Their committee of readers had some nice things to say, but this killed me:
Wow! The last book I reviewed for BRAG I wanted a rating below “Yes” but above “No”. This time I want a rating above”yes”. Like maybe “bound to be a classic like Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer or Kim.” There should be an award above a simple BRAG medallion, like maybe “A Double B.R.A.G. Medallion” or maybe “No! I won’t turn out the light until I finish reading this!” which my wife got tired of hearing the last three nights. I usually complain loud and long about first-person books, as they make the main characters too narcissistic and the other characters too shallow. Ten-year-olds KNOW the world revolves around them, especially when they know how to successfully play the “poor but cute orphan” face. First-person is perfect for the “son of fleas”. Perhaps it is his training as an observer/spy (like Kim in Rudyard Kipling’s stories) that allows him to flesh out the characters around him. The momentous events of history seen through the eyes of a ten-year-old put some of those legendary people in their appropriate places. I look forward to reading the first book to get Lucca’s take on the Hattin debacle, which is one of my favorite times in history to have NOT been there. This is one of the few books I wish I had written. Maybe if I write until I die, my last book will approach the quality of “Acre’s Orphans”.
Reviewer, Indie BRAG
I’m honored and humbled (shut up! I can be humble if I have to!) at the love the book is receiving. Go check it out already…
The first draft of a book is often malformed, ugly, and unfit for human consumption. Such is the case with the first draft of Johnny Lycan. You know what? I don’t care! It’s done. Let the rewrites begin.
It’s done. It’s unlike anything I have ever written before, and I think it will be really good when it’s been whipped, prodded, dragged and mercilessly pounded into submission.
Here’s what it’s not: Historical fiction. Not even close. Those of you who read Count of the Sahara, Acre’s Bastard and Acre’s Orphans and have come to know me through those books, I really, really, really hope you stay with me. I get it if you don’t.
Here’s what it is: Nope, not ready to tell you yet. But it will be funny. And bloody. And more like some of my short stories than any book I’ve written so far.
Stay tuned for details, and of course, you can join my mailing list for updates. Just use the email link on the left-hand side to let me know you want to be added.
Now there will be a Templeton Rye and a Cigar. Because that’s how we roll here at Casa Turmel when milestones get met. Send thoughts and prayers for the ugly little bugger. He’ll need all the help he can get.
I’m an old, old man, living in London yet still somehow able to drag myself out of the house to street-skate and dance tango. I write stories set in the wars against France in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, which you’d think I could remember, but I can’t quite. I have to read up the details in books.
I’ve written about the mid-19th century too. One story, set in London in 1859, describes an area that my grandfather patrolled as a policeman only a few decades later. (I told you I was old.) All of my stories are set in different countries, which has given me the opportunity to travel to Borneo, Egypt, Belgium, Argentina and Spain and call it work. I have set one story in India, but I have yet to get there. One day, I hope.
Burke in the Land of Silver is the first of the stories I’ve written about James Burke, a spy in the time of Napoleon. He was a real person and the first story is quite closely based on truth. It’s set around the British invasion of Buenos Aires in 1806. I love Buenos Aires, so I was really happy to set a story there.
I’d written a book set in Borneo in the 1850s (The White Rajah) and publishers had told me that it was “too difficult” as a first novel so I was looking for something more mainstream. I kept bothering friends to suggest interesting historical figures and an Alaskan woman I’d met dancing in Argentina (as you do) suggested that I look at Europeans who had been involved with the wars of independence and the opening up of South America to European colonisation. I came across references to James Burke and the more I found out about him, the more I thought he was an ideal hero. Dashing, clever, brave, apparently irresistible to women (he had affairs with a queen and a princess amongst others) and someone who seems to have had a very successful career as a spy, he was almost impossible not to write about.
SOLD! I’m a sucker for real-life people with exciting lives. It’s like when I discovered Byron de Prorok and it became The Count of the Sahara. What’s your favorite scene of derring-do?
There’s an episode where Burke crosses the Andes. He left it rather late in the year and nearly died in the snow up there. I’ve read a lot about it but I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like, so I went to the Andes rather too early in the year when there was still snow around and took a horse up to something over 3000 metres. I have never been so cold, but it was a staggering experience and I hope I caught some of it in the book. The Andes really are beautiful.
