Bram Stoker, Dracula and Victorian Dread

Before Anne Rice and Stephanie Meyer ruined vampires for everyone, I was a big Dracula fan. As a writer, I loved the backstories of how tales like Frankenstein and Dracula came to be written. So when I heard about Calvin Cherry’s new novel, Stoker, about, duh, Bram Stoker I was in.

So what’s the Calvin Cherry story?

I am a 48-year-old native Georgian and a retired sailor.  I work as a Business Systems Analyst for a major insurance company in Atlanta and have a 15-year-old son named Jacob.  He is already 7 inches taller than me and six sizes up from my shoe size!  My spouse, Kevin, is from Tennessee and shares my passion for music, traveling, reading and writing.  I have seen Elton John 27 times in my life and about to make it 28 in November.  English and History were my favorite subjects in school, so I guess it did not come as a surprise that one Christmas Santa left me four graphic novels under my tree when I turned 7:  Moby Dick by Herman Melville, Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, and Dracula by Bram Stoker.  I have been taking a bite out of Dracula ever since!  After 11 years of intense research and crafting, my debut historical fiction novel Stoker: Evolution of a Vampire was published by Page Publishing this past February.

What’s the basic plot of Stoker?

My novel can be considered a prequel to Dracula.  It is mainly set in Victorian London and Romania in the late 1800s, during the time period Bram wrote Dracula.  There are also flashbacks to Bram’s youth and when Vlad Dracula III reigned Wallachia.  Bram is the central character in my novel, along with supporting roles by Bram’s wife, Florence, Bram’s son, Noel, and Bram’s employer, Sir Henry Irving.

Many of the events in my novel are factual as I used Bram’s own diaries, reference materials and notes on Dracula as material woven into my plot.  It is written in Bram’s own writing style, which is vastly different from my own and was a great challenge for me.  I listened to nonstop audio books written in this time period the entire 11 years I worked on my novel as I wanted the style and language to be as authentic to the period as possible.  Though my book is classified as historical fiction, there are elements of gothic horror, mystery, crime and suspense that yields a 576 page thriller.

I have a thing for Victorian England, but what’s your excuse? What is it about the time or subject you found so interesting?

Victorian England has been the time period for numerous fantastic and morbid STOKER by [Cherry, Calvin]fictional and historical tales from Sherlock Holmes to Jack the Ripper.  My fascination with this period began with reading Dracula as a child and then carried over into adult hood with favorites Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, and Lewis Carroll.  Though I have been quoted as saying countless times that Dracula is the most frightening phycological tale ever written, around 2004 I began reading everything I could on Bram Stoker.  Until then, there had been few biographies written about Bram – a fact in itself which I found interesting.  Today, there are close to a dozen.  With each additional book I read,  it was astonishing and fascinating to discover his life was worthy of a novel.    And in 2006 I outlined my book, incorporating many situations, milestones and  events in his life.

Without giving away spoilers, what’s your favorite scene in the book. (Don’t deny it, we all have one)

I believe my favorite scene in Stoker is about two-thirds into the plot when Bram is finally on a train back home.  His watch had stopped shortly after he began his journey abroad, so he asks someone for the time.  The answer he gets back is more than what he expected!

Where can we learn more about your book?

My novel can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million.  Here is a link to my Page Publishing page which contains links to all the national retailers that are carrying Stoker:

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 Story of Lao Tzu with Wayne Ng

It’s easy to forget that the “great men” of history were real people. I mean, it’s one thing to think about  Machiavelli, but can you imagine being the spouse of someone who actually thinks and operates that way? That kind of thinking got me intrigued by the subject of Wayne Ng’s new novel.

Lao Tzu is widely quoted and, along with Confucius, is one of the few Chinese thinkers most of us can name. But who was he, and what was his deal? That’s where Finding the Way comes in.

Wayne, besides having a very cool first name, what’s your story?

Wayne Ng, author of “Finding the Way”

I was born in downtown Toronto to Chinese immigrants who fed me a steady diet of bitter melons and kung fu movies. Like my romantic, idealist protagonist Lao Tzu, in Finding the Way, I dream of a just society, of worlds far from my doorstep, and of tastes, sensations, and experiences beyond my imagination. I am a school social worker in Ottawa but live to write, travel, eat and play, preferably all at the same time. I’m an award-winning short story and travel writer who has twice backpacked through China. Hopefully, I continue to push my boundaries from the Arctic to the Antarctic, blogging and photographing along the way at WayneNgWrites.com

I know you’re a traverler because when I showed you a picture I took in Guatemala you correctly identified the lake, which is impressive. So this book attempts to capture Lao Tzu’s (or Laozi’s) work and his life. What’s the plot of”Finding the Way”?

