This week I finally completed a draft of the book (I have stopped using the old title – I think it needs to change). Looking back now I never realised how the writing process changes the book from the early drafts.

For example Maurice FitzThomas, the subject of the podcast ‘Rebel Lord’ was originally intended to feature heavily in the book – he is now a peripheral figure.

Despite the changes the book still however maintains the same structure using biographies of people who lived through the 14th century to tell the history of the plague and the preceding years in an engaging fashion.

Richard Ledrede (3 chapters)

Ledrede was the bishop of Ossory between 1317 and 1360. While he spent much of his reign in exile in Avignon and then England, he was one of the most notorious men of the 14th century. In 1324 he conducted the witchcraft trial of Alice Kyteler and executed Petronilla of Meath. Richard chapters looks at the social impact of the Bruce Invasion and the aftermath of the Black Death.

Walter de la Pulle (2 chapters)

De la Pulle is a fascinating figure. He came to prominence in the early 14th century when he lead a rebellion in Louth that ended in defeat. Like so many other of the age he was able to buy his way out of punishment by serving in the kings armies in Scotland. During the Bruce Invasion of Ireland he restored his fortunes and by the 1320s he was the royal escheator in Ireland. Walter’s chapters examine the chaos of life during and after the Bruce Invasion of Ireland.

James Butler (1331 – 1382)(2 chapters)

The second Earl of Ormond he was among the most powerful men of the mid fourteenth century. He spent most of the 1350s fighting the Gaelic Irish and was an key figure in Norman society. His chapters looks at life immediately before the plague and through the 1350s.

John Clyn (2 chapters)

Guardian of the Franciscan Friary in Kilkenny, John wrote one of the most important accounts of the Black Death in Kilkenny in 1348-49. He also chronicled life in the wider Kilkenny and Tipperary region through the 14th century

Johanna Stackpoll (1 chapter)

Daughter of a powerful merchant family in Dublin, she married Richard de St Olave in the 1320s, the scion of wealthy fishmongers in Dublin. Johanna survived the plague and emerged into a bewildering world in the aftermath. Her chapter looks at life in Dublin in 1349.

Alice Drogh’ (1 chapter)

Born in Drogheda, hence her name Drogh’- Drogheda, she moved to Kilkenny around 1351. Alice’s life is interesting as she was one of those in a position to take advantage of the strange post-plague world.

A lot done more to do?

While most of the hard work is done, the book is still not ready. There are a few problems that need to ironed out. There is an issue in terms of the pacing and arc of the story of the early chapters. Currently the book develops a sense of urgency a bit early and at times it feels like it is approaching the climax at chapter three. This is not a major problem but needs to be sorted before recording. The crux of this issue is largely around language. Listeners of the podcast will be aware I tend to use dramatic language this creates a sense of urgency.

When will it be out?

I have set a few dates that I have failed to live up to. I have chatted with Dr Eve Campbell, who is editing the book, and both of us feel that it is still possible to have the audiobook ready before by mid December. If anything changes I will let you know.

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