Where can folks learn more about the Burke stories, the White Rajah and more?
Not to barge in on Tom’s interview, but Acre’s Orphans is out now. You can order Paperbacks on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters. The e-book is Kindle only Please help me launch it successfully by buying now. And any time you read a book like The Burke serie (or one of mine,) please leave an Amazon or Goodreads review. It’s like applause for the author.
Even in a city as dirty, crowded, and generally stinky
as Acre the smell of smoke stands out from the other odors. There are two kinds
of smoke smells. The good kind promises a warm charcoal fire on a cold, rainy
day—or a hot meal pretty much any time.
Today, it was the bad kind, and far more exciting…
Acre’s Orphans is the continuing tale of Lucca Le Pou, an orphan boy on the streets of Acre-the wickedest city in the world. He may have survived the Battle of Hattin, but now his beloved city is about to fall to Salah-adin and the Saracens.
What’s left of the Kingdom of Jerusalem is fractured and fighting among itself. When he uncovers a plot to divide the remaining Crusaders, he must get news to the Tyre–the last remaining Crusader stronghold. Can he make it before it’s too late for everyone he loves?
If you’re one of the many readers from around the world who enjoyed Acre’s Bastard, this is the next journey. If you haven’t read the first book yet, this one stands alone and only adds to Lucca’s growing legend.
“The characters are intriguing, the plot is tight, and there is fresh adventure around every turn. Well worth the read”
The best part of writing (or reading) historical fiction is the “what if” game. So here’s one for you. What if Arthur Conan Doyle was caught up in the Jack the Ripper investigation and THAT’S what gave birth to Sherlock Holmes? You gotta admit, that’s a good one, and it’s the premise of Bradley Harper’s novel, A Knife in the Fog.
I’m a retired US Army pathologist with over 200 autopsies to my credit, about twenty of which were forensic in nature. Prior to attending med school I was an Airborne Infantry officer who had a bad encounter with an army physician, and I decided I could do better. I’ve had four commands, served in the Pentagon on the personal staff of the US Army Surgeon General, and while supporting US Special Forces in Colombia had a $1.5 million bounty on my head for anyone who could deliver me alive to the FARC (offer no longer valid, by the way). In Nov-Dec timeframe my wife of forty-five years and I portray a happily married couple from the North Pole at a local theme park. I’m a soft touch however, and only threaten those on the Naughty List with Spiderman Underoos or burnt cookies.
You are a doctor, double as Santa Claus AND write your butt off. That’s a good life you got going. What’s the premise behind A Knife in the Fog?
My book is a work of historical fiction, in which I put a relatively unknown young Arthur Conan Doyle on the trail of Jack the Ripper, until the Ripper begins stalking him. I did extensive historical research into the Ripper murders, the Whitechapel area, and Victorian society. I relied heavily upon the expertise of Ripper historian Richard Jones, who besides having two books to his credit on the Ripper, runs a walking tour company that goes in Whitechapel at night. I bought out an evening tour so for some three hours the two of us ambled through the Ripper’s old hunting grounds, and stopped for a drink at the Ten Bells, a pub that served two of the Ripper’s victims, and is still in business today.
That’s a killer premise. How’d it come to you?
My idea for the book came to me one day while reading about Doyle on Wikipedia. I was surprised to learn that there was a four-year gap between the first Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet (written 1886, released 1887), and the Sign of Four (written and released in 1890). Doyle had a terrible time getting anyone interested in the first story, and in the end settled for twenty-five pounds and loss of copyright just to get it published. Doyle was so embittered that he swore to never write another “crime story.” The Ripper murders happened in late summer and early fall of 1888, and I conceived of a tale involving Doyle that would explain why he eventually agreed to return to Holmes and why the Ripper suddenly stopped without ever knowingly being caught. The idea just grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go.
Tell us about one particular scene in your book
During my walk with MrJones he mentioned that the discovery of the body of the Ripper’s fifth victim, Mary Kelly, coincided with the installation of the new Lord Mayor of London, scarcely a mile away, and that thousands of people left the ceremony to witness her body’s removal. The report at the time mentioned that the crowd was utterly silent as her body was carted away in a simple wooden box. I interspersed the sights and sounds of the formal ceremony with this scene of pathos, and had the sounds of celebration just discernible to the silent witnesses to the Ripper’s foul handiwork.
