Author bios: the author’s bane

One of the banes of an author’s life is being expected to provide a third-person biography for outlets ranging from webzines and blogs through to publishers and newspapers. It’s hard enough writing about oneself, but an author bio is expected to combine witty self-deprecation with enough carefully judged self-aggrandisement that the reader will immediately rush off to your website/Facebook page/Twitter account/Amazon page and, at least, scan through your books and features.

I wrote my standard, mid-length, author bio a while ago, before my last couple of books were published, but now Harriet (wife and critic-in-chief) tells me that it no longer properly reflects, in tone and content, what I do. I, on the other hand, point to a recent comment on a blog: That has to be one of the best author bios ever!

So I would like to throw this open to the collective wisdom of my readers. Here is my current author bio. Should I keep it or should I change it?

Edoardo Albert is, on paper, an exotic creature: Italian, Sinhala and Tamil by birth, he grew up in London among the children of immigrants (it was only when he went to university that he got to know any English people). His proudest writing achievement was reducing a reader to helpless, hysterical laughter. Unfortunately, it was a lonely-hearts ad. Edwin: High King of Britain, his first novel, has just been published by Lion Fiction; at the moment, he’s writing volumes two and three of The Northumbrian Thrones trilogy, a biography of Alfred the Great with osteoarchaeologist Dr Katie Tucker and a spiritual history of London. He is quite busy. Edoardo is online at, and on Facebook and Twitter, @EdoardoAlbert, too.

Welcome Daily Science Fiction Readers!


Hello! If you’ve just come via the link from Daily Science Fiction (or even if you’ve turned up by chance), you’re most welcome. ‘Ghosts of Mars’ was my fifth story in Daily SF – if you’d like to read something else by me, here’s the page with links to my published stories (there’s 33 of them! For a long time, I was averaging one story published per decade. Although there might be a story in the 330-year-old writer kept alive by the slowness of his publication stream, thankfully it’s no longer autobiographical.)

Edwin: High King of Britain
Edwin: High King of Britain

I’ve also had seven books published (seven! I still find that hard to believe), with my latest, a biography of Alfred the Great, out in a couple of weeks. Here’s the link to my books page; I’m particularly pleased with Edwin: High King of Britain, the first in The Northumbrian Thrones trilogy that tells the story of the Dark Ages kingdom of Northumbria. No less a writer than Bernard Cornwell (yes, that Bernard Cornwell) called it ‘a splendid novel’, so if you like historical fiction you might want to take a look at it.

Finally, there’s lots more here on my blog, or you can follow me on Twitter @EdoardoAlbert or join me on Facebook. Thank you again for reading Ghosts of Mars’ and let me know what you thought of it – comments are welcome!

Blog tour: what, how, why and how…

1. What are you working on?

Quite a lot! First, and I’m about half way through this and typing frantically with one eye on the approaching 16 May deadline, is a biography of Alfred the Great with Dr Katie Tucker, the osteoarchaeologist (she works with bones) who is leading the search for the mortal, but lost, remains of the king. There was a recent BBC 2 TV programme, The Search For Alfred The Great, hosted by the lustrous Neil Oliver, on the efforts to find King Alfred’s body, which can be seen in part here. This biography tells his life, and extraordinary achievements, and Dr Tucker will be writing about her search for his lost remains. The book is called In Search of Alfred the Great: The King, The Grave, The Legend and will be published by Amberley Publishing.

Then there’s volume two of The Northumbrian Thrones, Oswald: Return of the King.

Oswald: Return of the KIng
Oswald: Return of the KIng

The sequel to Edwin: High King of Britain tells the story of Edwin’s nephew, Oswald, who with his family fled to the sea-spanning kingdom of Dal Riada when Edwin defeated and killed his father in battle when he was a child – in the Dark Ages, the personal really was political! JRR Tolkien, the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University, took his inspiration for Aragorn, the dispossessed king who returns to claim his kingdom, from Oswald, and his story is crucial in the history of England. It was a time of great danger – no king of Northumbria before Oswald had managed to die a natural death – but also the sudden birth of great beauty, as if the precariousness of life made the preciousness of things made with consuming skill all the greater.

I’m aiming to have written Oswald: Return of the King by the end of October for publication next Easter. After that, I’ll be working on the final volume of The Northumbrian Thrones, Oswy: King of Kings, which is about Oswald’s half brother and successor as king of Northumbria (in a time before surnames, parents gave their children names with the same prefix to indicate they were siblings; thus Alfred the Great’s five elder brothers and his sister all had names beginning with Æthel. Presumably even his mum and dad were getting confused when they came to number seven and called him Ælfred instead). Volumes two and three of The Northumbrian Thrones will be published by Lion Fiction.

