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Who are you?
I'm a UK writer living in East Anglia. I've worked as a freelance feature writer and magazine editor, and have had writing jobs in television and radio. My current job has a less formal focus on writing, so to scratch the itch I began to write fiction in my spare time.
I've had a number of non-fiction books and humour titles that have been traditionally published, but I now self-publish fiction under my own imprint - Ketingas Press. You can find out more below...
Why the two names ‘S. J. Arnott’ and ‘Stephen Arnott’?
It’s to differentiate between my different writing styles. S. J. Arnott is the name I use for my Dark Age fiction; Stephen Arnott is the name I used on my factual and humour titles, such as The Writers' Guide and Jack Bleacher.
Are you self- or traditionally-published?
Where did you get the ideas for the Leofric stories?
The first rule of fiction is to write something you’d enjoy reading yourself. I really like the work of historical fiction authors such as Robert Graves, Patrick O’Brian and Bernard Cornwell, and when I was looking around for a new project I quickly decided to do a historical adventure novel set in Britain. I eventually settled on the Dark Ages (now usually called the Early Middle Ages) as a period to write about. Originally I was going to write about the early Saxon conquests of southern England, then became interested in the settlement of the Angles on the east coast (modern East Anglia). In the end I decided to take the story back over the sea to Angeln on the Jutland Peninsular. Very little is known of the Angles, and I don't know of anyone else who’s written about them. You can find out more about Leofric here.
Why did you write The Writers’ Guide?
This was originally the idea of a teacher friend of mine. She thought that a 'how to' book that covered all writing styles, aimed at a teenage audience would be popular. Unfortunately, when I tried selling the idea I discovered that the main buyers of 'how to' writing books are upwards of 25. I did a complete re-write for an adult audience, but still couldn’t get any interest - it turned out that publishers would rather sell a prospective author half-a-dozen writing titles, rather than just one that gave them a taste of everything. The book sat on my hard-drive for a few years before I decided to self-publish. I rewrote, updated and expanded the text and bought it out in 2013. You can find out more about The Writers' Guide here.
How did the Covent Garden Ladies transcripts come about?
I came across Harris’s Lists of Covent Garden Ladies when I was researching a book for Random House (Sex: a User’s Guide). I thought that extracts from the Lists would make fascinating reading for a modern audience and transcribed two editions of the Lists in preparation for a book. However, someone else got there before me. A week before I was going to submit my manuscript, Hallie Rubenhold published her book ‘Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies – sex in the city in Georgian Britain’. So that was that. A couple of years ago I decided I might as well as make something from the work I’d put into the project (when I started the project, one of the Lists had been available only as an original in the British Library) and both the transcripts are now available as annotated ebooks. You can find out more about the Lists here.
Are you funded by a sinister multinational business consortium?
Why, yes. Yes, I am. How did you know that?
Actually, I probably shouldn’t have admitted that so quickly.
Since the cat’s out of the bag, you might as well visit my sponsors here.