DiscoverRock, Paper, Swords!
Rock, Paper, Swords!

Rock, Paper, Swords!

Author: Matthew Harffy & Steven A. McKay

Subscribed: 18Played: 372


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.
54 Episodes
Today, as the Christmas season is upon us we are doing something a bit different. Rock, Paper, Swords is joining forces with our friends from the Slice of Medieval Podcast to bring you a special episode, where we will look back on the year that is drawing to a close and forward to the year ahead. If you enjoy this episode please leave a five star rating wherever you listened! MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OUR LISTENERS! Links - A Slice of Medieval Shakin' Stevens interview mentioned Our brand new festive rock song - "Christmas is Coming" - stream it free HERE!
Our guest today is Nicholas Morton. Nicholas is an associate professor at Nottingham Trent University. He is the author or editor of nine books, including The Field of Blood and several other books about the Crusades and medieval Europe and the Near East. His latest book is The Mongol Storm: Making and Breaking Empires in the Medieval Near East. The book tells the story of how the Mongol Empire upended the geopolitics of the Near East, reshaping the balance of world power and transforming the region forever.   Welcome to RPS, Nic!
Our guest today is Darren Hardy, manager of the UK Author and Editorial Programmes at Amazon. Before that Darren was UK Manager for Kindle Direct Publishing. With nearly 20 years working at Amazon, Darren is the perfect person to answer all our questions about what goes on behind the scenes at KDP and what new and exciting plans Amazon has for the future. Join us today as we chat about things like: The Kindle Storyteller Award - how to enter, and what you can win (20 grand!) The "magic formula" for understanding Amazon's algorithms (there isn't one!) Amazon's new book categories and how to use them best Amazon's charts Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how it might affect KDP in future be it for "writing" nonsensical books, or affecting the charts Paperback printing And a load more! If you have a question that we didn't ask Darren please post it here, or on our social media pages and we'll pass them on! and Twitter @rock_swords If you're an indie author, you need to listen to this one!
Our guest today is Matt Lewis. Matt is an author and historian of the medieval period, with a particular interest in the Wars of the Roses and Richard III. He has written biographies of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry III, Richard Duke of York, and Richard III, as well as accounts of The Anarchy, the Wars of the Roses, and Rebellion in the Middle Ages. Matt is also chair of the Richard the Third Society and host of the popular Gone Medieval podcast.   Welcome to RPS, Matt.
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!
Today's fantastic guest is Theodore Brun, author of The Wanderer Chronicles. He has a brand new book out NOW called A SAVAGE MOON, which Matthew read and endorsed thusly: 'A fever dream of dark lusts and an ancient evil. A Savage Moon drips with passion, betrayal, loyalty and loss. A wonderful book!' We spoke about his work and his life in general, discovering his life is often as exciting as his books, so make sure you give it a listen. Note - Steven tested positive for COVID just a couple of days after recording this, and you can hear it in his voice so that's why he says even less than usual in this episode! Theo's website -
Something a little different today - we have no guests for a change! Instead, Steven interviews Matthew about his brand new book A DAY OF RECKONING, the third in his A Time for Swords series, which came out yesterday. It's a fun episode covering various aspects of the writing/publishing process, and Matthew even tells us the title of his NEXT book (the Western he's been talking about for ages, it's finished)! Give it a listen, and make sure you buy A Day of Reckoning...
Our guest today is Angus Donald, author of the Outlaw Chronicles, about a medieval gangster called Robin Hood, a 17th-century series about an unusual but rather brilliant chap called Holcroft Blood. And writing as Angus Macallan, he has also tried his hand at fantasy with the Gates of Stone. His most recent novels are in the Fire Born series, set in 8th century Europe. Book four in the series, King of the North is published by Canelo on 28th September.  Welcome to RPS, Angus.
