, Aunt Rosie, was still alive gave Ross a welcome second chance at having a family.

Her relationship with her ship’s crew—barely reformed pirates, the lot of them—is close. She treats them like the family that she didn’t have growing up. Hookey Garrity, for all his rough, piratical ways, is like a big brother; Mr. Sharpner, a hugely knowledgable sailing master, is like a wise uncle, and Daniel Rafiq, an ex-slave educated for a high position in an Eastern potentate’s household, is like a cultured cousin.

CS: What type of personality/temperament?

JB: Ross first. She’s independent and intelligent with a hard edge when she needs one. She’s loyal to her crew and to her friends. She’s got a sense of decency and fair play and thinks hard about consequences. She’s not going to let an innocent get hurt if she can help it, but for all that, she’s got a practical streak. And don’t forget she captained a privateer vessel for three years. She’s not soft.

Corwen’s physically fit and quick-witted, but he’s also got a sense of humour and can be prone to teasing. He’s a man who tries to do the right thing, sometimes putting himself in harm’s way because of that.

CS: What about her character. What’s her moral compass?

JB: When Winterwood opens, Ross is the captain of a privateer vessel—essentially a legal pirate as far as the British are concerned, but simply a pirate in the eyes of the French. Thanks to her late husband, Will Tremayne, the Heart of Oak has a fearsome reputation. Ross would rather rely on that reputation and intimidate enemy vessels into giving up without a fight. She’s not unnecessarily cruel, but if they want a fight then she’ll give them one, and that means deaths on both sides. She’s not afraid to strap on a pair of pistols and board an enemy vessel in a skirmish. By the time Winterwood ends, she’s realised that the pirating game is not for her, but she keeps the ship, setting up Hookey as captain, and still takes her owner’s share. I suppose that makes her morally ambiguous. When faced with a problem she’ll meet it head on and if the only solution is physical action, she’ll not shirk the necessity.

CS: Natural abilities and paranormal abilities?

JB: When she first ran away to sea with Will Tremayne Ross was barely eighteen years old and had led a pretty sheltered life in the family home in Plymouth. Her mother was trying to make her into an elegant young lady who would attract a good husband. Ross ran away with Will and her life changed in an instant. Will taught her how to dress as a boy and become a sailor by day, and how to be a woman by night. She can fight with sword or pistols and shin up the rigging. After Will’s death she took over as ship’s captain.

Her magical abilities are very specific. Ross is a witch, but that doesn’t mean she has wand-waving, spellworking power to get her out of all scrapes. She’s a weather-worker, with control over wind and water. She can create light, but has to work very hard to turn that light into heat. She’s also inherited the family ability to summon. This means she can mostly summon spirits of the dead, but if she’s very close to someone or something she can call them to her. She can always call the Heart of Oak to her, mainly because of the sliver of ensorcelled winterwood laid into the sip’s keel.

Corwen is a wolf shapechanger. He’s very quick to point out that he’s not a werewolf and he’s not moon-called. He can change from man to beast and back again in the blink of an eye. He doesn’t have any magical powers as such, but the Lady imbued him with the minor ability to create illusions. Like all magical creatures he can see spirits, though can’t summon them himself.

CS: She’s got more than one person/organization opposing her. Who are the antagonists, what do they want and why, and how do their actions affect her actions?

Her main opposition—because it’s the main opposition to all unregistered witches in Britain—is the Mysterium. It’s a government organization which enforces the protocols governing the use of magic. Anyone showing magical talent must register by their eighteenth year and submit to the regulations, which tend to allow small magics, but not big ones. Anyone not registering will hang if caught.

Separate to, and above the Mysterium is also a position that has existed since the days of the first Queen Elizabeth’s Sir Francis Walsingham, her spymaster. As well as spies, Sir Francis was also concerned with magic. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot of Winterwood, but in the intervening two hundred years there has been a small and secret government department concerned with greater magics.

CS: What’s the fantasy premise?

JB: Britain in 1800 with magic. Winterwood: A cross-dressing female privateer captain (who is also a weatherworking witch) who has inherited a half-brother she didn’t know she had and a task she doesn’t want. Silverwolf: Ross and Corwen trying to deal with the aftermath of what happened in Winterwood. Expect magical creatures, more from the Fae, the Mysterium getting tough(er), family problems, and a spanner in the works of the Industrial Revolution.

CS: This series is also alternate history. What’s the setting?

JB: Something happened in 1588 which brought the magical world closer to the non-magical. If you know your British history, you can take a guess at what that might be. It’s now Britain in 1800 – 1801. The British and the French are at War. Napoleon Bonaparte is hammering at the door. The Americans have gained their independence. Mad King George III is on the British throne. The Industrial Revolution is underway, but it’s still early. There are steam pumping engines, but the railways are almost 30 years in the future. It’s still the era of the stagecoach and the canal.

