Just Another Russian-Argentine-Jewish-Historical-Fantasy-Mashup

When you put out the call to authors who have unique stories to tell, be prepared for the unexpected. This is especially true for historical-fantasy “mashups”. These can be fabulous and inventive (Think Naomi Novik’s Dragon/Napoleonic War series). Of course the line between mashup and car wreck is pretty subjective, so it’s a risky proposition (“It’s Harry Potter set in the Civil War and Hogwarts is in Arkansas…”). Still, the imagination and talent required to pull off such a trick is impressive. Even when it doesn’t work, sometimes the “what if” of it all makes the read worthwhile.

Full disclosure, I haven’t read Mirta Ines Trupp’s “Becoming Malka,” but when it takes the real history of a Russian/Jewish/Argentine family and mixes in time travel and mysticism, that’s some chutzpa/valentia/khrabrost’/nerve right there. I had to talk to her.

Mirta is a second generation Argentine; she was born in Buenos Aires in 1962 and immigrated to the United States that same year. Because of the unique fringe benefits provided by her father’s employer- Pan American Airlines- she returned to her native country frequently- growing up with “un pie acá, y un pie allá” (with one foot here and one foot there). Mirta’s self-proclaimed life’s career has been raising a family and creating a home, alongside her husband of over thirty years. She returned to the world of the gainfully employed late in life; currently in a position which doesn’t require one iota of dramatic flair – just common sense, organization and attention to detail. Rather than being self-deprecating, Mirta lightheartedly concedes that her paper pushing makes a number of people happy, as that bureaucratic busywork ensures that payroll is met and invoices are processed. Besides being an avid novel reader and a devoted Beatles fan, Mirta most enjoys singing choral music and researching family genealogy.

In a nutshell, what’s the book about?
Thank you for inviting me, Wayne. I am delighted to participate in this interview! “Becoming Malka” is a Historical Fiction/ Fantasy. In pursuit of her master’s degree in Imperial Russian history, we find twenty-four year old Molly Abramovitz heading to Moscow for a week-long seminar. Being methodical and meticulous, she is not one to miss an opportunity for genealogical research and so; she plans a side trip to Ukraine. Molly’s trek to her ancestral home leads to the discovery of a mythical tarot card which transports her to the chaotic year of 1900. She finds herself in her great, great-grandmother’s presence. Surrounded by the history and culture she has studied her entire life- and knowing, full well the fate that awaits her ancestors- Molly is faced with a dilemma of extraordinary proportions.

One reader expressed it best, I think, when she said that “Becoming Malka” on the surface appears to be a “modern-day fairytale, but there are layers of serious subjects to investigate and discuss i.e. Russian history, the debate of Jewish Enlightenment, Kabbalah and Jewish immigration to Argentina.” I would add that the Molly’s introspection- realizing her own strengths and value and how she fits into her familial evolution- speak to various universal themes such as tradition, assimilation, acceptance and personal growth.

You get major points for originality (historical fiction with no Tudors or honorable Confederate soldiers in sight, who knew?)What is it about that time period or story that intrigued you?

The historical mashup “Becoming Malka” is available on Amazon

Ah- great question! I was inspired to write the book I wanted to read! Here I was, an avid fan of Historical Fiction and all things Judaic, but I couldn’t find a fusion of these two worlds. There are a few “mash ups” out there- if you look hard enough- however; I found most of them to be filled with stereotypical characterizations of the Jewish community. When I did find something of merit, the material was intense, heavy reading- “Daniel Deronda” comes to mind, as a good example. There is a wealth of dark Fiction and Nonfiction that speaks to the atrocity of anti-Semitism throughout the ages, but I was inspired to shine the light on a period of time just prior to the Russian Revolution and to bring attention to the heroic steps taken by Baron Maurice Hirsch and the Jewish Colonization Association.

Rather than being a tragic narrative, I depict an upper, middle class, Jewish community in the 19th century. My favorite reads- my period dramas- speak of the landed gentry, aristocrats and high society; I was inspired to create educated, successful, philanthropic, characters. The Brodskys- the famed Sugar Kings of the South-were a prime example and I based the Abramovitz family on their history. I wanted to present a cultured, well-established family living “Jewishly” in Mother Russia, and conversely, I wanted to write about their emigration to Argentina, as it speaks to the courage of my own ancestors who risked everything for the sake of future generations. I added the fantasy element, with the discovery of a mythical tarot card and some discussion of Jewish mysticism, to add a speculative dimension to the story. Who wouldn’t want to travel back in time to meet their ancestors? I know I would!

Wtihout giving away spoilers, what’s your favorite scene in the book?

Wayne! That is a tough question- somewhat akin to asking a mother to choose a favorite child! But, since we are limited here to time and space (no pun intended), I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed writing the scene where Molly finds herself transported to her ancestral home. In “Becoming Malka,” a reoccurring narrative revolves around the concept that “inexplicable” is not the same thing as “unexplainable.” Duvid, a young boy of thirteen, poses an interesting question when he asks, “Why are adults so eager to dismiss things that they cannot explain?” History, I find, is full of extraordinary- miraculous- events. I discovered a quote attributed to Albert Einstein which states, “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” Quite apropos to my story!

