Bernard Cornwell at The Chatty Cat Cafe

Posted by Susanne Saville at Monday, December 01, 2008 2:20 AM

imageOMG!  Joining us today is Bernard Cornwell (squeee!).  I can't believe I'm actually going to converse with him.  [fans self]   Need to get a grip.  Do not devolve into Fan-Girl. (ack!)  Do you think I can call him Bernard?   No, I should go with Mr. Cornwell, shouldn't I?  Oh, here he comes!

Good morning, Mr. Cornwell, welcome to The Chatty Cat Cafe.  We've got everything here.  What is your favorite hot, caffeinated beverage and how do you like it served?

Coffee. Just coffee. What the Australians call a 'flat white', no sugar.  I hate having to pick among a hundred pretentious names when all I want is a cup of decent coffee.  And if it's to be served to me by a waiter or waitress I do not want them returning five minutes later to interrupt a conversation by asking 'is everything all right?'  If it wasn't, they would know. Oh, and I want it served outside so I can smoke.

Then we're heading outside.  image   There's a very nice table with a view over here. 

While we relocate, let me inform y'all that Mr. Cornwell has "sold over 12,000,000 copies world-wide of the Sharpe Series" alone.  He also has the Starbuck Chronicles, the Arthur books (also called the Warlord Chronicles), The Grail Quest series, The Saxon Stories, and a bunch of individual novels, for example: Stonehenge (2000 BC), Gallows Thief (1817) and Wildtrack (contemporary).

And he has an upcoming, brand new historical release, Agincourt - coming out January 20, 2009 in the US.
He also has an OBE.

That's Officer, Order of the British Empire, by the way. 

You know who else has an OBE?   Hugh Laurie (House). 
Liam Neeson. 
Russell T Davies (Doctor Who). 

So, yes, Mr. Cornwell is totally out of my league - shh! don't tell him!  image

Okay, we're situated now.  My first question is, if you had to pick an animal to symbolize the traits of Sharpe, Uhtred, and Starbuck what animal would each be and why?
Sharpe is a leopard; sly, quick and very dangerous.  Uhtred?  Probably a bear; slower than the leopard, but just as deadly. Starbuck? I don't have a clue!
image  As one can tell from the listing of your books and series above, you write in many different historical time periods (as well as contemporary thrillers) - which historical era would you be willing to live in and why?
I'd be willing to live in almost any of them, but if I had to choose one then it wouldn't be a period I've written about. It would be Elizabethan London to witness the birth of the modern theatre.  Folk looked back on the Elizabethan period as a golden age . . . though it wasn't perfect. The wretched puritans, who have ruined everything they have ever touched, were beginning their inexorable rise, but they hadn't yet conquered.  The English were entirely sensible in packing as many off in the Mayflower as they could, but sadly the ship didn't sink in mid-Atlantic.
LOL - I'm guessing you don't get invited to Plymouth Plantation much. image   I have to agree, though - with all their dour rules and restrictions and oppressiveness.... Cotton Mather's role in the Salem Witchcraft Trials doesn't endear him, and if you've ever had to read Jonathan Edwards, it's pretty scarring. ("The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked....he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else but to be cast into the bottomless gulf.")

Okay, back on to happy things, I believe you like sailing, so if money and feasibility were no object, what type of ship/boat (from any historical period) would you own?
The one I already own.  She's a Cornish Crabber, a gaff-rigged cutter.  I bought her in England over twenty years ago and she now lives in a harbour off Nantucket Sound.  She's called Royalist.  She's not large and she's not expensive. She's 24 feet on deck, 29 feet overall (with her bowsprit), but her waterline is only 19 feet which makes her slow.  Do I care?  Who wants to go fast when you're sailing?  She's for lazy summer days and she's beautiful.
She sounds gorgeous!  Well, for our last question, we're going to do Desert Island Discs only for books - if you were stranded on a desert island, what 5 books would you want to have with you?
The Oxford Book of English Verse (the Quiller-Couch edition)
A Glastonbury Romance by John Cowper Powys
The Book of Days, edited by R.Chambers (1864).  It's two volumes, but can we count them as one?
Blunt's Dictionary of Sects, Heresies, Ecclesiastical Parties and Schools of Religious Thought.
A collected volume of P.G. Wodehouse, preferably with a lot of Jeeves stories.
Great list!  I loved when Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie did Jeeves stories for television.  Anyone else remember Jeeves and Wooster?  Classic. 

As is Sean Bean as Richard Sharpe(Hey, you had to know I was going to work in a photo of Sean Bean somewhere along the line, right?)   image  

Thank you very, very much for being here, Mr. Cornwell! 
I really appreciate it. 

I urge everyone to read a Bernard Cornwell book today.  I personally recommend the Sharpe novels (Napoleonic), but if you prefer the US Civil War then Starbuck is your man.

For more information about all of his books, as well as Frequently Asked Questions answered and other cool stuff, please visit Bernard Cornwell's website:

And if you shop at Barnes and Noble:
Bernard Cornwell's Books at Barnes and Noble