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        

 

Launch Event for Acre’s Bastard February 11th

My new novel, Acre's Bastard will be out in January of 2017 and available in all formats and online stores
My new novel, Acre’s Bastard will be out in January of 2017 and available in all formats and online stores

Join me February 11th, 2017 to launch Acre’s Bastard! I’ll be speaking at the Museums at Lisle Station, in Lisle, IL at 1 PM, on “Putting the Story in History,” Then I’ll be signing the first hot-off-the-presses copies of my new historical fiction novel.

If you can join us, click CONTACT on the right side of the screen and drop us a line.

 

 

Here’s the poster and the details:

Join us February 11th

 

 

 

Eterlimus: Pre-Roman History From Aziz Hamza

As a Canadian, living in America, writing for a global audience about something that happened in Algeria (among other places) I’m well aware that the great stories of history don’t belong to any one group. Case in point: Aziz Hamza’s tale of Rome before the Republic, Eterlimus.

Author Aziz Hamza
Author Aziz Hamza

Aziz is from Saudi Arabia, and writes in both English and Arabic. So  his choice of a story set in long-ago Rome is kind of interesting. Here’s what he had to say:

What’s the story of Eterlimus? If you’re familiar with the opera or story of the “Rape of Lucretia,” that’s the setting. The book ETERLIMUS takes place during the reign of the seventh King of ancient Rome, the tyrant Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, until the salvation came through ETERLIMUS the Pimp (a fictional character), who caused the collapse of the last Roman Kingdom in 509 B.C.

What inspired you to write the book? Why this story? 

Of course the incident of the rape of Lucretia has the biggest impact when i decided to write the novel. However the most influential character was Sextus, he is sly, wicked and ruthless, he was really a distasteful character.

What’s your favorite scene in the book?

Probably Cloelia’s dialogue with Sextus in chapter 2. It’s full of fear and violence  and showed the evil personality of Sextus.

You’re right, he’s a bad, bad guy. How can people find your work (including in Arabic, if you’re so inclined?) 

Eterlimus is available in English or Arabic. Some people just have to show off!
Eterlimus is available in English or Arabic. Some people just have to show off!

 

Chinese History and Intrigue with Tony Henderson

One of the really fascinating periods in history for me is the early 20th Century in China, Shanghai in particular. I’ve come across a new acquaintance who shares that fascination and, more importantly, has done something about it.

Tony Henderson is living the British ex-pat life in Spain and writing books about China. Nice gig.
Tony Henderson is living the British ex-pat life in Spain and writing books about China. Nice gig.

Quick, what’s the Tony Henderson story?

Born near London, and since leaving home as a teenager I’ve lived more than half my life overseas, in Spain and Hong Kong. I earned my living designing computer systems, but on retirement ran a Spanish estate agency with my wife for eight years. I spent a couple of years researching my family back to the 18th century and found ancestors with the British Army fighting in the Opium Wars in China, the Crimea, India, and even fighting with the Spanish against Napoleon. So I was far from being the first in my family to travel to the Far East and Spain. I now write novels to keep my brain ticking over, and play golf badly to try and keep fit. The third novel is now released under the series name, ‘Chinese Circles’, but the first book is The Shanghai Circle..

With a series, I always like to start with the first book. In a nutshell, what’s it about?

Briefly, The Shanghai Circle can be summarized as – Taipan meets Triad in Pre-war Shanghai.

Davina Guest, a young and feisty Taipan, must help steer the family trading house through tumultuous times in 1936. The imminent Japanese invasion and the rise of Communism threaten her beloved company, but unbeknown to her another deadly menace lurks in the shadows.

As heir to the Sung Society, Joseph Cheung must learn the ways of the triad. Vice and violence dominate Shanghai’s criminal world, but for Joseph, a personal vendetta remains unfinished business. Irina, a young beautiful stateless Russian woman, unwittingly falls into the clutches of the triads and fights to escape.

What is it about that time period or character that intrigued you and motivated you to write about it?

My ten years living in the Far East was one of the best experiences in my life, so I chose Shanghai in the 1930’s as a city with all the ingredients for a fascinating

Shanghai Circle is the first in the Chinese Circles trilogy
Shanghai Circle is the first in the Chinese Circle trilogy

story. My life in Asia meant I experienced working for an old British trading company, living among 6 million Chinese, being in frightening typhoons, but especially what it was like to be an expatriate in a Chinese environment, with all the noise, smells and the amazing colourful people who live in this magical part of the world.

Why Shanghai? The authoress, Stella Wong, said of Shanghai, “no city in the Orient, or the world for that matter, could compare with it. At the peak of its spectacular career the swamp-ridden metropolis surely ranked as the most pleasure-mad, rapacious, corrupt, strife-ridden, licentious, squalid and decadent city in the world.” When I researched this amazing city I found she was right.

Without giving away spoilers, what’s your favorite scene or event in the book?

Probably writing about the actual typhoon which hit Hong Kong in 1937, killing 11,000 people including one of my characters.

If you’re interested in learning more, here are some links to find Tony and his work. Just don’t bother him on the golf course.

Web Site and blog

 http://www.tony-henderson.com/

 

Facebook Page

Goodreads Author

 

Amazon Author

 

Sharon Cathcart and “Fin de Siecle” Paris, History Building on Literature

sharoncathcart
Sharon Cathcart lives and writes in Silicon Valley, but her heart is in Paris before the First World War.

I’m used to reading books that take real historical characters and build stories around them. But Sharon Cathcart has done something fascinating. She’s taken a fictional character and placed him…and his descendants… in the real historical world.

Her newest book–an omnibus of her stories set in Paris, London and San Francisco in the late 19th and early 20th centuries–In The Eye of The Beholder, In The Eye of The Storm, and the award-winning Through the Opera Glass is now available in paperback.  This new edition includes expanded glossaries and historical photographs.

I think building on a world someone else created, then bringing it into the real world is a heck of a thing to tackle. What’s the book about? 

The books tell the story of three generations of the Le Maître family, crossing Paris’ Belle Epoque, the modern art movement, the San Francisco Earthquake and World Wars I and II. It’s a mix of short stories and longer pieces that create that world.

You get extra points if you remember that Erik Le Maitre was the real name of the “Phantom of the Opera”.

What is it about that period of time that fascinates you…. and we might find interesting as well?

I’ve been an ardent Francophile since my high school years.  My French teacher, the late Lois T. Sato, instilled in her students not only a love of the language but also of the culture.  I learned so much in the process of researching these books that it just deepened my fascination.  My first visit to Paris was not until 2013, but I felt like I knew every street where I strolled.

I know how you feel. I’m itching to get to the Sahara after writing “Pith Helmets”…Any other time periods you’re intrigued by? 

Seen Through the Phantom's Eyes is a fascinating collection of stories inspired by Phantom of the Opera and through the early 20th Century.
Seen Through the Phantom’s Eyes is a fascinating collection of stories inspired by Phantom of the Opera and through the early 20th Century.

I’m very fond of the Victorian era in general.  There were so many innovations happening during that time that still impact our daily lives today.

That’s kind of odd coming from someone living in the heart of new technology….makes you wonder what people will write about us a hundred years from now, doesn’t it?

You can contact and learn more about Sharon at

Twitter:  @SharonCathcart