C. F. Harrington’s novel, The Wolf Mile, was published by Head of Zeus on 6 May 2021.
He kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about The Wolf Mile.
The Wolf Mile is the first book in the Pantheon series, which charts the rise of Tyler Maitland and Lana Cameron as they are plucked from their normal lives to become players in The Pantheon, an underground game bankrolled by the world’s wealthy elite and watched online by thousands. Warriors from seven ancient civilisations are trained, sworn to allegiance, then pitted against each other in battles across five major cities while being filmed in real time.
The Wolf Mile sees the protagonists recruited into the Viking Valhalla Horde and their battles amongst the claustrophobic alleys of Edinburgh. In Book 2 – The Blood Isles – out on 14 October, the story shifts to the Outer Hebrides where the bogs and beaches are remote enough for the shield-lines of two of the teams to go head-to-head.
The series is a modern thriller, but it mixes elements of historical fiction, as well as a sweeping romance, which takes the protagonists from friends, to sworn enemies and finally to lovers.
2. What inspired the book?
The story is first and foremost inspired by a sense of place. Apart from a sojourn into the forests of the Highlands, the book’s action all takes place in the closes, tunnels and rooftops which flow from the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Indeed, it was Edinburgh’s Old Town which really allowed the story to manifest. The dark, malevolent history of the Old Town and its stunning architecture and rumours of tunnels and secret passages, set my mind ticking. I am sure that the whole concept of The Pantheon could not have come together if it had not been for my life in and around Edinburgh.
The story was also prompted by two other factors: Firstly, I had always wanted to take my love of historical fiction and coax it into a modern thriller – without going down the well-trodden route of some sort of time-travel. Secondly, after a career spent in major gift fundraising for charities and universities, I had communicated with many very wealthy individuals and I got to wondering what makes someone excited when they can buy everything? As the book asks….. Imagine riches beyond your wildest dreams. What would you do with them? Travel the world? Buy a yacht? Now times it by ten. A hundred. We’re talking mega-wealth – the kind that buys governments, shapes economies, enervates security forces and makes a mockery of justice systems. NOW what would you do with it? Less certain?
In ancient times, the wealthy of Rome spent their money and energies on forsaking human life in the gladiatorial stadia – and that’s where the concept of The Pantheon grew from in my head.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I’m very much a plan, plan, plan writer. It’s in my nature to organise the story in advance, but I also find it immensely necessary when writing a tale which extends across several books. The Pantheon has various interweaving storylines and a large cast of characters, so I need to have everything mapped out to ensure loose ends are tied and references in a new book do not compromise those in earlier volumes.
That said, the plans do come together quite quickly. For Book 3 which I’ve now drafted, I noted down 60 scenes in one day and when I had completed writing the whole draft several months later, I found I had not diverged much from this original structure.
4. Is there anything about the process of publishing a book that surprised you?
I must say I was surprised by just how long and difficult the journey to publication can be. It took me only three months to write The Wolf Mile, but then another six to find an agent. During those months I sent off lots of enquiry letters and rarely even got a response. I do think the lack of communication by agents and publishers is so soul-destroying for many wannabe authors. Finally, Laura MacDougall (now at United Agents) contacted me having read my first three chapters and wanted to see the rest of the script. At the time I was holidaying in a tiny cottage on the end of the Mull of Kintyre and I nigh-on destroyed the entire peninsula’s internet emailing the book to her! Just a day later she came back and said she had read the whole script and loved it so much that she wanted to represent me. I was ecstatic and convinced fame and fortune awaited! In fact, it was another long tortuous couple of years before we found Head of Zeus adventure imprint, Aries Fiction, and they felt The Wolf Mile fitted their portfolio perfectly. So, it’s the usual over-used moral – never give up!
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
My two primary hobbies are at polar opposite ends of the exertion spectrum! I am a fell (hill) runner and I love getting out onto the summits in Scotland and the Lake District and running for many miles. It clears the head, cleanses the soul and makes that post-run cake taste even better!
At the other end, I’m an avid reader and can think of little better than a cosy armchair, a mug of tea (or glass of red) and a great book. I try to mix it up between non-fiction (usually history or exploration) and fiction (I like to read outside my genre and chose stories which will challenge me). Recently I’ve adored Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts and Into the Silence, by Wade Davis, which tells of the early mapping and attempts to conquer Everest.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
I’m not really a fantasy fan, but it would probably have to be Lord of the Rings. I think it’s the only book I’ve read twice and it had such an effect on me as a young teenager. The worlds within worlds created by Tolkien and his lyricism are simply breath-taking.
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
I’ve never been asked what drives me to write – and I think it’s an interesting one (which may well be different for each author). When one considers that writing involves long hours stuck alone at a desk; living for months in a make believe world; having to face a blank page each morning, like a student needing to write a new essay every day; and never really knowing if anyone else will read and enjoy your output – it begs the question, why write?
Originally, my answer might have been because I wanted to prove to myself that I could finish a book; or I wanted to impress my friends; or I hoped to get published – perhaps even famous one day. Now, however, I write because my characters demand it. I am so embedded in their lives that I know I have to take their stories forward and complete them (wherever that may lead and however long). The Pantheon will be a five-book series, of which I’ve written three – and I know I must complete the other two (even if no one else ever reads them) because my characters have destinies to be forged and I owe it to them.
About the Book
Welcome to the Pantheon Games. Let the streets of Edinburgh run with blood . . .
The Games are the biggest underground event in the world, followed by millions online. New recruits must leave behind their twenty-first century lives and vie for dominance in a gruelling battle to the death armed only with ancient weapons – and their wits.
Tyler Maitland and Lana Cameron have their own reasons for signing up. Now they must risk their lives and join the ranks of seven ancient warrior teams that inhabit this illicit world. Their journey will be more extraordinary and horrifying than anything they could have dreamed, testing them to breaking point.
Let the Season begin.
About the Author
C F Barrington spent twenty years intending to write a novel, but found life kept getting in the way. Instead, his career took him into major gift fundraising, leading teams in organisations as varied as the RSPB, Oxford University and the National Trust.
When his role as Head of Communications at Edinburgh Zoo meant a third year of fielding endless media enquiries about the possible birth of a baby panda, he finally retreated to a quiet desk beside the sea and discovered the inspiration for the Pantheon saga.
Raised in Hertfordshire and educated at Oxford, he now divides his time between running over the hills of the Lake District and dog walking on the beaches of Fife.
Links Website: http://www.cfbarrington.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BarringtonCFAuthor Twitter: https://twitter.com/barrington_cf Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cfbarrington_notwriting/