Tales of a Medieval Woman Doctor- PK Adams

One of the great things about historical fiction, if you’re open to it, is the chance to read stories you’ve never heard from places you haven’t given any thought to and learn a little in the process. Take, for instance, Hildegard of Bingen. I’ll lay money you didn’t know she was Germany’s first female physician. I wouldn’t know either except for “The Greenest Branch,” by P K Adams.

Alright, lady. What’s your story?

I’m a Boston-based historical fiction author with a master’s degree in European Studies. I’m a life-long lover of history, and my goal is to bring stories of lesser-known historical figures and places to the attention of wider audiences. The Greenest Branch is my debut novel, with the second book in the series slated for release in early 2019. When not writing, I can be found drinking tea, practicing yoga, reading …. although usually not at the same time.

I was gonna say, that could get messy. Anyway, what’s “The Greenest Branch” about?

The Greenest Branch is based on the true story of Hildegard of Bingen (c.1098-1178), Germany’s first female physician. Living in the 12th century, she faced an uphill battle in her quest to gain the necessary medical education to be able to practice what was referred to then as “the healing arts.” Opposition to what she wanted to do was rooted not just in the prevailing social norms, but also in the Church’s attitudes towards women and towards the use of herbs (which it tended to conflate with witchery).

But it was not just the patriarchy that Hildegard had to deal with on her journey – she also faced difficult personal choices. In the book, I try to balance her achievements against the sacrifices she had to make, sacrifices that I believe ring true even all those centuries later.

What is it about Hildegard and the time period that drove you to write about her?

I have been a fan of medieval history for a long time, but I did not hear about Hildegard of Bingen until I took a history of music class in college (yes, she was also a composer, a writer, a philosopher, basically a jack-of-all-trades – in an era where most women could not even read or write). So I became captivated by her accomplishments and began to read more about her to find out how she was able to become a pioneer in so many fields reserved as a man’s domain in her time.

Interestingly, the record of her early life is pretty sparse, and I saw that as a chance to write a fictionalized account of how she rose to such prominence despite not being a royal wife or daughter. Some of the details may be fictionalized, but the story broadly follows Hildegard’s life journey.

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

In a scene quite early in the book, when Hildegard is only 13 years old and has just started working as an assistant to Brother Wigbert, the abbey physician, she asks him if women can also become physicians. Here’s the exchange:

“Can women study to be physicians, Brother?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“It is the natural order of things,” he replied, “that women should rear children since they are the gentler and more nurturing of the sexes. Who would guard the family hearth if they were to go to schools?”

I pondered this, frowning. “But if women are better at caring for others, they should make better doctors too, shouldn’t they?”

Wigbert looked momentarily surprised, then chuckled. “You make clever arguments, Hildegard, but studying requires well-developed reasoning faculties, which women do not possess, being more impulsive and less logical than men.”

I considered pointing out the contradiction but decided not to.

I love that scene because it shows the prevailing medieval beliefs regarding women’s intellectual abilities (I did not make Wigbert’s statement up, it’s based on how women were generally viewed). It also debunks them by pointing out the fundamental flaw of this way of thinking. Still, I feel a bit bad for Brother Wigbert because he is actually one of the good guys in the story – he becomes Hildegard’s mentor as her talent and determination become evident. However, there is another monk – the abbey’s prior – who is the antagonist and whose entire existence is absorbed by his efforts to make it impossible for Hildegard to achieve her dream of becoming a physician. As you can see, she had her work cut out for her.

Where can people find more about you and your work?

My book is available on Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2IPpj7h

and also Amazon UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, and several other marketplaces

My Goodreads author page URL:  https://www.goodreads.com/pk_adams

Twitter: @pk_adams

Subscribe to my newsletter and get a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Acre’s Bastard.  Each month you’ll receive links to interviews with great authors, news about upcoming events and previews of my work in progress, Acre’s Orphans. Look at the bottom left of the page for the sign-up sheet. No spam, just once a month updates and a chance to learn about great new Historical Fiction of all types from around the world.

Shameless Self-Promotion Update

With The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership out in the world for just over a week, I’ve been doing an incredible amount of promotion. Most of it is completely work-related, and you can find out everything you would ever want to know about that book at www.LongDistanceLeaderBook.com. 

By the way, if you’re traveling through an airport, it’s now a Hudson Booksellers Best Seller!

I’ve also had a couple of chances to talk about my fiction work. Most enjoyably, an old colleague from my stand-up days, Keith Tomasek, has a terrific podcast about the arts and the creative process, The Inadequate Life. Recently, we talked for an hour about my stand-up days and the transition to being a grownup, as well as the ins and outs of publishing. It was a blast. If you’d like to hear it, it’s here. I think it’s the most wide-ranging and probably most honest interview I’ve ever done. And for a media ho like me, that’s saying something.