And words to live by. Where can people find you and “Becoming Malka”?

http://facebook.com/mirtainestrupp

https://www.amazon.com/Mirta-Ines-Trupp/e/B00BA1U3SM/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6864345.Mirta_Ines_Trupp

WW2 Romance from Clare Flynn

I’m not sure how it happened, but suddenly Canadian guys in European wars are a hot commodity. First it was the Newfie boys in Jeff Walker’s “Not One of Us the Same.” (Read my interview with him here...) Now it’s a different world war, but Clare Flynn brings us her romance set in the English seaside, “The Chalky Sea.”

So, what’s your story, Clare?

I live on the south coast of England – Kipling’s “Sussex by the Sea”, in Eastbourne, a seaside resort with a Victorian pier and a beautiful seafront bandstand built in 1936. I moved back here just over a year ago from London. I spent my teenage years in the town and always loved the South Downs and the sea – both of which are outside my windows and I can hear the screams of seagulls as I write this. I have used the town as the setting for my latest book, The Chalky Sea – although I had not planned to do that when I moved here.

I am now writing full-time, after a long career in Marketing and then as a strategy consultant with my own business. My career took me to some wonderful places – I lived in Paris, Brussels, Milan and Sydney and did a lot of travelling all over the world for both business and pleasure.

I write historical fiction, often about displacement and with a strong sense of place. The Chalky Sea is my fifth novel and I have also published a collection of short stories.

What’s your book about?

It’s the wartime story of two people.

Gwen is a thirty-something Englishwoman whose husband has just headed off to war. She is stranded in Eastbourne – by choice, working for the Women’s Voluntary Service and training as a fire warden and subsequently as a translator of German signals. The war gives her a purpose her peacetime life has lacked. Gwen appears emotionally cold, having bottled up her feelings for years.

Jim is a young Canadian farmer from Ontario. He joins up on the spur of the moment after an unpleasant discovery that makes him want to get as far away from home as possible. He arrives in England expecting to fight and caring little if he dies ­– only to find himself kicking his heels in Aldershot like most of the Canadian army, performing endless exercises far away from the front. Eventually the two story strands come together and we see how the war changes each of them. These are people who in normal circumstances would never have met.

Ah yes, because when you think romance, Canadians leap immediately to mind…. Besides our natural magnetism, what is it about the time period or the story that intrigues you?

I never intended to write a book set in the `Second World War. In fact I’d always shied away from it. It seemed too big and in some ways too recent – my father was a pilot in the RAF and my Mum was evacuated as a child. When I moved to Eastbourne I discovered that the town had a little known significance in the war – noted for being the most frequently raided in the south-east of England. Almost two hundred people, mostly civilians, lost their lives in bombing raids and there was wholesale destruction of homes and many notable buildings including the town’s library, fire station, two churches and many shops. German bombers even machine-gunned people in the streets and one of the worst raids happened while people were doing their Christmas shopping in Marks & Spencer – completely destroying the store.

The other little known fact was that Eastbourne was home to thousands of Canadian soldiers during the war, with troops moving in and out of the town and its surrounds constantly from July 1941 until just before D-Day. I discovered that the Canucks of the 23rd Field Regiment used to drink in both my two local pubs, the 31st and 46th Batteries preferring The Ship with the 83rd Battery favouring The Pilot, which they treated as a second home. They used to park their tanks on the local streets (destroying much of the old Victorian brick paving) and there was an officers’ mess in one of the houses in my road. The first German plane shot down over the town during the Battle of Britain landed in the playing field of the school down the road. How could I resist?

Good point. Without giving away the store, what’s your favorite (or favourite) scene?

Oddly enough it was a scene I wrote in my final revisions. It happens in the nearby port of Newhaven on the day of the ill-fated and tragic Dieppe raid in which around nine hundred Canadians lost their lives. My scene is at the harbour as the ships return bearing dead, wounded and survivors. I had “under-written” this, skating over it too quickly, despite one of the key characters being directly involved in the raid. Fortunately my editor called me on it – I immediately knew she was right and still can’t understand why I had missed something so obvious. I sat down to rework the scene and I hope that this time around I did it justice.

I also enjoyed writing a lot of the Aldershot scenes. When I realised some of the book would need to take place there I wasn’t exactly thrilled. Aldershot was another place I once lived in (aged about seven!) and it was singularly unmemorable – basically an army garrison town. As the poor old Canucks nearly went out of their minds with boredom there, I thought I would too – but I ended up really enjoying writing the Aldershot chapters. A character, who was meant to feature briefly in one scene, elbowed me out of the way and wouldn’t get out of the book. She has now forced her way into being a main character in the sequel I’m working on now, set in Canada.

Where can we learn more about The Chalky Sea and your other books?

