You can also find out more about Christopher from his recent interview with fellow author, Rune S. Nielsen.
Christopher Clargo is the author of the fantasy novel, ‘The Stones of Valtara’. He lives in South Wales with his wife and two children. When he’s not writing, Christopher works as a full-time teacher and also plays bass in a cover band.
With a busy life, reading tends to be more about gathering research for his novel than reading for pleasure; but with a long commute to school, he still gets the chance to listen to audio books of his favourite authors. Some of these include:
Historical Fiction: Bernard Cornwell, Manda Scott, Simon Scarrow, Valerio Massimo Manfredi, Conn Iggulden
Fantasy: Mark Lawrence, Joe Abercrombie, Andrzej Sapkowski, J. R. R. Tolkien, Stephen Lawhead
Science Fiction: Alastair Reynolds, Andy Weir, M R Forbes, H. G. Wells
Out of all of their amazing bodies of work, two trilogies stand out as inspiring Christopher’s writing style and themes for his first novel
‘The First Law’ by Joe Abercrombie
It would be fair to say that Grimdark isn’t everyone’s idea of what a fantasy story should be about; but as the HBO Series, Game of Thrones, has showed, audiences love morally grey characters, epic battles and unforgiving, realistic worlds. Although George R R Martin’s A song of Ice and Fire series is arguably the most famous example of Grimdark, Christopher’s favourite work in this sub-genre is Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law.
Set in a world similar to that of Early Medieval Europe and the greater Mediterranean, Abercrombie’s vivid, uncompromising prose, gritty realism and unrestrained descriptions of violence fully immerses the reader into the world of the Union, The North and the Gurkish Empire.
The plot revolves around a series of complex, flawed characters that navigate their way through the story. They are led by Bayaz, First of the Magi, who like Melisandre from A song of Ice and Fire, influences and exploits those around him to shape the world to his own design.
By far, Christopher’s favourite character from The First Law is Logen Ninefingers—or as those who’ve read the books call him—’The Bloody-Nine’. In fact, the creation of Tarek Grimbard is partly inspired by Abercrombie’s infamous warrior and his all-consuming berserker rage.
‘The Warlord Chronincles’ by Bernard Cornwell
The legend of Arthur is one of the most recognisable stories from Britain’s past; but over time, the references to Arthur in the Historia Brittonum and the writings of Gildas have been transformed into what most people think of today, such as knights in shining armour, Lancelot and the Holy Grail.
In the Warlord Chronicles, Cornwell strips away the embellishments of the 12th and 13th centuries and takes the reader back to the harsh realities of a post-Roman Britain assailed by Saxons from the east and Irish raiders from the west. And from out of the turmoil emerges a brilliant military commander who thwarts the Saxons at the battle of Bathon Hill—Arthur.
Throughout the series, Cornwell brilliantly weaves the magical elements of Merlin and Nimue into the historical setting, leaving the reader second guess whether the magic is real or a mixture of coincidence, early technology, illusion and psychology.
As a testament to Cornwell’s Arthur, Christopher attributes his representation of Rodric Shieldbane to the warlord’s experiences in the second book of the series, Enemy of God.
Like many children growing up in the ’70s, Christopher was a fan of the raft of sci-fi series that aired on television. And if Dr Who, Logan’s Run, Star Trek and Gerry Anderson’s UFO weren’t enough to fuel his imagination, along came George Lucas to blow a generation away with Star Wars. Like so many of his peers, it profoundly affected Christopher’s view on life. He began to look up at the stars, wondering what it would be like to explore the depths of space.
His introduction to fantasy came in the form of the wonderful BBC Children’s television programme, Jackanory. In 1979, in its 18th season, an adaptation of The Hobbit was broadcasted with the legendary Bernard Cribbins playing Bilbo. It was a truly magical experience—one which got Christopher into fantasy role-playing games. However, this interest was short-lived as a new high-tech craze exploded onto the scene—video gaming. Rather than choosing a gaming console, Christopher nagged his parents for a microcomputer which allowed him to learn how to program.
education and career
At the age of ten, Christopher moved to Cumbria. Whilst he loved the breathtaking beauty of the mountains, lakes and rivers and the new friends he made, he struggled to adapt to life in his new school. He lost a lot of confidence and as a result, he fell behind with his education. Then, after three years away, his family returned to Wales. And although it was tough moving into his third school in as many years, he gradually caught up and left school with a respectable amount of qualifications.
From there, he studied A-Levels and then went to university, specialising in mathematics and computing. In his third year, he worked at the Royal Army Pay Corps as an analyst programer but after completing his degree, he took a different career path—he became a teacher.
After teaching for a few years, Christopher became an ICT consultant for a local education authority and was part of a team that won a number of national education awards. In 2010, Christopher returned to full-time teaching. Although he still specialises in digital learning, he has a passion for teaching English, history and science. And that’s when his interest in writing stories began.
Christopher and his wife love going to concerts. They’ve seen many bands over the years including Kings of Leon, The Manic Street Preachers, The Stereophonics, The Killers, First Aid Kit, Of Monsters and Men and Alter Bridge. His favourite concert was way back in 1990, when he saw The Alarm play Newport Centre. They were magnificent!
More recently, Christopher has been visiting conference centres for a different reason. With a daughter who competes in cosplay masquerades, he can often be found ambling through the exhibition halls of all manner of conferences with a leshen from the Witcher or Eto Yoshimura from Tokyo Ghoul walking alongside him. To be honest, he doesn’t mind going because he gets the chance to see her perform and also spend time with his son testing out the latest tech, playing retro video games and watching King of Bots. Unless you haven’t worked it out yet, Christopher’s a bit of a geek…Or is it a nerd? Probably both.
He also enjoys walking his dog, Alfie and going fishing with his son when the family are holidaying on the Jurassic Coast. They’ve spent many happy hours relaxing on Chesil Beach regardless of whether they catch anything or not—usually the latter.
Christopher’s other great passion is playing music. He’s been in a few bands over the years and is currently in a cover band playing around the clubs and pubs of South East Wales. They play a range of songs from over the decades which they hope will please the crowd—not that many people care after a day of drinking during a Six Nations weekend!