CS: In Silverwolf, there’s a lot more characters than in Winterwood and a lot more turmoil. Who’s doing what to whom and why?

JB: Ross and Corwen are hoping for some happy-ever-after time together, but it turns out that there are consequences to what happened in Winterwood. Magical creatures—the like of which have not been seen for centuries—are once more roaming the land. The gentle rowankind, long a source of free labour, have regained their magic. Some have gone through the gates into Iaru, the home of the Fae, others have determined that they should make a home for themselves in Britain as free rowankind.

Corwen is called back to Yorkshire to sort out some family trouble (so we meet all of Corwen’s family at last.) The family woolen mill, largely run with rowankind labour, is in trouble (exacerbated by a little local interference). Corwen has to negotiate with the rowankind, and then Ross and Corwen have to protect the mill’s rowankind from the Mysterium, which has suddenly woken up to the fact that the rowankind now have wind and water magic. In the meantime Corwen’s twin brother Freddie has skipped out on his responsibilities, but when Ross and Corwen track him down to London they discover an even bigger plot against the rowankind and other magical creatures. Turmoil pretty well describes it, but Ross and Corwen have to sort it all out and concentrate on what’s important.

CS: The action in the first novel is at sea. In the first sequel, the protagonist and her partner go ashore. How well does she function out of her element?

JB: Ross is adaptable, and she has Corwen to help her. She’s been at sea for seven years, but before that she grew up ashore. Her magic is natural magic from the forests, so it’s always been stronger on land than at sea. This suited Ross at first because she was uncomfortable with her own magic and being at sea damped it down, but now that she’s more at ease with herself, being on land helps. She misses her seagoing family, though, so it’s a good job they turn up in the book and make themselves useful. There’s still a fair bit of sailing in Silverwolf, too.

CS: Give us a peek at the final story in the series.

JB: Most of it is still in my head, but Ross and Corwen have an obligation to the Fae to protect the rowankind, and they can only do that by making a deal with King and Parliament. That’s not going to be easy, of course. Having magical creatures in the workforce could also derail the Industrial Revolution. For instance why would you need to invent gas lighting if you could light streets and buildings by magic? Why invent steamships if a weather witch can power a sailing ship?

Corwen’s brother, Freddie is an ongoing problem which they will have to solve.

An unexpected peace between England and France in 1802 (Treaty of Amiens) curtails the Heart of Oak’s privateering. Also, if the French and English exchange prisoners during the peace there’s every chance that Ross’ old enemy Walsingham will reappear.

There will also be a shock for Ross when she discovers that bad-boy pirate, Gentleman Jim, her one-time lover, didn’t die in the big conflagration in Winterwood. There’s lots of unfinished business to wrap up. I’m looking forward to writing it.

CS: What other projects do you have in the works, especially DAW projects?

JB: I’m currently writing Nimbus, the third book in the Psi-Tech series. This will complete Cara and Ben’s current story arc and round off the trilogy. It’s due for publication in October. Empire of Dust and Crossways are the first two books in the trilogy.

CS: Will we be able to catch up with you at a convention?

JB: I’m in the UK, so most of the cons I attend are there. I’m always at Eastercon which (surprise) is always at Easter, but rarely in the same place. This year it’s in Birmingham (and next year in Harrogate). I always like to attend Fantasycon, too. That’s the British Fantasycon which usually happens late in September. Both cons are heavily into literature. There are a couple of smaller conventions I like to attend if possible and that’s Bristolcon (28th October 2017 in Bristol) and Novacon (10th – 12th November 2017 in Nottingham). Of course 2017 is also the year of the Helsinki Worldcon in August, so I’ve already signed up for that, and I’m hoping to take a side-trip to Tallinn in Estonia (just 2 hours from Helsinki by ferry) because I have a book on a back burner which is set in a version of the Baltic States in around 1650. That’s not under contract yet, so watch out for news.

Thanks for having me drop by for an interview, Carl. As ever your questions are insightful and interesting to answer.

DAW GIVEAWAY

DAW will give a couple of copies of Jacey Bedford’s novels to a Filer — the winner to be randomly selected from those who e-mail me at mikeglyer@cs.com with “Bedford Books” in the subject header by February 6.

JACEY’S BOOKS

Psi-Tech Series

  • Empire of Dust (Psi-Tech series #1)

  • Crossways (Psi-Tech series #2)

  • Nimbus (Psi-Tech series #3) Due October 2017

Rowankind Series

Winterwood (Rowankind #1)

Silverwolf (Rowankind #2)

JACEY ON SOCIAL MEDIA

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