The Chalky Sea is available as a paperback (ISBN 978-0-9933324-3-2). Online as an e-book it is exclusively on Amazon at the moment http://mybook.to/chalky sea

You can find out about me via my website which is http://www.clareflynn.co.uk

Or my Amazon author page http://author.to/clarefly

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6486156.Clare_Flynn

And Twitter https://twitter.com/clarefly

Glancer Magazine Showcases Acre’s Bastard

Always nice when local press supports local authors, especially those who are indie–published. Glancer Magazine in DuPage County (outside Chicago) Gave me and Acre’s Bastard some love. You can check it out here

https://www.glancermagazine.com/single-post/2017/07/01/ARTS-ENTERTAINMENT-Literary-Local-Early-July-2017

 

Vietnam War Tales From Rick DeStefanis

Even growing up in Canada in the 60s and 70s, the Vietnam War was present throughout my childhood. I remember watching Walter Cronkite with the “scoreboard” up behind him. Every Canadian high school had that cool English teacher who appeared to come from nowhere (usually with long hair, bellbottoms, an acoustic guitar and a vaguely Midwestern accent) and I’m fascinated by the many books and films that have come from that era–both the classics and the crap. Enter Rick DeStefanis and his new novel, The Valley of Purple Hearts.

Rick is known as “The Word Hunter.” The author of six books, he brings a wide range of life experiences to his writing. His experiences as a paratrooper with the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division from 1970 to 1972 predicates his Vietnam War Series, a collection of novels written as historical fiction, but which exceed simple genre classification. DeStefanis writes not only about men at war, but the women they love and their families back home, as well as the people of Vietnam. His novel, “The Gomorrah Principle,” was a Readers Choice Book Award Winner in 2014. He also published “Tallahatchie” in 2016, the first book in his new Southern Fiction Series.

Rick presently lives in northern Mississippi with his wife, Janet, six cats and a male Labrador retriever named Blondie.

I’m not going to even think about the gender identity crisis you’ve created for your poor dog. Let’s get to the book. What’s the story about?

Have you ever wondered about that father, grandfather, uncle or brother who served in Vietnam? What was it that he refused to talk about? Or perhaps your question is: Why did he drink so much, or couldn’t keep a job, or had three divorces? What was it that made this person that way? These things are what “Valley of the Purple Hearts” is about. It’s about a squad of paratroopers with the 101st Airborne Division fighting in Vietnam, immediately after the 1968 Tet Offensive. It’s about their lives, their friendships, their loves, the war and the aftermath. I like to call it my Vietnam War version of A Farewell to Arms.

Protagonist Buck Marino is a dumb kid from Mississippi who finds he is facing the consequences of his poor decision to join the army and escape the rural farm life of his deceased parents. And when he meets Army nurse, Janie Jorgensen, he falls in love, only to realize the war has destroyed his vision of a happy life. This book is about the violence of war, the effects on the soul and redemption.

I’ve listened to their stories and read dozens of non-fiction accounts by Vietnam War combat veterans. Many of their books are very well written. Most are not. This is not to degrade the efforts of brave men attempting to tell their stories, but merely to state an observation. And the most recognized stories are those that have been bastardized by Hollywood for the sake of entertainment. The problem with the veterans’ stories is that describing the pain of burning alive is probably not quite possible after the fact. Most cannot see beyond the flames that consumed them. Historical Fiction allows a knowledgeable author to show the deep emotions the veteran cannot often sufficiently express. It allows a certain exposition from an external perspective that cannot be otherwise replicated. Historical fiction goes deep into the human psyche, a place where many fear to tread.

Is it your own experience that makes that period so intriguing for you?

I was a wall flower who got dressed for the big dance and was left behind. I trained; I did everything in preparation to go to Vietnam. I even got orders, but my military orders were change at the last minute to go to the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg. A year later, while still serving with the 82nd Airborne Division, my friends from AIT at Fort Polk and Jump School at Fort Benning began returning from their tours of duty in Vietnam. I spent many an hour in bars in Fayetteville, North Carolina listening to their stories and the hell I missed. Even then, these combat veterans refused to let me write about their experiences. My only option became to write them as fiction, with the mission of telling the things they revealed to me (only when they had consumed enough alcohol to bear the pain). My novels are their stories, and I tell them for the purpose of giving credit to a generation of combat veterans who were marginalized in a political climate very similar to that which we are experiencing today.

Without giving away the goods, what’s your favorite part of Valley of  the Purple Hearts?

The ending!  Okay, that’s true, but let’s talks about my “second” favorite scene. 1968 was the beginning of the “sexual revolution.” Youth in America were breaking away from the rigid mores of their parents. This led to a certain degree of promiscuity, probably over-emphasized in many respects, but very real. Buck Marino was of this generation, but when he finds himself in the room above the Vietnamese laundry in Phu Bai with Janie, he suddenly realizes what is about to occur is not simply a sexual tryst. Chapter Nine, “A Night at the Laundry,” is my next favorite scene, because Buck realizes if he follows through and makes love with Janie, he is signing a lifetime mortgage of commitment.

