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Manda Scott

Welcome to the website of MC Scott, aka Manda Scott: novelist, columnist and broadcaster. Mostly the former, it has to
be said, but that’s always what takes up the most time. It takes a year to write a book and a week to read it and this is what keeps us on the lookout always for better, more engaging, more
inspiring books.

Because books are about inspiration. They’re about letting small parts of ourselves free into the dreams of other worlds to explore other ways of being.

As George RR Martin so neatly puts it: ‘A man who reads lives a thousand lives before he dies. A man who never reads, lives only one.’ Extending that to the whole of humanity, welcome, to the world of many lives: what I write, and what you read will always be different, but somewhere in the middle is a meeting of minds where together, we create new ways of being - and some of them, may help us navigate our route through the dream we call reality.


I was a veterinary surgeon before I became a writer: I grew up in the James Herriot era and naively thought it was possible to do both well. It took me ten years of veterinary work before I began to write properly and another five before I gave up the day job for good. And it has been good: whatever anyone else tells you, writing is the best job in the world. Where else would it be possible to sit at a desk imagining the world as it might have been, could have been – occasionally as I would like it to have been – and be paid for those imaginings. Language is the core of what makes us human and the freedom to play with it, to mould it, to make new sentences that have never been formed before: it’s sheer heaven. And yes, you can remind me of that when I’m sweating a deadline and thinking life was simpler when I had random strangers phoning me at four in the morning and telling me to get out of bed.

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In the beginning, I wrote crime thrillers: what else do you do if you’re in a veterinary clinic and haven’t got time for research. The first three made a series, the fourth stood alone and both went down well: I had a career as a crime writer, and a lot of friends in the Crime Writers’ Association. Then I had a nudge to write the Boudica series. Originally conceived as a trilogy, it became a tetralogy (or a quartet, if you prefer) and the rest, as they say, is history. Four Boudica: Dreaming, translated worldwide, four ROME espionage thrillers – there’s something utterly captivating about ancient world spies – and now Jeanne d’Arc: I think I know who she was and it definitely wasn’t a peasant girl from Bar who happened to have skills with a lance. There’s a thriller in the pipelines and ideas for short stories, plays, films, television series and a mini radio operetta: that wasn’t my idea, I was just asked to help write it – you see? Writing is the very best job in the world.


Armed with pens

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Manda Scott on Writing

The History Girls

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An interview with Manda Scott by Louise Berridge


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Roman Empress - An interview with Manda Scott

Today I’m Reading

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An interview with Manda Scott by blogger Today I’m Reading

Readers Digest NZ

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An interview with author Manda Scott

Dreaming Courses

Welcome to the world of shamanic dreaming.

This is where reality diverges, the one you have been used to, and the one that actually exists. This is where boundaries shift, and keep on shifting. This is where we find out that Douglas Adams was right, and the Total Perspective Vortex is generally a pretty scary thing. But there’s help. Which is rather the point. Shamanic practice is about asking for help and what sets the trained apart from the untrained is that the former know who to ask, how to ask, how to get to there, how to get back, and how to integrate the results into their everyday lives. Because living *this* life, fully, is what it’s all about. That and learning to die with full awareness.

In early October 2010, a group of writers got together and formed the Historical Writers’ Association – the HWA.

This grew from the belief that we as historical writers need to have the same kind of professional body run by professional writers for professional writers (and their agents and publishers) to sustain, promote and support each other and our work in the way that the Crime Writers’ Association supports writers of crime fiction and non-fiction.

Our initial plans involve a Festival of Historical Writing to be held in conjunction with Historic England’s Festival of History at Kelmarsh.

We will move towards finding sponsorship for historical prizes, and organise social events similar to the CWA, plus alternatives as our members see fit: in the era of electronic networking, a great deal is being achieved already online.

If you have a question for M. C. Scott or would like to get in touch with us, please complete this form.

Rome: The Art of War


AD69: The Year of the Four Emperors.  Since Nero's suicide, three emperors have ruled in Rome and a fourth, Vespasian, has been named in the east.

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@hare_wood @erechwydd It's just... so utterly disconnected from anything approaching the real world. Climate change denial - and now this...

