All Four Robin Hood Books – One week sale for under £4/$4 on Kindle

You can get all four books in my Chronicles of Robin Hood series for under four pounds/dollars for this week only on Kindle – and if you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle App free for your smartphone.

The books are also available in paperback.

My series takes the Robin Hood legend back to its medieval roots and is based on the latest research on the medieval outlaw. Each book includes an historical note linking the fiction to the reality.

This is a one week offer only, expiring next Thursday night.

So do click on the link below to buy all of them or any titles missing from your collection.

Naming Book Characters

Preparing the new William Quest novel for publication next month, I’ve been thinking about how I come up with names for characters.

It’s not always easy.

In the new Quest novel I’ve had one character who is very important to the story. I gave him a name I quite liked and was nearly at the end of the book when it dawned on me that it was terribly similar to the name of a well-known personality.

So I had to do a rapid renaming session during the revising of the manuscript.

People often ask where character names come from?

Well, from all sorts of places.

I like walking around graveyards, and they’ve provided several names over the years.

I also use family names quite a lot – and there is a sampling in several of my series.

I had ancestors with the surname Stanton. Hence Billy Stanton in my 1930s thriller Balmoral Kill, and Rosa Stanton in the Quest novels, set in the 1850s. (In moments of mad imagination, and not very seriously, I like to think that Billy is a descendant of Rosa.) William Quest himself was, in my original notes, going to be called Edward Stanton – but I didn’t think it had much of a ring to it.

William Quest has no links to anyone, though I did see a Quest on a gravestone once.

The only character who is definitely named after a real person is Josef Critzman, of the Quest novels. Josef Critzman was a real ancestor of mine. Like his namesake in the books he came to England from Poland (then a province of Russia) – probably as a political or religious refugee.

Unlike my Book’s Josef, who runs a walking stick shop and a secret society, my ancestor settled in the Black Country of the English Midlands and lived a harmless life as a glazier. I’m very proud of him. Family legend has it that he fled Poland with his brother, though I could find no trace of a sibling. So in the book I gave him a brother called Isaac, that adaptable crime lord.

Albert Sticks, the ex-prizefighter in Quest, actually began his career in Balmoral Kill, which I started and then put to one side to work on Quest. When I went back to Balmoral Kill the Sticks there became Corporal Bliss.

Jasper Feedle was never meant to exist in Quest at all. I  just wanted a villain to meet Sergeant Berry and have a walk on part of a few paragraphs. But Jasper arrived, with a complete personality, and inveigled his way into the plot, Quest’s entire back story and the Monkshood secret society.

It happens sometimes like that. Where these characters complete with names come from, heaven knows?

Wissilcraft, the Spymaster in the Quest novels, got his name from a gravestone I saw in East Anglia many years ago. I’ve never come across it in real life, though the novelist Henry Williamson has a Laura Wissilcraft in his Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight saga.

With the third Quest novel finished (it’ll be on pre-order in a couple of weeks) I’m moving on to write the final book in my tetralogy The Chronicles of Robin Hood  (do check out the first three volumes Loxley, Wolfshead and Villain).

In a way, Robin Hood is easy as far as characters go. Robin and his greenwood gang are very familiar names from the medieval ballads onwards, as are the Sheriff, Gisborne and his enemies. Trying to make the familiar characters different from previous outlaw outings is the difficult task.

Thank you again to all you readers who’ve bought and kindly commented on the novels. Do keep looking because I’m going to put some pieces about the new book on in the next few weeks.

And please do spread the word!

Not having the advertising budget of some of the major players in publishing, we very much rely on word of mouth.

The fiction and walking books are all now out in paperback and as Ebooks on Kindle.


You can see a list and details of most of the books on the following page, so please do click on the link:




A Walk Into The Victorian Underworld

If you wander down the right bank of the River Thames from Tower Bridge, you’ll come to a block of luxury flats, close to the old St Saviour’s Dock, that is still called Jacob’s Island. It is one of those anonymous dockland blocks, where each individual property costs a great deal of money. To live there would cost the kind of wealth that would have been unimaginable to the folk who lived around Jacob’s Island in the early part of Queen Victoria’s reign.folly_ditch

For, until the 1850s, this was one of the worst slums in Victorian England. A rookery too, in many ways. A place where people were forced to resort to crime in order to exist.

