Born of Metal with A L Knorr (and AD Schneider)

One of the Urban Fantasy series I’m really digging is Born of Metal by AL Knorr and Aaron D Schneider. First, it’s an exciting series with cool magic and a Sudanese-British protagonist, which isn’t something you see every day. It’s also a good example of something you see a lot in Urban Fantasy: the team up in order to get books in a series into the world quickly. Since Johnny Lycan is going to be a trilogy, I’m intrigued and a bit intimidated.

I spoke to Abby Knorr, who was most insistent her co-author, AD Schneider got some love too. (A thousand blessings upon her. I’ve been the B side of a book. It can be lonely.) Here’s the interview.

Tell us about yourself, and give your co-author some love while you’re at it.

I’m a textbook introvert with a serious problem: my imagination is a runaway train and I’m just a panicked passenger along for the ride. I’m a Canadian living in the UK who married a brilliant cook which has saved my life more than once because while I’m working (which is almost every day including weekends) I often forget to eat. I force my arse to the gym or to the yoga studio or dance studio to try and remember how to socialize with people and move my body but as many writers can attest, getting away from my computer is a real challenge. I love the ocean and all things in it both living and … well, not, such as shipwrecks and ancient cities. It was this first love of nautical history and marine biology which spawned my first series (Elemental Origins). People often ask me if I ever run out of ideas but a more likely problem is that I’ll never get to write them all. My mom taught me to read when I was three (I was put ahead a grade because of this), and unbeknownst to her, she created a monster with an insatiable appetite for stories and storytelling. Life is storytelling, and don’t you forget it.

Aaron is a storyteller posing as a writer. If he’d been born in the days of nifty new longboats and mead halls he’d have been trying desperately to make it as a skald or bard, illiteracy be damned! He loves tales, legends, myths, and epics, modern or ancient, sacred or sinister. They’ve shaped him so much it seems only natural he’d want to shape his own. So here he is trying to scratch his mark on time’s edifice, and finding himself perpetually grateful for the people who give him a chance. He’s also the brains behind the Warring Realm trilogy.

What’s Born of Metal and the Inconquo series about?

Born of Metal is about a young Sudanese-Brit named Ibukun who is descended from a line of supernaturals (metal elementals, in case the title didn’t give you a clue) called Inconquo guardians. It’s an origin story that follows Ibby as she discovers her heritage while interning at the British Museum and finds a hidden, magical artifact which unlocks her abilities. Born of Metal is as adventure story but its also a ghost story and a coming of age tale. Ibby first appeared in my book Born of Air as a secondary character but I loved her so much that I knew she needed her own series. Working with Aaron D. Schneider to bring her story to life was a brilliant choice because Aaron has amazing writing skills, especially in combat, which Ibby ends up in a lot as an iron-slinging, metal-warping guardian and the only supernatural who stands between the destruction of London and the original Inconquo, a terrifying demi-god from Sumerian myth named Ninurta.

What is it about that form of magic or the story that intrigued you?

Elemental magic has always appealed to me because magic rooted in nature seems somehow more believable than other forms and we tried to make Ibby’s story as believable as possible. Her series could actually cross over into Sci fi but we didn’t categorize it there because it is shy on technology. The Inconquo mythology sprang from Sumerian myths and gods and is also connected to the story of the Euroklydon from the bible (where Born of Air sprang from). The original Elemental Origins series touched on the major elemental magics (water, earth, fire, air, and aether) but Ibby’s story as a metal elemental was dying to be told so I created a subcategory of Earth elemental for the metal elementals to sit in. Aaron had a lot to do with helping expand the metal elemental mythology and Ibby’s trilogy is truly a joint creation.

Abby, who are the authors you enjoy?

There are so many. Off the top of my head my favorites and the authors who have influenced me are Kelley Armstrong, Stephen King, Ken Follett, JK Rowling, Anne Rice, Frank McCourt, Arthur Golden, and Laure Eve, to name a few.

Where is the best place to learn about your work and your insane number of books?

