Colin Falconer Interview- A Great Love of Small Proportion

I discovered years ago when doing my management podcast that the internet makes it easy to reach out to people you respect and admire. Just hit “send.” Some answer, some don’t. Well, when I decided this blog would focus on historical fiction, there’s one person I really wanted to get to know (in an internet, “hey he answers my emails” kind of way): Colin Falconer.

His stuff is fast paced and just fun. You can read my review of his latest book, A Great Love of Small Proportion, in the previous post. Here’s a little bit of my interview with him.

So, for those who don’t know, what’s the Colin Falconer story?

I was born in North London, and spent my school years playing football or looking out of the window wishing I was somewhere else.

Falconer's latest romantic adventure set in Reconquista Spain.
Falconer’s latest romantic adventure set in Reconquista Spain.

I’ve been a writer most of my working life, I have over 40 books in print (Blogger’s note: just when you start feeling good about your level of productivity, this guy comes along), I’ve started publishing indie books as well over the last 3-4 years. My books have been translated into 23 languages.

I travel a lot to research my novels and the quest for authenticity has led me to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico. As well as to the Alhambra in Granada, of course, for my latest novel.

The little touches shine through, to be sure. In a nutshell, what’s the new book about (if you can remember because you’ve probably cranked out 3 more since Tuesday)?

A GREAT LOVE OF SMALL PROPORTION is set in Spain at the end of the Reconquista. Diego Sanchis is Seville’s most brilliant painter – but he’s also ugly and a dwarf. He is also shunned because he is suspected of being a Jew.

When he paints, he can capture the beauty in people an ordinary things – yet he hates the world that so hates him. But one day his father persuades him to take on a student; Mercedes Goncalvez is beautiful, perfect. And nothing like he expects.

He can see beauty in the world – but only she sees the beauty in him. But this is the time of the Inquisition, of religious fanaticism taken to extremes … so how can this possibly come to any good?

The guiding hand in this was the question of beauty. What is it? We are all so quick to judge beauty by what we see – but what if the hero of a romantic story was not beautiful at all, but was as far from perfect as a man can be? This is the question that drove the narrative for me. Mercedes does not fall in love with Diego because he is handsome, or brave, or even rich – she sees something else. Don’t we all wish for someone who sees something in us, other than what the world sees?

What is your favorite scene in the book?

Colin Falconer in yet another location, writing off his travel as a business expense.
Colin Falconer in yet another location, writing off his travel as a business expense.

So I suppose my favourite scene is when she finds the paintings he has hidden from her. I like the sparks that fly just from the dialogue. I like what they don’t say as much as what they do say. And I like how she sees through him, and how the dialogue sparks from how he knows that, and he loves it and he hates it at the same time.

Here’s where I accuse you of being a shameless romantic. Where can people learn more about this book and your other work?

A GREAT LOVE is published on May 10 and you can order it here – and after May 10 it’s available for purchase. You can find me on Facebook right here at colin.falconer.779 and my webpage is – I blog twice a week so it’s quite lively.

Colin Falconer’s New Book- A Great Love of Small Proportion

There are two types of “Historical Fiction,” authors. One is the James Michener, James Clavell sort: they write thick books packed with painstakingly researched details where the history is as important as the characters. They’re impressive works and I always learn a lot and enjoy them immensely.

The second type is  the “Alexandre Dumas,” school: give me enough detail to credibly set the story in time and place, then get down to the business of amusing me.  You might learn a bit about history, but the story comes first. Colin Falconer is in this second category.

I’ve been reading his stuff for a number of years (seriously, though… 40 books in 26 years? Showoff.), and always enjoy the ride. They’re great Kindle reading-enjoyable as hell, if not towering works of literature. He writes ripping, romantic yarns set in whatever time frame he darn well wants; ancient Egypt, 1970s Argentina, or in the case of his latest book, “A Great Love of Small Proportion,” Spain during the Reconquista of 1492-3.

Falconer's latest romantic adventure set in Reconquista Spain.
Falconer’s latest romantic adventure set in Reconquista Spain.

Like his best work, “A Great Love of Small Proportion” is unashamedly romantic. His novels always have a love story at the core, along with an exciting, action film plot. In this case, it’s the unlikely romance between a brilliant artist –a drunken, surly dwarf (Peter Dinklage on line one)–and the beautiful, headstrong (because they’re always willful and torturing their fathers in such tales) noblewoman. Then follows a thrilling read that takes you through the Inquisition, the fall of Moorish Spain, kidnapping, murder and Art Appreciation 101.

Is it all a bit silly? Yeah. Is it fun? Absolutely. Even with a familiar plot, there are enough twists to keep the reader off balance, and the dialogue is (as always with Falconer’s work) clever, believable and propels the story forward.

I had a couple of quibbles with the book. The title is too precious by half. It’s written entirely in present tense which feels a bit odd in places (maybe he was bored and trying an experiment). The central conceit; an artist’s true, loving nature disguised by physical deformity and locked away until the love of a good woman…. well, it’s not exactly new territory.  Still, I enjoyed it immensely.

The thing is, Falconer does what he does. He tells a fun story really well and the book moves non-stop to a satisfying (if a bit predictable) conclusion. That’s not a bad thing. Sometimes you want a history lesson, sometimes you just want the hero and heroine to suffer in interesting ways then get together just in time to kiss and fade to black.

That’s kind of his thing.

West Australian author Colin Falconer. PICTURE: Tony Ashby, 11/3/04
West Australian author Colin Falconer.
PICTURE: Tony Ashby, 11/3/04

I’ll have an interview with Colin coming up after the May 10 launch of his novel.