Where can we learn more?

Valley of the Purple Hearts, will be out by August 1st, 2017, and the first three books in the Vietnam War Series are available in paperback and Kindle editions at Amazon.com , and can  be ordered through most book stores.

Spirituality and Historical Fiction with Nataša Pantović Nuit

My relationship with the spiritual and religious is complicated, to say the least. And while I remain very skeptical, bordering on the agnostic, in most issues, the search for the soul and the things that bring it peace fascinates me. Basically, I gave up searching a while ago, but respect and cheer on those who continue their journey. As usual, it’s taken me a long time to get to the point: today’s interview with Nataša Pantović Nuit and her novel “A-ma: Alchemy of Love.”

Nataša is an author, trainer, Yogi and spiritual researcher who lives and works in Malta. She’s the author of 9 Mindfulness Books called  the “Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training.” Ever fascinated with the energies of: Love, Divine, Power of Mind, Creativity, Tao, Living one’s Highest Potential, Nuit writes self-development courses exploring topics of inner-development, esoteric or occult teachings, and New Consciousness. The main theme of her Mindfulness Books, her poetry, and for today’s purposes her novels, is our alchemy transformation, the alchemy of soul, our everlasting quest to find the gold within, and discovering the stone that transforms metals into gold.

Like I said, that’s way more work than I’m willing to put in. But it’s not like spirituality, religion and restlessness of the soul haven’t been behind some of history’s greatest movements so….. (and at least it’s not another story about the Civil War or the #$$%@%ing Tudors)

In a nutshell, what’s Ama about?

We follow Ama through her life journey. Ama was born of an African mum and a Portuguese Lord De-Nobille. She was an alchemy mix of a White King and a Black Queen and she was supported with all the knowledge, money, spiritual insights from both the East, African spirits, and the Western Alchemy. She is a Goddess incarnated to help the transition from one Era to the next. All the events and manuscripts mentioned within the book: the Dutch attack on Macao on the 24th of June 1622, Fortaleza do Monte proved crucial in successfully holding off the attempted Dutch invasion, the Dutch East India Company, the Reform of the Chinese Calendar during 1630s in China, Father Schall’s [Johann Adam Schall von Bell] Appointment to the Chinese Board of Mathematicians (during 1650s), the Witch hunt and Witches Manual, are carefully researched historical facts. During the 17th century, some 5,000 slaves lived in Macau, around 2,000 Portuguese and 20,000 Chinese. The book uses history to create the connection between actions of the individuals that live surrounded by magic.

I think that historical fiction is a great way of asking the important questions in life, don’t you?  

Yes, using historical fiction, my major question to the audience was: How much of our thoughts, feeling or insights are truly ours and how many of them repeat within the various historical settings on Earth, throughout the centuries. Within our own spiritual journeys the major question is our eternal addiction to suffering (in my story this is the voice of Lilith). Can we let it go? Can we live our highest potential? Can we open to Love?

What is it about that time period or character that intrigued you and motivated you to write about it?

I was triggered by Giordano Bruno’s writings and his drive to change the existing “dogmatic” structure within the science and religion of his time. Trying to prove that the Earth is not at the center of our  Universe, placing humans at the periphery of Gods attention, shook the essence of our Adam and Eve story, our story of Jesus, our promises of Heaven and Hell, and has threatened to undermine our Religious and Political foundations. Entering the Age of Reason and Age of Enlightenment from the long period of darkness, fighting so many “demons” must have inspired many enlightened souls and their “revolutionary” spirit and works: Leonardo Da Vinci, Martin Luther, Christopher Columbus, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Galileo Galilei, to name just a few.

Now, imagine living during these times, imagine the 16th and 17th century China, being in the shoes of Jesuit Portuguese Priests who came to convert the Chinese into Christianity and for the first time truly met the wealth and depth of this most amazing culture…

Why China you may ask? I found it most intriguing that China had a compass and gun powder centuries before they came to Europe. Did you know that they possessed the most advanced Navy, yet they always focused on the trade with their neighbors, never went into frantic invasions of other continents. Reading about holocausts committed all around the world by Colonists powers around different continents (American Indians slaughter, Australian Aboriginals destruction, or crimes against New Zealand Maoris) all gave me an insight about how unfair was our world, and difficult our fight for justice, better world, and freedom. Within A-Ma we follow insights and subtle energy battles following lives of a group of enlightened souls who understood the prime importance for West and East wisdom sharing.

Without giving away spoilers, what’s your favorite scene in the book?

It is the setting of my story.

The world without a coffee or a tea shop was also our reality, not such a long time ago. The books were kept within the cellars of privileged, with an access only to the few. Various Monasteries were great for studying, however going out of their walls, there were a few places where people could gather to discuss life and philosophy. Coffee or tea shops mushroomed during this time, each one of them having similar setting where all classes are mixed and each could afford this inexpensive cup of delicious liquid. They were called “Penny Universities”, they gathered artists, philosophers, time-wasters, actors, poets. This became a natural setting of my story, Ama’s coffee house in Macao, at the edge of China. Ole within its walls gathered all sort of researchers.