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Posted: 31st July 2014 @ 11:59 pm

@hare_wood @angiebUK thank you!

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Posted: 31st July 2014 @ 1:43 pm

@hare_wood @GBonds88 @GilesKristian @BernardCornwell of course you had... I didn't see the pic... apologies! /facepalm

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Posted: 31st July 2014 @ 1:30 pm

@hare_wood If you needed proof that the #ConDemNation coalition is completely bat-shit crazy, this is it: #libdem #ukpolitics

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Posted: 31st July 2014 @ 1:29 pm

@hare_wood @GBonds88 @GilesKristian @BernardCornwell You'll love them... Assuming you've already read Gods of Vengeance? It's magnificent...

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Posted: 31st July 2014 @ 1:13 pm

@hare_wood Faith's growing tired of not seeing me... so she took a picture for posterity of the 'lock-down phase' (actually,...

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Posted: 31st July 2014 @ 1:12 pm

@hare_wood I've been reading details of the story of this exceptional woman: finding that the Wiki page is entirely wrong as...

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Posted: 30th July 2014 @ 11:21 am

@hare_wood @RocknRollnWrite <doing the Happy Author dance> :)

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Posted: 28th July 2014 @ 8:29 pm

@hare_wood RT @RocknRollnWrite: Rereading @hare_wood Boudicca series. Because with storytelling like this, once is never enough. #amreading

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Posted: 28th July 2014 @ 8:29 pm

@hare_wood @SharonEckman @DoubledayUK Kind woman - thank you!

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Posted: 28th July 2014 @ 8:29 pm

MC Scott

FROM: Manda Scott

"Definitely..." on their own photo.

Posted: 31st July 2014 @ 1:17 pm

FROM: Doug Taylor

this may or may not help

The masterspy of Acton town
by Luke Jennings

At SOE, which he describes as 'pitted and pockmarked with improbable people doing implausible things for imponderable purposes and succeeding by coincidence', Marks immediately spotted two fatal flaws in the system. The first was that agents were using poems as the basis for codes, and since these poems were memorised, agents could be tortured to reveal them. In many cases, the poems were so well known that all the enemy decoders had to do was break a few words and then turn to The Dragon Book of Verse. Shakespeare, Keats and Tennyson were particularly popular. 'SOE's code-poems helped educate the Germans in English literature,' Marks tells me. 'But they weren't much use for anything else. Watch!' Taking a pen, he shows me how a poem-coded message of less than 100 characters is swiftly reducible to a series of simple anagrams. His solution to the problem was to create a code-system that changed with each message and could not possibly be remembered by the agent. The result, after some refinement, was the cut-away silk LOP, variations on which would continue to be used by intelligence agencies throughout the Cold War. Poems continued to be memorised by agents, but only for use in emergencies or if their silks were lost. Marks also made sure that code-poems were either severely doctored from their original form or written by himself. No graduate of Heidelberg University, no matter how well-read in English verse, would be familiar with the words: 'Tickle my wallypad/Tongue my zonker/And make an oak tree/Out of a conker.'

Marks's nemesis was a major in the German Abwehr named Giskes. A subtle and experienced intelligence officer, Giskes was responsible for counter-espionage in occupied Holland, and Marks became increasingly convinced that he had penetrated SOE's Dutch network. Agents' messages were transmitted to London without security checks, and even more revealingly, no 'indeciph-erables' were received for months on end. To Marks, already suspicious of the Dutch network, this lack of errors indicated that the messages were being transmitted by agents in captivity (agents at large tended to make mistakes as a result of the desperate haste in which they had to work). Marks confided his fears to his superiors on several occasions but was disregarded. As agents continued to be dropped into Holland, a battle of wits developed between Marks and his German counterpart. 'He shared my office for a minimum of 20 hours a day,' remembers Marks. 'He was a man of integrity, subtlety and very substantial skill.' Marks laid cryptographic traps for Giskes, forcing the German to reveal his hand, but without official support there was very little Marks could do but watch as agent after agent was sent in. By the end of what Giskes and his Abwehr colleagues called the 'Englandspiel' (the match against England), 51 SOE and nine SIS agents were in captivity. Almost all were executed, and Marks later discovered that many of his SOE colleagues had shared his conviction that the network had been blown.

