The Inquisition in Mexico- Marcia Fine

If, like me, you tend to have issues with religion in general a, you don’t have to look much past the Spanish Inquisition for a pretty good historical reason. When we think of them (and, as Monty Python reminded us, “NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!”) we think of Renaissance and Reformation Europe. In fact, the Inquisition was particularly active in the New World: they were present in Mexico, Colombia and Peru. That leads us to this week’s interview with Arizona author Marcia Fine and her award-nominated novel,“Hidden Ones- a Veil of Mystery.”

AMarcia Fine has written seven novels, including THE BLIND EYE—A Sephardic Journey, historical fiction chosen by the state library of Arizona for ONEBOOKAZ 2015. PAPER CHILDREN—An Immigrant’s Legacy has been a finalist for three national prizes. PARIS LAMB, her sixth novel, deals with anti-Semitism in the 1950s. She has also written the only satirical series about Scottsdale.

Her novel, HIDDEN ONES released in 2017, examines conversos in Mexico during the Inquisition. It has won First Prizes in the categories of Historical Fiction and Multicultural as well as Honorable Mention from AZ Authors. Marcia has a BA from Florida State University and a Masters from Arizona State University.

In a nutshell, what’s the story of Hidden Ones?

HIDDEN ONES—A Veil of Memories is a true story about a grandmother arrested during the Inquisition in Mexico. She and her family must survive under harsh circumstances that take them into the Southwest Territories as they flee north. Who would turn in their abuela?

What is it about that time period you found so fascinating?

Clara Crespin is the matriarch of a large family of conversos, people who were forcibly converted to Catholicism. She is accused of Judaizing, which means she lights candles on the Sabbath, prepares foods in a special way and hides prayer books. Women were the keepers of the faith during the 17th century when the novel takes place and long before that because they taught the Law of Moses to their children. They are breaking the rules and it is punishable by death.

Celendaria, her granddaughter, feels the impact of her grandmother being imprisoned. The whole family is at risk. She is learning about their secretive lives as a mate is chosen for her. Franciso, a bail bondsman who brings prisoners from small town jails to the Inquisition Palace in Mexico City, causes consternation because he is not a scholar.

The book opens in 1649 with the aftermath of an auto-de-fé, known as An Act of Faith, a three day spectacle put on by the Church and civil authorities. It is well-documented that 40,000 people attended in Mexico City. They exhumed bodies and paraded them through town, marched the accused through the streets and burned people alive. The actual Inquisitor, Dr. Juan Saenz de Mañzoca, who presided over the auto-de-fé is a real person.

That paints a pretty dramatic picture. What was your favorite scene to write?

I’m very visual so I write in scenes. One of my favorites is when Celendaria, the granddaughter, learns a secret when she observes her friend Mariel at the mikvah, a ritual bath for cleansing that women share before the Sabbath. It is later reinforced when she spies on Mariel with a priest behind the confessional.

It’s important to mention that these people lived duplicitous lives. They were Jews inside their homes observing traditions and rituals from the past while they were Catholics who attended Mass when they went outside.

Where can people learn more about you and your other books?

On Amazon:

On Barnes and Noble:       

Website: www.marciafine.com   

On Facebook they can friend me at Marcia Fine Author. I also have a site, A Sephardic Journey that is of interest to people who have converso backgrounds. My other novels are addressed as: PAPER CHILDREN and PARIS LAMB. I am part of the Linked In community and share articles on that site.

Marcia Fine | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/marcia.fine

A Sephardic Journey – Home | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/asephardicjourney/

https://www.facebook.com/PaperChildren

Subscribe to my monthly 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 in 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 from around the world.

Samurai Fantasy from J.N. de Bedout

One of my favorite subjects in historical films and books is the Samurai/Shogunate period in Japan.  While I can binge watch Yojimbo, Throne of Blood, and 7 Samurai over and over, there are precious few Western novels written about that time. When I came across this history/fantasy series, The Legend of Sithalkaan, I knew I had to talk to the author, J.N. de Bedout.