My book is available at all major bookstores and most independents that deal with mystery, as well as Amazon, and an audio book (Tantor Media) and ebook format are also available. I was flattered to be allowed to choose the narrator, and Mathew Lloyd Davies, who won an Audie in 2018, just blew me away. A former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, his narration is really a performance. Hearing my words voiced by a professional actor was a thrill I really can’t describe.
Not to barge in on Brad’s interview, but Acre’s Orphans is now available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters. Please help us launch it successfully by buying now. And any time you read a book like Knife in the Fog (or one of mine,) please leave an Amazon or Goodreads review. It’s like applause for the author.
I love historical fiction that plays inside other genres, and today’s interview with Jennifer Ash is a good example of that. It’s also encouraging to know that people can write Histfic and stil play with other types of stories, since the novel I”m working on now ain’t historical by any stretch of the imagination.
Alright, lady. What’s the Jennifer Ash story?
With a background in history and archaeology, I should be sat in a dusty university library translating Medieval Latin criminal records, and writing research documents that hardly anyone would want to read. Instead, I’m tucked away in the SouthWest of England, writing stories of medieval crime, steeped in mystery, with a side-order of romance. Influenced by a lifelong love of Robin Hood and medieval ballad literature, I’ve written TheOutlaw’s Ransom (Book One of TheFolville Chronicles), The Winter Outlaw (Book Two of The Folville Chronicles) andEdward’sOutlaw (Book Three of The FolvilleChronicles). In addition, I”m also an audio script writer for ITV’s hit television show, Robin of Sherwood. Quiet as it’s kept, I also write contemporary fiction as Jenny Kane.
So what’s this third installment about?
Edward’s Outlaw, is the third of The Folville Chronicles. It continues the story of Mathilda of Twyford- a 19-year-old potter’s daughter whose life changed forever when she was held to ransom by the Folville family while her father pays off his debt to them (The Outlaw’s Ransom). This installment is set in January 1330: King Edward III’s England is awash with the corruption and criminal activity that his mother, Queen Isabella had turned a blind eye to- providing it was to her advantage. Now, having claimed the Crown for his own, Edward is determined to clean up England. Encouraged by his new wife, Philippa of Hainault and her special advisor- a man who knows the noble felons of the countries Midland region very well- KingEdward orders the arrest of five of the Folville brothers…including Robert deFolville, who has just married Mathilda of Twyford. For her own safety, Robert takes Mathilda, to Rockingham Castle, but no sooner has he left, when a maid is found murdered in the castle’s beautiful guest suite, the Fire Room. The dead girl looks a lot like Mathilda. Was she the target, or is Mathilda deFolville’s life in danger? Asked to investigate by the sheriff in exchange for him deliberately taking his time in the hunt for her husband, Mathilda uncovers far more than murder.
Sounds like fun! What got you all fired up about this time period?
I’ve been fascinated with the early fourteenth century since I was
fourteen, when I fell in love with the legends of Robin Hood. I read everything
I could on the subject and the history that surrounds it. It soon became clear
to me that if there had been a Robin Hood, he would have been around during the
rule of one of the King Edward’s – probably Edward II or III (or both). While at university, I completed a PhD on the
subject of medieval crime and ballad literature. During the course of my
research I came across the Folville family and was immediately fascinated by
them. They were a noble family of seven brothers who took crime as their way of
life. If you compare their crimes to those recorded in the earliest Robin Hood
literature, there are many overlaps. I began to wonder if the brothers, from
Ashby Folville in Leicestershire, were the inspiration behind the original
ballads- or were they inspired by those ballads themselves?
In The Folville Chronicles I adopted this latter theory. That the Folville brothers, in particular Robert de Folville, were inspired by the code of conduct the Robin Hood ballads promoted. During the 1320’s and 1330’s England was in chaos; the law was corrupt – it’s not surprising that even their heroes were criminals.
I know this is completely unfair, but it’s my blog and I can jolly well ask what I want. What’s your favorite scene in the book?