If people are interested in the questions you ask and this intriguing story, where can they learn more?

Ruth H Chatlien and the Dakota War

Life on the prairie during the Westward Migration in the US was never easy, and I literally cannot imagine what it must have been like for a woman. Fortunately, there is an abundance of good women writers telling tales. That leads us to Ruth Hull Chatlien, and her story Blood Moon: a Captive’s Tale.

Tell us the Ruth Chatlien story….

I have been reading and writing my whole life. In fact, my husband and I met in a writers’ critique group thirty years ago, and we’ve been criticizing each other’s work (constructively and kindly) ever since. My other interests include gardening, knitting, and art. Recently, I’ve also started studying Swedish as a way to explore my heritage. Both of my grandparents were born in Sweden. Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll write a historical novel set there.

Well, you can write off your trips to Sweden as research, so that’s a plan. In a nutshell, what’s this story about?

Blood Moon: A Captive’s Tale takes place during the little-known Dakota War of 1862, when some of the Dakota people of southern Minnesota attacked white settlers because of anger over poor treatment and the lateness of the annual payment they were supposed to receive for ceding their land to the U.S. government. It’s one of the deadliest Indians wars in our history, but it’s not taught in schools because it took place at the same time as the Civil War.

My main character is a real woman named Sarah Wakefield, whose husband John was one of two government-appointed physicians on the reservation. When hostilities broke out, John tried to send Sarah and their two pre-school children to the nearest fort for safety, but they were captured on the way and their driver was killed. Fortunately for the Wakefields, one of their two captors was a Dakota acquaintance named Chaska. He took Sarah and her children into his mother’s tepee and vowed to protect her for the duration of the war and to return her to her husband.

What is it about this time period that is so fascinating to you?

Sarah’s character is what intrigued me. She’s a bit of an enigma; there was a whiff of scandal about her even before the war, but she was very secretive about whatever it was in her past that made churches in Minnesota hesitate to accept her. Christian morality motivated her behavior, yet she was never a formal member of a church. I too identify as a person who values faith more than institutional rules, so I could relate to that aspect of her life.

The other thing that intrigued me is that she was quite interested in Dakota culture and had learned a bit of the language before the war. Her strategy for surviving was the exact opposite of the strategy used by most white captives. Sarah decided to try to fit in with her captors’ way of life. And after the war, she testified on behalf of Chaska, her protector. As far as I know, she was the only white captor to testify on behalf of a Dakota warrior, and white society despised her because of it. I chose Sarah because I saw her as a bridge character who could help me show both sides of the conflict.

We all love all our kids equally, so it’s not a fair question (although I’m asking it any way) but what is your favorite scene in the book?

My favorite scenes in the book involve the deepening relationships between Sarah and Chaska and between Sarah and Chaska’s mother, whom she calls Ina (the Dakota word for mother). In one scene late in the novel, two Dakota women rush up to tell Sarah and Ina that the U.S. army is coming to attack their camp. Sarah dismisses the rumor, pointing out rightly that they would see dust clouds on the horizon if an army were marching that way. When the women accuse her of ignoring the danger because she wants to help the soldiers capture Indians, Ina comes to Sarah’s defense, saying, “She has seen the truth. The people run about like rabbits beneath the hunting hawk. We act from fear, not wisdom.”

To keep the peace, Sarah agrees to hide in the woods as the women want. It turns out that she was correct in assuming that no attack was on the way. As everyone heads back to camp, Ina whispers to Sarah, “Rabbits,” and she laughs. I love that scene because it shows how the bonds of human affection can bridge cross-cultural differences.

Where can we learn more about you and your work?

Ruth’s website: https://ruthhullchatlienbooks.com

Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3210752.Ruth_Hull_Chatlien

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071KWSNWL

 Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2qB5GWK

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/blood-moon-a-captive-s-tale

 

 

The Legend of Orrin Porter Rockwell with David J West

As a kid, I remember watching an episode of “Death Valley Days,” (It was a repeat, i’m not that old) where they talked about the legend of Orrin Porter Rockwell. He was-depending on who you ask- either a bad-ass enforcer and assassin for Brigham Young or a lawman with almost mystical powers. Either way, with his long hair, mystical religion and supposed bullet-proof skin, he was pretty much the stuff of legend.

David J. West writes dark fantasy and weird westerns because the voices in his head won’t quiet until someone else can hear them. He is a great fan of sword & sorcery, ghosts and lost ruins, so of course he lives in Utah with his wife and children.

What’s the story about in a nutshell?

Scavengers is an adventure featuring an infamous, gunslinger named Orrin Porter Rockwell who had a near supernatural aura hanging over him. Supposedly he was blessed by the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, that if he never cut his hair, he could not be harmed by either bullet or blade; and for someone who was in the thick of things throughout the old west – that blessing remarkably came true. He was never shot nor stabbed though plenty of people tried on numerous occasions.