I’ve always been fascinated with Jacob’s Island, ever since I first read about it in the works of Charles Dickens, Charles Kingsley, and the social commentator Henry Mayhew. Having walked around the site of the old rookery, I wanted to write about it too.

In my new book, Deadly Quest, which is published this Friday, I’ve featured Jacob’s Island quite a bit. My novel has its climax there.

I first heard of Jacob’s Island when I was a boy, and first read Oliver Twist, a novel which reaches its conclusion there. It’s portrayed as the last refuge of Fagin and his gang of pickpockets. It’s the place where Bill Sikes meets his end. Charles Dickens visited the place several times, though it changed over his time. I’ve walked there a few times as well, though there is nothing of the old Victorian rookery to see. But then, when I walk the streets of London, I live in an imaginative past, constructing from a few old buildings the city that has long gone. Here is some of Dickens’ description (I urge you to re-read it in full):

...surrounded by a muddy ditch, six or eight feet deep and fifteen or twenty wide when the tide is in, once called Mill Pond, but known in these days as the Folly Ditch… in Jacob’s Island, the warehouses are roofless and empty; the walls are crumbling down; the doors are falling into the streets; the chimneys are blackened, but they yield no smoke… the houses have no owners; they are broken open, and entered upon by those who have the courage; and there they live, and there they die. They must have powerful motives for a secret residence… who seek a refuge in Jacob’s Island. Oliver Twist, Chapter 50.

So outraged were some London officials by Dickens’ description of Jacob’s Island that they attacked him quite publicly. One city Alderman denied that Jacob’s Island even existed. But it did, and it was probably much worse than even Dickens described. The then Bishop of London, concerned about the appalling conditions, agreed that Dickens’ description was accurate.

Influenced by the social commentary of Henry Mayhew, Charles Kingsley gives his own description of Jacob’s Island in his social novel Alton Locke. If you want to understand the full horror of the place all three writers’ works are well worth seeking out.

Given these descriptions by some of our greatest writers, I was  daunted at the thought of portraying Jacob’s Island in Deadly Quest. But, in a way, my portrayal of Jacob’s Island is much later than theirs. Oliver Twist is set during the reign of William IV, Kingsley and Mayhew’s work a trifle before my book, where the events take place in 1854.

At that time the old rookery of Jacob’s Island was going through its death throes. The London authorities had recognised that the conditions were too appalling to be tolerated any longer.

There had been an outbreak of cholera in the early 1850s – not surprising given that the residents took their drinking water from the Folly Ditch. Some of the island’s buildings had been demolished. Parts of the Folly Ditch, a foul waterway that penetrated to the heart of the district, had been filled-in by 1854. In fact, I’ve taken a few liberties and preserved – for the sake of Deadly Quest – a little more than probably actually survived in 1854.

In my novel, only the truly desperate are still living on Jacob’s Island. I’ve made it the haunt of criminals – after all, my book is a thriller. The sad truth is that only the most pitiful would have still been clinging on, criminals only in the sense that they had to survive.

My book Deadly Quest is now out in paperback and will be published on Kindle from Friday. It’s cheaper if you buy it on pre-order before the actual publication date. Just click on the link for more information.

Illuminated cobbled street in old city by night











Writing “Deadly Quest”

Visit the Goodreads site at site to win one of three signed copies of my new novel Deadly Quest.

A couple of years ago I wrote the first adventure of a Victorian vigilante called William Quest, a gentleman adventurer with a swordstick who seeks to right wrongs and even up the injustices of society. That book was called The Shadow of William Quest.

Illuminated cobbled street in old city by night

William Quest has pleased me by his popularity and the book has achieved good sales, not only in his home country, but in the USA and several other lands around the world.

A big thank you to everyone who’s bought a copy, told friends about it and left reviews on the online sites. If you’ve enjoyed the book – or any of my other titles – and haven’t left a review on the online sales sites, please do. Every review helps all Indie Authors with sales.

