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.
One of the first Las Vegas literary events I found out about when I moved here was Dime Grinds. The first Sunday of every month the Henderson Writers Group has three writers talk about their books, read, and introduce themselves to an always-packed group of readers and authors. Now it’s my turn.
On Sunday, August 4th, I’ll be reading from Acre’s Orphans, along with Steven Murray and Susan Johnson. Get a cup of regular coffee for a dime, hang out with the local writing community and have some fun.
Joe Maxx ( our local hangout, better than Starbucks) Coffee supports this fun event. 500 E. Windmill Ln, #175 at the corner of Windmill and Bermuda. Come visit.
The early days of exploring North America are full of fascinating missteps and accidents–lucky and otherwise. One of these is the “missing” Roanoke colony. Harold Titus has written about it in his new novel, Alsoomse and Wanchese.
Let’s start with the easy part. What’s your story?
Born in New York State in 1934, I moved to Tennessee when I was seven and then to Southern California when I was nine. I grew up in Pasadena, lived with my parents until I went to college at UCLA, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history in 1956. I taught high school English for one year in Los Angeles, spent two years in the Army, then moved to Northern California and for 31 years taught intermediate school English, American history, and a drama elective and coached boys’ and girls’ after-school sports teams in suburban Orinda, just east of Berkeley. I retired in 1991. My first historical novel, “Crossing the River,” printed in 2011, is about the experiences of English and American participants in the first two battles (Lexington and Concord) of the American Revolution. My second historical novel, the subject of this interview, “Alsoomse and Wanchese,” was published in May 2018. I continue to write a blog mostly about American history and historical fiction (http://authorharoldtitus.blogspot.com).
What’s Alsoomse and Wanchese about?
Why are human beings so fascinating regardless of period of time or degree of cultural and technological advancement? My answer: strengths and failings of character, group ideological orthodoxies, non-conformity. “Alsoomse and Wanchese” narrates a year (1583-1584) in the lives of Roanoke Island Algonquian sister Alsoomse and brother Wanchese as they reject tribal conformity, question tribal decision-making, decide for themselves what is true and just, and seek accomplishment. Their six-village chief Wingina is at war with an upstart chief of one of his villages. Wanchese, 19, seeks to become one of Wingina’s essential men. His impulsiveness and quick temper work against this. His strenuous efforts to both achieve his goals and learn from his mistakes broaden him, temper him, make him laudable. Alsoomse, 17, is a questioner, a seeker, an individualist in a culture that demands conformity of behavior and belief. She is placed in situations that exacerbate these attributes, her subsequent conduct causing her leaders to regard her increasingly as dangerous. Englishmen sent to North American by Walter Raleigh to find a suitable place to establish a colony arrive near the conclusion of the novel, their appearance complicating each protagonist’s conflicts.
What is it about the Roanoke Colony you found so interesting?
What we know about the story of the
“Lost Colony” of Roanoke Island is related to
us by Englishmen. Missing from that
story is any detailed understanding of the Algonquians, as human as any
Englishman that stepped then on North American soil. In my novel, about to leave Plymouth Harbor,
the painter John White and his associate, the young scientist Thomas Harriot, have
half-turned. “I have seen your painting of the savage that Frobisher brought
back [from Baffin Island, Canada]
in 1576 and the woman and child from the 1577 expedition. I have been wanting
to ask you about them.”
“What … did you
see? Are these people so behindhand as to be mentally deficient? I do not know
what to expect.”
against the gunwale, his long coat bending near his right hip. “I saw human
beings, who think, who suffer, who in our presence sought of hide human
“What was their
sense of us, as best you could tell?”
White moved his
left foot ahead of his right. … “I wish there had been some way besides the use
of gestures and facial expressions to communicate. What they thought and felt I
can only imagine.”
“What did you
think they felt?”
Resignation. We uprooted them, Harriot. We took them to London as specimens! What they could have
told us, if they had survived and learned our language!”