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I’m from Colombia, so English, technically, is not my first language. I work developing medical software and have been doing that for over thirteen years now. My academic background is in engineering, but with a minor in history. History has always fascinated me, and I hope that my books showcase that. But, you’ll notice that there is no literary background. Nor do any of my family members have literary backgrounds; they are all engineers. But, I was always a good storyteller. I could make up stories during long road trips and keep everybody entertained. Teachers often told me I had a future in writing. But it would be decades before I took the fateful plunge into publishing. Having an exciting tale to tell helped, too.
The series, “The Legend of Sithalkaan”, originally started as a single book. But it was too long to publish as one. Fortunately, there were natural breaks in the story that allowed me to snap it into four separate books, though they are parts of one continuous tale. Ideas for a future series are already marinating, so the literary adventure will continue after book 4 comes out. I had a lot of fun forging the twists and defining the characters.
One of the best things about writing is a Colombian, writing in English, can tell a story set in Ancient Japan. As a Canadian, living in the US and writing about the Crusades in the Middle East, I see nothing odd about that. Your series has a fascinating premise, and I know it’s fantasy based on historical reality, but help me out. What’s it about?
The book re-imagines certain events that transpired during the Sengoku Jidai period of Japanese history, wrapping them in a conspiracy that explains the subsequent two-hundred years of Tokugawa peace as well as certain war crimes that were alleged during WWII. First and foremost, book 1, “The Legend of Sithalkaan”, spans two key battles: the attack and destruction of the Warrior Monk stronghold on Mt. Hiei and the attack on the Warrior Monk fortress at Nagashima. History records both battles as being led, and won, by Oda Nobunaga. But the re-imagined tale offers a different explanation for those two events. It also transplants a modern scourge, religious extremism, into a fictitious Warrior Monk sect and elevates them from the nuisance these groups were historically to an existential threat.
The tale follows a young, ambitious musketeer that is conscripted to guide three priests into the war-torn interior. They seek a rumored demonic relic on orders from the Vatican. During their journey, they encounter a resurgent fanatical sect that seeks to destroy the samurai order by unleashing dark powers concealed in that same relic. The far-reaching mythology surrounding the relic is introduced; its tentacles reach as far as Kaffa (on the Crimean Peninsula), Imperial China, the Mongolian steppes, and Japan. The warped and virulent tenets of the ancient and assumed-to-be-defunct fanatical, and heretical, faith are also introduced.
The second book, Tears of the Kensei, introduces new champions, deepens the mythology and expands the campaign, and the third book, Master of Heaven, concludes the main story arc with an epic clash to define the fate of Japan, the world, and the heavens. The fourth and final book in the series will be out late 2018 or early 2019. I can summarize the four books, in order, in this simplest of fashions: the legend, first contact, final showdown, and the revelation. On top of that, the tale is also one of self-discovery for the protagonist; his past is murky, and his journey will lead to an unexpected destiny by the end of the third book.
What is it about that time period that motivated you to write the stories?
The tale is set during the waning years of Sengoku Jidai period of Japanese history, (approximately 1460-1600 for us Westerners,  give or take) and as such, it is chaotic. Think of it as the equivalent of the Thirty Years War in Europe. When people imagine the samurai, they have an ideal of noble warriors following the Bushido. But in reality, the foundations of that discipline were often ignored during the Sengoku period; instead, it was refined and perfected into what is known today during the peaceful years of the later Tokugawa dynasty where warfare was near non-existent. Furthermore, if you read about Oda Nobunaga’s early struggles, you’ll find that much of his early conflicts were with rebellious Warrior Monk sects rather than other samurai clans. It’s also quite interesting that Oda Nobunaga, probably one of the most renowned samurai ever, was a pioneer in gun tactics.
For example, he was the first to invent the tactic of rotating fire. The period also gave us such notables as Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin, who clashed in numerous battles but only faced each other in battle once; during the 4th battle of Kawanakajima, Uesugi Kenshin burst into Takeda’s command tent but only had time for a single strike, which Takeda deflected with his war fan. Add to that the Portuguese arriving and injecting guns and Christianity into the mix. That confluence makes for a great setting for the books. Faiths collide. Technology transforms battlefields. Honor means little to all but a few stalwarts.
That same chaos allowed Oda Nobunaga’s successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, to become de facto Shogun even though he served as a sandal bearer in his early career. And, it empowers the main protagonist, a simple commoner, to rise in rank and pursue his dreams of becoming a samurai.
Without giving away spoilers, what was your favorite scene to write?
It’s difficult to pick just one. The battle scenes in “The Legend of Sithalkaan” were certainly fun to write. The law of the gun versus the way of the sword. Samurai versus Warrior Monk. Sieges. Standoffs. Escapes. Topics also include the afterlife and immortality. There’s another scene where the protagonists learn of the ghastly practices of their new enemies. The scenes in the fortress of Futoge were interesting, too, borrowing from several European Black Death architectures. But I think the scene where they enter the labyrinth has to be my favorite. It’s a climactic moment in book 1 where the protagonists learn a terrible truth about the relic. It is dark and perilous and shrouded in mystery. Plus, they face a threat none of them anticipated even though it’s forewarned in the iconography on the central crypt. It also occurs at the pinnacle of a pitched battle, so much of the fighting leads up to this moment.
Inspiration for the use of the labyrinth, as well as the name of the fanatical clan of Warrior Monks originated with the Greek tale of the Minotaur. The symbolism of the labyrinth was appealing. Beyond the obvious benefits such an enigmatic structure offers, it helped to portray the long foresight of those who built it. Plus, its very existence ends up being exposed as a travesty born from poor coordination and ignorance.
To learn more about the series:
Amazon:
Amazon UK:
Amazon Series page:
Amazon UK Series page:
Amazon Author page:
Goodreads:
Twitter:
Facebook:
Web:
Any reviews or comments are most appreciated.
Subscribe to my monthly 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 in 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 from around the world.