Amazon is the best place to look since everything is all linked and in one place. My website is another good resource (subscribers can get free fiction there), and for Facebook or Instagram users, I have accounts there as well.

NOTE FROM WAYNE: In a month or so I am going to be offering a FREE story, not seen anywhere else, for subscribers to my newsletter. Please use the form on the side of the page to get on board and learn more about my work, including the upcoming novel, Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk.

And if this is your first introduction to me and my work, check out my novels on Amazon.

Damn, this has been quite a year.

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I hate New Year’s Eve and all the nonsense that goes with it. Too much thinking and chewing on regrets, as a rule. That said, it is impossible not to take some time (mostly involuntary. I’m working but clients don’t want to talk to me til the new year.) to reflect on what became of 2019. It’s been a monster, writing-wise.

A novel published, 5 short stories accepted, a new novel finished and ready to find a home, and the contract signed for a new business book is a pretty good year. Screw imposter syndrome!

To start with, my third novel, Acre’s Orphans entered the world in January. As you know, it’s the sequel to 2017’s Acre’s Bastard. No kidding, I love this book and it’s been the best-reviewed and rewarded of my career. It won recognition from Chill With a Book, Discovered Diamonds (finally got one on my third try!) and an Indie BRAG Medallion. It also got a lovely review from Storgy.

If I’m honest, while I think it’s the best novel I’ve written, it has also sold a whole lot less than my other books. This has got me thinking about my approach to getting my work into the world. More on that in a minute.

It’s been a wild year for my short fiction as well.

In February, my story The Forger of Cairo appeared in Storgy Magazine. This matters, and not just because it’s a pretty good little horror tale in a darned fine lit magazine. It marks my transition from writing mostly historical fiction to broadening my scope to other genres. This story also plays an unexpected role in my new novel.

But Storgy wasn’t done with me yet. In May, they did a review of Acre’s Bastard, then followed up in July with a very kind follow-up on Acre’s Orphans. To top it off, my first foray into flash fiction took the third prize in their 2019 Flash Fiction Contest. I am deeply grateful for my association with these maniacs. They like me, they really like me.

Another magazine that has been very good to me this year is Twist in Time Magazine. In March, my story about the French Foreign Legion in Viet Nam, Dien Bien Phu 1954, came into the world. Then in September and November, they serialized Los Angeles, 1952. You can read the origins of that story here.

Yet another story came out in September. Ava, Lana, and Old Bob Campbell appeared in Ragazine. This is the second magazine that shuttered its doors just after publishing one of my stories (RIP eFiction.) I am trying not to take that personally. By the way, the roots of this story are explained here. Worth checking out if you already haven’t.

Also in September, Kevin Eikenberry and I signed the contract to do the sequel to The Long-Distance Leader- Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. I’m plugging away on The Long-Distance Teammate- Stay Engaged and Connected While Working Anywhere, and it should see the light in January of 2021. Oh, and the Long-Distance Leader came out in Italian!

The sequel to the Long-Distance Leader is in the works

So, about this new book. Johnny Lycan is unlike anything I’ve done before. It’s a modern, urban fantasy/thriller about a detective in Chicago who happens to be a werewolf. Yeah, I know. Here’s where that reexamining my approach thing comes in.

I am currently searching for an agent (ideally) or at least a publisher for this new book. It could be the basis of a series. At the very least I might make some money on it.

In Italian, no less

While I’m incredibly proud of the Lucca stories, it is clear I”m not cut out to be a successful self-publisher. Good work that doesn’t find readers is just kind of soul-crushing. I have no plans to self-publish another novel. I know that bodes ill for a third Acre’s book, but such is the way of the world. Lucca will have to wait.

And working in a new genre basically means I’ll have to start over with my PR efforts. This blog will change direction somehow, although I don’t know what that will look like land I’ll be hanging out more with Urban Fantasy and Horror folks than historical fiction writers.

Big changes, indeed, but screw it. This has been an exhausting, thrilling and tension-filled year. Lots of highs, and some lows (obsessively checking your sales numbers can be a very depressing thing.) I am grateful for the support of those who read my blog and my books. I hope you’ll stick with me on next year’s journey.