Historian Michael Leroy Oberg
wrote: “Indians are pushed to the margins, at best playing bit parts in a story
centered on the English. … Roanoke
is as much a Native American story as an English one. … We should take a close
look at the Indians who greeted and confronted Raleigh’s colonists. … Because Wingina’s
people, and his allies and enemies, in the end determined so much of the fate
of the Roanoke
ventures, it seems only fair that we concentrate upon them, and how they understood
the arrival of the English.”
That is what my novel does.
What’s your favorite scene in the book?
She was waiting for Wanchese in a corner of the chamber close to a raised, small-branched, deerskin-covered bed. At first he thought he was alone, that the girl would enter from outside. A slight movement caused him to look in her direction.
He stepped over to her. It was difficult to see. He made out her features.
She was young. Fifteen? Sixteen? Not yet Alsoomse’s age. She was naked, adolescent slim, her breasts small, her limbs and buttocks not yet pleasingly rounded.
Her eyes darted. She appeared defensive. This was not what he had experienced the year before at Mequopen.
“What is your name?”
Her right hand moved toward her mouth. “Waboose.”
It was an Algonquian custom that important visitors to an Algonquian village be provided young women to spend the night. Waboose is a virgin. She has been chosen by the chief’s wife to perform this duty but is frightened. Wanchese and she talk. They learn a few facts about each other and their respective families. Conscience-stricken, reluctantly, Wanchese relents. They sleep together but refrain from intercourse.
We interrupt this interview for a shameless plug. Acre’s Orphans has won a much coveted “Discovered Diamond” award for historical fiction. You can read the review here, or just take my word for it and buy the book.
Most of you probably don’t know what little formal education I do have consists of an Associates degree in Broadcast Journalism from BCIT. I love the medium of radio. I was recently interviewed for the Aspects of Writing radio program. The topic was: The Internet is the Author’s Friend. Lord knows it’s mine…
In this wide-ranging and somewhat insane interview we cover doing research for historical fiction, getting the word out about your book, why dinosaurs changed my life, and how the internet is both a frightening time suck and the best way for indie authors to network and share their work with a readership.
I am an an unabashed pirate fan. Whenever swords are crossed, buckles swashed, or mateys are a-hoying I am there. So when I found out about Ian Nathaniel Cohen’s book, The Brotherhood of the Black Flag, I was all aboard. Get your inner Rafael Sabatini on and join us…
Ian, welcome. What’s your story?
My name’s Ian, and I’ve been writing or making up my own stories in one fashion or another for as long as I can remember. I’ve written on-air promos for radio shows, created an online course of Asian film which I still teach, I’m a former guest blogger for Channel Awesome and the Comics Bolt, reviewing classic movies, books, and comics – many of which have inspired my own work.
I know we both dig Errol Flynn movies. What’s your novel about?
The Brotherhood of the Black Flag is a historical thriller set at the end of the Golden Age of Piracy, when the newly-United Kingdom is cracking down on piracy while also contending with Jacobite insurrections and an economic crisis. In the midst of this, we have Michael McNamara, who was dishonorably discharged from the British Royal Navy. In desperate need for a fresh start, he sets sail for Kingston, Jamaica, hoping to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. Fortunately, McNamara is talented with a blade, which gives him the chance to become a local hero. His feat of arms brings him to the attention of Captain Stephen Reynard, once the most dreaded pirate in the Caribbean, who’s now reformed and turned pirate hunter. To earn a pardon, Reynard has vowed to apprehend seven pirate captains. McNamara, eager for the adventure and the opportunities it could bring, joins Reynard’s quest for redemption. His travels under Reynard’s command pit him against treacherous seas, bloodthirsty buccaneers, and an insidious conspiracy that threatens thousands of lives.
Your boy Michael McNamara has a lot of Peter Blood in him. What is it about this time period you find so fascinating.