I got into corporate training because when I left stand-up, I had a 15-year hole in my resume and only one marketable skill; I could stand there and talk.

To Keith Tomasek, The Inadequate Life podcast

 

I was honored to be on The Inadequate Life podcast

 

“I like to tell people I’m the love child of Alexandre Dumas and Hunter S Thompson and let them figure it out.”

When asked by James Quinland Mervey what my influences are….

Also, a fellow writer named James Quinlan Meservey interviewed me for an ongoing series on his blog about literary influences and why we do what we do. It was a lot of fun. You can read it here if you’d like. And check out James’ fantasy work.

Volcanoes, Scorpions and the Glamour of Public Speaking in Guatemala

So there I was, 300 feet above the Guatemalan jungle, in my socks, talking to some very smart people about my newest book, “The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.”  

Take a look at this picture. None of it is doctored:

Me speaking at the Remote Work Summit at the Eagles Nest Retreat in San Marcos la Laguna, Guatemala

All my life I’ve dreamed of traveling to exotic places, seeing the world, and speaking about my passion; helping people communicate more effectively and making work suck less. This is a moment few people will ever experience (or even believe me when I tell them about it.)

I was miles from home and civilization, speaking at the Remote Work Summit, overlooking the jungle and talking about The Long-Distance Leader. Yes, the attendance was less than expected and disappointing, and yes, I was staying in a place with no air conditioning, a bathroom down the trail that I shared with 5 other cabins (and a passive-aggressive scorpion,) it was the rainy season, and when I wasn’t walking through the rain to the banos, my roof leaked. Travel logistics were a nightmare, but I got to see sights like this:

Lake Atitlan from San Marcos la Laguna

Because of my schedule, I couldn’t stay for the whole conference so I was up at 4:30 Saturday morning for a sometimes-terrifying 6-hour journey to the airport. Passing back through Antigua, I saw Monte Fuego at the end of an alley and took this picture:

Monte Fuego the day before the eruption

Sunday afternoon, my phone blew up with messages, asking if I was safe. Turns out that lovely mountain now looked like this:

The volcano erupted on Sunday, June 3

Basically the paradoxes of life were encapsulated in this trip:

  • I got to travel to an exotic place to speak about my work and met some amazing people, but it wasn’t the financial success I had hoped for. The story of my life.
  • It was a frustrating, crazy trip with a lot to whine about, but I saw and experienced things I would never have seen otherwise, and despite the mental and physical exhaustion, I’m grateful to have gone.  Also a recurring theme.
  • I was bitching about some of the logistics and accommodations, and having to be up at 430 in the morning, and leaving the conference early. Yet I got out before a horrible disaster that has left dozens dead and many people unable to get home. I am one lucky sonofabitch.

If you’d like to see all the pictures from my trip and read some of the commentaries, I have made the flickr page public. Check it out

As a writer, these experiences are priceless. Like the late, great, Steve Goodman once said, “we do it for the stories we can tell.”

 

“The Long-Distance Leader” is Out in the World

Today is launch day for The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.  This is the result of a lot of research, work with clients and looking at the way people really work today. Kevin Eikenberry and I are very proud of this book, and hope you’ll enjoy it.

I share this because even though I have written several other books, and most of you who read this blog know my fiction work, launch day is always a day to celebrate and heave a big sigh of relief. The book is debuting at number 75 on Amazon’s list of business/coaching books, and we’re delighted by that. Of course, we’re looking for best-seller status.

It is available in paperback, e-book and audio book wherever you buy your books including Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, airports and Amazon. You can also buy it directly from our publisher, Berrett-Koehler Publishers

I also share to ask for your help. Here’s how:

– If you lead a remote team or know someone who is, buy a copy!
– If you would be willing to share on your Facebook wall (or other social media), we would appreciate that too.

You can learn more by visiting http://LongDistanceLeaderBook.com. There you’ll find sample chapters, free downloads and bonuses. Of course, you know the drill. If you like the book and find value in it, please tell your colleagues and co-workers (and, of course, Amazon. Reviews matter even though it’s unseemly to beg for them.)

Thanks for your good wishes, positive thoughts, and assistance. I appreciate each and every one of you.

Traveling to Guatemala to Promote a Book About Not Having to Travel

Tomorrow I get up at dawn’s early light to catch a flight to Guatemala. There are two ironies here. The first is that I’m traveling to one of the least affluent and technologically advanced countries in the hemisphere to talk about one of the wonders of the modern world: working remotely enabled by technology.