Big-ass plans for 2018

Anyone who knows me, knows I hate New Years Eve. Always have. The week between Christmas and New Years is traditionally a time of self-flagellating reflection, semi-soul-numbing-regrets and non-clinical depression. That generally comes complete with a lot of whining and binge-eating the remaining butter tarts. With the Duchess working retail, and my customers inconsiderately on vacation, I have too much time to think about stuff. Nothing good happens when Wayne starts a sentence with, “I’ve been thinking.”

This year is (slightly, ever-so-slightly) different.

By the way, this is not a request for “attaboy” Facebook messages or offers of assistance or your therapists’ contact information. I go through this every year and come out the other side. It’s just a way of setting up what I have to say next.

As I look forward to 2018, there are three things to look forward to.

  1. In May, the release of “The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.” Co-written with my boss and friend, Kevin Eikenberry, this is a very real book from a real publisher and the hope is that it will kick-start the whole “paying the rent” thing. It’s available for Pre-Order now. Just saying.
  2. This summer will see the release of “Acre’s Orphans”, the second story in the Lucca series. I’m guessing August?  I had hoped to have it out by now, but hubris is a terrible thing. “How hard could it be to do a world-class business book AND the next novel in the same year?” I can now answer that: way more than I thought. For those of you awaiting the next adventure. It’s coming. By the way, I killed off someone major in Chapter 15. Can’t wait to hear the complaining…..
  3. After 17 years in Chicago, the Duchess and I are planning to leave Chicago for Las Vegas. Now, I’m well aware that if you want to hear God laugh, tell Her your plans, and nothing is set in stone. Still, that’s the plan. No more frigid winters (it’s -5 Fahrenheit this Boxing Day morning as Iwrite this. I think it was either Mark Twain or Simone de Beauvoir who famously said, “F#@*! this”.) And it’s time to start the next chapter of our lives. Of course, if anyone wants to buy a few copies of my books to help fund the move, we’d appreciate it. While I love Chicago,  and Her Serene Highness will be staying behind, it’s either move or be murdered in my sleep by a woman raised in Miami and still pining for  Los Angeles after all these years. I’m already packing boxes.