Happy new year, God bless us, everyone, see you on the flipside.

I’m On the Radio- The Internet is the Author’s Friend

Most of you probably don’t know what little formal education I do have consists of an Associates degree in Broadcast Journalism from BCIT. I love the medium of radio. I was recently interviewed for the Aspects of Writing radio program. The topic was: The Internet is the Author’s Friend. Lord knows it’s mine…

Listen to the show here:

In this wide-ranging and somewhat insane interview we cover doing research for historical fiction, getting the word out about your book, why dinosaurs changed my life, and how the internet is both a frightening time suck and the best way for indie authors to network and share their work with a readership.

Thanks to James Kelly and Joyce Kaye Gatschenberger for letting me ramble.

Join me June 29 at B&N Henderson

HI all. My first Las Vegas area book signing will take place Saturday, June 29 at the Barnes and Noble in Henderson, NV from 1-3 PM.

I will be there with copies of my award-winning “Lucca le Pou” novels, Acre’s Bastard and Acre’s Orphans. Stop by, grab a cup of coffee and get a signed copy of these books. I’ll also be dropping big greasy hints about my next novel as well.

The Most Interesting Period in History? Catherine Kullmann and the Duke’s Regret

Certain periods in history are more interesting to us than others. Depending on where your family’s from, your feelings about the events in question, and what country you live in, your mileage may vary. For example, World War 1 into the Russian Revolution, the Renaissance in Florence, and The Crusades are more interesting to me than the US Civil War (1.0) or the War of the Roses.

Enter Catherine Kullmann and her novel, The Duke’s Regret. She thinks what is known as “The Regency” in Britain qualifies… let’s see why.

What’s your deal Catherine?

  • I am Irish, married (for forty-five years), a mother (three sons) and a grandmother (one granddaughter, one grandson).
  • I love travelling, meeting people, good food and drink,  classical music, especially opera
  • I prefer radio and live theatre to cinema and tv
  • I cannot live without books or tea
  • I am fascinated by history and love visiting historic sites and buildings of any period.
  • I write novels set in England in the extended Regency Period from 1795 (when the later Prince Regent married to 1830 (when he died as King George IV)

Look at you, all organized with bullet points. What’s The Duke’s Regret about?

Some characters slip into your books unplanned and unheralded only to play a pivotal role in the story. So it was with Flora, the young Duchess of Gracechurch in The Murmur of Masks and later in Perception & Illusion. Flora own story revealed itself slowly. A devoted mother who befriends young wives whose husbands are ‘distant’, it becomes clear that the relationship between her and her husband Jeffrey is also distant.

They married at a young age, she not yet seventeen and he some years older. In 1815, at the end of The Murmur of Masks, both are in their thirties with many years of life ahead of them. I began to wonder what would happen if one of them wanted to change their marriage. This led to my new novel, The Duke’s Regret.

A duke can demand anything—except his wife’s love.

A chance meeting with a bereaved father makes Jeffrey, Duke of Gracechurch realise how hollow his own marriage and family life are. Persuaded to marry at a young age, he and his Duchess, Flora, live largely separate lives. Now he is determined to make amends to his wife and children and forge new relationships with them.

Flora is appalled by her husband’s suggestion. Her thoughts already turn to the future, when the children will have gone their own ways. Divorce would be out of the question, she knows, as she would be ruined socially, but a separation might be possible and perhaps even a discreet liaison. Can Jeffrey convince his wife that his change of heart is sincere and break down the barriers between them? Flora must decide if she will hazard her heart and her hard won peace of mind when the prize is an unforeseen happiness.

The Duke’s Regret contains spoilers for The Murmur of Masks and Perception & Illusion. So as not to mislead readers, I have therefore combined them in The Duchess of Gracechurch Trilogy. All three books are available as eBooks and paperbacks.

You are obsessed with this time period. What gives?