The second is that while I have traveled more than a lot of people, I haven’t been

Ah, the glamour of international business travel. This is my destination.

to a lot of the “good places.”  True, I’ve never been to Paris in springtime, but I”ve been to Warsaw in December. Can’t tell you what Monte Carlo or Rome are like, but I can tell you where to hide from a sleety downpour in the industrial suburbs of Prague. My Brazil was the business district of Sao Paulo, not Copacabana Beach in Rio.

So, I’m off to a small village in the mountains of Central America, during the rainy season,  where I had to look at several hotels before I could be assured I would be pooping indoors. I wish I was kidding about that, but I’m not.  There aren’t a lot of 5-star resorts in that part of the world.

So why am I going?

My new business book, “The Long-Distance Leader” is out from Berrett-Koehler books on June 5.

My new book, co-written with Kevin Eikenberry is called, “The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.” It launches June 5 and so speaking at the Remote Work Summit, a unique event put on by the young, energetic, and globally focused women at Rebel And Connect, is both my honor and kind of my job.

Here’s the thing: I’m excited to go.  I’m complaining a bit (turns out as I get older, my need for basic creature comforts has increased) but I really want to see that part of the world with my own eyes. People ask, “why would you want to go somewhere poor and under-developed?” and I have a hard time not responding,”because it’s poor and under-developed.”

For one thing, my writerly curiosity is always more focused on how “regular people” live than the rich and famous. Anyone who’s read my work knows that I try to avoid the Great Man theory of history, and look at how events impact the common person. That’s the noble version. The real dirty little secret about how I travel, and I’m not proud of this, is that I don’t particularly like rich people. They make me uncomfortable.

By the way, it won’t look like this since there is a 90% chance of rain every day in Late May and Early June.

Why would I travel half-way around the globe just to sit in a place that looks like any hotel in Chicago and spend it with people I would go out of my way to avoid if I were home? I prefer dive bars to swanky lounges, hole-in-the-wall diners to fancy eateries, and open-air markets (even in the rain) to shopping malls. The same is true of travel. Why go somewhere else if it’s not going to be something other than I can see at home?

So I’m off to see a different part of the world, do some work, help some people, and learn something new. Talk to you when I get back. I’ll have pictures and memories.

 

Incas and Conquistadors with Dennis Santaniello

One of the guiding principles of my blog- hell, my life- is that swords are way cooler than guns. That means there are certain periods of history I find more interesting than others. One of those is the Spanish Conquest of South America. It’s an exciting, if not very pretty, period.

This week’s featured author, Dennis Santaniello, has just released the first of his “The Conquistadors” series of short swashbucklers.

So, who’s Dennis Santaniello and why do we care?

My name is Dennis Santaniello. I’m a writer from New Jersey. I’ve written screenplays and novels for the last 15 years, and I’m finally ready to share my talent with the world. I’m a typical writer: introverted, weird, but also warm and genuine. My genre is Historical  Fiction, and I’ve been writing my epic trilogy “CONQUISTADORS” for the last 10 years. I’m a minimalist and I believe in conciseness, patience and get to the point story-telling. Life is short. Your time in this life is even shorter. Read all the Jane Austin and Emily Bronte you want, it’s simply just not for me. I tell stories in an effective and powerful way. And I always prided myself in doing so.  Why? Because I care about my readers.

Granted, you’re not much on word count. What’s the first book in your series, “Brothers and Kings,” about?

In a nutshell, my book “Brothers and Kings” is about a Spanish soldier named Sardina and his journey of finding gold in the great Inca empire, but it is also about Manco Inca: a king who tries to salvage his kingdom from utter destruction.

Why this time period?

The time period is from 1527-1540 in Peru. I wrote the book because when I was 10 years old I was pissed that there were no good fiction books about the Spanish Conquistadors. So I decided to write one for myself. Well, it took me 20 years, but I think I rectified that. Now I’m sharing it with the whole world.

I can see that. Acre’s Bastard is my delayed response to reading “Kim,” and wondering why we never knew what happened to him. What’s your favorite scene in the book?

My favorite scene is the Battle for Cusco. It is pretty cool, to say the least.

Where can we learn more about you and your work?

You can find me at dennissantaniello.com or on Twitter: @philosofarmer

 

Subscribe to my newsletter and get a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Acre’s Bastard.  Each month you’ll receive links to interviews with great authors, news about upcoming events and previews of my work in progress, Acre’s Orphans. Look at the bottom left of the page for the sign-up sheet. No spam, just once a month updates and a chance to learn about great new Historical Fiction of all types from around the world.