You never really know what a year holds, but I am excited for the challenges I know I (and we as a family) will face.

My own self-absorbed whinging aside, I wish for you an exciting 2018 of chasing your dreams and fighting the weasels to at least a draw.

Renaissance Music and Romance with Karen Bedore

I first became aware of Karen Bedore’s work earlier this year, when her novel “The Bard” beat “Acre’s Bastard” to make the short list of the Illinois Library Association’s annual “Soon to be Famous Author” competition. When we finally met at a library author event, I swallowed my petty spite and hateful envy enough to chat with her, and learn she has a new book out. That would be, “Another Lifetime.”

Turns out that when she’s not writing, she teaches middle-school music. You’ll see she has her denial firmly in hand…

So let’s learn about Karen Bedore…

On a typical day, one could find Karen in the throngs of adolescent wonderment, trying to create harmonious music-making to these next-generation superstars. From the first squeaks of “Hot Cross Buns” to the lavish lyrical sounds of “Danny Boy,” there is much magic that occurs within the four walls of the band room.

After being fueled by many cups of coffee to sustain the never-ending insanity of middle school energy, she arrives home to the role of wife (to a wonderful husband) and mother (of an amazing little boy), cherishing every moment (okay, perhaps not the whining…).

However…

Secretly (well, not so secret any more), she is an undercover author, who laces up her trainers for a run to build endurance–not just for running–but to escape from this world to an alternate one, where history and romance meet, fueled by suspense–and of course–wonderful music.

Well, if the whole “secret identify” thing works for you and helps you deal with the most evil of Nature’s creations- tweens- God love ya. What’s your latest book about?

Twenty-two-year-old Aria Carucci was getting nowhere with her research of the obscure fifteenth-century artist Enzo Benenati.  A recent discovery of one of his works was a monumental breakthrough, but the accompanying sketch of a woman who could be her twin left her completely stunned. She vows to discover who this woman was, but nothing can prepare her for the path her research takes—back in time to 1459 Florence.  Frightened but thrilled, she must adapt to a time not her own.   Thrown together by chance, Aria and Enzo fall in love, only to be at the mercy of the hands of fate.      

You’re the second author in a row here who’s tackled the Renaissance as their theme. What is it about that time period that’s so interesting to you? 

I have always been fascinated by the early Renaissance period, ever since I can remember. The humanism movement—especially in Italy—has transformed the visual and musical art world, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without that ingenuity. I have family roots in Italy as well, and am in love with the language and culture.  If I were a character, I would be Aria. Many people who have read the book have noticed that I pretty much inserted myself into the book.

The arrogance of some authors (completely disregards his own work where he is Byron, Willie, Lucca, and probably the snarky old guy in most of the short stories). Without giving away spoilers, what’s your favorite scene in the book?

Ooh, this is hard! I would have to say the first kiss. –dreamy sigh-

I think those middle-schoolers are rubbing off on you, but what the heck. Where can we learn more about your work (including the one that beat mine out… not that I’m bitter or anything)?

My website: http://karenbedore.wordpress.com

Twitter: @Lady_Alcinia

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

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/ybmhdld6

Subscribe to my monthly 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 in 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 from around the world. Everyone who signs up before January 1 enters to win!

The Lucknow Mutiny with Jocelyn Cullity

Read to the bottom of the page for a special offer!

I have always been fascinated by India… maybe because it is literally as different a culture from ours as possible yet there’s always been cultural cross-over. The British Raj has given us some of the most famous historical fiction ever (you’re a good man, Gunga Din) and yet we in the West have seldom heard the story from the Indians’ perspective. That’s where Jocelyn Cullity and “Amah and the Silk-Winged Pigeons” come in.