I’ve now written the second book in the series, Deadly Quest, which is already out in paperback and which will be published as an eBook on Kindle on 30th September.

Cheaper if you pre-order as a Kindle book before the publication date, by the way.

Here’s the Link to Order:

The first novel was set in London and Norfolk. The new book Deadly Quest is set entirely in London, mostly down by the river. I’ve tried to capture a real feeling of London in 1854. Fortunately, I’ve spent years studying Victorian history – I did it as a minor subject in my university degree. I’ve devoted a lot of time since to an expanded study of the Victorian underworld, particularly as regards London.

I’ve walked the streets and alleys used by my characters, by day and night. London has changed a great deal in 160 years, of course. Much of the Victorian cityscape has been bombed or swept away by  developers. The London that is in my imagination is more real to me now than the modern city. There are traces of Quest’s London still to be seen, but they get fewer year by year…

Some of my novel has scenes in a notorious rookery of the time called Jacob’s Island. A district of appalling poverty in Victorian times, Charles Dickens visited it with a police guard. It features in the climax of Oliver Twist. It was already partially demolished by the 1850s. The area was bombed by the Luftwaffe in the London Blitz. Redevelopment accounted for much of the rest. Today that once dreadful slum is a development of luxury flats. You can still visit Jacob’s Island, but it takes quite a leap of imagination to get back to Victorian times.

One problem I encountered in my sequel was that I revealed virtually the whole of Mr Quest’s back story in the first novel, explaining why he decided to take the law into his own hands, fighting for truth and justice and so on. In the new book we start with a completely clean slate.

Many of the characters from ‘Shadow’ make a re-appearance, and there are several villains waiting to be vanquished. It’s been fun encountering the minor characters again. They’ve become quite real to me over the years.

There was also going to be another major character, dominating a sub-plot of the novel. I wrote a number of scenes with this character, before realising he’d wandered into the wrong novel. And yet those thousands of words written are not wasted. This character will encounter William Quest – just not yet.

Visit the Goodreads site at site to win one of three signed copies of Deadly Quest.

As Indie Publishers we are taking on the big boys in the publishing industry, like the Rupert Murdoch empire. That’s why we need the help of our readers to get the word around about our books. So please do us a great favour and tell your friends. Word of Mouth is the greatest form of advertisement.

As a reward to our loyal readers we’ll be doing more giveaways – signed copies of our books – on the Goodreads site over the coming months.

If you haven’t tried the first William Quest novel yet, and wish to read the series in order, do click on the Books link at the top of this page to order The Shadow of William Quest or any of our other titles.

And yes, there will be more William Quest stories. The next tale will appear next year.


My Book for Just 99 Pence

Time for a British sale of one of my books. You can get my second Robin Hood novel Wolfshead for just 99 pence on Amazon Kindle for a strict seven days only from today, Saturday.
Yes, 99 pence, that’s cheaper than most newspapers and, I promise you, much more fun.
And you don’t even need a Kindle.

Wolfshead: The Chronicles of Robin Hood by [Bainbridge, John]
You can download a free App for your tablet, I-Phone or laptop. My book’s also out in paperback if you do like real books.
So why not give Wolfshead a go?
This is a very limited offer. Robin Hood at a Steal… Please tell your friends – I’ll really appreciate it.

My Scottish Thriller

Being a great enthusiast for hillwalking in Scotland, I’d always wanted to set a novel  where much of the action takes place in the country’s mountains and glens. Balmoral-Kindle-Cover-Final

So my adventure story Balmoral Kill is a love letter to the great open spaces of the Borders and the Highlands. True enough my book begins in the alleys of London’s East End, but soon moves location – first to the countryside around Peebles, and then to the wild landscape around Balmoral, with a climax at Loch Muick.

These are both areas I’ve walked, and I spent a lot of time at Loch Muick (pronounced Mick) working out just how a gunfight between two protagonists might play out.