Barbary Pirates and Scottish Lasses with Josanna Thompson

Most of us think pirates and we immediately go to yo-ho-ho and rum and all that. But the Barbary Pirates were no joke. Today’s interview is with Josanna Thompson, who gives us a gripping tale of Algerian pirates and sweet Scottish lassies.

So, Josanna, what’s your deal?

Hi!  I’m Josanna Thompson, and I’m the author of A Maiden’s Honor.  I’ve been weaving stories for as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved history and learning about how people lived way back then. I’m also an avid traveler and was fortunate enough to explore many of these distant lands in my stories. When I’m not traveling, I live a quiet life with my husband in New England.

 

What’s the story behind A Maiden’s Honor?

It’s complicated to say the very least. What can I say, it’s not in me to write a simple tale. A Maiden’s Honor is no exception.  In fact, it’s two stories. The primary part follows the journey of Sarah Campbell. The other follows the journey of my villain, Naa’il Dhar. Their stories eventually intertwine.

Raised by her Scottish father and the natives of a remote island in the South Pacific, Sarah and her father embark on a perilous journey to Scotland. She knew that her life would change when she left her beloved island. Never did Sarah imagine that she would be sold into a harem. With her father murdered and everything that she had ever known gone, only Hassan Aziz, the most feared pirate on the Barbary Coast can save her. But is Hassan willing to jeopardize his secret mission and risk his life and the lives of his crew to shield this intoxicating maiden from slavery?

Naa’il is the Dey of Algiers, a man who has everything including, wealth, power, wives, slaves, concubines. Drawn to two beautiful American captives, Naa’il tests their loyalty to each other. Little does he know that his game will have devastating consequences… especially for him.

What’s your favorite scene in the book?

One of my favorite scenes takes place between Sarah and the hero, Hassan Aziz. Sarah’s father had died early that morning. Hassan returns to his cabin and finds Sarah sitting beside the window looking reverently at her trunk filled with “treasures” from her life on her island. Hassan can tell she is sad, he sits beside her. She opens her trunk and pulls out four objects, a bamboo comb, a flat shell, a sharks tooth and a mat. Hassan gives into his curiosity and asks her about the purpose of these objects. Sarah proceeds to tell him about her life on her island while demonstrating the use of each one.

I love this scene because it’s such a sweet interlude between these two strangers. This is the beginning of their love affair.

 Where can we learn more about you and your work?

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Maidens-Honor-Woman-Eden-Book-ebook/dp/B076FQ27S8

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/JosannaThompsonAuthor/?ref=bookmarks

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17238374.Josanna_Thompson

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theglobetrottingtiari/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/josannathompson/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JosannaThompson

Look me up. I always enjoy chatting with readers.

Oh, I have a killer website. I built it like a DVD and packed it with lots of extras, including, a blog, interviews with characters, and articles about my research. I also give readers an opportunity to ask my characters questions. They are very chatty and would love to hear from you. (Click on the link below.)  Check back from time to time. I’m always adding to it.

My website:

www.josannathompson.com

 This is kind of a cool idea. Josanna has a feature on her site that says “Ask my character a question:” What would you ask her? I may steal this idea.

http://www.josannathompson.com/your-questions-for-the-characters

 Thanks for interviewing me, Wayne.  I had a great time answering your questions!

Subscribe to my newsletter and get a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Acre’s Bastard.  Each month you’ll receive links to interviews with great authors, news about upcoming events and previews of my work in progress, Acre’s Orphans. Look at the bottom left of the page for the sign-up sheet. No spam, just once a month updates and a chance to learn about great new Historical Fiction of all types from around the world.

 

2 Stiffs Writing Historical Fiction

One of my favorite things about being a writer is connecting with other writers, and one of my favorite literary humans lately is Jeffrey K Walker, author of “None of Us the Same” and “Truly are the Free”.

Two Stiffs Writing Hist Fic (Part the Second)

He’s taken it upon himself to share some of our correspondence in a running feature on his blog called “Two Stiffs Writing Historical Fiction.” If you’d like a peek inside the minds of two guys who are trying to figure out the whole “writing about the past” thing, take a  look.

Here’s this month’s edition

And the first conversation we had.

Beau Brummell by the Fashionable Erato

I know nothing about fashion, but both my wife and my mother ( and there’s nothing creepier than when they both say the same thing to you) referred to my attempts at dressing up as “very Beau Brummell.” I had no idea who that was, but now I’m smarter because of this week’s interview.

Erato, (yes it’s a pen name) has written about the ultimate 18th-century fashion plate in her new novel, The Cut of the Clothes.

What’s your story, Erato?

