J. A. Ironside grew up in a house full of books in rural Dorset. She loves speculative fiction of all stripes, especially fantasy and science fiction, although when it comes to the written word, she's not choosy and will read almost anything. It would be fair to say that she starts to go a bit peculiar if she doesn't get through at least three books a week.
She mostly writes fantasy and sci-fi. Often this leans toward the dark fantastic or dystopian forms of fiction. Occasionally there's some outright horror. Her passion for all things dark and dystopian stems from the fact that these narrative vehicles bring out the very best and absolute worst in people. She finds it endlessly fascinating to explore what it means to be human by—figuratively—putting her characters' backs to the wall. Often they'll even surprise her with the lengths they'll go to to achieve their goals.
As a keen martial artist, Jules has studied several disciplines but is most accomplished in Goju-ryu karate, which she has studied and taught for over twenty years. Her favorite things include books (obviously), slippers, cheese, and surreal conversations.
She lives in Gloucestershire, on the edge of the Cotswold way, with her boyfriend-creature and a small black and white cat, both of whom share a God complex. Her first book, paranormal mystery novel I Belong to the Earth, was published by Illusio & Baqer in May 2015.
For more information on Jules Ironside, please visit her website, A Perfect Dystopia .
Matthew Willis is stuck in the past, and likes to drag people back there for company. Fortunately, the past is a foreign country where very cheap short breaks are available. He occasionally breaks into fantasy and science fiction, stopping only to argue with people on Twitter about what actually constitutes science fiction. He lives in Southampton, roughly equidistant from the Titanic's former dock and the airfield where the Spitfire first flew, sharing a Blitz-damaged house with his university lecturer wife Rosalind and an imaginary zebra. For some reason, finding inspiration in history is rarely a problem.
Matt was born in the historic naval town of Harwich, Essex, in 1976 and grew up in a nearby village, never far from the sea. Matthew studied literature and history of science at the University of Kent, focusing on Joseph Conrad for his MA, and sailed for the university in national competitions where he didn't always finish last. He subsequently worked as a journalist for Autosport and F1 Racing magazines, and he has written for Aeroplane, Flypast, and The Aviation Historian in addition to maintaining the blog Naval Air History.
Matt's first novel, the historical nautical fantasy Daedalus and the Deep, was published in 2013. His first nonfiction book, on an obscure World War II aircraft, was published in 2007.
For more information on Matthew Willis, please visit his website, Air and Sea Stories.
Matt and Jules met via the Writers' Workshop Word Cloud community and began collaborating via the Random and Speculative Short Story Appreciation group set up by Jules in 2012. The pair were well into producing an anthology of short stories before it occurred to either of them that they were actually collaborating as writers. With a shrug at this revelation, they both got on with things.
Matt does a pretty good job of reining Jules in when she might introduce fantastical elements to a nonspeculative piece of fiction. In return, Jules attempts to stop Matt from disappearing so far into historical detail that no one else can follow him. Matt also carries spare commas as Jules never seems to have enough of her own.
The Oath and Crown duology came about when Matt made a half-joking comment on collaboratively writing historical fiction set around the Battle of Hastings. Jules realized this was a joke when they were each around 40,000 words in, and it seemed silly to stop then. A lot of the inspiration came from a desire to see both sides of the conflict through the eyes of real people. The mindset of the Normans was completely different from that of the Saxons, which left Matt and Jules with the fascinating quandary of exactly how you could make the two sides understand each other, and exactly how misunderstandings (deliberate or unintentional) might be exploited. After much discussion (the idea of genetically modified dinosaurs turning up at key battles was abandoned, for instance) the result gave rise to what Jules believes to be one of the most unusual friendship-enmities in historical fiction.
All of Matt and Jules' writing was done via email, trading chapters back and forth, and gradually calling forth order out of chaos—something they have learned through their previous collaborative efforts. To date, they have co-edited two anthologies of short stories—A Seeming Glass: A Collection of Reflected Tales in 2014 and Something Rich and Strange: The Past is Prologue in 2015.
The Oath and Crown Duology:
: An Argument of Blood, Book 1 of The Oath and Crown. William, the nineteen-year-old duke of Normandy, is enjoying the full fruits of his station. Life is a succession of hunts, feasts, and revels, with little attention paid to the welfare of his vassals. Tired of the young duke's dissolute behavior and ashamed of his illegitimate birth, a group of traitorous barons force their way into his castle. While William survives their assassination attempt, his days of leisure are over. He'll need help from the king of France to secure his dukedom from the rebels.On the other side of the English Channel lives ten-year-old AElfgifa, the malformed and unwanted youngest sister to the Anglo-Saxon king Harold Godwinson. AElfgifa discovers powerful rivalries in the heart of the state when her sister Ealdgyth is given in a political marriage to King Edward, and she finds herself caught up in intrigues and political maneuvering as powerful men vie for influence. Her path will collide with William's, and both must fight to shape the future.
“I thoroughly enjoyed it! The brutal and deadly world of medieval Normandy is wonderfully depicted.” — Jemahl Evans, author of The Last Roundhead