Carmen Stevens and the Slums of London

Sometimes, historical fiction is about people living inside a specific historical event.  Other times, the period is primarily a backdrop to personal stories that just happen to occur then. Such is the case with Carmen Scott’s “Anne”. Rather than the heroine being swept up in history, the times serve as the backdrop for this intimate story of one woman making her way in 18th Century London.

Anne is the story of a young woman's struggles and ambition in the maelstrom of  18th Century London Carmen Gross, pen name Carmen Stevens, was born in Fargo, ND, March 1992. She currently resides in Detroit Lakes, MN, where she is a recent college graduate and works part-time. Carmen published her novel “Anne” in July 2013-an exciting, richly-written historical work about a young English girl who makes many bad choices throughout her life and then struggles to find redemption.

In a nutshell, what’s Anne’s story?

‘Anne’ takes place in eighteenth-century England. The plot revolves around a haughty, homeless, orphaned girl and her struggle to achieve a life that is much better than her present one. Anne is hardened by a sense of self-preservation and very strong-willed, and she is willing to do anything to fulfill her dreams.

You’re a nice mid-westerner. What is it about that time period that intrigued you?

I really like the fashion of this time period, though maybe not the corsets. But I think the dresses that the well-off women wore were unique and quite lovely. I dislike the class structure, however. But I’ve always been very interested in old England and the way that this country used to be, especially within its large cities like London. I love the history of the country. I’ve never physically visited England, but I’ve researched it so extensively that I feel like I have been there. When I decided that I wanted to write a novel, the setting of old England came to my mind right away because I have such an interest in the country, and hope to be able to visit there someday.

That’s true for a lot of us. Writing is a way of traveling places we’ve always wanted to go. Without giving away spoilers, what are a couple of scenes you particularly enjoy?

It think it’s the small, poignant scenes rather than sweeping historical events. The first scene involves Anne visiting a person whom she once loved, but now hates,in an awful place. The young man whom Anne visits bitterly confronts her because of what she did to him. Anne remains calm and cold throughout the confrontation, displaying no remorse, for what she did to the young man she did to achieve her dreams.

The other touching scene is actually one of the last scenes of the novel. Anne has a long chat with another young man, but her demeanor and composure are completely different than the other scene. Also, the young man in this scene listens to Anne carefully with an attitude that is also different than the other man’s. Within this scene, the themes and morals of the overall story are vivdly described.

 

 

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Chinese History and Intrigue with Tony Henderson

One of the really fascinating periods in history for me is the early 20th Century in China, Shanghai in particular. I’ve come across a new acquaintance who shares that fascination and, more importantly, has done something about it.

Tony Henderson is living the British ex-pat life in Spain and writing books about China. Nice gig.
Tony Henderson is living the British ex-pat life in Spain and writing books about China. Nice gig.

Quick, what’s the Tony Henderson story?

Born near London, and since leaving home as a teenager I’ve lived more than half my life overseas, in Spain and Hong Kong. I earned my living designing computer systems, but on retirement ran a Spanish estate agency with my wife for eight years. I spent a couple of years researching my family back to the 18th century and found ancestors with the British Army fighting in the Opium Wars in China, the Crimea, India, and even fighting with the Spanish against Napoleon. So I was far from being the first in my family to travel to the Far East and Spain. I now write novels to keep my brain ticking over, and play golf badly to try and keep fit. The third novel is now released under the series name, ‘Chinese Circles’, but the first book is The Shanghai Circle..

With a series, I always like to start with the first book. In a nutshell, what’s it about?

Briefly, The Shanghai Circle can be summarized as – Taipan meets Triad in Pre-war Shanghai.

Davina Guest, a young and feisty Taipan, must help steer the family trading house through tumultuous times in 1936. The imminent Japanese invasion and the rise of Communism threaten her beloved company, but unbeknown to her another deadly menace lurks in the shadows.

As heir to the Sung Society, Joseph Cheung must learn the ways of the triad. Vice and violence dominate Shanghai’s criminal world, but for Joseph, a personal vendetta remains unfinished business. Irina, a young beautiful stateless Russian woman, unwittingly falls into the clutches of the triads and fights to escape.