Finding the Way is a fictionalized story of China’s ultimate dreamer, the philosopher Lao Tzu. Rooted in history, based on legends, Lao sees a world spinning too fast. People feeling alienated, disconnected, insecure, unable to find solace in each other or governments, leaders without a moral or altruistic foundation…this isn’t just 6th century BC, but also here and now. The historical context of Finding the Way was written to synchronize with similar modern questions today. The emptiness and imbalance Lao Tzu spoke of then weighs us down as heavily then as it does now. However, he also offered a soothing balm through Taoism that gateways into an inner peace and harmony that’s as relevant and necessary now as it was then. This story isn’t just a cerebral journey, but also a political thriller wrapped in a philosophical bow tie.

I’m certainly familiar with some of Lao Tzu’s thinking, but what is it about the time period or the man himself that intrigued you?

Very little has been written about the China of 2500 years ago. And though Lao Tzu is much admired and venerated, he often falls into the uni-dimensional wise, old, all-knowing sage, and not much else. I felt it was timely that the world came to better see him in the flesh, which I imagined to be brilliant but also a naive, idealist, and almost tragic figure.

I also wanted people to better appreciate eastern history. That much of the world has an appalling lack of knowledge and understanding of it, is short-sighted and Euro-centric, like almost all historical fiction in the west. Yet the prize of understanding the totality of China is not just reconciling whether it’s a friend or foe, but in providing answers to much of what ails us here and now. Lao’s the Way/Taoism tells us that our thirst for sanity and simplicity is a quest that transcends culture and time. I believe if he were here today and started to write Tao de Ching all over again, the message wouldn’t be much different, He might have a rant about social media. But his message is as important now as it was then: that even in a time where rulers are unjust, where change is scary, where greed and consumption drive us away from our natural state of balance and harmony—-we cannot lose hope.

Since you can’t simulate his Twitter account,  and don’t want to give away any spoilers, what’s your favorite scene in the book?

Two sections stand out for me. Chapter 2, where Lao sees how the natural rhythms and energy around us are a force to be reckoned with and respected. This leads to the development of the Way/Taoism. Imagine Yoda discovering the Force and you’ll get what I mean.

The other section is 40 years later, when Lao has a private audience with one of the Princes vying for the throne. Lao comes to appreciate that the world and the people around him aren’t always as they seem, that people and circumstances are multi-layered and not so easily reduced.

Okay, there is another section, the end, big reveals happen, stunning, really. But that’s all I can say.

Fine, be that way. Where can people learn more about you and your work?

   Website   WayneNgWrites.com

  Amazon   amazon.com/author/WayneNg

Facebook  facebook.com/WayneNgWrites

            Twitter  twitter.com/WayneNgWrites

Goodreads  goodreads.com/WayneNgWrites  

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.

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.

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 First Draft of Acre’s Orphans is Born–Be Very Afraid

If you’re one of the many people who enjoyed Acre’s Bastard, you’ve probably figured out that there’s at least one more book to come. Well, I’ve finally finished the first draft. Here’s photographic proof.

The first draft of Acre’s Orphans does exist

That said, it’s a first draft. Here’s what that feels like in my head…

A first draft is like giving birth… even if it is an ugly, demonic little darling

If you’ve seen David Cronenburg’s  1979 movie, The Brood, this makes a lot more sense. It’s a deformed, demonic little creature but mama loves it. That’s how I feel about the first version of Acre’s Orphans. (Yes, that makes me Samantha Eggar in this story. Don’t read too much into that.)  I am hopeful to have this revised and beta-read in time for a late fall launch.

If you’re a fan of Lucca the Louse, be prepared. You can drop me a line or join the newsletter using the link on this page to be the first to know when Acre’s Orphans is ready for the world.

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 in the bottom left of the page for the sign-up sheet. No spam, just periodic updates and a chance to learn about great new Historical Fiction of all types from around the world.

Searching for the Nile, with Ken Czech

I am a sucker for stories about the British exploration and colonization of Africa. Maybe it’s being a child of the Commonwealth, or maybe it’s because when I was 8, I nearly wound up living in Rhodesia (which is now Zimbabwe) except for a paperwork error (long story, not enough whiskey to tell it right.) Just maybe it’s because,  regardless of your political opinions of it (and it ain’t easy on a white boy’s conscience), it’s exciting and makes for great storytelling.

Among my favorite tales (and, full disclosure, this is in my file of novels I might want to write someday, so I’m a little cranky Ken beat me to it) is “Beyond the River of Shame,” the story of Samuel and Florie Baker. A middle aged hunter and railroad man took his young wife- purchased from the Turks at a slave auction no less- into the heart of Africa to follow the Nile from stem to stern in search of the river’s source.

Let’s let Ken Czech tell the story himself. Ken, what’s your deal?

I’m a retired history prof, and though I’ve had numerous history articles and books published, my new love is writing historical fiction. Beyond The River of Shame is my debut novel. My
second novel Last Dance In Kabul will be released in August.