I grew up on Hollywood swashbucklers and the literature and
history that inspired them – and one of my goals in writing The
Brotherhood of the Black Flag was in part to capture the spirit of
those classic films. The more I read and watched, the more I started coming up
with my own ideas for historical swashbucklers, packed with action, romance,
and hopefully solid character development. A pirate tale seemed like a natural
fit for that kind of story, and then it was just a matter of doing enough
research to find the right time and place to best suit the ideas I’d committed
to going with. Plus, I get to showcase less-familiar elements of a somewhat
familiar historical era, such as the Jacobite rebellions, which readers will
hopefully find interesting.
As for the main character, he’s intended to be a classic, archetypal heroic figure, which some may find a welcome change from anti-heroes and villain protagonists. However, I can relate to his lack of clear direction and uncertainty about what to do with his life when his youthful ambitions don’t work out the way he hoped they would – and lots of other readers probably might as well, for one reason or another. So many stories are about the main character trying to fulfill a lifelong dream, and I thought it would be interesting to work with a character who didn’t know what they wanted anymore. It also makes his path unpredictable – yeah, he’ll find his path by the end of the book, but what will that be? What will he choose?
Totally unfair question- what’s your favorite scene in the book?
Without a doubt, the scene where McNamara first meets Captain Reynard and Reynard auditions him for a place on his crew by challenging him to a duel. There are lots of sword fights in Black Flag, but I think I had the most fun writing that one, and I enjoyed the challenge of trying to depict a cinematic swashbuckling fight on the printed page, rather than going for gritty and realistic combat. I also had an absolute blast coming up with snarky, witty banter between McNamara and Reynard before and during their duel.
I agree, that scene was a lot of fun, and over a pint we can play the casting game for who plays who in the movie. Meanwhile, where can people learn more about you and your work?
I have my own website, the INCspot, where you can find out more
about me and my work – https://iannathanielcohen.weebly.com/ I’m
also on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, and I try and respond to any and all
comments I receive, so drop on by and say “hi!”
We interrupt this interview for a shameless plug. Acre’s Orphans has won a much coveted “Discovered Diamond” award for historical fiction. You can read the review here, or just take my word for it and buy the book.
Certain periods in history are more interesting to us than others. Depending on where your family’s from, your feelings about the events in question, and what country you live in, your mileage may vary. For example, World War 1 into the Russian Revolution, the Renaissance in Florence, and The Crusades are more interesting to me than the US Civil War (1.0) or the War of the Roses.
Enter Catherine Kullmann and her novel, The Duke’s Regret. She thinks what is known as “The Regency” in Britain qualifies… let’s see why.
What’s your deal Catherine?
I am Irish, married (for forty-five years), a mother (three sons) and a grandmother (one granddaughter, one grandson).
I love travelling, meeting people, good food and drink, classical music, especially opera
I prefer radio and live theatre to cinema and tv
I cannot live without books or tea
I am fascinated by history and love visiting historic sites and buildings of any period.
I write novels set in England in the extended Regency Period from 1795 (when the later Prince Regent married to 1830 (when he died as King George IV)
Look at you, all organized with bullet points. What’s The Duke’s Regret about?
Some characters slip into your books unplanned and
unheralded only to play a pivotal role in the story. So it was with Flora, the
young Duchess of Gracechurch in The
Murmur of Masks and later in Perception
& Illusion. Flora own story revealed itself slowly. A devoted mother
who befriends young wives whose husbands are ‘distant’, it becomes clear that
the relationship between her and her husband Jeffrey is also distant.
They married at a young age, she not yet seventeen and he some years older. In 1815, at the end of The Murmur of Masks, both are in their thirties with many years of life ahead of them. I began to wonder what would happen if one of them wanted to change their marriage. This led to my new novel, The Duke’s Regret.
A duke can demand
anything—except his wife’s love.
A chance meeting
with a bereaved father makes Jeffrey, Duke of Gracechurch realise how hollow
his own marriage and family life are. Persuaded to marry at a young age, he and
his Duchess, Flora, live largely separate lives. Now he is determined to make
amends to his wife and children and forge new relationships with them.
