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Rock, Paper, Swords!

Rock, Paper, Swords!

Author: Matthew Harffy and Steven A. McKay

Subscribed: 21Played: 460


The Historical Action and Adventure Podcast - making history come alive!

Bestselling authors Matthew Harffy and Steven A. McKay chat about writing action and adventure stories, diving into some of the more quirky and unusual aspects of history, with a detour through music and its role in their process.

Each episode covers different exciting themes, often with brilliant guests who help shed light on what Matthew and Steven have decided to talk about that week.

Get bonus episodes and more by supporting the podcast on Patreon.
71 Episodes
If you would like to help us with our running costs, and get exclusive bonus episodes every month, a free copy of our book, Tips on Writing, Publishing and Marketing your Book, and other cool perks, check out our Patreon page. Matthew and Steven chat this week with a musician for a change! Dr Mark Deeks is a choirmaster, as well as the piano player for one of Steven's favourite black metal bands, Winterfylleth, and also has his own "monastic doom metal" project called Ard. Ard put out a concept album which is kind of a historical novel in musical form so we were really happy to get Mark on the podcast and discuss a broad range of topics.  Mark also gives piano lessons online HERE Ard Bandcamp page Winterfylleth Bandcamp page Ard Lindisfarne Mead bundles Youtube video of Winterfylleth performing "The Hallowing of Heirdom", one of their most beautiful songs.  Theme music by Steven and Matthew. The short piece of music at the outro is Steven's attempt at doom metal!
If you would like to help us with our running costs, and get exclusive bonus episodes every month, a free copy of our book, Tips on Writing, Publishing and Marketing your Book, and other cool perks, check out our Patreon page. ⁠⁠ Katie Daysh is an author from the Isle of Wight who loves to explore unheard voices in fiction. In her historical fiction, she enjoys placing queer characters at the heart of the narrative. Her stories are often set on the sea and illuminate themes of friendship, loyalty and mental health issues. Her debut novel, Leeward, was published by Canelo in 2023, followed by The Devil to Pay in 2024. Useful links: Follow us on Facebook: and X  Support us on Patreon:
If you would like to help us with our running costs, and get exclusive bonus episodes every month, and other cool perks including a FREE copy of the book we wrote together, check out our patreon page: ⁠  / rockpaperswordspodcast   Another episode and another musician who truly puts the ROCK in Rock, Paper, Swords! Todd "Dammit" Kerns is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and producer. He is most noted for being the bass player and backup singer in “Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators”, and for being the front man of “The Age of Electric”. His latest album is with Heroes and Monsters and it ROCKS! Check this out - While touring the world, playing to sold out audiences, he has had the opportunity to share the stage with some of rock's biggest names, including some of his own personal heroes including Slash, Lemmy, Alice Cooper, Duff McKagan, Fergie, Bill Murray, Sammy Hagar and many more. Having played with so much rock royalty, that must make Todd “Rock Nobility” at the very least! Welcome to Rock, Paper, Swords, Todd!
If you would like to help us with our running costs, and get exclusive bonus episodes every month, and other cool perks, check out our patreon page: Born and raised in Detroit, now living in Nashville, Tennessee, Cody C. Engdahl describes himself as a practitioner of the Southern Gentlemanly Arts, an amateur fiddler, cook, whiskey connoisseur, and armchair historian. He is the author of five historical novels. His latest is The Prussian Prince, a swashbuckling adventure that'll take you into the heart of the Austro-Prussian War and book 5 of the Long Century series. Welcome to RPS, Cody! Useful links:
Researching is a huge part of a historical fiction author's life. In this episode we discuss what we use to embed ourselves in our chosen time periods. Support us on one of our 3 tiers on Patreon - If you're an author or publisher and would like to sponsor one of our episodes, please get in touch. You can find us on social media or email us at
Today we have a special guest who we think will be of particular interest, especially to aspiring writers. Kit Nevile is a Commissioning Editor at publishers Canelo. He is particularly interested in thrillers, horror, and action/adventure books, and just so happens to be Steven’s editor! Before working at Canelo he was at Persephone Books and Whitefox publishing services, both in an editorial role. In this episode we will try to find out what a commissioning editor actually does, what they look for in a new book, how he thinks the publishing business will change in coming years, how artificial intelligence (AI) will impact things, and lots more! Welcome to RPS, Kit Nevile! Patreon: Facebook:  X:
During the 90s Giles Kristian was lead singer of pop group Upside Down, achieving four top twenty hit records! As a singer-songwriter he lived and toured for two years in Europe and has made music videos all over the world. Giles is half-Norwegian and his family history inspired him to write his first historical novels: the acclaimed and bestselling RAVEN Viking trilogy. For his next series, he drew on a long-held fascination with the English Civil War to chart the fortunes of a family divided by this brutal conflict in The Bleeding Land and Brothers’ Fury. Giles also co-wrote Wilbur Smith’s No.1 bestseller, Golden Lion. In The Rise of Sigurd novels he returned to the world of the Vikings. His Sunday Times bestseller, Lancelot, is currently in development for TV. He followed Lancelot with Camelot, and now, Where Blood Runs Cold is his debut contemporary thriller. His latest book, ARTHUR, is out this June! Welcome to Rock, Paper, Swords, Giles Kristian!
This episode is sponsored by Paul Bernardi's brand new historical thriller Blood Feud. Please check it out HERE! On today's episode we're talking about what IS "historical fiction". It's a genre that seems to encapsulate so many other genres, crime, thrillers, action and adventure… but what actually makes a story historical fiction? The Historical Novel Society defines the genre as works "written at least fifty years after the events described". Do you agree with that? What about alternative history? What about novels that were written as contemporary fiction but are now hundreds of years old? What about fiction set in a time SO remote that it's essentially speculative? We discuss these points and more! Take a listen to this fascinating topic and please let us know what you think constitutes "historical fiction". Useful links: Support us on one of our 3 tiers on Patreon - If you're an author or publisher and would like to sponsor one of our episodes, please get in touch. You can find us on social media or email us at
THE EMPEROR'S SWORD is out next week, 25th April 2024, so we thought we'd remind you of this chat we had with him... Another fantastic guest this week, as Christian (also known as Miles) Cameron joins Steven and Matthew to chat about his books, research, re-enactments, historical fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, being a member of US Intelligence, and loads more! Some great chat and brilliant anecdotes in this one, you must check it out, Christian was a superb guest! Christian's website -
Yes, Matthew and Steven have written a non-fiction book together! It's called Tips for Writing, Publishing and Marketing Your Novel and it comes out on Thursday April 25th 2024. You can pre-order it now, and it will also be available to read with Kindle Unlimited. Check it out at the links here - The book will also be FREE to our Patreon TOP FANS and PRODUCERS so if you'd like to sign up, head over to Patreon now and check out our tiers: Whether you're a novice or a veteran of the writing world, Tips for Writing, Publishing and Marketing Your Novel is an indispensable companion for every author's journey. Pre-order your copy now!
Justin Hill has skilfully crafted bestselling stories that traverse a diverse range of settings, from the captivating landscapes of China to the tumultuous epochs of the Early Middle Ages, to the nightmare, war-torn future of the universe of Warhammer 40k.  He is the recipient of several prestigious literary accolades, including the Somerset Maugham, Betty Trask, and Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prizes, and his works have earned acclaim from publications such as the Sunday Times, Washington Post, and The Times, where his books have been celebrated as notable additions to their annual lists. Welcome to RPS, Justin Hill! Useful links: We’re on Facebook: and X @rock_swords SUPPORT us on Patreon!
Simon Turney, aka S.J.A. Turney, hails from Yorkshire, England. His passion for history shines through in his more than 50 novels, where meticulous research meets immersive storytelling. From ancient Rome, to medieval Europe, Turney's versatile body of work brings the past to life with vivid characters and compelling narratives. In his latest novel, Caracalla, the fourth and final novel in the Damned Emperors series. Simon is back in Rome, this time in the 2nd century where the rivalry between two brothers threatens to tear the empire apart. Welcome to RPS, Simon Turney! Remember you can now support us on Patreon and get some nice perks like bonus episodes every month! Check it out and please consider helping us keep the show growing in 2024 and beyond!
Useful links:  We’re on Facebook: and X @rock_swords You can find out more about our books on and Douglas Jackson traded his role as assistant editor at The Scotsman for a full-time writing career in 2009. With novels published under his real name and the pen name James Douglas, Jackson has carved out a niche in historical fiction. His debut, "Caligula" (2008), weaves a tale of intrigue in the court of the famously mad emperor, followed by "Claudius" (2009) and the long-running Gaius Valerius Verrens series, starting with "Hero of Rome" (2010). His latest novel is Blood Roses, a thrilling crime novel set against the backdrop of 1939 Warsaw and the beginning of the Second World War. Welcome to RPS, Douglas Jackson! Thanks to our Patreon Producer, Luke Gauci!