Jocelyn Cullity’s Amah & the Silk-Winged Pigeons is based on ten years of research. She was awarded The New England Writer’s Fellowship from A Room of Her Own Foundation in the United States, and a Writers’ Reserve Grant from the Ontario Arts Council in Canada. Her short stories and essays have been published in American, Canadian, and Indian journals and anthologies; her award-winning documentary film about women and social change in China, Going to the Sea, aired on television and in festivals in Canada, the United States, and in Europe.

Jocelyn has a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Florida State University and is currently the Director of Creative Writing in the BFA Program at Truman State University. She lives in Columbia, Missouri with her husband, the film scholar Prakash Younger, and their two daughters.

What’s the story of Amah about?

Amah and the Silk-Winged Pigeons is about the women (who do not find sufficient space or voice in many of our history textbooks) who valiantly resisted English rule in 1857 India — in a famous event that some English called “the Great Mutiny” and what some Indians call “India’s First War of Independence.”

As a Canadian living in the US, I find one of the great ironies is that one person’s “freedom fighter” is another person’s “godless rebel.” What is it about this particular story you found so fascinating?

19th century Lucknow was gorgeous, opulent, and cosmopolitan — European travelers to the city regularly would say they were in “luck. now.” when they reached the city. The English had already taken over other parts of India and in 1856, they deposed Lucknow’s King and began to take over the city. What followed was a famous uprising in which the Indians in the city — led by women — attempted to oust the English.

My mother’s English family lived in India for five generations and my great-great-great aunt was in the city of Lucknow during the resistance to English rule there. When I was a teenager, I transcribed her diary and the event stuck with me! I went on to look at Indian women’s perspectives on the tragedy that happened there. That’s when I found out that it was Indian women who planned and led the resistance — women we know too little about — and I knew then that the story I wanted to tell was theirs.

What’s your favorite scene in the book?

Print
My favorite scene in the book is when Amah, who tells the story, must fight off an English soldier over a very hot and difficult afternoon.
Where can we learn more about your book?
Subscribe to my monthly 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 in 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 from around the world. Everyone who signs up before January 1 enters to win!

Reformation, Faith and Heresy with C.L.R Peterson

By now, it’s abundantly clear from Acre’s Bastard that I have a complicated relationship with organized religion. Still, any student of history knows that little else has moved the levers of power in every corner of the world like faith and people’s reactions to it. Case in point:  CLR Peterson’s new novel about the Renaissance, the Reformation and the line between conscience and heresy. “Lucia’s Renaissance” comes from the author’s own academic interest in the topic. Here’s what she has to say:

What’s your deal?

CLR Peterson is the author of Lucia’s Renaissance

Renaissance history came to life for me during a semester of study in Italy. Then Martin Luther’s bold stand against the Roman Church and its pleasure-loving Pope Leo, a classic David-versus-Goliath battle, hooked me on the Reformation. I’ve pursued my passion for the Renaissance/Reformation era ever since, earning a PhD in Early Modern European History at Stanford University. Research for my debut novel, Lucia’s Renaissance, included reading heresy trial transcripts in Venice’s State Archives.

 

 

Geeky but cool. What’s Lucia’s Renaissance about?

Heresy is fatal in late sixteenth-century Italy, so only a suicidal zealot would so much as whisper the name of Martin Luther. But after Luther’s ideas ignite a young girl’s faith, she can’t set them aside, even when faced by plague, death, and the Inquisition.

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

For years, I’ve been intrigued by the relationship between the Italian Renaissance, with its vitality, creativity, and focus on humanity, and the religious Reformation sparked by Luther.