Rockwell is on a short list of real-life people I’d love to write novels about. The list starts with Byron de Prorok (from Count of the Sahara) but includes people like Kate Warne, Richard Francis Burton, and Eugene Francois Vidocq. Why did Rockwell fascinate you so darned much?

I was fascinated with this real person and since no one had written any adventures featuring him to my satisfaction I set out to do some of my own. I found him to be the perfect character for the weird west genre, where I can play around a little with spooks and legends and such.

There were a lot of funny scenes, and some good dialogue. What was your favorite scene to write?

A favorite scene? That’s a hard one but perhaps when Porter has his horse leap a wide chasm while pursued by bandits. I did base that on a real place in the San Rafael swell where a cowboy did leap the divide on a bet.

So where can we learn more?

and interact with me on my blog at http://www.kingdavidjwest.com/ or twitter at https://twitter.com/David_JWest

 

 

 

 

 

The Great War-No, the First One- With Jeffrey K Walker

Every historical fiction fan has their pet periods. I will confess (and this is probably the Canadian in me- it was a seminal event in Canadian history and we were literally knee deep in it pretty much from day one. Plus, find one current world mess that doesn’t intersect with it somewhere) the First World War is a real obsession. So, when I find other writers working in that period it’s a happy day in my world. Enter Jeffrey K Walker, and his new novel, “None of Us the Same.”

Jeffrey is an impressive cat, and I’m looking forward to reading the book.

Jeffrey K Walker, author of the Sweet Wine of Youth trilogy and None of Us the Same.

JEFFREY K. WALKER is a Midwesterner, born in what was once the Glass Container Capital of the World. A retired military officer, he served in Bosnia and Afghanistan, planned the Kosovo air campaign and ran a State Department program in Baghdad. He’s been shelled, rocketed and sniped by various groups, all with bad aim. He’s lived in ten states and three foreign countries, managing to get degrees from Harvard and Georgetown along the way. An attorney and professor, he taught legal history at Georgetown, law of war at William & Mary and criminal and international law while an assistant dean at St. John’s. He’s been a contributor on NPR and a speaker at federal judicial conferences. He dotes on his wife, with whom he lives in Virginia, and his children, who are spread across the United States. Jeffrey has never been beaten at Whack-a-Mole.

I’ll put my doting on my wife up against his any day of the year. Other than that, he is just a better man than me in pretty much every way, which is incredibly annoying. That said, I still summoned enough self-esteem to ask him some questions.

In a nutshell, what’s the book about?

The book tracks the experiences during and after the First World War of three main characters. Deirdre Brannigan, who adds new meaning to ‘headstrong,’ is an Irish nurse from working-class Dublin, while affable Jack Oakley and complicated Will Parsons are childhood pals from St. John’s who enlist in the Newfoundland Regiment the day it’s formed in August, 1914. Deirdre joins a military nursing service after her father and brother hit the beach at Gallipoli. All three of their paths cross at Deirdre’s field hospital the first day of the Somme. Each of them suffers terrible and varied trauma from the war. The second half of the book returns to Newfoundland as they come to a reckoning with their self-pity, addictions, and emotional devastation. A big part of the healing process involves overlapping romantic and business relationships, not all of them entirely legal.

What is it about that time period or character that intrigued you and motivated you to write about it?

Well, Deirdre Brannigan is, in hindsight, an unconscious and dead-on composite of all the strong Irish-American women I grew up with—mother, aunts, grandmother, great aunts and cousins. Write what you know, right? I’ve been attracted to the First World War since I was a kid, much more so than World War II, which may sound odd coming from an American. The Great War was the first full-blown industrialized conflict fought by the world’s greatest economic powers with enormous conscript armies and rapidly evolving technologies. What no one really foresaw was the unimaginable level of violence, that if we could mass produce Model T’s and light bulbs, we could also mass produce death and destruction. Since at its heart None of Us the Same is about how war changes everyone and everything, World War I dovetailed nicely in my mind. Of course it’s also the centenary of the War, which we Americans just started commemorating 6 April 2017, being Johnny-come-lately as we were.

The other reason is, well, because I’m a coward. I wanted to write about the very timely subject of returning from the devastation of war—think Iraq and Afghanistan—but couldn’t quite bring myself to set the story present day. Besides the current over-politicized narrative around those two ongoing conflicts, I got the creeping sense I was appropriating the stories of these young men and women much too soon after the fact. As a retired Air Force officer, I was keenly sensitive to this. On the other hand, this also makes None of Us the Same historical fiction that deals with very contemporary issues.

Without giving away spoilers, what’s your favorite scene or event in the book?