And to round things out, there’s The Light That Drowns The Stars: A Spiritual History of London. Now, I’m an unusual creature: someone living in London who was actually born here, and lived all my life in the city – to be precise, up and down a six-mile section of the Piccadilly Line. This is an exciting, making it up as I go along sort of book, where I’m writing a spiritual history of the town that is both the Great Wen, a pustule on the bottom of the country, and the inspiration of religious and spiritual movements ranging from Methodism to the Alpha Course. Also, London formed me, for ill and good, and that story, I realised, forms how I write its history and thus is part of its history too. It’s a thrilling, though, nerve wracking, book to write. It should be out later next year from Lion Hudson.

2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?

A lot of Early Medieval historical fiction concentrates on the heroic aspects of the Heroic Age: shieldwalls and battles, with a side order of wenching and pillaging – sort of Rambo in the sixth century. I wanted to take this and build a bigger picture: the obscurity of the Dark Ages hides the birth of England, Scotland and Wales, the foundations and many of the lift shafts of everything that came afterwards. And, what is more, it was the battles that often settled the questions: would England expand and dominate the whole country? Answered, emphatically in the negative, in the Battle of Nechtansmere in 685. Would the Romano-Britons be able to drive the Anglo-Saxons from their land? Again, a question answered in blood at Mount Badon and Catterick and elsewhere, and the reason I am writing today in English, not Welsh.

So, with The Northumbrian Thrones, I wanted to widen the focus and look at the interplay of nation building and identity, and how they worked out in the crucial period when the pagan kings of the Anglo-Saxons decided where their religious, and cultural, future lay. The personal choices made by a few men and women then determined our national trajectory up until today.

This was all made considerably easier because I had already written a non-fiction book on the history and archaeology of Northumbria, with archaeologist and director of the Bamburgh Research Project, Paul Gething. Northumbria: the Lost Kingdom, and the many conversations I had with Paul, gave me almost everything I needed in terms of historical research and, in Paul, I had access to one of the finest, most incisive analysts of the Early Medieval period there is. We spent many hours discussing the finer points of shieldwall battle tactics and the etiquette of duelling, with Paul always able to bring to bear some archaeological nugget or fascinating ethnographic parallel.

Another difference is that I don’t simply write historical fiction. Edwin: High King of Britain is my first novel, but I’ve had five books published before it, four on history and one children’s book (the details are all on my books page). I’ve also had over thirty short stories published in various magazines, in genres ranging from science fiction and fantasy, through literary fiction to a stab at romance! There’s a page linking to my stories here.

3. Why do you write what you do?

Because someone paid me! First off, writing is a job. The strange thing is, for all the years I looked on writing as an art and vocation and all that sort of stuff, I got virtually nowhere, wrote very little, and had almost nothing published. Since I’ve switched to looking at it as a job, and started – against all my instincts – to push myself forward and market myself in all sorts of hideous ways, I’ve not had time to stop.

But it’s also fair to say I get very grumpy if I don’t write – my sons found the perfect image of what I’m like if I don’t write regularly: it’s not a pretty sight, is it.

Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex)
Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex)

4. How does your writing process work?

I get up at 5am, make a cup of tea, say my prayers, and start writing. Getting up at that time means I get two hours before the rest of the family are up, or at least 45 minutes if I have to leave to do some freelance editing at Time Out or Bella or one of the other places I do shifts at. I know many writers find reading about the actual writing process fascinating, but I avoid reading it and I’m not much cop at writing it. In the end, it comes down to putting one word after another. The main, perhaps only, thing I’ve learned is: trust the words. They’re tough little blighters, and will do all the heavy lifting for you, if you give them the chance.

Thank you to Justin Hill (author of Shieldwall and a very fine writer) for asking me to continue the tour. Read his answers here.

The blog tour has stopped recently at Matthew Harffy’s blog (author of the Bernicia Chronicles, which are also set in seventh-century Northumbria); AH Gray who, although condemned to the sunshine of Perth, Western Australia, finds her true home also by the cold grey waters of the North Sea – she is the author of the Northumbrian Saga.

The tour continues…

Christi Daugherty takes cool and brands it in her own inimitable  style. The author of the best-selling Night School series of YA novels, she combines writing about the sort of teenagers I wish I’d been with an unerring nose for a good cup of coffee.