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

My ten years living in the Far East was one of the best experiences in my life, so I chose Shanghai in the 1930’s as a city with all the ingredients for a fascinating

Shanghai Circle is the first in the Chinese Circles trilogy
Shanghai Circle is the first in the Chinese Circle trilogy

story. My life in Asia meant I experienced working for an old British trading company, living among 6 million Chinese, being in frightening typhoons, but especially what it was like to be an expatriate in a Chinese environment, with all the noise, smells and the amazing colourful people who live in this magical part of the world.

Why Shanghai? The authoress, Stella Wong, said of Shanghai, “no city in the Orient, or the world for that matter, could compare with it. At the peak of its spectacular career the swamp-ridden metropolis surely ranked as the most pleasure-mad, rapacious, corrupt, strife-ridden, licentious, squalid and decadent city in the world.” When I researched this amazing city I found she was right.

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

Probably writing about the actual typhoon which hit Hong Kong in 1937, killing 11,000 people including one of my characters.

If you’re interested in learning more, here are some links to find Tony and his work. Just don’t bother him on the golf course.

Web Site and blog

 http://www.tony-henderson.com/

 

Facebook Page

Goodreads Author

 

Amazon Author

 

So, Hotshot, who’s publishing your book?

When I announced that my first novel, “Pith Helmets in the Snow” was going to be published, I got a lot of questions about who the publisher was.  The answer, is TheBookFolks in the UK.

I have two reasons for telling you this:

First, I swore I wouldn’t self-publish my first novel. And I’m not–quit asking.

I have nothing against self-publishing. In fact, two of my best selling books are self-published. There’s a part of me that’s all about “death to the middleman and seize the means of production,” and all that. But I swore with my first attempt at a novel, I wanted someone other than my blood relatives to think I could write. I wanted an agent and a “big six” book deal. If not that, at least a “real” publisher.

Basically, I wanted someone I wasn’t related to validating my talent. I also know that my ego basically demands someone kick my butt in the editing process to have the best possible outcome. Left to my own devices, my book would be an embarrassing wreck.

While I didn’t find an agent, I did find a publisher who really believes in the book, sells books all over the world, and who seems to be hoodwinked into thinking I can write. A thousand blessings on his house and camels.

Secondly, I want to introduce you to the company I’m keeping.

The first thing I did after sending Erik the full manuscript was to check out the other writers in his stable. I can tell you that I’m in good company.  I have read a lot of indie books lately, and most of them are abysmal. There isn’t one of the four I read that didn’t “deserve” to find readers, although some I enjoyed more than others. That’s what reading is about, right?

More than that, I am proud to be in their company. Thought I’d just share them with you.

Only 24 and she can write circles around me. If you like Arthurian fantasy ( I do) and hot sex (no comment) you’ll enjoy the first book in what will be a great trilogy.

 

A creepy action thriller set in Britain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A creepy Sci-fi murder mystery set in Australia. Never read one of those, have you?
A crime thriller spanning 50 years of British life. Really dug the tone and the twists.

 

So there you have it. I hope that answers the question and helps you find some new authors to check out.

Don’t let the weasels get ya down.

Sharon Cathcart and “Fin de Siecle” Paris, History Building on Literature

sharoncathcart
Sharon Cathcart lives and writes in Silicon Valley, but her heart is in Paris before the First World War.

I’m used to reading books that take real historical characters and build stories around them. But Sharon Cathcart has done something fascinating. She’s taken a fictional character and placed him…and his descendants… in the real historical world.

Her newest book–an omnibus of her stories set in Paris, London and San Francisco in the late 19th and early 20th centuries–In The Eye of The Beholder, In The Eye of The Storm, and the award-winning Through the Opera Glass is now available in paperback.  This new edition includes expanded glossaries and historical photographs.

I think building on a world someone else created, then bringing it into the real world is a heck of a thing to tackle. What’s the book about? 

The books tell the story of three generations of the Le Maître family, crossing Paris’ Belle Epoque, the modern art movement, the San Francisco Earthquake and World Wars I and II. It’s a mix of short stories and longer pieces that create that world.

You get extra points if you remember that Erik Le Maitre was the real name of the “Phantom of the Opera”.

What is it about that period of time that fascinates you…. and we might find interesting as well?