It is the beginning of our modern society. The Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland of 1800, the Anglo-American war of 1812 and the final defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 are all events that still shape today’s world. At the same time, the ruling aristocracies were being challenged by those who saw the need for social and political reform, while the industrial revolution which led to the transfer of wealth to the manufacturing and merchant classes was underway. Women, who had few or no rights in a patriarchal society had begun to raise their voices, demanding equality and emancipation.

Following the collapse of the Treaty of Amiens in 1803, the United Kingdom was at war with Napoleonic France until 1815. Unlike other combatants in this long war, Britain was spared the havoc wrought by an invading army and did not suffer under an army of occupation. War was something that happened elsewhere, far away. For twelve long years, ships carrying fathers, husbands, sons and brothers sailed over the horizon and disappeared. Over three hundred thousand men did not return, dying of wounds, accidents and illness. What did this mean for those left behind without any news apart from that provided in the official dispatches published in the Gazette and what little was contained in intermittent private letters?

The question would not leave me and it is against this background of an off-stage war that I have set my novels. How long did it take, I wondered, for word of those three hundred thousand deaths to reach the bereaved families? How did the widows and orphans survive? What might happen to a girl whose father and brother were ‘somewhere at sea’ if her mother died suddenly and she was left homeless?

What’s your favorite scene in the book?

It’s hard to say. I love this one, where Jeffrey is accepted by his nine-year-old daughter Tabitha. Up to now, Tabitha has addressed him formally as ‘Your Grace’ or ‘sir’

Tabitha raised her rope again. “I’m going to see if I can skip thirty times without stopping.”

“That will take a lot of breath. Would it help if I count for you?” Gracechurch asked.

Yes, please, Pap—” She broke off, biting her lip.

He squatted in front of her so that she could look into his eyes. “Papa? Would you like to call me Papa?”

She nodded vigorously.

“I should be happy if you did. I am your Papa, am I not?”

She threw her arms around his neck. “Now you are my Papa. Before you weren’t, not really.”

He rose to his feet as he hugged her back. “Then I am sorry for it. Will you forgive me?”

She nodded again and he kissed her cheek before setting her down carefully. She smiled brilliantly at him, then picked up her rope and held it in the starting position.

“Are you ready? Off you go!”

Where can we learn more about you and your work?

Thank you for hosting me and for your interest in my writing. You can find out more about me and my books at

Website: https://www.catherinekullmann.com

Facebook: fb.me/catherinekullmannauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CKullmannAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15549457.Catherine_Kullmann?

Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Catherine-Kullmann/e/B01IW3F4MA?

Amazon.co.uk https://www.amazon.co.uk/Catherine-Kullmann/e/B01IW3F4MA/re

We interrupt Mike’s interview for a shameless plug. Acre’s Orphans has won a much coveted “Discovered Diamond” award for historical fiction. You can read the review here, or just take my word for it and buy the book.

The US Civil War Through British Eyes- John Holt

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that one of my least favorite periods to read about is the American Civil War. (Or, as it will be known in the future, Civil War 1.0) The reasons are long and boring, and will annoy perfectly nice people, so I won’t go into them. I am always interested in the outsider’s view of any historical event, so when I found an Englishman with a fascination for the “war between the states,” I was willing to suck it up and learn more. John Holt’s latest book is “The Thackery Journal.”

What’s your deal, John?

I was born in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, during World War 2. Clearly the world had a lot to contend with at that time, so my coming offered some welcome relief. Whether I had a major influence, or it was pure coincidence, I shall never know, but the war ended shortly after my birth. I have always been a half glass full kind of person, and I’m quite positive in my approach to life. I was brought up on a diet of Rock ‘n’ roll, and only two TV channels. How did we ever manage I wonder? Programmes like Bilko, and Tony Hancock helped I guess, and probably accounts for my sense of humour. As a youngster I wanted to become a doctor, however there was problem, a major problem. I hated the sight of blood, so eventually I became a land surveyor, and spent 24 years working in local government. I then set up in private practice, carrying out property surveys, and preparing architectural drawings. I guess, like a lot of people I had always wanted to write. In fact for several years I used to write articles for a couple of blues magazines (sadly no longer in operation). But I wanted to write a novel. The opportunity came about in 2005, whilst on holiday in Austria. That was the catalyst that lead to “The Kammersee Affair” published in 2006. It is a story of the search for hidden nazi gold; a story of blackmail, murder and revenge. Over the following years eight more novels, and three novellas, were produced.