While reading heresy trial records from this era, I found a microcosm of this Renaissance/Reformation tension. A bare-bones portrait emerged of a Renaissance-educated Italian physician so devoted to Martin Luther’s ideas that for years he smuggled the reformer’s writings into Italian lands, leading to three trials before the Roman Church’s Inquisition. My novel fills out his family’s story (using literary license when necessary) from the viewpoint of the physician’s daughter, Lucia.

What’s your favorite scene or event  in the book?

When Lucia unlocks a hidden drawer in her father’s desk, she makes a shocking discovery: a book by Martin Luther, the arch-heretic her priest railed against. Questions flood her mind. Why was the book placed in the drawer? Does her father, a strict follower of the Church’s rules, know about the book? Could he be a heretic?

Lucia must decide whether to report her find to the priest, lock the book away and pretend she never saw it, confront her father, or read the book and make her own judgment.

Where can people learn more about you and Lucia’s Renaissance?

My website: clrpeterson.com

My book’s Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/ B076GKJY2V

My book’s Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/ book/show/36339179-lucia-s- renaissance?from_search=true

The California Gold Rush with Richard Roux

Love it or hate it (and I do a little of both) there is no place like California.  The history of the state seems to be completely disconnected from most of the rest of the US. One of the most interesting periods–and a metaphor for everything that’s happened there since, from Hollywood to Silicon Valley–is the Gold Rush. That time period has given us writers like Brett Harte and Mark Twain.

Richard Roux has now added his novel, A Branch Too Weak, to the mix. I was happy to talk to him and learn more. He was born and raised in Bakersfield, California. By profession, he is a high school history teacher and adjunct professor in history at Bakersfield Community College. With an interest in a variety of topics and activities, Richard brings to his writing a mixture of history, anecdotes, and humor. 

When not spending time with his family, teaching, playing hockey, and enjoying the outdoors, he continues to research and write. A series of new releases are planned for the future.

What’s A Branch Too Weak about?

A Branch Too Weak is a work of historical fiction based on the California Gold Rush. The main character, Danny Vance, is an ambitious young man. Like thousands of other Americans, he was enticed west when word of gold in California reached the rest of the United States. It became his goal to reach California to “see the elephant.” Faced with struggle, sacrifice, violence, and himself on a daily basis, he pushed his limits to achieve his dreams. The journey west wasn’t what he expected; it rarely was. Will Danny Vance make it to California, or give up like so many others? Will he find his fortune? Will he find himself? Only he could provide the answers.

This is the first book in the Golden Empire Series. Additional books will explore events and characters in California, mixing actual history and individuals with a fictional story line.

California is a fascinating place… actually several different places all smooshed together. What is it about that time period that got you going?

History has always been an important part of my life. For me, it is an escape. I love exploring how local history is intertwined with national events. And I have always been drawn to history of the American West. So, throughout my life, I have contemplated how my little corner of the world developed over time. My family has some property in the Greenhorn Mountains of Kern County. The area witnessed its own gold rush in 1853 and 1854.

For years, I imagined what type of people moved to the region—where they came from, what they did for a living, and what life was like for them. Over the last year, I started to formulate a story in my head about the California Gold Rush, and about how an individual might venture out to California to chase their dreams, and how they might end up in the Greenhorn Mountains. This last summer, after teaching six weeks of summer school, I found myself with four weeks off. I figured there was no time like the present, so I wrote this book.

In a sense, this book is a reflection of several decades of reflecting on the history of the United States, California, and the Greenhorn Mountains. It is my attempt to craft a compelling story with a likable character, all while relaying some history.

I know it’s an unfair question, but what’s your favorite scene in the book?

One scene in the book has Danny Vance walking up a rock-strewn, rutted track known as the Greenhorn Trail that leads to the Kern River Gold fields. The trail winds its way up a ridge that has oak, pine, and fir trees, as well as clusters of dense brush. That trail seemingly climbs forever. I describe how Danny felt walking up that trail. The heat and sweat, the burning muscles straining to reach the plateau, and the quest for shade. This scene means a lot to me, because I have walked that trail and have experienced the same feelings and struggle. In a way, I am Danny at that moment in time.