CJ Daugherty
CJ Daugherty

A former crime reporter, political writer and investigative journalist, CJ Daugherty wrote for several American newspapers and for Reuters before becoming a full-time novelist. Her young adult series, Night School, set in a boarding school for the children of the political elite, has been translated into 21 languages.

Julian Bell will warm the heart of English teachers throughout the world – after years teaching the subject all over the world, he is about to step into the page with his first novel, Whatever You Say, Say Nothing.

Julian Bell
Julian Bell

Julian Bell has worked as a teacher for twenty-seven years in London, Hong Kong, Spain, Kent and Hertfordshire. He is currently Head of English at the Godolphin and Latymer School in West London. He has written comedy scripts for BBC Radio 4 and a variety of stand-up comedians, and his poetry has been published in a number of magazines and has won several prizes. He has also been a restaurant and book reviewer, and has been commissioned by the Royal School of Church Music to write the lyrics of a Christmas carol. He writes a weekly column on London at

Whatever You Say, Say Nothing, his novel set in Dublin in 1920 at the height of the Anglo-Irish war, is the first volume of a planned trilogy: the second volume, My Enemy’s Enemy, will be set in London in 1940 – 41 during the Blitz, and the third, Ourselves Alone, in Belfast, London and the Lake District in 1975. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

Lots of New Stuff

As it says, there really is lots of new stuff.

First off, and this is for your ears rather than your eyes, there’s a podcast of my story, From Here To The Northern Line, available to listen or download from Third Flatiron Publishing. It’s read by the brilliant and talented Harriet Whitbread, who has made me see the story in a whole new light by the life she brings to the characters. It’s available here.

If you’d like to read the story as well as listen to it, From Here To The Northern Line is in the Astronomical Odds anthology form Third Flatiron.

Then, in the Trust & Treachery anthology which features writers as well known as Beth Cato and James Daniel Ross, nestled in among the big names is Neighbour From Hell, a short story about a neighbour who is unusual in other ways apart from always wearing slippers.

Trust & Treachery
Trust & Treachery

These are both speculative fiction stories, but I sometimes strike out into literary fiction too, and the discerning Nancy Wagner at Page & Spine magazine has taken two of my stories for her showcase there: Disconnecting and Brothers.


So, it’s been a busy few weeks, and there should be a couple more short stories coming soon. Watch this space!

An Unexpected Sight

There I was at the London Book Fair on Tuesday, wandering along, taking in the bustle and the deal making, enjoying the atmosphere and slowly heading over towards the Lion Hudson stand, where I had a 10.30 meeting with my publisher, when I stopped (creating something a people jam behind me). There, ahead of me, were the swirling lines of an Anglo-Saxon design, and ‘Edwin: High King of Britain’ in letters considerably bigger than my head, and ‘Edoardo Albert’ (about the size of my head), on a series of display boards. Unknown to me, Lion Hudson was featuring Edwin as one of its major new titles for the year. So, here’s a picture of me standing in front of the display.

At the London Book Fair 2014
At the London Book Fair 2014

And here are a couple more photos, with Tony Collins, publisher of Lion Fiction, and Jessica Tinker, my editor at Lion.

With Tony Collins at London Book Fair 2014
With Tony Collins at London Book Fair 2014
With Jessica Tinker at London Book Fair 2014
With Jessica Tinker at London Book Fair 2014



At the London Book Fair 2014

And Another Book Too!

Alfred planning the capture of the Danish fleet
Alfred planning the capture of the Danish fleet

On the never rains but it pours principle, to add to the contracts for the next two volumes of The Northumbrian Thrones, signed yesterday, I’ve also just put my signature to a contract with Amberley Publishing to write a biography of Alfred the Great! This is particularly exciting because I’ll be writing the book with Dr Katie Tucker, the osteoarchaeologist at the centre of the research efforts to locate and identify Alfred’s remains, as shown in the recent BBC2 programme, The Search for Alfred the Great (it’s no longer on iPlayer, but a search on YouTube might just find the whole programme).

Statue of Alfred in Wantage, his birthplace
Statue of Alfred in Wantage, his birthplace

From Here To The Northern Line in Astronomical Odds

I’m delighted to say that my story, ‘From Here to the Northern Line’, will appear in the Astronomical Odds anthology from Third Flatiron Publishing – and my estimable wife, Harriet Whitbread, will be recording the story so that it will be available as a podcast. Since Harriet is supremely gifted at bringing words to life, this really will be worth listening to! Here’s the cover of Astronomical Odds – the book is out on 15 March.