Something of an unplanned episode today. We were supposed to be interviewing someone but they didn't turn up! Since we still needed an episode we decided to go ahead and discuss researching the locations in our books, including some of our favourite trips to those places. As this was completely unscripted and we'd not prepared for it we do go off on tangents here and there, but we hope you find something useful or at least entertaining in our chat! We've rearranged the Zoom call with the guest who didn't appear so look out for that in a future episode (if he shows up!)... Remember you can get bonus episodes and other nice perks by becoming one of our patrons. Join up at the link below:
Today, we have the pleasure of interviewing acclaimed author, C.J. Box. C.J. Box is an award-winning, multi-million selling author, best known for his compelling mysteries set against the rugged landscapes of Wyoming. With over two dozen novels to his name, Box is most celebrated for his Joe Pickett series, featuring the dedicated and morally-driven game warden. He’s also an Executive Producer on Paramount+’s Joe Pickett series, and an EP on ABC’s Big Sky, which was based on his Cassie Dewell novels. Infusing his narratives with authentic details, drawing on his passion for wildlife, nature, and the complexities of rural life, his novels transcend traditional genre boundaries, appealing to both mystery enthusiasts and fans of gripping action tales. Join us today as we explore his creative process, the dynamic characters that populate his novels, and the unique elements that make his stories unforgettable. Welcome, C.J. Box! Useful links:
'Tis true, we are now on Patreon! Head on over to the link below and join us! In return you'll get bonus episodes (one is already available, as we discuss David Gemmell's classic novel Legend) and more fun perks. Go on, you know it makes sense... Become a Top Fan or a Producer today, and help us keep the show going, and growing, in 2024 and beyond! Thank you, Steven and Matthew
We're now on Patreon! Get bonus episodes and other cool perks by signing up here: It’s been ages since we recorded an episode and today for the first time in months it's just the two of us. We’re going to talk about planning and writing novels with particular focus on the tools we use, the processes we follow, and what seems to work for us! Gone are the days when pen and paper, or a simple typewriter (remember Tipp-Ex?!) were the only tools available to aspiring authors. Nowadays there's all sorts of things available to help turn your ideas into a bestselling novel. Steven is old school, so he's been using Libre Office Writer/Microsoft Word and paper notebooks exclusively since he first started writing novels a decade ago. Matthew is much more into the tech side of things, using software packages like Scrivener, Aeon Timeline, and Scapple. Will Matthew be able to persuade Steven to adopt these fancy new tools, including a £200 electronic notebook, or will Steven refuse to "fix what ain't broke"? Join us to find out! LINKS Scrivener - Aeon Timeline - Scapple - Remarkable 2 -
Our guest today is the prolific author of historical fiction, Griff Hosker. It seems to me that Griff writes faster than many people read. He has written series of action-packed books covering everything from the Vikings to the Second World War and everything in between. He is a constant presence on Amazon lists and social media, and I for one am often in awe at the quantity of books he puts out and the number of steadfast fans he has garnered over the years. It is great to finally meet and have a chance to put some questions to him, perhaps finding out how he does it (and maybe some tips on how to sell almost 2 MILLION books like he has)! Welcome to RPS, Griff!
Matthew interviews Steven about his new book, THE HEATHEN HORDE, which came out on October 26th 2023! Viking raiders, Alfred the Great, and the usual fun chat - it's all in here so give it a listen and please spread the word. Buy the book here - Don't forget to SUBSCRIBE to our channel and leave a 5 star review if you can!
Listen to the end to make sure you hear THEIR cover version of our theme song, and also OUR cover of their theme song! Our guests today are Chris Morrison and Jane Secker from the Copyright Waffle podcast which is dedicated to “Decoding copyright and bringing you enlightenment”.  As well as hosting their podcast, Jane and Chris are also the authors of the book Copyright and E-learning: A guide for practitioners. Chris is Copyright and Licensing Specialist at Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford. Jane is Programme Director for the MA in Academic Practice and Senior Lecturer in Educational Development at the City University of London. You’re probably wondering why we’ve invited experts in copyright  onto a podcast about historical action and adventure but, if you remember, we did an episode recently about the rise of Artificial Intelligence and how it was beginning to affect writers in particular. So, hopefully our guests today can shed some light on this issue and maybe even set our minds at ease. Or not! Let’s find out!