Britain After the Romans with Tim Walker

One of my earliest histfic obsessions was King Arthur.  Few time periods have been as written about, even though little is actually known (which, let’s face it, makes it easier!) It’s a world where fantasy, history, romance and adventure all come together and everyone’s sort of okay with it. Whether you’re into Jack Whyte and his heavily researched Camulod series, or Marion Zimmer Bradley’s feminist take on it, it’s FUN.

Falling on the hard history side is Tim Walker’s “A Light in the Dark Ages,” series. He’s re-released his first tale, “Abandoned.”

Alright, Tim. What’s your deal?

I’m an independent author with seven titles in the following genres: historical fiction, dystopia, children’s and short stories.  Fire away, Wayne…

In a nutshell, what’s the book about?

My latest book is an historical fiction novel, Abandoned. Actually, it is a second edition based on a novella I wrote in 2015, but more than twice the length of the original. Abandoned is the starting point for what became a three-book historical series, A Light in the Dark Ages.  Having completed the series with the launch of book three, Uther’s Destiny, in March 2018, I then went back and did an extensive re-write of Abandoned, launching the second edition in July 2018. I can now sit back and say, ‘Job done!’

Abandoned is an adventure story that starts the day the last Roman Governor of Britannia departed for good, and surmises on what may have happened in the early days of the Dark Ages. It lives on the boundary between historical fact, supposition and mythology.

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

It all started when I visited the site of a former Roman town in the south of England and began wondering what life must have been like for the Briton inhabitants after the Roman garrison marched for the last time, around the year 410 AD. After nearly four hundred years of occupation and assimilation, would the locals have regarded this as liberation or abandonment? The town in question was called Calleva Atrebatum – literally, ‘the wooded place of the Atrebates’. The Romans built a fortified town on the site of the Atrebates’ tribal village. By naming their town after the locals, it suggests a desire at conciliation and co-operation. From this starting point I researched what was known about the immediate post-Roman period in Britain (the fifth century) and discovered that, apart from a few surviving manuscripts written by monks, there is very little to go on. Lurking on the horizon is the legend of King Arthur, with some historians daring to suggest there was a real military leader of this name who organised resistance to the spread of aggressive Germanic/Danish tribes – the Saxons, Angles and Jutes.

If Arthur, as is suggested in the Welsh Chronicles, died at the Battle of Camlann around the year 537, then assuming he was in his early fifties (why not?), then he would have been born around the year 485. I took this date as a target to conclude my ‘alternative history’, but became so intrigued by the earliest account of the Arthurian legend (written by Oxford academic, Geoffrey of Monmouth, around 1136), that I included the story of Arthur’s father – Uther Pendragon – and the early life of the boy Arthur, in my third book, Uther’s Destiny. Geoffrey, by the way, claims to have worked from ‘an ancient book written in the British language’ but no evidence of this mysterious text has ever been found to corroborate his claim.

It’s heady stuff delving into this ‘black hole’ in English history that has been plugged with legend and mythology. My aim was to write an alt-history of Britain in the fifth century, and slowly creep up on the Arthurian legend, presenting it as a believable part of the narrative. All myths have a basis in some human events – often extraordinary and worthy of immortalising in ballads and fireside stories. We know that it took the Saxons nearly two hundred years to subdue the Britons and carve out their kingdoms, so it is a fair assumption that there was organised resistance. Was Arthur one man or a composite of a number of resistance leaders? Our hopes for an answer lies with archaeologists and historians who are still searching for evidence of what really happened in Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries.

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

My hero, Marcus, had already suffered the trauma of barely surviving a battle against a ruthless Saxon war party when his heart froze at the sight of the return of his deadly foe. He is standing on the battlements of the town of Londinium (London) staring down the River Tamesis (Thames)…

A CRY WENT up at the sight of a fleet of a dozen ships slipping menacingly along the Tamesis as far as the Roman bridge, their dragon heads edging past startled merchant boats that tried to steer away. They lowered their sails and ran out their oars in a practised manoeuvre, rowing against the flow of the dirty brown river, following the lead ship along the centre channel. The drawbridge was down, preventing the single mast ships from passing under the bridge and forcing them to beach their vessels on the shingle shore outside the town walls. Soon helmeted warriors leapt from their ships, shouting war cries and banging their weapons on their shields to announce their arrival. Horn blasts from the towers called the guards to their posts.

Allectus and Marcus, barely a week into their tenure as Commanders of the Guard, met on the parapet over the south gatehouse. They looked down on scurrying families who had abandoned their pots, baskets and fishing nets to take to the wooden planks that floated above the river mud and led to the safety of the raised bridge approach.

“It seems our coming was timely,” Allectus growled, seeing the scampering traders on the bridge whipping their pigs and goats into a trot.