Flora is appalled
by her husband’s suggestion. Her thoughts already turn to the future, when the
children will have gone their own ways. Divorce would be out of the question,
she knows, as she would be ruined socially, but a separation might be possible
and perhaps even a discreet liaison. Can Jeffrey convince his wife that his
change of heart is sincere and break down the barriers between them? Flora must
decide if she will hazard her heart and her hard won peace of mind when the
prize is an unforeseen happiness.
The Duke’s Regret contains spoilers for The Murmur of Masks and Perception & Illusion. So as not to mislead readers, I have therefore combined them in The Duchess of Gracechurch Trilogy. All three books are available as eBooks and paperbacks.
You are obsessed with this time period. What gives?
is the beginning of our modern society. The Act of Union between Great Britain
and Ireland of 1800, the Anglo-American war of 1812 and the final defeat of
Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 are all events that still shape
today’s world. At the same time, the ruling aristocracies were being challenged
by those who saw the need for social and political reform, while the industrial
revolution which led to the transfer of wealth to the manufacturing and
merchant classes was underway. Women, who had few or no rights in a patriarchal
society had begun to raise their voices, demanding equality and emancipation.
Following the collapse of the Treaty of Amiens in 1803, the United Kingdom was at war with Napoleonic France until 1815. Unlike other combatants in this long war, Britain was spared the havoc wrought by an invading army and did not suffer under an army of occupation. War was something that happened elsewhere, far away. For twelve long years, ships carrying fathers, husbands, sons and brothers sailed over the horizon and disappeared. Over three hundred thousand men did not return, dying of wounds, accidents and illness. What did this mean for those left behind without any news apart from that provided in the official dispatches published in the Gazette and what little was contained in intermittent private letters?
The question would not leave me and it is against this background of an off-stage war that I have set my novels. How long did it take, I wondered, for word of those three hundred thousand deaths to reach the bereaved families? How did the widows and orphans survive? What might happen to a girl whose father and brother were ‘somewhere at sea’ if her mother died suddenly and she was left homeless?
What’s your favorite scene in the book?
It’s hard to say. I love this one, where Jeffrey is
accepted by his nine-year-old daughter Tabitha. Up to now, Tabitha has
addressed him formally as ‘Your Grace’ or ‘sir’
Tabitha raised her rope again. “I’m
going to see if I can skip thirty times without stopping.”
“That will take a
lot of breath. Would it help if I count for you?” Gracechurch asked.
Yes, please, Pap—”
She broke off, biting her lip.
He squatted in
front of her so that she could look into his eyes. “Papa? Would you like to
call me Papa?”
“I should be happy
if you did. I am your Papa, am I not?”
She threw her arms
around his neck. “Now you are my Papa. Before you weren’t, not really.”
He rose to his
feet as he hugged her back. “Then I am sorry for it. Will you forgive me?”
She nodded again
and he kissed her cheek before setting her down carefully. She smiled
brilliantly at him, then picked up her rope and held it in the starting
“Are you ready? Off you go!”
Where can we learn more about you and your work?
you for hosting me and for your interest in my writing. You can find out more
about me and my books at
We interrupt Mike’s interview for a shameless plug. Acre’s Orphans has won a much coveted “Discovered Diamond” award for historical fiction. You can read the review here, or just take my word for it and buy the book.
If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that one of my least favorite periods to read about is the American Civil War. (Or, as it will be known in the future, Civil War 1.0) The reasons are long and boring, and will annoy perfectly nice people, so I won’t go into them. I am always interested in the outsider’s view of any historical event, so when I found an Englishman with a fascination for the “war between the states,” I was willing to suck it up and learn more. John Holt’s latest book is “The Thackery Journal.”
What’s your deal, John?