I love the Fire Room scenes. This is the location at the heart of the mystery. A turret room in Rockingham Castle; it is surrounded by phoenix-covered tapestries which intrigue Mathilda- and with good reason.
Where can people learn more about your work… in all genres?
This is clear to me now. There’s no avoiding it. I mean, I don’t kick kittens or steal Salvation Army kettles or anything like that. But I am an objectively evil person because, as a writer, I kind of enjoy torturing my readers. That’s not nice, right?
So, prepublication for the book, I was sending out copies to some folks who said they’d read an advance copy and maybe give me some quotes or reviews. I didn’t know many of these folks, and they’d all read a synopsis. The next day I got a Facebook message from one of these ladies giving me hell and saying I should have put a content warning on the book and I was an irresponsible author for not telling people that certain content might not be appropriate.
Remember, this is Acre’s Bastard. The one many people say is really a (shiver) YA book in disguise. What had gotten her so upset?
The exact quote was, “the graphic sexual assault in chapter 2 triggered my PTSD and really upset me. If you’d put a warning up front I never would have read this horrible thing.”
I was mortified. I don’t want to belittle her experience, and I truly am sorry I upset her. I went to several other people for their opinion. They all felt it was fine, and she was overreacting. I sent her a note saying there were no hard feelings for her posting her feelings all over Facebook for complete strangers and potential readers to see (even though I thought it was a bit much, you can’t discount people’s feelings or experience.)
Here’s what makes me a bad person: Once I got over the shock of her reaction, one thought kept recurring to me. I was actually kinda proud of myself. To get that reaction, I must have written the s@#$t out of that scene. It made me smile. Still does. I’m a bad person.
This is one of my favorite short stories (you can read it here and judge for yourself.) I’ve never been able to find a home for it, for two reasons. First, it’s over 5000 words, and in this world where most short stories are published online, that pretty much makes it War and Peace. Secondly though, it contains a certain word. A word I’ve never used in real life and makes me cringe. You know, the N word.
Just last week a magazine editor told me how much he enjoyed the story, thought it was very well written, but “some of the language” made him uncomfortable and he couldn’t publish it. Now, I can protest (as I often do) that the language and behavior of the characters are not necessarily those of the management. Truth is, when I thought of Lorna yelling that word during the excitement of a boxing match, I smiled because I knew how readers would respond. When I brought it into my writers group, I could hear gasps when they got to “that scene” and it made me happy to my toes. Again, not very nice of me was it?
The latest example: Acre’s Orphans
A character dies in chapter 12. A character a lot of people are very fond of. And I laughed out loud when it came to me. Not in a text-y LOL kind of way, but really laughed. So loud it scared Byron, my cockatiel. Not because it wasn’t sad, but because if I did my job right it would elicit a South Park “you bastards you killed Kenny” moment. When several of my beta readers told me how they reacted, I didn’t apologize. I didn’t shrink. I soaked up their emotional responses, lit a cigar and thought, “yeah baby. That’s my job.”
The truth is, I like making people laugh. I like making them cheer, but I also like making them have an unexpected emotional reaction. Sometimes it’s positive, sometimes it’s horror, or sadness, or disgust. Good. That’s my freaking job.
Someone once said that being a novelist is like telling a joke and waiting 6 months for the laugh. It’s true. If a writer touches you in the feels, let him or her know. Better yet tell them AND Amazon with a review.It’s kinda why we do this.
Even if it means we have to admit we’re terrible, awful, really bad people.
https://www.amazon.com/Crown-Pride-Honour-Wars-Roses-ebook/dp/B07DZMVKFJ/I define historical fiction as any fiction taking place in a different time in history than the one we’re in now. This sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed how picky some people (also known as histfic snobs) can be. For example, if there’s enough real history involved, I include alternative history and historical fantasy. Many don’t, and are quite cranky about it. The point is, it can cover many genres, and today’s interview is about a light, romantic tale that takes place in the 15th Century: Susan Appleyard’s “For the Crown.”
Susan, tell us about you…
I was born in England, which is where I learned to love English history, and now live in Canada in the summer with my three children and six grandchildren. In winter my husband and I flee the cold for Mexico, sun, sea and margaritas on the beach. I divide my time between writing and my new hobby, oil painting but writing will always be my first love
What’s For the Crown about?
