Philip Womack - Author Picture

Philip Womack - Author

Philip Womack was born in Chichester in the middle of a thunderstorm in 1981.
He was educated at Lancing, and Oriel College, Oxford, where he read Classics and English. He lives in London.

He is currently a Contributing Editor at Literary Review and writes for The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, among other papers; he is also a Fellow at First Story, currently being Writer in Residence at St Augustine's in Kilburn. He has led workshops on Greek Tragedy and How to Write Children's Fiction for the How To: Academy.

A Q&A with Philip Womack on The Broken King

How would you describe The Broken King to someone who hasn’t read it?
It’s a fast-moving, dark fantasy about searching for a lost sibling, featuring a knight that can turn into a swan, mysterious golden messengers, car chases, demi-gods and a giant snake made out of shadows. And lots of other things.

What’s your favourite scene in the book?
The second chapter, where the hero, Simon, meets a golden woman on a deer with irridescent, peacock-like wings, for the first time. I wanted to create a sense of warmth and mystery and excitement.

What was the most fun to write? What was the hardest chapter or scene to write?
It was all very enjoyable to write: the pain comes in the editing. The first chapter, in which Simon wishes his sister away, went through several edits; so much so that I began to think I might never finish it. So definitely that one.

What were your favourite books when you were young? Have any of them influenced The Broken King?
I loved T H White’s The Once and Future King, a cycle of Arthurian stories, and I think some of that has definitely found its way into The Broken King: the Knight of the Swan, for instance. In the second book we’ll see more of these knights, about which I am very excited.

Can you tell us about the poem that inspired the book? What other poems would you really recommend to young readers?
Robert Browning’s “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” is a rather extraordinary piece of work: it takes its inspiration from a line in William Shakespeare’s King Lear, spoken by Edgar when he’s disguised as the madman Poor Tom. It’s a poem about a quest for the Dark Tower – only we don’t know why the knight is doing it, simply that many have tried and failed before (including Giles and Cuthbert – hence Giles Cuthbertson in The Broken King.) It’s a hugely atmospheric poem which manages to create tension out of stasis; and I have always been fascinated by the idea of the Dark Tower, as many writers before me have. It looms in the collective mind, frightening yet enthralling.

With Browning, I would recommend “My Last Duchess” to young readers, a poem about a very sinister Duke.

Do you have any tips for anyone who wants to be a writer? Read, observe, listen, practise. I think, especially today, what with the proliferation of writing courses and even degrees, that people view “writing” as something that can be not only taught, but learned and then used professionally. Some of these things may be true, but it’s more complicated than that.

If you have an urge to write, or find it easy to write, then now is no better time than to hone your skills: look at what people say and what they do; think about how people behave and why they behave in those ways. Stories can be found anywhere and everywhere: look around your classroom and there will be hundreds of stories. The writer’s job is to find them, tease them out and make them accessible and interesting to the reader. Remember that: writers have readers.

Featured Books, with extracts, by Philip Womack

Reader ReviewedThe King's Revenge
Philip Womack
A story of knights and gods, a quest that takes its characters through wild and strange landscapes, a tale of courage and loyalty in the face of terrifying opponents, The King's Revenge brings Philip Womack's much lauded Darkening Path...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers | 13+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 28/05/2016
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The Double Axe
Philip Womack
Greek myths offer a rich source of story and inspire readers – and writers – as much today as ever. Philip Womack has written a thrilling version of the Minotaur story. Set in a Knossos so real you can almost...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers | 9+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 26/02/2016
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Reader ReviewedThe King's Shadow
Philip Womack
Hidden away in the Land of the Broken King, Johnny and Anna are being held prisoner. Bravely, Simon and Flora enter the hidden kingdom to search for their missing siblings. It's a journey that demands the greatest courage as...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers | 13+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 07/05/2015
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Reader ReviewedThe Broken King
Philip Womack
One of our Books of the Year 2014 When Simon is really annoyed with his sister Anna he summons up the Broken King from a favourite poem and asks him to take her away. Of course, he doesn't really believe...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 13+ readers | 11+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 28/06/2014
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The Liberators
Philip Womack
This is a compelling modern fantasy that sees modern-day London threatened by sinister ancient forces. A brutal death, a mysterious object and the Capital sliding into anarchy is what greets Ivo Moncrieff as he arrives in London. Ivo faces a...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers | 13+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 01/02/2010
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The Other Book
Philip Womack
An inventive, dark and lyrically-told fantasy thriller by first-time novelist Philip Womack. Truly compelling, I was utterly transfixed at the story of Edward, a 12 year old boy who, through an ancient book shrouded in a brooding curse that is...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 07/01/2008
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