The tale of Fletcher, the only Selkirk man to survive Flodden, shares the spotlight with James IV in Galashiels-born Gary Mill’s offering about one of the bloodiest and brutal battles staged on British soil.
The 58-year-old former Galashiels Academy pupil explains at the beginning of ‘Flodden’, his seventh novel: “This is a fictional story based on real events. Many of the scenes have been imagined for dramatic effect, but, in essence, the main historical events depicted did take place.”
Understandably, the Borders angle features strongly in Mill’s writing about the 1513 battle staged near the Northumberland village of Branxton, roughly about three miles from the Scottish border as the crow flies.
But the slaughter of many thousands resulted in terrible confusion throughout Scotland. The governing dynasty at every level and in every area of life was largely eliminated, and few families were left untouched by Flodden, which claimed the life of James, the last British monarch to die in battle.
In 1976, Mill went from Galashiels Academy to Edinburgh University, attaining an MA (Hons) in history. The father of three spent most of his working life with Dalkeith diary manufacturer Charles Letts, but in conjunction with this he also worked as a musician, songwriter and, subsequently, screenwriter/novelist.
Mill added: “I also worked part-time as a tour guide in Edinburgh because I’ve always had a lifelong and passionate interest in history, especially Scottish history.”
He went on: “I started writing creatively in 2010 and ‘Flodden’ was my very first project. Subsequently, I was lucky enough to be invited down to London by the BBC in 2013 as a finalist in their Writers’ Room programme (one of 24 finalists out of 4,000 submissions) - on the basis of a terrorist conspiracy screenplay I had submitted called ‘The Leper and the Angel’. I now feature on the BBC’s Writers’ List.
“To date, I’ve been lucky enough to feature on many of Amazon’s Top-100 book charts - and my books are now available in both e-book and paperback format on Amazon books worldwide.
Mill, who lives in Edinburgh, has now left Charles Letts and works full-time as a writer, currently working on his eighth novel.