Surprisingly up-to-date themes of the morality of warfare, abuse of power and fundamental religion are at the heart of a new book by prize-winning Laughton author, Richard Masefield.
But this is far from a modern novel - it is set in the time of King Richard the First’s crusade to win back Jerusalem from the Saracens. There are also scenes set in Lewes. In spite of its adult and thought-provoking theme, at the book’s heart is a passionate love story involving a young man’s painful journey to self-realisation and a woman’s battle for justice in a brutal man’s world.
The White Cross (published by Red Door) uses coloured ink in the text to represent the stream of consciousness of the central female character. Richard said: “Direct speech in the present tense is a deep red colour with the intention of giving a feeling of time. The idea cames with the novel. I have been setting it out for some time and I thought it needed something a bit different to give it a lift.”
Literature is in Richard’s genes. Former Poet Laureate John Masefield was a cousin and celebrated war poet Charles Masefield was his great uncle.
Richard combines being a wordsmith with farming. He explained: “When you are working physically it is a very good time to be creative.”
And he quotes John Masefield who advised him to write a thought down while it occurs, ‘never wait until you get back to the desk.’
The White Cross is out now priced £10 - ISBN 987-0-9928520-8-8. Good bookshops, Amazon and Kindle.
Richard Masefield started writing seriously when he started farming.
When the money went out of milking he wrote his first novel, Chalkhill Blue, which was fiction winner of The Yorkshire Post’s Best First Work award.
The White Cross is his fourth novel and is described by publishers as ‘an entirely new reading experience.’
He says he put some of the ideas for it down on paper towels when he was doing the milking.
His first three novels were written in the 1980s and 1990s and include a smuggling story, Brimstone and one about Regency Brighton called Painted Lady.
New editions have been released this year as they are now available digitally for the first time.
He finds the creative process painful ‘because you are never satisfied.’