A new departure for me from historical fiction, my latest book ‘For the Crown’ is a historical romance with a dash of humour. The hero is Robbie, Bastard of Ovedale, a warden on the border with Scotland. On one of his forays chasing cattle thieves, he captures a Scots girl, Mary Margaret Douglas and hopes to exchange her for a nice ransom. This plan is disrupted when her family refuses to take her back because she has been ‘ruined’ by the English. Robbie doesn’t know what to do with her. He is forced to take her with him when he goes to war. There is a great deal of dislike and distrust between English and Scots at this time. Robbie has to keep her safe and finds himself falling in love with her.
What is it about this time period that has you so fascinated?
The story is set in the fifteenth century, in the period known as the Wars of the Roses, a very turbulent time in English history as two rival claimants fought for the crown. I have written other books about this period and never tire of reading about it, which proves you can enjoy a story even when you know the ending. The wars provide an exciting background to the development of a mismatched love affair.
History isn’t all battles and daring-do. This is a fun idea. What’s your favorite scene in the book?
My favourite scene in the book – always a difficult choice for an author is the one where Mary drops the bombshell on Robbie that he loves her. (Yes, you read that right.) Robbie is pole-axed. The poor fellow had no idea and thinks the very idea is absurd because they are so wrong for each other. He is a little dense when it comes to matters of the heart but eventually sees that she is right.
Where can people learn more about your book and your work?
The sequel to Acre’s Bastard isComing January 21, 2019!
Subscribe to my newsletter and get a chance to win a signed paperback copy of my upcoming novel, Acre’s Orphans. Each month you’ll receive links to interviews with great authors, news about upcoming events and previews of whatever I’m working on, including 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.
In my mind, there’s the First World War, then there’s the Roaring Twenties. But there must have been a transition period, where people were caught betwixt (Ha, love that word) the horrors of war and the possibilities of a new decade. Liz Treacher’s new novel, The Wrong Envelope, captures that complicated time.
Liz, tell us about you. What’s your deal?
When I was just four years old, I knew I wanted to be a writer, but it took me years to get going! In the meantime, I did lots of different things – researcher, alternative therapist, teacher and art photographer. I think all those different jobs gave me the life-experience I needed to finally put pen to paper. I live in the Highlands of Scotland with a view of sea and seals from my window and glimpses of the Northern Lights in the winter.
What’s The Wrong Envelope about?
Set in England in 1920, The Wrong Envelope is a light, witty tale of a romance between a flamboyant London artist and a Devon post lady. It uses humour and irony to explore the years just after the First World War. Life was trying to return to normal but the shadow of the conflict still hung over everyone.
What is it about that time period or story that got you so intrigued? It was a complicated time, to be sure…
A few years ago, I stumbled across a tiny suitcase that belonged to my grandmother. It was full of letters written to her by a soldier during and after the First World War. I was fascinated by the language used – the cheerfulness and bravado of a soldier trying to woo a young lady. I wanted to recreate the thoughts and feelings of the time, but I didn’t want to set a novel during the war itself. 1920 seemed a good year. Although the fighting was well and truly over, the effects were still being felt. Women found themselves in a very difficult position. They had possibly lost brothers or sweethearts at the front. Added to this, the jobs they had so competently covered during the war were being taken away again and given back to returning soldiers. I wanted to expose the problems people faced.
A lot of historical fiction writers began their journey with old letters. Wonder if future writers will be trying to decode old text conversations. What’s your favorite scene in the book?
I really like the first scene of the book which takes place in a rattling railway carriage and which gives a snap-shot of the time. There’s an octogenarian, dressed from head to toe in Victorian black lace, a ticket inspector with a pronounced limp from a war injury, two young ladies, one with cropped hair and short skirt, the other, our heroine post lady, old-fashioned in dress but modern in outlook. And there’s an artist, loud and eccentric, yet full of guilt about not having made it to the trenches. He does something outrageous in the first few pages which starts the story off in a lively manner…
Subscribe to my newsletter and get a chance to win a signed paperback copy of my upcoming novel. 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.