I was born in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, during World War 2. Clearly the world had a lot to contend with at that time, so my coming offered some welcome relief. Whether I had a major influence, or it was pure coincidence, I shall never know, but the war ended shortly after my birth. I have always been a half glass full kind of person, and I’m quite positive in my approach to life. I was brought up on a diet of Rock ‘n’ roll, and only two TV channels. How did we ever manage I wonder? Programmes like Bilko, and Tony Hancock helped I guess, and probably accounts for my sense of humour. As a youngster I wanted to become a doctor, however there was problem, a major problem. I hated the sight of blood, so eventually I became a land surveyor, and spent 24 years working in local government. I then set up in private practice, carrying out property surveys, and preparing architectural drawings. I guess, like a lot of people I had always wanted to write. In fact for several years I used to write articles for a couple of blues magazines (sadly no longer in operation). But I wanted to write a novel. The opportunity came about in 2005, whilst on holiday in Austria. That was the catalyst that lead to “The Kammersee Affair” published in 2006. It is a story of the search for hidden nazi gold; a story of blackmail, murder and revenge. Over the following years eight more novels, and three novellas, were produced.
I get it. After years of writing articles, scripts and standup, I told myself I’d never be a “real” writer til I did a novel. Sounds like you’ve caught up. What’s The Thackery Journal about?
the first sounds of gun fire echoed through the land, young men rushed to
enlist, to fight for a cause that they believed was right. Shop assistants,
bank clerks, farm labourers. All believing that the South would win. Right was
on their side, and besides it would all be over by Christmas.
Two life-long friends enlist on opposite sides of the conflict. Both believing that right was on their side, and both hoping that they would never meet each other on the battlefield. Their lives become inextricably entwined as the war nears its end culminating in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. On the night of April 14th 1865 Lincoln attended a performance at The Ford Theatre, in Washington. A single shot fired by John Wilkes Booth hit the President in the back of the head. He slumped to the floor and died a few hours later without regaining consciousness. Was Booth a lone assassin? Or was he part of a much wider conspiracy? Was he part of something even more sinister? Was he part of a plot hatched by Lincoln’s own generals to replace Lincoln with General Ulysses S. Grant. A plot financed by stolen Confederate gold bullion.
What is it about the story or time period that intrigued you?
have always been fascinated by the American Civil War. A Civil War is the worst
kind of war that there could be. A war that divides the Country and splits
communities: a war that puts brother against brother, and father against
son. A war that splits families; and
makes enemies of long-time friends. A war where in reality there are no
winners. Indeed, a war where there could be no real winners, and where everyone
loses something. The effects would be felt long after the war ends. Could reconciliation and forgiveness really take
place? How long would the wounds, mentally and physically, take to heal? Could
communities divided by war, be re-united by peace? Even now statues of
Confederate Generals are being torn down because of what they are perceived to
But that in itself is hardly a reason for writing the book. If the truth be known, I never actually considered writing a Civil War novel at all. But sometimes, instead of the author being in command of what he, or she writes, it is the writing itself that takes charge. It will suddenly go in a totally unexpected direction, and you are forced to go with it to see where it leads.
Somewhere along the line I got side-tracked. During my research into “The Kammersee Affair” (a story of hidden gold bullion) I found an item on the internet about a consignment of Confederate gold that had gone missing as the Civil War was coming to an end. The gold had, apparently never been found. I thought perhaps I could make up some kind of a story. The gold had obviously been stolen by someone, and I got to thinking how that person would feel as his pursuers caught up with him. Very quickly I had the makings of a fairly well developed final chapter. That chapter is now the last chapter of “Thackery”, and largely unchanged from when it was first written. It was also obvious that the gold had been stolen for a reason. I wondered what that reason could have been. Then I had an idea.
What’s your favorite (or favourite, if you insist) part of the book?
That’s a difficult one, there are so many. But if I must choose one I think it would be the very last scene of the novel. Oddly enough, it is the one that was written first. Jason Thackery is a hunted man, wounded and alone. His pursuers have tracked him down and are closing in. Thackery is afraid and knows exactly the fate that awaits him. His thoughts turn to the past, to his mother, to his friend, who, even now, is waiting to take him prisoner. There is no escape, no way out. There is no one to save him.
We interrupt John’s interview for a shameless plug. Acre’s Orphans has won a much coveted “Discovered Diamond” award for historical fiction. You can read the review here, or just take my word for it and buy the book.