But for Marcus, it seemed time was suspended as he stared down at the tide of frightened folk cramming through the gates, his white-knuckled grip on the stone turret betraying his anxiety. To his left, Allectus was barking out orders as guards scurried past him. The Saxons swaggered across the mudflats with steely menace, shouting in their harsh, guttural language. Two raiders dragged a cowering boy from the first wicker hut they encountered and, whilst their accomplices mocked the wretched child’s screams, butchered him as if he were no more than an animal.

Marcus’s glazed expression and dream-like state had not gone unnoticed. “Your enemy has returned, Marcus,” Allectus intoned, slapping him on the shoulder and jolting him out of his daze. “We shall lock them outside for now, but the bridge and south bank settlement are exposed.”

“I have a troop of fifty men stationed in the south bank guardhouse,” Marcus groaned, staring helplessly across the now deserted bridge.

“They must buy time by raising the south arm of the drawbridge to prevent these dogs from rushing over the bridge to a feast of merry slaughter,” Allectus replied. “We have nearly two thousand men in barracks, and five hundred horses. I estimate their numbers at barely five hundred.”

Marcus eyed the more experienced commander as he marshaled his thoughts, struggling to shut out a living nightmare of guttural chanting in time to drum beats drifting on the wind. His fingers curled around the dragon medallion that hung from his neck, comforting him. “I shall send a rider across the bridge with an order to raise it and hold firm.”

Where can people find you and your book (links to Amazon page, Goodreads, Twitter, Blog whatever)

Readers can find out more about me and my books at my website – http://timwalkerwrites.co.uk

Universal book links for the three-book series:

http://myBook.to/Abandoned

http://myBook.to/Ambrosius

http://myBook.to/Uther

Amazon Author Page: http://Author.to/TimWalkerWrites

Facebook page: https://facebook.com/TimWalkerWrites

Twitter: https://twitter.com/timwalker1666

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.

Acre’s Orphans is Done. When Will it See Daylight?

At 7:58 last night I typed the last words of the final rewrite on Acre’s Orphans. The sucker’s done. Now it’s off to proofing, design and whatever. Here’s proof:

Thanks to everyone who helped get it this far. Of course, now there’s proofing, layout, cover design and the rest of the stuff that goes with birthing a book. I am going to be asking you, my readers, for help on this. Your feedback will be most helpful. Help a brother out, will ya?

At this point, I”m not sure of the launch date. With the move to Las Vegas coming up and then Christmas, it will likely be January of 2019–two years after Acre’s Bastard, which is a helluva long time between installments. Hopefully the third (and final, I swear) Lucca story won’t take so long coming into the world.

So, as is traditional with every finished draft of a book, or sale of a short story, it’s time for this:

AT long last, it’s time to celebrate the completion of a final draft. Acre’s Orphan is a’birthing.

If you’re interested in getting one of the first copies, or getting on the list for an advanced copy for reviews (and if you know anyone who reviews books I’d like to do a better job of getting the word out in advance,) please sign up for my newsletter by clicking the link on the right side menu or the Contact Me button. No spam, but you’ll get a heads up on free offers and when the book is ready for the light of day.

My undying gratitude to all of you.

WWT

 

Time Jumping Through History with Doug Molitor

Okay, I know that the term “historical fantasy” gets a lot of people bent out of shape. They like the pure, detail-rich very serious stories, and so do I, most of the time. I also enjoy using history as a jumping-off point for silliness and fantasy.  I look on such things as what I call “Jellybean books.” They’re not meant to be taken seriously, and yet you can still learn things and get intrigued enough to read more. Or just enjoy yourself for a bit. Not everything you eat has to be good for you. If Naomi Novik can write dragons into the Napoleonic wars iand become a gateway drug for more serious fare, God love her. Besides, it’s my blog, bite me. I’ll interview who I want.

Which leads us to Doug Molitor and his series of funny, time-traveling adventures. The latest is  Memoirs of a Time Traveler the first in a series.

Okay, get on with it. What’s the Doug Molitor story?

Humorist and TV writer Doug Molitor is the author of Memoirs of a Time Traveler.

I am a TV comedy writer and novelist whose books include the Time Amazon series: Memoirs of a Time Traveler, Confessions of a Time Traveler and Revelations of a Time Traveler; and two Full Moon Fever novels, Monster, He Wrote and Pure Silver. I wrote TV comedies like Sledge Hammer!, You Can’t Take It With You and Police Academy, sci-fi/fantasy/adventure series like Sliders, Mission: Genesis, Adventure Inc., Young Hercules, F/X, and the western spoof Lucky Luke. In animation, I co-wrote the feature SpacePOP, and was the writer of 200 episodes of such series as X-Men, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures, Sinbad, The Future Is Wild, Captain Planet, The Wizard of Oz, Happily Ever After, 1001 Nights, Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? and Sabrina.