I get it. After years of writing articles, scripts and standup, I told myself I’d never be a “real” writer til I did a novel. Sounds like you’ve caught up. What’s The Thackery Journal about?

As the first sounds of gun fire echoed through the land, young men rushed to enlist, to fight for a cause that they believed was right. Shop assistants, bank clerks, farm labourers. All believing that the South would win. Right was on their side, and besides it would all be over by Christmas. 

Two life-long friends enlist on opposite sides of the conflict. Both believing that right was on their side, and both hoping that they would never meet each other on the battlefield. Their lives become inextricably entwined as the war nears its end culminating in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. On the night of April 14th 1865 Lincoln attended a performance at The Ford Theatre, in Washington. A single shot fired by John Wilkes Booth hit the President in the back of the head. He slumped to the floor and died a few hours later without regaining consciousness. Was Booth a lone assassin? Or was he part of a much wider conspiracy? Was he part of something even more sinister? Was he part of a plot hatched by Lincoln’s own generals to replace Lincoln with General Ulysses S. Grant. A plot financed by stolen Confederate gold bullion.

What is it about the story or time period that intrigued you?

I have always been fascinated by the American Civil War. A Civil War is the worst kind of war that there could be. A war that divides the Country and splits communities: a war that puts brother against brother, and father against son.  A war that splits families; and makes enemies of long-time friends. A war where in reality there are no winners. Indeed, a war where there could be no real winners, and where everyone loses something. The effects would be felt long after the war ends.  Could reconciliation and forgiveness really take place? How long would the wounds, mentally and physically, take to heal? Could communities divided by war, be re-united by peace? Even now statues of Confederate Generals are being torn down because of what they are perceived to stand for.

But that in itself is hardly a reason for writing the book. If the truth be known, I never actually considered writing a Civil War novel at all. But sometimes, instead of the author being in command of what he, or she writes, it is the writing itself that takes charge. It will suddenly go in a totally unexpected direction, and you are forced to go with it to see where it leads.

Somewhere along the line I got side-tracked. During my research into “The Kammersee Affair” (a story of hidden gold bullion) I found an item on the internet about a consignment of Confederate gold that had gone missing as the Civil War was coming to an end. The gold had, apparently never been found. I thought perhaps I could make up some kind of a story. The gold had obviously been stolen by someone, and I got to thinking how that person would feel as his pursuers caught up with him. Very quickly I had the makings of a fairly well developed final chapter. That chapter is now the last chapter of “Thackery”, and largely unchanged from when it was first written. It was also obvious that the gold had been stolen for a reason. I wondered what that reason could have been. Then I had an idea.

What’s your favorite (or favourite, if you insist) part of the book?

That’s a difficult one, there are so many. But if I must choose one I think it would be the very last scene of the novel. Oddly enough, it is the one that was written first. Jason Thackery is a hunted man, wounded and alone. His pursuers have tracked him down and are closing in. Thackery is afraid and knows exactly the fate that awaits him. His thoughts turn to the past, to his mother, to his friend, who, even now, is waiting to take him prisoner. There is no escape, no way out. There is no one to save him.

Where can we learn more about you and your work?

Amazon.co.uk – https://www.amazon.co.uk/John-Holt/e/B003ERI7SI/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/John-Holt/e/B003ERI7SI/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/John-Holt-Author-553064201380567/

We interrupt John’s interview for a shameless plug. Acre’s Orphans has won a much coveted “Discovered Diamond” award for historical fiction. You can read the review here, or just take my word for it and buy the book.

Acre’s Bastard is free on kindle until Saturday

Acre’s Bastard, the first of the Lucca Le Pou stories, is available FREE on Kindle until Saturday, April 20th. If you haven’t read it yet, or want to read the first in the series before devouring the sequel, here’s your chance.