Where can folks learn more about you and your work?

I and my book can be found several places:

Amazon Author’s Page:

Goodreads: 

Greenhorn Mountain Books Facebook Page: 

Thoroughly Enjoyable Imperfect Enjoyment- MJ Logue

The internet is a small place, especially for historical fiction authors. We tend to cross paths in the same Facebook groups and Twitter feeds. I’ve been aware of MJ Logue for a while, and have been eagerly awaiting the publication of her new book, “An Imperfect Enjoyment,” to interview her. Her funny, snarky outlook on life can’t help but infiltrate all her work.

So what’s MJ Logue’s deal?

Writer, mad cake lady, re-enactor, historian.
Been slightly potty about the clankier side of Ironside for around 20 years, and lists amongst my heroes in this unworthy world Sir Thomas Fairfax, Elizabeth Cromwell and John Webster (for his sense of humour.)

When not purveying historically-accurate cake to various re-enactment groups across the country, M.J. Logue can usually be discovered practising in her garden with a cavalry backsword.  (for the record, I don’t believe those exact words have ever been put in that exact order….ever.)

So what’s the nutshell version of your book?

An Imperfect Enjoyment is basically The Thin Man meets Forever Amber: if you can imagine the suave and rather elegant investigators of 1930s pulp fiction, set in Restoration England. A little bit sexy, grimly witty, slightly violent, and unerringly sophisticated.
Being the story of Thankful Russell – middle-aged, slightly-broken Admiralty intelligencer, retired – who finds himself married to the girl he’s always loved. (Turns out she’d always loved him, too. She was just waiting for him to notice.) The romantic Thomazine is big on happy ever afters. The problem is, as war with the Dutch looms and tensions run high in the capital, someone’s determined that she shouldn’t get one – or, indeed, that Russell’s going to get any kind of ever after, other than a traitor’s execution. Would a man whose principles led him to once take up arms against his King, turn his coat again and work against His Majesty for the Dutch Republic? Thomazine doesn’t think so. But her determination to see him cleared is going to lead them into more danger, and more high places, than either of them would have dreamed of….

What is it about that time period that fascinates you so?

Why the 1660s? Because I write another series set during the British Civil Wars, in which we initially meet Thankful Russell as a very badly damaged young lieutenant in the Army of Parliament, and because he meets Thomazine (in those books) when he’s twenty-one and she’s a little girl of not quite two and it was clear to me as a writer from pretty much that meeting that they were going to get together one day. She sees him as her especial property: because he’s disfigured, he’s terrified of women his own age – or their pity, at least – and Thomazine, not having known him before the scars, just thinks of him as… well, as Russell, really; as her rebel angel. So I had to know how that was going to pan out. He has to go away to come back, if you see what I mean.

So there are the two stories running alongside each other. There’s a not-quite-young man who’s thoroughly messed up, who’s got to the age of forty-two without having dared to love anybody in his life, and a girl who is single-minded enough to take him on but who’s starry-eyed enough to forgive his not being wired up right: and how they learn to be ordinary, really, to have a marriage and a home and children (one day…) together. There’s that. And then there’s the various intrigues and upheavals and literary chicanery of the Restoration going on around them: Sam Pepys the chest pest, and Aphra Behn and the Earl of Rochester writing dirty poems, and the theatre, and all of that. Imagining how you would live in that new world, if you had been happy with the old world. If you hadn’t been a fop or a cavalier or a poet, but someone who had believed in the ideals of a Commonwealth and a democracy without kings.

What’s your favorite scene in the book?