Wow, tough question—and I know every writer has that same reaction, having created so many darlings, after all. I’m partial to the very first scene, set in Deirdre’s charity hospital where she’s dealing with a young trainee’s rather unique problem with, shall we say, man parts. The scene is interrupted by the rising peal of church bells all across Dublin as the declaration of war is announced. There are three scenes throughout the book set at a lighthouse kept by Jack’s uncle that were a guilty pleasure to write, the Newfoundland seacoast being so remarkably beautiful. There’s a scene early in the book when the pals meet their new company sergeant-major that’s a wry twist on the crusty old drill sergeant and all of my early readers loved Sergeant-Major Pilmore. Later in the book, there’s a fine (and pivotal) scene along the waterfront during “fish making”—the production of salt cod which was the economic mainstay of Newfoundland until the fisheries collapsed in 1992, ending 500 years of tradition.

But if I had to pick, I’d say my favorite scene is Will’s experience on the first day of the Somme. You can’t make up a more atrocious battle scene than the reality of the Somme on 1 July 1917. The British had 20,000 men killed just that morning, the Newfoundland Regiment suffering over 90% dead, wounded or missing. It’s almost unimaginable at a macro level, so I tried to show the abject horror of that day through one young man’s experience. And it’s plenty horrible, believe me. (If I can butt in, I’d put it up against the battle of Passchendaele where nearly half the dead drowned in mud…. but why pick nits?)

Where can people find you and your book?

I’d welcome them first and foremost at jeffreykwalker.com. Sign up to receive my latest news and I’ll happily send you a fun piece on sayings that originated during the Great War. Many fans have read it and said, “I didn’t know that!”

Also, follow me on:

Twitter https://twitter.com/JkwalkerAuthor

Facebook at www.facebook.com/jeffreykwalker

Instagram @jkwalker.author

Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16863722.Jeffrey_K_Walker

None of Us the Same is available on Amazon at amzn.to/2qvJSJm.

 

 

From Roses to Tudors-Samantha Wilcoxson

Readers of historical fiction tend to gravitate to certain periods. There are huge clumps of writers and readers fascinated by The US Civil War, World War 2, and One of the hottest trends the last little on both TV, the movies, and novels has been the Tudor period. Cable TV is littered with torn bodices. I will confess somewhat ashamedly, I have somehow missed the boat. If sheer numbers are any indication, there are a lot of people out there who find that time more fascinating than I do.

Enter Samantha Wilcoxson, and her Plantagenet Embers trilogy. The latest installment, Queen of Martyrs is now out.

Samantha, you and I are both members of the Historical Novel Society (join us on Facebook here). What else should we know?

Samantha Wilcoxson

I’m the author of the Plantagenet Embers Trilogy. An incurable bibliophile and sufferer of wanderlust, I live in Michigan with my husband and three teenagers.

Three teenagers? That explains your obsession with family blood-letting and intrigue. What’s Queen of Martyrs about?

Queen of Martyrs is biographical fiction that transports the reader into the life of Mary Tudor. The story begins with her receiving the news of Margaret Pole’s execution in 1541 and follows her through the rest of her life as she struggles as a bastardized princess who finally becomes queen. My objective was to humanize the woman that many people today dismiss as ‘Bloody Mary’. There is so much more to her character, and many of the ‘facts’ people believe about her are no more than myths. My research made it shockingly easy to find sympathy for Queen Mary I.

As England’s first queen regnant, Mary faced many challenges, which she was, quite frankly, unprepared for. She failed to realize how great the outcry would be against her choice of Prince Philip of Spain as a husband. She did not recognize the great religious changes that were taking place throughout the world and that could not be ignored or reversed. Mary was a devout, caring woman, but she was no politician. In this intimate portrayal of her, readers are invited to enter her world, share her heartbreaks and victories, and gain understanding of this complex sixteenth century woman.

I confess I’ve kind of missed the whole Plantagenet/Tudor thing. What’s your fascination with this period?

Some readers might be surprised to discover that the Tudor era is not my first love. It was the Wars of the Roses that captivated my attention, but I was looking for a new angle that had not already been written about. That was how I began with Elizabeth of York in Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen. I had not planned a trilogy, but the story of the York remnant unfolded in front of me, ending with Reginald Pole at Mary’s side in Queen of Martyrs.

The fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries are interesting not only due to political upheaval, but the impact of religious changes that forced people throughout Europe to evolve in their thinking and way of life. The heavy influence of faith on daily life is difficult to wrap the modern mind around, but that is just what I appreciate about studying the medieval and reformation eras.

Without giving away the good bits, what’s your favorite scene in the book?

One of my favorite scenes in Queen of Martyrs takes place during the reign of Edward VI. This was a turbulent time for Mary as she watched the country she loved falling into heresy. At that point, she had no reason to believe that she would become queen. She was her brother’s legal heir, but he was much younger. In this scene, Mary has the opportunity to escape England with the help of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. This is when Mary decides that she must remain in England and do what she must to save her brother and all Englishmen, though she may be forced to pay the ultimate price.

It is a great misconception that Mary’s attempt at counter-reformation was based on bitterness or a need for revenge. Mary truly believed that she was doing what was necessary to ensure that her people enjoyed eternal life in heaven, and I think this scene gives readers a poignant view of Mary’s true motivations.