The setting is just before World War Two, with the Nazi threat hanging over Europe. I like reading thrillers myself, but prefer them when the hero can’t use modern technology like mobile phones to get himself out of trouble. Where only individual daring and skill can come to his aid.

Of the thrillers and historical fiction I’ve written so far Balmoral Kill is my personal favourite. Not least because it reminds me of all those happy days walking in Scotland.

I hope to write the sequel some time next year. I already have an idea for a plot and a setting. I left the hero of Balmoral Kill, Sean Miller, returning to fight in the Spanish Civil War. Whether he actually gets back there or is diverted into a new adventure remains to be seen.

Europe was a dangerous place in the last years of the 1930s. The shadow of war not far away. A lot of work for an adventurer like Sean Miller….

If you haven’t read it, Balmoral Kill is available in paperback and on Kindle as an eBook. Just click on the link below to read more….



Historical Thrillers

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I’m currently completing a Victorian thriller, the sequel to my novel The Shadow of William Quest.

Writing a sequel is usually hard, particularly when the first book in a series has been generally well-received. I might not have a huge readership, but I do value the kind comments and support I’ve received re the Quest adventures. I want everyone to enjoy the new book.forgotten_00051

The second William Quest adventure has taken a while to complete, not least because I had break off a quarter of the way through to pen Wolfshead, the second in my series The Chronicles of Robin Hood.

I also had, originally, a false start, when I put in a character with his own sub-plot, and then found that sub-plot and the main thrust of the story didn’t arc together. So I had to spend some time removing that character and all his interactions. It took a time. Nothing’s wasted though, for those thousands of words are not lost. They’re already growing in my mind into a story of their own, which will, eventually, also have Mr Quest in it.

Those of you who’ve read The Shadow of William Quest, will know we get quite a lot of back story about Quest’s origins. In fact, I used up all his back-story in that one volume.

In a way that’s been good, for in the new book Quest comes to us fully-formed, and it gives me an opportunity to explore some of the other characters in more depth.

It also gives me a chance to set my characters against a London – and the setting of this one is entirely London – that was rapidly changing.

The 1850s were an important decade, both in terms of the physical city – buildings were going and coming, and new streets built – and the morality of its inhabitants. Up until that point, some of the mores of Georgian London still prevailed. By the 1850s, the stamp of Victorianism was beginning to make its mark, for good or bad. If you read Dickens, note how the city has changed between the early and later novels. By the way, if you want to get a feel of London in the 1820s, you can do no better than read George Borrow’s autobiographical novel Lavengro.

Now I’d like to be able to tell you the title of the new Quest novel, but I still haven’t decided. Quest’s name will be there, but I’m still torn as to the rest of it. I shall make a final decision very soon, not least because it’s due out in September and is going to be available for pre-order at a cheaper price for a couple of weeks before that.

If you haven’t yet read The Shadow of William Quest, it’s out in paperback and as an Ebook on Kindle. Just click on the link below for more information or to read the readers’ reviews. If you’ve read it and enjoyed it – or any of the other books – please do leave a review if you bought it from an online seller such as Amazon. Reviews really do help get us more sales. Thank you, John.

Thoughts on Robin Hood

I’ve been thinking a lot about Robin Hood lately, and in particular the plot of number three in my novel series The Chronicles of Robin Hood.

I shouldn’t be really because I’m still at work on the climax of the second William Quest novel, though Quest is, in his way, a Robin Hood living in Victorian times.

When you consider it, Robin Hood is quite a remarkable guy – with King Arthur one of the two essential British myths. For darned near a thousand years, the people of Britain, and then the citizens of the world, have been entertained by his exploits.

He reaches out and says something to us all to this day.

What’s the attraction?

Well, Robin Hood appeals perhaps to the rebel in all of us, the man who’s prepared to champion the poor and powerless against the uncaring rich and powerful. Mind you, if you read the original ballads he’s not quite so selfless.  But it doesn’t matter. People need a champion and Robin Hood’s quite a good one.

