HISTORIAN AUTHOR EXPERT JOURNALIST
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Dominic Selwood is the Amazon bestselling author of The Sword of Moses, the first in a trilogy of crypto-thrillers featuring Ava Curzon, an MI6 officer turned archaeologist. He also writes about history for newspapers and magazines including the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, where his pieces often debunk historical myths. Many of his most recent articles are published in Spies, Sadists and Sorcerers: The History you Weren’t Taught in School. He speaks regularly about historical subjects on television and radio.
My earliest memories – apart from crashing a car when I was two-and-a-half – are of scrambling around the mountains and stony bondu on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. It was a slow and sleepy place to live back then, and I chiefly remember lying on the hot stones of ruined Greek, Roman, and crusader buildings watching geckos lick their eyeballs to the sound of dozy cicadas.
Before I was 10 we moved to Salisbury in Wiltshire, where I fell in love with the majestic medieval buildings set amid the romance of Salisbury Plain and enigmatic Stonehenge.
After school I went to Oxford and the Sorbonne to specialize in researching medieval history, and especially the knights of the crusades who had built the castles I remembered so well from Cyprus.
When the research was finished, I moved to London and became a barrister (court room attorney) where I did most of my work on the proud and historic Western Circuit – quickly getting thrown into everything from murder and terrorism to kidnapping and international contract killing. I gave it up in the end, but I wouldn’t swap those years for anything. It was an enormous privilege being permitted to defend people whose freedom was on the line.
Since then I’ve done a lot of things. In 2009 I moved to the Middle East, and it was there, looking out over the azure waters of the Persian Gulf (with geckos and cicadas for company again), that I wrote the first book in my ‘Ava Curzon’ thriller trilogy. The Sword of Moses is a fast-paced story of international espionage, ancient cryptic clues, biblical archaeology, violence, and – of course – the Knights Templar. These days I live in London again, where I am finishing the next book in the trilogy.
Apart from medieval history, another passion of mine is ghost stories, which is why I wrote a pair of ‘antiquarian’ short stories featuring bookish Oxford scholars from Victorian times who get sucked into hellish worlds. Suffer the Children is gentler and more sedate. The Voivod adds a twist of horror.
As well as writing historically-inspired fiction, I still do a lot of straight history. I write about subjects from the ancient Romans to World War Two spies for the UK’s Daily Telegraph and other newspapers and magazines. You’ll find a list of my articles here. A lot of them challenge accepted ideas of history, and many of them are included in my book Spies, Sadists and Sorcerers: The History you Weren’t Taught in School.
I work as an expert historian for television and radio, explaining things on documentaries, or giving the background and significance to news stories about history. You’ll find links to some of my interviews here.
If you’re really into the crusades or the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller, Knights of the Cloister is what came out of my research at the Sorbonne and Oxford. It’s a history textbook, so I don’t recommend it as light relaxing reading. It’s more for people who want names, places, and dates of real Templars and Hospitallers living in their heartland of Southern France. It covers how they attracted new members, built fortified monasteries, transformed the countryside, made friends and enemies, developed expertise in banking, and focused all their efforts on sending fresh knights, horses, weapons, and money to their garrisons fighting the crusades in the Holy Land. I loved every minute of the research – rummaging through ancient chests in old French churches and working in some of the world’s most beautiful libraries reading priceless illuminated manuscripts. I’ve put some blogs here on the early history of the Templars.
When I’m not writing, I’m making a loud noise with Sensei, a London rock band. I love rock music, and was lucky enough to write the obituary for Lemmy, the lead singer of Motörhead, in The Spectator, the UK’s oldest magazine.