Posted: 30th July 2014 @ 9:18 pm

FROM: Sarah Davies

have you read : Sisters, Secrets and Sacrifice the True story of Eileen and Jacquiline Nearne. they were two SOE agents in Paris

Posted: 30th July 2014 @ 12:10 pm

Link posted by: Manda Scott

I've been reading details of the story of this exceptional woman: finding that the Wiki page is entirely wrong as to her final fate (tho' this is the sanitised version, and it may be kinder to let people believe it) and wondering why nobody shot Maurice Buckmaster - the man who continued to send people into France when it was staringly obvious that the circuits had been blown and they were essentially dropping into Gestapo hands and all the absolute, unspeakable horror that implied. All immensely sad.
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Posted: 30th July 2014 @ 11:21 am

FROM: Manda Scott

":) It was a new method he..." on their own status.

Posted: 30th July 2014 @ 12:01 am

FROM: Manda Scott

"on the Kindle version, it's on..." on their own status.

Posted: 28th July 2014 @ 8:28 pm

FROM: Manda Scott

And so now a question for @ed weatherup and other cryptographers: Leo Marks devised a means by which an agent could pass the check codes to another agent without ever knowing them. He was told not to write it, so we're assuming it wasn't just passing over a sealed envelope. I'm wondering if anyone can figure out how he did it?

Posted: 28th July 2014 @ 3:18 pm

FROM: Manda Scott

"Thank you, all - am massively..." on their own photo.

Posted: 22nd July 2014 @ 10:21 pm

FROM: Linda Mc

I thought you might be interested to know that I just started training for a triathlon next spring. This grandmother does NOT run. However, today on the track, I thought of the scene in The Emperor's Spy, and I started walking nine steps, then jogging nine steps and over and over. Guess what? It works!! So, thank you for helping me get in shape! :-)

Posted: 22nd July 2014 @ 12:03 am

FROM: Manda Scott

"I wish I did... tho' something..." on their own photo.

Posted: 21st July 2014 @ 6:12 pm

FROM: Manda Scott

"Oh! Now I want to know what..." on their own photo.

Posted: 18th July 2014 @ 2:22 pm

Link posted by: Manda Scott

People seem to think Frozen is a feminist tract. This is a pretty good indication of why it not only isn't feminist, it isn't particularly progressive.

Posted: 17th July 2014 @ 3:06 pm

FROM: Manda Scott

"Glyn - hi - the Jeanne d'Arc..." on their own status.

Posted: 17th July 2014 @ 9:57 am

FROM: Manda Scott

"Authors can try to edit their..." on their own link.

Posted: 16th July 2014 @ 12:55 am

FROM: Sally Mungall

Thank you for the beautiful book. What a gift x

Posted: 15th July 2014 @ 7:38 pm

Link posted by: Manda Scott

As one of the remarkably lucky 11% who makes a living writing books, I wonder what the Page-people would think if we headed for e-book only? (as per the suggestion- of sorts - here):

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Posted: 15th July 2014 @ 1:06 pm

FROM: Manda Scott

"oooh - heading there to look..." on their own photo.

Posted: 13th July 2014 @ 10:32 am

FROM: Manda Scott

"In case it's not obvious, the..." on their own photo.

Posted: 10th July 2014 @ 7:52 pm

23rd - 26th October - a longer, bigger festival
Venue: Harrogate HIstory Festival
Date: Thursday 23 October, 2014

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Truth or Fantasy: clinging to the notions of the past

A strange thing happened to me on the way to writing this blog… Not quite, obviously, it’s a rhetorical device, but in its way it’s accura …

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Posted: 5th June 2013 @ 3:38 pm

The Art of War review on the (unofficial) British Army Website

The Art of War is set in AD 69, the 'year of the four Emperors' and is the fourth in the Rome series by MC Scott.  I hadn't heard of the author prior to …

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Posted: 5th June 2013 @ 3:37 pm

Hare Dreamer - audiobook short story now available to download

Hare Dreamer – episode 3 of the Radio 4's Moments Past series is available now to download from

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Posted: 5th June 2013 @ 3:36 pm

Scott’s Miscellany 

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