I’ve been an ardent Francophile since my high school years.  My French teacher, the late Lois T. Sato, instilled in her students not only a love of the language but also of the culture.  I learned so much in the process of researching these books that it just deepened my fascination.  My first visit to Paris was not until 2013, but I felt like I knew every street where I strolled.

I know how you feel. I’m itching to get to the Sahara after writing “Pith Helmets”…Any other time periods you’re intrigued by? 

Seen Through the Phantom's Eyes is a fascinating collection of stories inspired by Phantom of the Opera and through the early 20th Century.
Seen Through the Phantom’s Eyes is a fascinating collection of stories inspired by Phantom of the Opera and through the early 20th Century.

I’m very fond of the Victorian era in general.  There were so many innovations happening during that time that still impact our daily lives today.

That’s kind of odd coming from someone living in the heart of new technology….makes you wonder what people will write about us a hundred years from now, doesn’t it?

You can contact and learn more about Sharon at

Twitter:  @SharonCathcart

JR Lindermuth and History From the Pennsylvania Coal Mines

This is the first of many interviews to come with indie/small press authors of Historical Fiction. Our first guest is JR (or John, or Jack, he answers to all of them) Lindermuth, author of Watch The Hour.

Author JR Lindermuth, author of Watch The Hours
Author JR Lindermuth, author of Watch The Hours

He is a retired newspaper editor and currently librarian of his county historical society where he assists patrons with genealogy and research. He is the author of 14 novels and a regional history. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and currently serves as vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

So in a nutshell, what’s the book about?

In the 1870s in Pennsylvania ’s anthracite coal region, mine owners and their employees, particularly the Irish immigrants, are in conflict over working conditions. Private police forces commissioned by the state but paid by the coal companies are sworn to protect property of the mine owners.

Ben Yeager is one of these police officers. He does his best to follow orders while trying to be fair to the workers whose lot he sees as little different from his own. Despite his efforts at fairness, his job makes him the enemy of the Irish, and that’s the cruz of his troubles…. Ben is in love with an Irish girl.

What is it about this time period you find so fascinating?

I grew up in the coal region and many of my ancestors worked in the mines. A few even served as “coalies” (as these police were known). I write a weekly history column for two area papers and have published a regional history (Digging Dusky Diamonds) about the lives of the miners and their families in the 19th and 20th centuries.

So, hook us. What’s a scene in the book you think is pivotal?

A pivotal scene in the novel is when Ben is beaten into unconsciousness and laid out to be killed on the railroad tracks, an attack immediately attributed to the Irish. Without identifying the actual culprits, the incident is important because it solidifies once and for all the love between Ben and Jennie.

Sounds great. How can people find out more about you and your work?

My blog is http://jrlindermuth.blogspot.com/. 

My Amazon page  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1005496.J_R_Lindermuth

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1005496.J_R_Lindermuth

Twitter @jrlindermuth Facebook http://www.facebook.com/john.lindermuth

Check out his work, and support the work of indie and small press writers everywhere. Do you know of someone we should feature in this blog? Drop me a line or put it in the comments below.

Welcome to my world… abandon all hope ye who enter here

Does the world really need another self-indulgent, self-promoting blog?

Of course not. But I do. All writers need a “platform”. The goal is to minimize the neediness while actually helping people learn a bit about me and my work. So, here’s what this blog is and isn’t:

  • It’s personal. This is purely about me and my (mostly fiction) writing. If you’re interested in my business and communication work (and I hope you are) check out www.GreatWebMeetings.com and www.RemoteLeadershipInstitute.com.
  • It’s about writing. I have written all my adult life, whether it’s standup jokes, spec scripts, 7 non-fiction books, and now my first novel. I love talking writing and hanging with writers. Since I can’t sit down and share a frosty beverage with you all, this will have to do.
  • Historical fiction is my favorite, but from time to time we’ll go wherever the muse takes us.  As a blog, the focus will be on historical fiction like my novel “Pith Helmets in the Snow”. More importantly, I want to learn about other indie and small-press writers in the field. Every genre seems to have their own little worlds, except for historical fiction. Maybe this will help.

Why historical fiction? Here’s my motto:

Those who don’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it. Those who do, can’t do a darned thing about it but will see it coming and get to smugly say, told ya.”

Don’t let the weasels get you down folks.