Today, RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR, the first book of my new trilogy, is scheduled to hit the shelves. Set on the Scottish-English Borders in the early Tudor era, it was actually inspired by the story of an execution of a famous Border Reiver.
|Johnnie's Gilnockie Tower, with reivers returning from a raid.|
He offered the king all manner of gifts, including “four and twenty milk white steeds” if he were spared. His final offer was that the king should receive yearly rent, more accurately, the “blackmail” from all dwellers in the area of the Borders where Johnnie held sway, from “Gilnockie to Newcastleton.”
The king had no sympathy and was not open to a bribe.
Facing death, Johnnie made an impassioned speech, claiming he had never harmed a Scot, but only the English. The truth of this claim might be open to dispute. To the local people he had preyed upon, Johnnie’s death might have been a welcome relief. Indeed, a few years after, Sir David Lindsay, King James’ in house playwright, made mention of it in one of his productions.
But it is also hard to summon sympathy for the king in the ballad, so deceitful that he tricks his subject into a trap. The song also suggests the king was jealous of Johnnie’s fine clothes, another less than admirable trait, and perhaps even his title of “King of the Border.”
I wanted to rewrite the story. I wanted Johnnie Armstrong to have a happy ending.
And so began the story of the Brunson Clan.
I’ll be talking about that more, and sharing an excerpt, November 1 and 4.