Astronomical Odds
Astronomical Odds

Bernard Cornwell’s read my book!

Yes, that Bernard Cornwell, author of the Sharpe books (I’ve read 23 out of 24 of them, only excepting the one where Sharpe is cuckolded by his wife and falls out with William Frederickson, as I couldn’t bear to read it) and the Saxon War novels, and, now with Patrick O’Brian gone, probably the best and certainly the best-known writer of historical fiction in the world, that Bernard Cornwell – he’s read my book! My publisher, Lion Fiction, sent Bernard’s (we’re on first name terms now he’s endorsed my book!) agent a copy of Edwin: High King of Britain, but without any real hope of getting a reply – we had no ‘in’ with him, beyond the fact that he had once visited the Bamburgh Research Project. Then, to our astonishment, we received an email yesterday from the man himself. He’s read my book! He likes it!! He’s written a commendation for the cover!!! He’s given me even more reason to use exclamation marks!!!!!

So, when I say that I think the book is actually really rather good, I’ve now got Bernard Cornwell to back me up. Now, you want to know what he said, don’t you? Me, I kept re-reading it all yesterday. Well, here you go, this is what Bernard said, I’m sure it will have pride of place on the cover:

Edwin, High King of Britain, brings to life the heroic age of our distant past, a splendid novel that leaves the reader wanting more.


The Reluctant Eagle – a taster

This story won The Independent Story of the Year competition many years ago, but it’s now very hard to find, so I’m delighted that Alfie Dog Fiction has published it on their website. The novelist Angela Lambert, one of the competition judges, was kind enough to compare it to Kipling – high praise indeed.

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos).
Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos).

Here’s the start of the story:

One day the Reluctant Eagle decided he would like to see outside the nest. He knew his feathers were not quite ready for flying but he thought that it would be alright just to look.

Foot by foot he struggled up the eyrie. By the time he got to the top his legs were aching.

Then he had his first look Out There.

It was just as well the eyrie was old and well built. It could take the impact of a nearly full grown eagle falling into it flat on his back.

The sky and cliff had still not stopped spinning when Mrs Eagle returned to the nest.

“Are you alright, dear?”

The Reluctant Eagle struggled upright and tried to bury himself under his mother. But really he was far too big for that anymore and all he succeeded in doing was nearly pushing her out of the nest.

“Calm down, dear. Now, what’s the matter?”

“I… I looked Out There,” the Reluctant Eagle said. “I’m really sorry, I know I promised to be good, but I just wanted to look.”

“At least you didn’t try to fly before you’re ready.”

“It’s so far down,” he said.

“What’s so far down?” Mrs Eagle was beginning to realise what her son was talking about.

“Everything. Out There.”

“But you will be able to fly, dear. Up, down, and round and round.”

The round and round was a mistake. The Reluctant Eagle groaned and hid his head beneath his wing.

Mrs Eagle’s suspicions were confirmed. Her son was scared of heights. She was flummoxed.

Mr Eagle arrived at that moment. When Mrs Eagle had explained what was wrong he prodded his son with his beak. “Pull yourself together, boy. This is no way for an eagle to act.”

“I wish I’d never hatched.” The voice was still muffled as the Reluctant Eagle had discovered that if he kept his head under his wing and his eyes tight shut then everything stopped spinning. “I liked the egg. I never asked to be an eagle. Why couldn’t I have been a… a rabbit or a deer or something?”

Mr Eagle was too shocked to answer. How could an eagle want to be a rabbit?

Mrs Eagle spread her wings, indicating for her husband to follow.

“We’ll be back soon, dear,” she said. “Don’t forget to eat your dinner.”

The wind caught her wings and in one soaring swooping arc she was carried off until she landed on a nearby crag. Mr Eagle followed.

“How are we going to teach our son to fly if he’s afraid of heights?” asked Mrs Eagle.

Mr Eagle was taken by surprise at this request to start thinking so soon after landing. “Er, I think we have to do something,” he said.

“So do I,” said Mrs Eagle.

“You do? Oh, of course you do. Yes, we have to do something.”

“Quite,” said Mrs Eagle.

“Right. I know, I’ll tell him to start acting like a proper eagle.”

“You already have,” Mrs Eagle pointed out.


“Who do we know who’s afraid of heights?”