I think it’s interesting that you could take a medieval peasant away from his plough, transport him through time and put him down in front of a television and let him watch Robin of Sherwood say, or Richard Greene in The Adventures of Robin Hood and he’d get the point. (Assuming he wasn’t overcome by technology or changes in the English language, of course. I frequently am!)Loxley New Cover

I have always enjoyed the tales of Robin Hood, and my novels Loxley and Wolfshead, have been decades in the making. It probably all started watching episodes of the Richard Greene series. Playing at Robin Hood was always the favourite game in our neighbourhood  – in those happy days when children could make a longbow or wield a wooden sword without social services coming round to take you into care as a potential menace to society.

Unlike so many children today, our lives were spent mostly in the great outdoors, where we would vanish for hours on end, building dens and taking massive treks across the countryside. The countryside where I lived became Sherwood Forest during these youthful expeditions.

In the 1980s, the whole myth received a tremendous boost with Richard Carpenter’s imaginative remake Robin of Sherwood, which took the story in such interesting new directions.Wolfshead Cover_edited-5

In many ways, in the years since my first encounter with the man in Lincoln Green, I’ve led a rebellious life.

I’m sure it all started under the subversive influence of Robin Hood!

Every writer on Robin Hood takes a different tack. Some of my fellow authors portray him as a saint or sinner, or, like me, a mixture of both. Some writers prefer Robin in Barnsdale rather than Sherwood. I chose Sherwood out of sentimentality, I guess.

In some versions, the villains, such as Guy of Gisborne and the Sheriff are out and out rogues.My versions aren’t quite as clear cut as that. And I’ve been kinder to Prince (actually Count) John than a lot of other writers. My Robin questions the hierarchy of the society of his time much more than most Robins.

There have been thousands of interpretations and no doubt there are thousands still to come. We all have our own vision of Robin Hood.

If you want to read mine, the first two novels in the sequence are available in paperback and on Kindle.  Or just click on the links below to see the readers’ reviews:





Robin Hood Returns to Sherwood

Very excited that the new Robin Hood novel will be out in March, a sequel to “Loxley” (click on the link below if you haven’t read it – it’s out now in paperback and most eBook readers). 

This one has three villains in addition to the Sheriff of Nottingham and Gisborne so expect a lot of action.

Sherwood Forest is more dangerous than ever for the wolfsheads in the forthcoming book. Here’s where they find out what being outlaws really means.

And not everyone survives…

Apart from the wolfsheads and the usual baddies there’s even Richard the Lionheart battling enemies in Normandy.

Watch out for a publication date.

Very soon now…

Keep tuned into this blog –  click follow if you haven’t already as I’ll be doing a lot of Robin Hood background posts over the next month, something about the writing, something about the history of the character and why I chose Sherwood as a setting.

Loxley Cover




Robin Hood Nearly Back in Sherwood

The next in the Robin Hood novels will be out in early February, so do follow for updates, extracts etc. as they come.

In the meantime “Loxley” the first in The Chronicles of Robin Hood sequence is now out in paperback and on Kindle.

It will also be available on Kobo and Nook eReaders from early January.

So if you’re looking for a last minute stocking-filler for a friend or family member, or yourself, please do take a look. Just click on the link at the foot of this page to order:Loxley Cover

Here’s the synopsis:

“1198 A.D A hooded man brings rebellion to the forest…

Lionheart’s England, with the King fighting in Normandy… For the oppressed villagers of Sherwood there is no escape from persecution and despair. They exist under the sufferance of their brutal overlords.

When a mysterious stranger saves a miller’s son from cruel punishment, the Sheriff of Nottingham sends the ruthless Sir Guy of Gisborne to hunt him down.

His past life destroyed, Robin of Loxley must face his greatest challenge yet. Deadly with a longbow and a sword, he will fight tyranny and injustice, encounter allies and enemies old and new.

The vast Sherwood Forest with its hidden glades and ancient pathways is the last refuge of wolfsheads. Here their bloody battles will be fought, friendships forged and loyalties tested.

Loxley will become Robin Hood. Notorious leader of outlaws.

Their daring deeds will become legend.

This is the first in a four-part series “The Chronicles of Robin Hood”, and includes an historical note on the origins of the famous outlaw.”