We all have the historical era we find fascinating, and one of mine is the Russian Revolution. I have no family connection, I’m not Russian, and there were more guns than swords, which usually counts me out. Still, I can’t get enough whether it’s writers from that time (I’ll fight anyone who won’t let me include Mikhail Sholokov on that list) or just people chronicling it from afar. Enter Julia Underwood and Red Winter…
What’s your story?
My father was an Army Intelligence Officer
stationed abroad, so I was sent to a boarding school in the English countryside
at seven years old. I was the one who was always in trouble for telling stories
after lights out. Those epic tales of children in dire peril kept other girls
awake and gave them nightmares, and I’ve been at it ever since, on and off.
Life got in the way, of course. As a teenager I wanted to save the world and be a doctor. Unfortunately, equal opportunity was still a distant dream and, although I had the qualifications, I didn’t get a place in a teaching hospital, the preference being for young men with sporting credentials. I ended up in medical research – not at all the glamour I’d envisaged. When I gave that up, I did many jobs, working in advertising, as a statistician, and in marketing and publishing. I also ran a restaurant – talked into this by a friend. Never again, I said, but I later ran a pub with my husband. I have lived in Germany, Austria, Jamaica and France.
It wasn’t until my children had left home that I finally began to write full-time, joined a writing group and let fly with my imagination. I sold an article to The Lady very quickly, which gave me a false sense of competency, but I persisted. I have now published three full-length novels, three murder mystery novellas and many short stories. My latest novel is Red Winter, the story of a family caught up in the Russian revolution.
Now we’re talking. What’s Red Winter about?
An Englishman, Jonathan Cooke, is the third generation of Cookes to run the Russian arm of his family’s business from St Petersburg. Married to a Russian woman of aristocratic origins, they are wealthy and have five children. Their eldest daughter, Sophie, marries Anatoly Andropov (Tolya), an aspiring doctor. The story follows her and her family through the horrors of the First World War and on to the revolution and the brutality of the Cheka, the Bolshevik’s secret police. The family eventually flee to England with little more than what they stand up in, although Sophie remains in Russia with two small children, almost starving, not knowing if her husband is alive or dead.
What is it about that time period that fascinates you so much?
I was reading an autobiography by someone
who recalled, in a short chapter, meeting a Russian émigré family who had lost
everything in the revolution. I was struck by the horror of their plight at
having to leave all they possessed in a country where misery and death had
changed everything beyond recognition. I found the concept fascinating and,
after a lot of research, I invented the Cooke family and set about writing
their story with all its drama, sorrow and, ultimately, their happiness.
It was early 2016, just a year before the centenary of the revolution, so this seemed the perfect moment to write the story. It was published by my digital publisher – Endeavour Press – just in time, in October 2017.
Never underestimate the power of Serendipity. What’s your favorite scene in the book?
What is your favourite scene in the book?
This is a difficult one. There are so many scenes I am proud of, where the emotion of the action stirred me. Sophie’s marriage to Tolya; when her first baby is born in the field hospital at the Crimean Front; when the Cheka tear apart their home in St Petersburg; when Sophie faces the Bolsheviks in Moscow; when she arrives in London with her children after finally being allowed to leave Russia. I can’t say more without spoiling the story.
Where can people learn more about you and your books?
Don’t forget to support the authors we showcase. Of course, you could give some love to my novels as well. Acre’s Orphans is available on Kindle and Paperback. And if you enjoy what you read, spread the word with a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Goodreads.
I’ve met some very cool authors since coming to the desert. One of my fellow Sin City Writers has a new book coming out May 16. Cyberspiracy is about a 15 year old girl hacker who tries to save a presidential election. But there’s more.
Because Wolf O’Rourc is an inventive guy, he’s designed a very cool online search experience where teens can find the answers to questions about the various books on display (including Acre’s Bastard and Acre’s Orphans) to win prizes. To see what he’s up to, check out the Cyberspiracy Online Experience.
The live event is May 16th, 2:30-5:30 pm at the Clark County Library,