Our guest today is Paul Finch. Paul Finch is an English author and scriptwriter. He has a diverse and very successful career, from the popular TV programme The Bill, to horror and fantasy stories and films, Doctor Who spin-off stories and the incredibly successful gritty crime series of DS Mark Heck Heckenberg novels, with over 1 MILLION book sales! Paul’s latest pivot has been to move into the historical fiction genre, writing under the name P.W. Finch. USURPER, set in the cataclysmic year of 1066, was published earlier this year.  Welcome to RPS, Paul.
Our guest today is Dr Joanne Ball. Joanne is a Roman archaeologist and battlefield archaeologist based at the University of Liverpool, with a PhD in Archaeology on the subject of Roman battlefield archaeology.  She is a regular contributor to several magazines focused on ancient history and was co-editor of Ancient World Magazine. And is soon to have published the Publius Quinctilius Varus: The Man Who Lost Three Roman Legions in the Teutoburg Disaster. Welcome to RPS, Joanne.
Our guest today is Ethan Bale, author of The Swords of the White Rose series. Book 1, Hawker and the King's Jewel came out last year and the follow up, The Lost Prince, has just been published. Ethan Bale (Clifford Beal), is a former defence journalist. Despite writing about modern military technology for much of his career, he was always passionate about history, particularly the Renaissance and early modern Europe.  Over the years he has been flung about in military aircraft, trained in 17th century rapier, fired flintlock pistols, messed about in boats, and ridden both horses and motorcycles. These days he is usually found wielding a pen and not a sword. Welcome to RPS, Ethan!
Our guest today is Jason Kingsley, an incredibly successful businessman and a technologist who is also obsessed with the past. He is CEO of Rebellion Developments, game developers responsible for such games as Alien Vs Predator and the hugely popular Sniper Elite. Rebellion Publishing purchased 2000AD in 2000, and publishes comics featuring some amazing characters such as Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog, Roy of the Rovers, and Slaine. In 2017 Jason started a medieval history YouTube channel called Modern History TV, along with his brother Chris Kingsley, and senior producer Brian Jenkins, under the banner of Rebellion Productions. The YouTube channel has over three quarters of a million subscribers and provides a wealth of information. He also hosts the podcast, Future Imperfect. In 2012, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for service to the economy.  Jason has a brand new book due out on July 18th 2023, Leading the Rebellion: Questing to Succeed in Work and Life Welcome to Rock, Paper, Swords, Chief Judge Kingsley! ;-)
Alex Gough is an author of Roman historical adventures. The Carbo Chronicles, including Watchmen of Rome and Bandits of Rome, was written as a result of a lifelong obsession with ancient Rome, and the culmination of a lot of research into the underclasses of the time. He has also written a collection of adventures following Carbo and other characters from Watchmen of Rome, where you can learn more about their rich lives. Alex loves our theme song so much that he recorded a cool tribute to it which you can find at the end of the episode. If you're a musician and want to record your own cover version, send it to us and we'll use it in a future episode (unless it's really, REALLY bad lol)!
This is a super short episode just to give listeners an update on how we're planning on moving forward with the podcast. Matthew's latest book, "Forest of Foes", gets a paperback release, and Steven has also just made a brand new MODERN DAY short story available for pre-order, called "Have You Seen This?" so we discuss those a little bit too. Enjoy, and we really hope you liked the latest episode with Robin Warder of The Trail Went Cold podcast. Look out for our next episode on June 23rd which features an interview with bestselling historical author ALEX GOUGH! HAVE YOU SEEN THIS? buy link (FREE with Kindle Unlimited!) FOREST OF FOES paperback buy link (also FREE with Kindle Unlimited!)