I’m also an on-line antiquarian book dealer specializing in 19th and early 20th
century sporting and exploration books. I do my writing from wintry Minnesota.

What’s the story behind “Beyond the River of Shame?”

Beyond The River Of Shame is based on the real life adventures of 19th
century explorer Samuel White Baker and Florie, the young woman he
buys at a slave auction. After thundering the winning bid, Sam
realizes that owning a slave girl would be a huge scandal in Victorian
England so he abandons her and continues his trek to discover the
source of the Nile River. Pursued by the slave traders, Florie refuses
to stay abandoned. She joins Sam on an epic journey into the depths of
Africa where they struggle against wild beasts, killer diseases, and
the horrors of the slave trade. Though their courage and new found
love will be driven to the breaking point, the lure of the mysterious
“Dead Locust Lake” draws them to their climactic showdown with the
slave catchers.

The title is a bit of a metaphor for both the Nile River (their search
for its source keeps Florie and Sam together), and the angst Sam feels
in owning a slave girl coupled with the priggish judgment English
society would level at his reputation and family.

I’m halfway through the book now, and really enjoying it. I know why I’m fascinated by it. What is it about this story that got you going?

My specialty while teaching was Modern European History, including English exploration and imperialism. I became acquainted with the
story of Florie and Sam through the books he wrote describing his adventures. While Florie appears in his writings as his companion (usually identified only as ‘F’), there is no mention of her past or
their physical and psychological relationship.

My story combines fact with fiction as I tried to fill in the blanks about them. By the way, according to several biographies of Sam, Florie was purchased at a slave auction, something she admitted to only later in her life.

What’s your favorite scene in the book?

In Beyond The River Of Shame, my favorite scene takes place after a
Cape buffalo has charged Florie. She is escorted back to a tribal camp
where the women cleanse her in a cone of incense. Invited to a victory
feast that evening, she is quiet and reserved, while Sam dances around
the campfire. Later, after all have retired, she visits Sam’s bed for
the first time, breaking the barriers that have separated them.

Yeah, about that. If we lived closer, I’d buy you a couple of beverages and we could argue the historical merits of that particular detail, but that’s what makes historical fiction so much fun.  Besides, after Count of the Sahara, I’m hardly in a position to judge filling in the blanks in people’s sex lives. Where can people read more about you and your work?

Here are some links that readers can find out more about my books and me.

http://www.kenczech.com

The book on Amazon

My Goodreads page

http://www.allthingsthatmatterpress.com/buynow.htm

http://www.fireshippress.com/fireship_authors/ken-czech.html

https://historicalnovelsociety.org/directory/ken-czech/

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 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 of all types from around the world.

Latin American Drama w Charles Ameringer

One of the great joys (for me) of reading historical fiction is finding out about people, places and times I either never heard of or gave no previous thought to. No offense to those who spend their entire reading hours in the Civil War or dealing with the Tudors (the hell with it, offense meant. Change the menu on occasion, it’s good for you!) When I heard about Charles Ameringer’s novel of 1920s Venezuela, “The Sons of Hernan Garcia,” I figured it was worth speaking to him. It’s not like I have a shelf full of early 20th Century Latin American stories taking up space. What about you?

Charles Ameringer, born in Milwaukee, WI, September 19, 1926, is professor emeritus of Latin American History at Penn State University.  During his academic career, he published eight scholarly books.  Now, in retirement, he has drawn upon his travel and research and unleashed his imagination to produce works of fiction, namely, the spy/thriller, “The Old Spook” (2012), the urban drama, “Duke Wellington: East Harlem Lawyer ” (2015), and “The Sons of Hernan Garcia” (2018). (Editorial note, that makes him nearly ninety-freaking-one, and he’s still writing. I am out of excuses.)

What’s your novel about?

The book takes place during two years (1920-1921) within the rule of Juan Vicente Gomez of Venezuela (1907-1935) and Hernan Garcia’s tyrannical rule is based upon that of Gomez.  It was a rule that was extremely cruel, and although the book is fiction it spares no details about  the evils perpetrated by a dictatorship.  That which the fictional characters endure and try to repay in kind makes for a thrilling game of cat and mouse.

What’s your favorite scene in the book?The Sons of Hernan Garcia by [Ameringer, Charles]

The birthday party of the five sons wherein they express their hatred toward Garcia and the ways they would like to do him in.  Although the sons were “blowing off steam,” the tyrant’s security force takes their remarks seriously and undertakes a deadly manhunt.  The reader is taken for a journey across the great plain of Venezuela, populated by exotic birds and animals (egret, jaguar, and anaconda).

I can safely say that qualifies as a unique story, and one not often told. Where can we learn more about your books and your work?

You can find me on Amazon by clicking here

or on Goodreads

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 of all types from around the world.