Acre’s Bastard was short-listed for the 2017 Illinois Library Associations “Soon to be Famous” competition for independent authors.

Like all good crack dealers, I’m also using the “give the first taste away free and get them to buy the next one” scheme. Hopefully, it will lead folks to Acre’s Orphans and beyond.

This is also an experiment to see if these are, indeed, marketable as YA or NA (New Adult, because we can’t possibly have too many marketing genres to confuse readers). Chapter 2 is a tough read for some people since it involves an attempted sexual assault on a kid. There’s your warning.

If you’ve already read it, please share the information on Facebook, Twitter or however you converse with the rest of the planet.

You can get your FREE Kindle here until the offer expires

A New Short Story in a New Genre- The Forger of Cairo

I love the short story form, and the good folks at Storgy.com have seen fit to publish one of my new pieces, The Forger of Cairo (you can read it here. Please do- and support my friends in London, who seem strangely fond of me.)

When I write short stories, it’s usually as a form of exercise. It starts with a challenge: can I do X? With “On the End of Magick,” I tried to emulate the Victorian tone of “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.” With “The Last Good Cigar Day of the Year,” it was hoping to capture that one, small, moment of zen I get sitting on the deck with a good cigar. Whatever I learn winds up in my longer work.

So, what was I trying to do with this one? A couple of things. For one thing, I notice that the market for horror fiction is much bigger than for the smaller, historical pieces in which I usually indulge (although if you read it you’ll see I did a little of both. Old habits dying hard and all.) I am, after all, trying to find an audience and perhaps a stray buck or two.

The second reason is that the new novel I’m working on is NOT a Lucca book, but a strange little contemporary thing that has horror/action elements in it. Before I invest the next 6 months or so of my life in such an effort, I wanted to see if I could pull it off. I guess you’ll tell me (and I hope that you do. Tell a brother, would ya?) Not only that, but the McGuffin in this story, as well as Lemuel in The Clairtangentist, are part of the new work. It’s like I’m creating my own private Marvel Universe.

If you haven’t read the new book yet, what’s keeping you for corn’s sake?

So I hope you enjoy this story. If this is your introduction to my work, Please check out the other short stories on my site and others. More importantly, if you haven’t read my novels, particularly the newest one, Acre’s Orphans, what’s stopping you? They’re available in all formats on my Amazon Author Page (and the paperbacks are available in any bookstore that will order them for you.)

Don’t let the weasels get you down!

Award-Winning People are Talking About Acre’s Orphans

Acre’s Orphans has been less than a week, so it’s too early to tell if anyone is actually going to buy it. But they ARE reading it. I know, because I’ve received some very kind words about it from people who win awards and stuff. Many of these are from terrific writers who have read, and enjoyed, Lucca’s adventures. These are writers who I am proud will even talk to me, let alone enjoy my work. (I would write an entire blog post about Impostor Syndrome, but I’m probably not up to it.) That’s a joke. Kinda.

My writing friend Jeffrey Walker, author of the Sweet Wine of Youth series about the First World War, recently showcased me on his blog. (Read the interview here). His last book, Truly are the Free, just won an Indie Brag award for historical fiction as well as a short-list for the Goethe Award


Acre’s Orphans is another rollicking and gritty medieval romp for Wayne Turmel’s utterly incorrigible—yet grudgingly adorable—orphan-hero, Lucca Le Pou. A delightful read for any historical fiction devotee, Turmel manages to render up the decaying Kingdom of Jerusalem accessible, violent, and naughty enough to hook any YA reader, too. Who knew Hospitaller knights and leprous nuns could be so cool?