Oh, they make me laugh, them two. I couldn’t pick a favourite. Possibly the scenes where Russell decides that the best way to clear his name of a number of murders is forensically, and finagles an introduction to the Royal Society to talk about dead bodies. (With a very real and practical introduction to the same, which makes Thomazine heave.) There’s always an assumption that being a middle-aged, scarred, lapsed Puritan administrator he must be this dry-as-dust and rather humourless individual and he plays up to it relentlessly – being neither. I suspect he and Thomazine think it’s howlingly funny, in private. The sort of scene that could be high romance and oh-darling-your-eyes-are-like-stars, entirely derailed by a ticklish man and a woman with cold feet….

Or Chatham Docks. Because obviously, it’s a romantic thriller, and that means the heroine will need to be rescued from the clutches of the bad guy. Or, as it were, not. One minute it’s all sly humour and political intrigue, and the next minute it’s hairpins in the eyeball, with a horrible gristly crunch.

Where can people learn more about the wonder that is MJ Logue?

Website:         www.asweetdisorder.com
Twitter:        @hollie_babbitt
Facebook:        www.facebook.com/MJLogue/ 
Amazon links: Author.to/MJLogue        

 

Come Out and Meet Me in October

I will be part of a lot of book events in the next few weeks, and would love it if people would come meet me (and even buy a couple of books if you’re so inclined.)  I will have plenty of paperback copies of both  Acre’s Bastard and The Count of the Sahara.

Here’s what’s happening over the next little bit:

October 7 is the Oswego Literary Festival at the Oswego Public Library (Oswego

The Count of the Sahara is now available in Kindle format. Also available in paperback from Amazon or direct from the publisher.

, IL)   20 Local Illinois authors will be on hand to sell/sign/bother strangers about their books. 9 AM-1 PM

October 14 9AM-1 PM  Plainfield Public Library Indie Author Day (Plainfield Illinois, Library. There are way more independently published writers in Illinois than you can even imagine. Come join us!

Reading On the Rail at the 2015 Rivulets launch

October 14  1PM-4PM  The Naperville Writers Group will hold its annual Rivulets Book Launch. Every year we do an anthology of the best writing from the group. My short story, “Through the Arbor Vitae” will be included. Join us at the 95th Street Library in Naperville. (Of course, you can read the story on my site, by clicking here.)

October 15  Hometown Reads and Centuries and Sleuths presents #readlocalshoplocal  I’m proud to be hosting this gathering of Hometown Reads authors at Centuries and Sleuths in River Forest, IL. We will read and share our books with pretty much everyone who pops in. If you enjoy meeting and discovering new writers, this is the event for you. If we need to bribe you, there will be snacks.

Please stop by and say hello. I love meeting readers (even those who don’t buy my book, although I may steal a lock of hair for a voodoo doll–you won’t even miss it)

The Dreaded Day Job and a Really Good New Book

Much as I’m trying to carve a niche for myself as a novelist, my first books–and the business that pays the bills–are non-fiction and center on business communication. That’s why I’m really proud to announce that (co-written with Kevin Eikenberry, peace be upon him) the new book is at the pubishers.

The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership is now available for pre-order. It’s from Berrett-Koehler publishers, and we couldn’t be happier, both with the book and our partnership with B-K.

This book takes the communication skills i wrote about in “10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations” and “Meet Like You Mean It- a Leader’s Guide to Painless and Productive Virtual Meetings” and blends them with Kevin’s years of Leadership Development expertise to take a totally fresh, new look at how we are really working today.

If you manage a remote team, or work in a place where your co-workers are at home or spread around the globe, I invite you to check out the book. Since publication date isn’t until the end of April, you’ll be hearing more as the date gets nearer. In the meantime, I blog and write regularly at The Remote Leadership Institute site. Check it out or follow us on Twitter @LeadingRemotely

Check out the book, or my Amazon author page. If you know my work because of my fiction, you’ll find lots of information to help your business life. If you only know me through my day job, I invite you to check out my novels, The Count of the Sahara and Acre’s Bastard. Heck, if you’re bored, check the Stories section on this page for some of my short fiction work.

More to come, I look forward to continuing to share with you. Have a great week.