TRIGGER WARNING! At 13:16 there's a VERY creepy answerphone message, listener discretion advised, don't listen alone in the dark... Today’s guest Robin Warder has written articles for various websites including, but he’s most well known for his excellent podcast The Trail Went Cold which is a true crime podcast he’s been doing since 2016, publishing more than 300 episodes in that time. You may be wondering what this has to do with "historical action and adventure" but readers of Steven's Forest Lord novellas Faces of Darkness and Sworn to God will know they were based on true stories - true stories covered in episodes of The Trail Went Cold! We chat about those in this episode, and much more. This is something a little different and we really hope you enjoy it. Welcome to Rock, Paper, Swords, Robin! Trail Went Cold episode 18, Cindy James (Faces of Darkness inspiration) - Trail Went Cold 159 (Sworn to God inspiration) - Robin's articles on (brilliant stuff this!) -
Artificial Intelligence, or AI for short, is a hot topic at the moment. Perhaps the HOTTEST topic. It is cropping up in the news every day and there are predictions that it will take our jobs away or even take over the world! It probably isn’t quite as dire as those predictions would have us believe, but there is no doubt that AI generated text and images are here to stay, not to mention many other uses that we haven’t even foreseen yet. There will be impacts on our daily lives and creatives are especially worried about their livelihoods as computers become more and more adept at doing what only humans could do till now. We’re not experts on the subject and it is a HUGE subject, but we thought we’d have a quick chat about what AI can do now, what it might be able to do in the future and some of the complex issues arising as a result of this new technology. Cover image was created by AI from directions Matthew gave it. It's supposed to be Beobrand from his Bernicia Chronicles lmao!
Ben Kane will need little introduction to many of our listeners, but here goes anyway. Ben is a historical fiction novelist, best known for his books set in the ancient world, particularly the Roman empire. His series include The Forgotten Legion, Spartacus, and the Hannibal series of books.  In 2013, Ben along with fellow novelists Anthony Riches and Russell Whitfield - walked the entire length of Hadrian's Wall for charity, wearing full Roman military kit. Then in 2014, they walked again in, but this time in Italy, raising over £26,500. A film was made of their walk, entitled The Road to Rome with Sir Ian McKellen providing the voiceover. More recently, Ben has diversified into the medieval period with a trilogy of novels about Richard the Lionheart. His new book, published on 25th May 2023 is, Napoleon’s Spy and marks a further time shift into the early 19th century. Welcome to Rock, Paper, Swords, Ben!
Peter Gibbons is an author based in Kildare, Ireland. He completed a Law Degree in Liverpool University before embarking on a career in the Insurance Industry. After many years working in the UK & Ireland he decided to follow his dreams and wrote his debut novel, Viking Blood and Blade. After smashing into the independently published historical fiction scene in 2021, he had his second series picked up by a publisher and went on to win the prestigious Kindle Storyteller Award in 2022. Welcome to Rock, Paper, Swords, Peter!
Incredibly, we managed to get an interview with the legendary Tull frontman (Steven's favourite band in case you didn't hear him mention it on every previous episode...)! Ian talked with us about the brand new, rocking Jethro Tull album RökFlöte, Norse mythology, Vladimir Putin appearing at a Tull meet-and-greet, the time journalists demanded details of his upcoming gender reassignment surgery, Broadsword 40th Anniversary boxset details, Under Wraps getting REAL drums, how he's a "bit of a fan" of Motörhead despite the umlauts, bands like Mötley Crüe using backing tapes on stage instead of playing completely live, how performing helps his asthma (not COPD!), how work is going on the NEXT album and its planned release date, and how he's a cranky old guy like Morrissey these days! We were told we'd get, at most, 45 minutes with Ian but we ended up chatting for over 80 minutes and it was just brilliant. We think you'll enjoy this episode. Give it a listen and check out RökFlöte, it's superb!
On today’s episode we’re going to talk about the first thing that most readers see before they’ve read a single word of a book. The old adage goes that one should never judge a book by its cover, but we all know that the majority of people do just that. A great cover can get a prospective reader to take a chance on a new author, and a bad cover can put people off, even though the story might be amazing. We’ll take a look at some of the things that make covers work and also talk about our own journey with the covers to our books and the decisions we’ve taken. NOTES Steven’s cover designers, More Visual - The first cover for The Abbey of Death - Blog post about creating the axe for Wolf of Wessex - Original The Serpent Sword cover - Lots of great quotes/tips in this article: Tools:
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store