Apparently someone else is a fan of leprous nuns, because Bradley Harper, author of the Edgar-award winning A Knife In the Fog told me his favorite part was the battle with the bandits where (avoiding big spoilers) poor Sister Marie-Pilar saves the day. You never know what people are going to take from your work, but I kinda dug that scene as well. Brad’s first novel has been short-listed for a a freakin’ Edgar award as Best First Novel. Here’s his review:

“Acre’s Orphans is an enjoyable excursion back to the battle for the Holy Land, contested by none other than the fierce but honorable Salah-Din. Ten-year-old Lucca the Louse has his hands full avoiding Saracen soldiers, merciless bandits, and a spy loyal to neither side but hoping to profit from both. The tale is faithful to history and the diverse culture of the region which exists up to the current day. The characters are well-drawn and the stakes are high when the boy is entrusted with an important message from the captured city of Acre, intended for the remnants of the Christian nobility along the northern coast, four days travel away.  Accompanied by a giant Knight Hospitaller, a young Druze girl on the cusp of womanhood, and a leprous nun, Lucca must get his ragged party safely to Tyre, where an uncertain reception awaits them all.”

Another award-winner is Barbara Barnett. She’s an insanely smart person whose novel The Apothecary’s Curse was short-listed for the 2017 Stoker award. She was the first to tell me in documented form what she thought…

“A splendid adventure laced with new perils at every turn for the young hero at the heart of Turmel’s latest excellent foray into the heart of the Crusades.”

We don’t write for awards. We sure don’t write for the money, but we do write to be read. To have my words enjoyed by people all over the world, including those whose talent I respect is more than a little fun. Just thought I’d share.

If you haven’t ordered your copy of Acre’s Orphans, or haven’t read the first of Lucca’s adventures, they are available on Kindle or in Paperback wherever you get your fix.

And please, leave a review. It’s like applause for the author.

Where did Lucca the Louse Come From?

No doubt by now you are aware that Acre’s Orphans will be published on January 28th. Many of you are familiar with its hero, Lucca le Pou (or Lucca the Louse for those of you who don’t speak French.) He’s a popular little guy, and a number of people ask me how I came up with him.

Put simply, Lucca started as a fun idea, and was finally created out of horrible tragedy. It’s probably a story worth sharing, and very few of you will have heard this one. So it started here:

Me in Jerusalem, about 2007

This is me standing in the old city of Jerusalem in November of 2008 on the site of the Hospital of St John… the Hospitallers for those of you who follow such things. As I stood there, thinking all kinds of Crusadery thoughts, I kept asking myself, “what the hell were they thinking?”

The Crusades have always held a fascination for me. I’m a sucker for knights and jousting and swords are always cooler than guns. So I tried to imagine what would make someone travel halfway around the world to fight in a war that, to my modern mind, makes no sense at all. Especially the battle of Hattin. What the hell makes someone do that? And what must it have been like for people who weren’t nobility or churchmen– the average folks? I figured there was a story there, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Acre’s Bastard originally started as the tale of a Hospitaller knight, and it wasn’t particularly inspiring, given that most of them would be slaughtered at the end.

Then this picture flashed around the world.

This picture of 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh was from 2016 when Russian bombs fell on the Syrian city of Aleppo. Aleppo is about 300 miles from Acre, and was a constant scene of battle even back in the 1100s.

Omran Daqneesh is the original Lucca

I couldn’t get the idea out of my head that children had been dying in wars in the region since the beginning of our history, and it just gets uglier and more vicious. That led me to think about other stories of children caught up in war. I was much more interested in the civilians than the knights and nobility. What would it be like for a child back then. If Lucca was a bit older, you know who he reminded me of???

One of my favorite stories is Kim by Rudyard Kipling. An orphan caught up in wartime, befriending soldiers and living on his wits. If you haven’t read it, you’re missing out.

So, I made him more like one of my favorite characters

And so, I imagined Lucca as old enough to not be traumatized like young Omran, and not old enough to actually have to fight, and there you have it.

Now he’s on his second adventure, Acre’s Orphans. There are still lepers, knights, spies, and swordplay. There will be tears and, yes, a lot of laughs.

Check out the new book when it’s published on January 28th. It is available to pre-order on Kindle and the paperback will be available by January 20th.

Of course, if you haven’t read Acre’s Bastard yet, get on it!