“No one on my side of the family,” said Mr Eagle.

“I didn’t mean eagles.”

“Who else is there?”

“Well, you know.”

“I do? Oh, yes, of course I do.” Mr Eagle stared off into the distance, hoping for inspiration. He noticed a pair of ears twitching against the skyline.

“Rabbits?” he said.

“Well, not just rabbits,” said Mrs Eagle. “Any of the four feet. They can’t fly so I suppose they must be scared of heights.”

“Right. Quite. Scared of heights. Hmph.”

“So we could ask them.”

“Yes.” The word was out of his beak before he could stop it. “Ask the four feet?”

“Who else would know?”

“Er, yes.” Mr Eagle was trying to work out how he had agreed to this.

“So.” Mrs Eagle turned to look at him. “What are you waiting for? A watched egg never hatches, you know.” As she spoke her wings opened to their full span and before Mr Eagle could say anything she was airborne. He watched her disappear over the edge of the cliff.

“Ah well,” said Mr Eagle and went off in search of four feet.

The rest of the story is available to download from Alfie Dog for the princely sum of 39p (of which I receive half), in files suitable for Kindle, other e-readers or as a pdf to be printed out.

The Pigeon’s Revenge – a taster

Here’s an extract from The Pigeon’s Revenge, a tale of London.

The pigeon shook his head sadly. Poison was horrible.

The rat was rolling around on the ground by the drains, holding his sides, his face contorted with pain. The pigeon shook his head again. But there was nothing he could do to ease the rat’s pain. And was that some bird seed over there?

‘Hey, mate, you read this?’

The pigeon looked around. It was the rat. But the rat did not seem to be dying horribly. In fact, he looked rather healthy and surprisingly cheerful for an animal that had been rolling on the ground, holdings its sides a moment before.

‘Read what?’ asked the pigeon.

‘This,’ said the rat, pointing at the newspaper he was standing on. He giggled. ‘Reckon you’d better have a look, Mr High and Mighty Pigeon.’

The pigeon limped over. His right foot was not what it was since he had got a piece of plastic twine caught over his claw. The circulation had been cut off and in the end he had lost two of his toes. Still, can’t complain. That was the great pigeon motto. After all, he could be back where they had all come from in the first place, freezing his feathers off on some exposed cliff in the country, ideally placed to catch every arctic wind howling down from the north. Anything was better than that, even living in cities.

‘Go on read this,’ said the rat, shuffling backwards so the pigeon could see the headline.

‘Mayor Declares War On Flying Rats.’ The headline filled half the page.

The pigeon shook his head, trying to concentrate on the rest of the story. The new mayor of London had decided that pigeons were vermin, who spread disease and dirt, and he had vowed as part of his ‘strategy for a cleaner London’ to rid the city of these ‘flying rats’.

The rat snickered. ‘Thought we rats were the only vermin in the city. Looks like you guys are joining the gang. Reckon I ought to start calling you cousin.’

The pigeon looked up at the rat. ‘But I don’t understand,’ he said. ‘People like us. They give us seed and bread, and we clean up the mess they leave behind all over the place. Why do they want to get rid of us?’

The rat laughed. ‘Get over it, mate. That’s people for you. They just like killing things, that’s all there is to it. They’ve been trying to get rid of us since, well, since forever, only we’re too clever for them. So I reckon they’ve just got bored and decided to go after something easier. Personally I give you guys about six months and then – bye bye.’ The rat waved his paw. His whiskers twitched in a way that looked suspiciously like he was trying not to laugh. But then the rat gave up the struggle and he started to giggle, and then to laugh, and then to howl, until in the end he was rolling around on the newspaper holding his sides, with tears rolling from his eyes, wheezing through the laughter, ‘Enough… no, no, enough… flying rats….’

The rain that had been threatening began to fall. The pigeon stood there, staring at the abandoned newspaper as it slowly began to absorb the falling water. Water trickled off his feathers and dripped to the ground. A single drop quivered at the point of his beak.


The drop fell, and another began to form.

The rat’s sides slowly ceased their impersonation of a bellows and he picked himself up and began to wash his whiskers and clean his toes and his leg pits.

The news print was all but illegible now, having soaked the water up like toilet paper. The rat looked sidelong at the pigeon. The bird was still standing there, without moving, and another drop was trembling at the tip of his beak.

‘Come on, mate,’ said the rat. ‘What’s wrong? It ain’t the end of the world, you know.’

But still the pigeon did not move or respond.