Erato writes under a pen name. She obviously doesn’t have my crying need for validation

So, Erato is my pen name — and no, it doesn’t mean I write erotica (what the hell, people? It’s not even the same key vowels, but people mistake it all the time for “Erotia” or something.) Editor’s Note: an overwhelming majority of people are idiots. Don’t let it get to you. In any case, I write historical fiction. So far all of my books are set in the Georgian/Regency era, which I am finding is a bit of a misfortune, as “Regency” has become a modern genre of its own that I don’t actually write; consequently people who like “Regency” stories don’t usually seem to like my work and other people who might actually like them don’t want to read them because they think they don’t like “Regency” stories. It just means they’re set in the late-18th/early-19th century in Great Britain, it doesn’t mean they’re about rakish noblemen having dubiously consensual sex with reluctant heroines, or that they’re Christian propaganda for clean living, or that they’re Jane Austen fanfiction where Darcy and Elizabeth have a secret baby the entire time of Pride and Prejudice.

Duly noted. It’s rough when genres constrict your subject matter. What’s the book about?

It tells the true story of Beau Brummell and the Prince Regent. It’s a story that’s been done a few times before, since it seems everyone agrees that was the most interesting part of Brummell’s life — when he was in London and at his peak. Brummell seems to possess such a natural charm, good looks, and a talent for matching his clothes together that he becomes an instant star once the Prince befriends him. My version is different from the other tellings for a couple reasons: first, it is the only one I know of that didn’t make up a fictional character to serve as a love interest for Brummell and then try to tell it as a love story. Secondly, it’s told from the Prince’s point of view, in my best attempt at historically accurate reproduction of the way he wrote.

I’m going to confess that fashion and talking about clothes bores me to tears, despite being strapped to the couch and forced to watch 13 seasons of Project Runway with the Duchesss. What is it about this story you find so fascinating?

I had heard the name Beau Brummell a bit, and when you mostly write Georgian/Regency fiction you know a little about him and his contributions to fashion from your research. I wrote kind of a knockoff version of him into the book None But Fools (as “Beau Bancroft”) but nothing very studied. While I was writing my upcoming book The Virgin and the Bull (it was written before Cut of the Clothes but only now getting published) I had needed to look up some fashion vocabulary term — I think the word I needed was the fall of a pair of breeches — and when I did so online, the page I found happened to also have a video of the opening scene of the BBC film Beau Brummell: This Charming Man. I watched the opening scene, which is not really anything more than James Purefoy as Brummell getting dressed and then walking down a hall, but on that basis, I thought, “My next book should be about Beau Brummell.” I deliberately did not watch the rest of that movie until after my book was done, and indeed our final takes on the story were quite different, but that was the inspiration.
What’s your favorite scene in the book?

There’s a joke, and I’m afraid if I explain it it’ll be ruined for like, the one person who will ever read it and actually get it without needing to look it up… ah well, they might not be amongst the same people who reads this blog, right? What are the odds? Prinny is sick in bed and is reading a book with a French title: Les Bijoux Indiscrets. I deliberately went out of my way to find the trashiest possible 18th century book for him to be reading. It’s a book by Denis Diderot of all people (co-creator of the first Encyclopedia.) It’s about a king with a magic ring that causes women’s vaginas to talk, and to declare their sexual histories. That’s as much of a plot as it’s really got. So, that’s what Prinny reads there.
Worth being said, the real-life Prinny had one hell of a pornography collection. If I remember correctly, when he died, it took three days of continuously burning fires to destroy it all.

Where can people learn more about you and your books?

The Cut of the Clothes – Amazon.com:
Amazon UK:
Google Play: 

Erato’s Author Pages –

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2H3M6eD

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15113073.Erato

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EratoWrites

Subscribe to my newsletter and get a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Acre’s Bastard.  Each month you’ll receive links to interviews with great authors, news about upcoming events and previews of my work in progress, Acre’s Orphans. Look at the bottom left of the page for the sign-up sheet. No spam, just once a month updates and a chance to learn about great new Historical Fiction of all types from around the world.

 

The Long-Distance Leader is Almost Here

Readers of this blog usually don’t care much about my day job, but I do. My latest book is “The Long-Distance Leader-Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.”  It is the culmination of years of work and research that I, and my co-author Kevin Eikenberry, are very proud of.

 

Hear Kevin talk about it in the publisher’s official video trailer.

 

Then you can order the darned thing. Publication date is officially June 5. If you like it, please leave a review and tell all your coworkers and peers. It’s available worldwide in paperback, Kindle and Audio book.

If you are interested in the topic, check out the website and blog of The Remote Leadership Institute.