Where can people learn more about your work?

The best place to find me is on my blog. I also invite everyone to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram. Besides bookish news, I share a wide variety of history articles and images of historic places that I visit. I love to share my tendency toward bibliophilia and wanderlust with friends!

My books are available in paperback and on Kindle on Amazon. They are also free with Kindle Unlimited!

 

Duty in the Cause of Liberty with Charles Frye

The American Revolution is truly one of the seminal events in world history, and while I get insane amounts of fun tweaking people about being a Loyalist and seeing it from the Canadian side, there’s no doubt of its importance. Oh, and the right side won. That leads us to “The War has Begun,” by Charles E Frye, the first book in his quadrology. (Is that a thing? Let’s assume it is)

So what’s the Charlie Frye story?

author and polymath Charles E Frye, author of The War has Begun

I am a geographer, cartographer, information scientist, and U.S. Army veteran. However, I studied architecture for three years prior to discovering geography, and I am still fascinated with architectural history and the design of the built environment. I have read books by the dozens every year since I could read. For fun, I still read fantasy and historical fiction. I decided I wanted to be a professional baseball player when I was five years old, and while I grew out of that, I have always enjoyed watching baseball, and am an Angels fan now. For the past fifteen years, my hobbies have included genealogy, reading about the history of the American Revolutionary War, and researching Isaac Frye’s story. I have been a member of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) for twelve years, and a member of George Washington’s Lifeguard, which the unit my chapter portrays in re-enactments, living history events, and parades—it definitely helped to know how to walk a mile in those shoes, including how to fire a musket and study the manual of arms. I was born in Ohio, and spent significant time in Missouri and Kansas. I am married and have three sons and a daughter, and for twenty-three years have lived and worked in southern California.

Re-enactors fascinate me (and freak me out a little) because of the depth of their passion for the topic. What is the story of The War Has Begun (besides the obvious, that the war had begun?)

The War has Begun is the first of four books about Major Isaac Frye in the American Revolution. He is a farmer, husband, father, and minuteman from Wilton, NH. So, why write about him? Wasn’t everybody a farmer and minuteman in those days? In New Hampshire, it was roughly one in five men. What makes Isaac different is that he served for the entire war as an officer, starting on day one, through to being in the last unit disbanded. No one else from New Hampshire did that, and nobody from any other colony, other than Massachusetts could have. To me, that was a story worth learning about and telling.

I called the series of four books Duty in the Cause of Liberty because as a veteran I know a little of what that means, but Isaac Frye and the men he served with fought to establish something that none of them could describe fully, even while their lives were at stake as they fought for it. As I watched our country go about its daily business remaining largely oblivious to the recent wars, I wondered how many of those people would sacrifice anything if their country called upon them. By the time I completed my research on Isaac, and saw the magnitude of what he, his family, and his town sacrificed; I felt strongly compelled to tell his story and hopefully convey some of why he may have done what he did. The story begins as he responds immediately to the Lexington and Concord alarm on April 19, 1775 and serves as an officer in the American army. His descendant’s oral history oral history included his words as he left: “The war has begun, I must be going.” Isaac fights in the Battle of Breeds Hill, and after the siege of Boston ends, marches to New York City, where he stays only a short time before ordered to Quebec. After retreating with the sick and nearly starving army from Quebec, his regiment is one of several that establish and construct Camp Independence during the latter months of 1776. The next book in the series will take up the story starting in early 1777.

What is it about this particular story that appealed to you?

As I started the research, I was stunned to find so many records were preserved, particularly compared the next hundred and fifty years. In part, it was due to Isaac being an officer, which meant he was named in many records pertaining to his regiments, and responsible for producing some of those records. I am a geographer and cartographer, so it was second nature for me to decide to map Isaac’s timeline during the war using a geographic information system (GIS). This allowed me to organize hundreds of records pinpointing Isaac’s location nearly a thousand times.

To make that geographic timeline, I needed a detailed map of America from 1775 to 1784. I spent several years compiling that from primary source documents—this allowed me to locate Isaac. Modern maps would not work because we have changed the names of towns and landforms, dammed rivers, drained swamps, and built highways and railroads. I needed a map that showed all the places that mattered during the Revolutionary War. The map is available online, and shows the path Isaac took during this book:  https://dutyinthecauseofliberty.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/using-gis-to-research-isaac-frye/

All that research and time, what’s your favorite scene in the book?

I have always liked reading battle scenes, so the Battle of Bunker Hill is my “default” choice. However, the scenes near the end about Josiah Parker, the son of Isaac’s neighbor, were the most satisfying to write in terms of what motivated me to write this book. Those scenes stem from a letter Isaac’s wife Elizabeth wrote to him in the fall of 1776. It took both genealogical research and a little bit of luck to find a corroborating account that brought all the details together. That letter, combined with determining who Isaac’s neighbors were, held the keys to understanding some of how Wilton suffered and operated as a community during the war.

Where can people learn more about the book series and your work?