You wrote Sledge Hammer!  I’m now fanboying. In a nutshell, what’s the book and series about?

In a nutshell – and my critics would say that’s just where it belongs – Memoirs of a Time Traveler is about Ariyl, an Amazonian tourist from 2109 A.D. who drags David, an archaeologist of today, on a chase through time to stop a psychopath who’s rewriting history. Romantic comedy meets sci-fi with sword-swinging adventure.

Jellybeans of the first order! What is it about the time periods you write about that intrigue you?

The first era my travelers visit is Thera, the home island of the vanished Minoan Empire ca. 1600 B.C., which according to many historians (including my hero) was the source of the Atlantis legend. Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated by the fate of Thera; today’s sun-kissed Greek isle of Santorini is all that is left after a huge volcanic island exploded then collapsed beneath quarter-mile-high tsunamis.  The two sequels visit equally exotic and turbulent ancient times: the Mongol siege of Baghdad in 1258, and Rome under the monster Caesar, Commodus. There are also chapters set in America during the Revolution and just after the Civil War. But all three books come to a climax at pivotal events in Golden age Hollywood, between 1933 and 1954. Somehow, the birth of mass media is a nexus in time that repeatedly draws my antagonist into conflict with my hero and heroine.

What’s your favorite scene in “Memoirs”?

My favorite scene in Memoirs takes place in 1945, when my time-traveling odd couple find themselves at The Players, a storied Hollywood nightclub. Here they hook up with Orson Welles, and a trio of the town’s top leading men na

med Duke, Dutch and Jimmy. David and Ariyl are trying to keep history from being disastrously derailed by the murder of one of these beloved stars. When I first wrote the book ten years ago, I asked comedy legend Larry Gelbart (M*A*S*H, Tootsie, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) to vet these chapters, since he’d actually begun his writing career in 1945 Los Angeles. Instead, bless him, Larry asked to read the whole book, and gave me the blurb I proudly put on my cover: “You couldn’t ask for a finer guide to the future – or the past – than Doug Molitor.”

I’d take that one too. Not for nothing but my wife has a quite unnatural and incurable crush on Orson Welles. Where can we learn more about you and your books?

By the way, for a few more days Memoirs of a Time Traveler is going to be FREE on Amazon. Click this link to get your FREE copy while you still can.

To contact me:

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

Author page: amazon.com/author/dougmolitor

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DougMolitor

Webpage: dougsdozen.com/MemoirsofaTimeTraveler

The book on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Memoirs-Time-Traveler-Amazon-Book-ebook/dp/B078L82R4N/?tag-dougmolitor-20

Thanks for putting me on your page!

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 KKK in Maine with Mark Alan Leslie

One of my favorite things about historical fiction is that it exposes us to subjects that we didn’t know, or think we cared, about. For example, I didn’t know that French Canadians were the subject of hatred by the Klu Klux Klan in the early 20th Century. That’s where this week’s interview comes in. Mark Alan Leslie is the author of The Crossing. 

Okay, so let’s start with the obvious. What’s your deal, Mark?

After 25 years writing golf magazine pieces for Sports Illustrated, Links, GOLF, Golf Course News and others — and winning a half dozen national writing awards along the way — I turned my time to something else I enjoy: history. Since then I’ve written three historical novels and three contemporary thrillers. The historical works are The Crossing about the Ku Klux Klan in Maine in the 1920s, True North: Tice’s Story about the Underground Railroad, and Midnight Rider for the Morning Star about America’s first circuit-riding preacher, Francis Asbury. Each book is loaded with action and adventure — and historical facts many of us have never heard or read about.

What’s your latest book, The Crossing about?

“As Maine goes, so goes the nation” was a motto of the early 1900s and the Ku Klux Klan determined that if it could grab a foothold in the bellwether northeasternmost state, it could succeed anywhere. So it sent its most charismatic recruiter to draw the crowds. He succeeded… for a while. One of his successes in this work of fiction is Cooper’s Crossing, a very close-knit town — close, that is until the Klan arrives.

The Crossing takes us into the dangers and intrigues of this scenario. The charismatic KKK leader is pit against a magnetic pastor, and townsmen against townsmen, culminating in a battle of brawn, and the spirit, when a French-Canadian crew of lumberjacks arrives.

Because when you think rollicking action, Canadian lumberjacks is what comes to mind. I’m kidding, but as someone with French-Canadian roots, I am a bit surprised.  After all, aside from Toronto hockey fans and Alberta oil workers, who doesn’t like French Canadians? What is it about this period in history that caught your attention?