The rat sidled closer under the pretence of cleaning his bottom. He gave it a good wipe on the newspaper. The rat had always found newspapers particularly effective for such functions, and it meant he always had something to read while he was on the lavatory.

‘Look, mate, you can’t let yourself go just because you’ve had a bit of bad news,’ said the rat.

The pigeon continued to stare down at the paper.

‘Let’s clean you up a bit,’ said the rat. ‘Can’t have you all snotty nosed, er, I mean beaked,’ and he picked up his tail and began to wipe the drop from the end of the pigeon’s beak.

The pigeon exploded. Feathers, wings, legs, beaks (or at least it seemed like he had more than one beak it was moving so fast) they all thrashed out like someone had just plugged the pigeon into the mains and pulled the switch.

The rat fell flat on his back, then scrambled upright in less time than it takes to blink (a rat doesn’t stay a rat for long if it can’t get back on its feet fast). He assumed the position known as Crouching Rat, Hidden Cat, the primary posture of rodent martial arts.

‘Kiaaaaiiii!’ yelled the rat, ready to take on whatever had got the pigeon. He was not going down without a fight. Eyes flicked left, right, left, up and down. But there was nothing moving. Only the pigeon, standing there, quivering, every feather on his body standing on end. The rat sniffed. His ears twizzled around. His whiskers twitched. He tasted the air with his tongue.

All clear.

‘You all right, mate,’ he said cautiously to the pigeon.

The pigeon slowly turned his head and stared at the rat.

‘No,’ the pigeon said. ‘I am not all right. After everything we’ve done for them, cleaning up their mess, and I’ve seen them on a Saturday night staggering around like new hatched chicks, throwing up all over the place, making messes in doorways, throwing their rubbish around, and they have the nerve, the cheek, the sheer sheer… EFFRONTERY to call us, us, vermin. This is it. This has to stop. No more downy chest feathers, this means war, Mr Rat, I tell you, this is war. Well?’

The pigeon stared at the rat, looking suddenly more frightening than an alley cat.


The rat backed away a couple of steps.

‘Well what?’ asked the rat.

‘Are you with us or against us, Mr Rat?’ said the pigeon. ‘Will you join in the struggle to free ourselves and our people from the curse of evil human politicians or will you return to your sewer and wait there until they drag you and all your kind out into the daylight and a long and lingering death. Well, Mr Rat, are you with us or against us? Now is the time to choose.’

‘Er, did you say, Mr Rat?’ asked the rat, his nose twitching.

‘Why, of course, Mr Rat,’ said the pigeon. ‘What else would I call you?’

‘Only, well, no one’s actually ever called me like, Mr Rat before,’ said the rat. ‘Usually it’s ugh, it’s a rat or eek! a rat or filthy rat. No one’s called me Mister before.’

‘In this struggle we are all equal, Mr Rat,’ said the pigeon. ‘You will be Mr Rat so long as you fight at our side.’

‘Right, right,’ said the rat. ‘Er, what will you be?’

‘I, of course, will be Squadron Leader Pigeon,’ said the pigeon. ‘Together we will unleash a new Blitz on the unworthy rulers of this great city.’

‘Can’t I be a Squadron Leader too?’ asked the rat.

‘I am sorry to say only fliers can be squadron leaders,’ said the pigeon.

‘Oh,’ said the rat, his tail drooping a little.

‘But you could certainly be a captain,’ said the pigeon, noticing the negative effect on morale this was having. The tail perked up a little. ‘Why, as leader of our ground forces you could be a major – ’ the tail perked up a little more ‘– or even a general.’ The tail lashed around in excitement.

‘What about Captain General Mr Rat?’ asked the rat.

‘Hmm,’ said the pigeon. ‘A trifle irregular I suppose, but since we are in a state of emergency I think, yes, we could allow that. So, Captain General Mr Rat. Are you with us?’

The rat stood up on his hind paws and saluted.

‘Yes, sir, Squadron Leader Mr Pigeon,’ he said.

‘Just Squadron Leader will do,’ said the pigeon.

‘Oh,’ said the rat. ‘Sorry.’

‘Quite all right, don’t worry yourself about it, my good fellow,’ said the pigeon. ‘Now, we must lay our plans…’

The rest of the story is available to download, in formats suitable for every e-reader including Kindle and as a pdf for a computer, here at Alfie Dog Fiction. It costs 49p (and I’ll receive half of that) so help keep a poor writer in birdseed and download it today (or tomorrow).