Maine students have never been taught about this time when the KKK helped elect a governor as well as several mayors of prominent cities, the President of the Maine Senate and many others.

The whole idea intrigued me: How could a racist group thrive in a state with only a handful of black people? Well, they found others to hate, focusing on Jews and Catholic immigrants from Ireland, Poland and Canada who were “taking our jobs and with allegiance to a Pope a world away instead of our own government.”

It sounds trite to say, “haters gonna hate,” but history shows if you’re looking for a scapegoat, you’ll usually find one, even if you have to make it up. Without giving away spoilers, what’s your favorite scene in the book?

My favorite character, lumberjack Jigger Jacques, and his crew arrive in townThe Crossing: A Historical Novel by [Leslie, Mark Alan] and are ambushed by Klansmen on horseback at the same time the town’s pastors are meeting nearby with embattled townspeople about the Klan. The dichotomy is powerful: brutal physical fighting at the mill versus peacemaking at the church.

If people want to learn more about this book, or any of your work, where can they go?

People can find my books at:

Amazon.com

ElkLakePublishing.com

Kindle.com

And fine bookstores

They can reach me at:

E-mail: gripfast@roadrunner.com

Web: www.markalanleslie.com

Blog: https:/thrillofthequillblog.wordpress.com/

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.

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.

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.

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.

Why I write in first person…

If you’ve read any of my fiction, you’ll see that a surprising percentage is written in the first person. That’s a lot of “me” I grant you, and that’s a mixed blessing. Of course, I’m not really a 10 year old half-caste kid in the 12th Century (Lucca the Louse in Acre’s Bastard) nor a first generation German-American from 1920s Milwaukee (Willie Braun in The Count of the Sahara) and I’m certainly not a 1950s Korean Vet car salesman (my latest short story on Scriggler. Check it out.)

It’s really not an ego problem. I don’t set out to be the center of attention (shut up!). In fact, I never noticed I was actually writing so much in that voice until someone in my writer’s group pointed out that the same curmudgeonly middle-aged loser keeps showing up in a lot of my stories. For the record, he’s not the same guy (the anti-social railbird in On the Rail, and the eaves-dropping alcoholic in Through the Arbor Vitae,) but I suspect they’re closely related and may have gone to the same middle school.

They’re also not me, although my own appreciation for cigars makes it easy to describe a lazy smoke on the deck and my experience as a comedian and professional speaker certainly influenced the way I captured De Prorok’s barnstorming tours. But just because I use “me” and “I” doesn’t mean they’re my thoughts and actions.  In fact, I’ve been judged pretty harshly by the thoughts and comments of some of my characters. What can I tell you, people used different words to describe people 75 years ago. I sometimes blush writing them. (My work should have a disclaimer that the opinions of the characters are not necessarily those of the management.)

So why do I do it? Truthfully, it’s an accident.

I’m not a 10 year old Syrian boy…. but I play one in Acre’s Bastard

I always start with a character who is another person. Ramon Pachecho is a Puerto Rican boxer I invented, and I was able to maintain that distance throughout the story. Lucca Le Peu was born when I saw a news picture of a Syrian boy in the back of an ambulance after his village was bombed. Willie was a simple way to narrate the story of Byron de Prorok from a neutral standpoint—I needed an innocent observer. Somehow, they go from “the old guy at the cigar lounge” to “I”. How come?

First person allows me some advantages as a writer. One of the comments I got from “Arbor Vitae” when it posted on Scriggler was from a fellow author who appreciated the way I do interior monologue. That only happens because I put myself so deeply in the character’s place. Inevitably it starts with “why does he/she do this?” and eventually becomes “if it were me, why would I act that way?” At that point, it’s just easier to capture those thoughts and expressions in their voice. Maybe I’m just not that good a writer.

First person for me is an exercise in empathy. I was taught early to put myself in the other person’s shoes (fortunately I have small feet). While I’m wide open to charges of “cultural appropriation” or telling stories that aren’t mine to tell (I’ll pour the anejo and we’ll have it out in person,) I also believe it gives me deeper insight into character. That’s where you find the humor, the emotion and the tension. Something is far more dramatic if it happens to you than to someone else. Watching someone’s horse die isn’t the same as having your own pet’s life drain away in front of your eyes. (Spoiler alert?)

For me, insight comes from within. Even going back to my standup days, I was more of a commentator than an observer. Some comics can neutrally observe from outside (Jerry Seinfeld is the ultimate example.) I usually found the humor in how I react and process something, and hoped the audience would relate. I’ve never taken an old man to a cockfight, but I suspect if I did I’d sound a lot like the narrator in Tio Fernando’s Field Trip. It’s just funnier.

I don’t set out to write everything in first person, it just usually works out that way. I hope you check out a couple of the examples and keep reading.

 

 

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.