Acre’s Bastard- Exciting new historical fiction from the best-selling author of
“The Count of the Sahara”
The Holy Land in 1187.
10 year old Lucca Nemo is an orphan on the streets of Acre, the Kingdom of Jerusalem’s most corrupt city. A simple prank goes horribly wrong, and catapults him into a terrifying world of spies, violence and political intrigue that ends in battle at the Horns of Hattin.
Author Wayne Turmel blends heart-pounding action, human drama and sly humor in this exciting tale set during the Second Crusade.
My friends and I were famous, if that’s the word, as The Lice. We were small, annoying, and constantly in someone’s hair. Berk was Turkish, Fadil and Murad were Syrian—supposedly converted Saracens—which is why they were allowed to live in town. They all had parents, or at least a mother, that they constantly disappointed.
Then there was me. Shorter and skinnier than my friends, and a year or so younger. My parentage, or at least what I knew of it, was written all over my brown, sharp face. At first glance I seemed purely Saracen; dark brown skin and a long beak of a nose, but my green eyes showed the other half of the tale. Depending on which story you believed, my mother was either a Syrian whore got with child by a Frankish Knight, or a pure, innocent Frank woman, dishonored by a pillaging Mussulman. The idea that my parents might have actually liked each other and wanted me never seemed to be part of the tale.
I preferred to think of my mother as a whore, giving me a claim to the ruling class by virtue of my father’s nobility, because of course he had to be noble if he was really a knight. Whatever the truth, their union left me with the best—or worst, depending on who told the story—features of each.
You all know my motto: Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. The rest of us are doomed too, but get to sit there smugly and say ‘told you so’. With that in mind, it’s easy to forget that the whole “clash of civilizations thing” isn’t new. Not by a long shot. That’s where Julie Anderson’s new book, “Reconquista,” comes in.
So what’s the Julie Anderson story?
I was born in the English midlands, spending much of my childhood in a semi-rural village, yet I have lived in South London with my husband and cats for most of my adult life. We enjoy the cultural life of the city and eating out with their friends, but we also have a home in Andalucia.
After college I taught English Literature for five years then joined the British Civil Service. I had a fulfilling and successful career, but took early retirement to do what I had always wanted to do. Write.
I set up The Story Bazaar publishing imprint to publish my own writing and that of others. This year it is publishing books by several writers besides me, fiction and memoir. My first publication was ‘The Village; A Year in Twelve Tales’ my own first collection of short stories. My second ‘The Story Bazaar 2015’ was a compendium of articles, fiction and blog pieces from the web-site by myself and other regular contributors. My new book is ‘Reconquista’, an adventure story and the first in the Al Andalus series.
I blog under the name ‘JulieJ’, at www.thestorybazaar.com . I report on cultural events and exhibitions in London, places and people of historical interest, life and events in southern Spain and writing and publishing.
This is a fascinating time period, and very relevant to today. What’s “Reconquista” about?
‘Reconquista’ is an adventure story set in 13th century Al Andalus ( Spain ) during the campaigns of the Christian north to re-conquer the rich southlands from the Moors. The book opens on 9th October 1264. Outside the walled city of Jerez an army waits the signal to attack. Within the city walls, for fourteen year old Nathan, his older cousin, Rebecca and their friend, Atta, events are about to change their lives forever. Their city is about to fall and everything they have always known will be questioned.
Across a war-torn Al Andalus King and Emir vie for supremacy and bandits and pirates roam land and sea in their wake. Our heroes set out on their own desperate journeys to find freedom and safety. But, if they are to succeed, they must first face down their fears and decide what sort of people they want to be. In short, each of them has to grow up, but they have lots of adventures along the way.
So why does this story grab you? What is it about this period in time?
The book began, ten or more years ago, as a serial story for my nephew and god-son. We have a home in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain and my nephew was about to visit there for the first time. I wanted to engage him in the history and romance of the place, so I wrote an adventure story, delivering ‘episodes’ on a gradual basis. He’s nearly twenty two now and the story which I wrote for him has changed out of all recognition.
The period is an intriguing one and full of stories of real heroes, El Cid, for example, but the truth is often more interesting than the legend. So, even though the Reconquest is presented as a religious war, in fact, lots of towns and cities changed sides, depending on circumstances rather than religion. El Cid himself fought for Muslim cities as well as for the Christians and, sometimes, on his own account. It was the time of ‘convivencia’ or people of different faiths living together in relative tolerance. But there was a contrast between this attitude and the religious piety and zealotry also in evidence from various sets of ‘invaders’ not just the Christian north but also the Muslims from across the Straits of Hercules (Gibraltar). Yet ordinary life went on. I wanted to write about ordinary young people, growing up in extra-ordinary times.
And the subject matter has become ever more relevant. Right now Europe is facing the largest migration of people since the Second World War, with refugees risking their lives to get here and putting strain on services and the social fabric when they do. People are fleeing from war and terrorism. The US also has a constant influx of people entering illegally from Latin America. I hope that readers of my book might look with some understanding and compassion on the TV pictures of weeping and frightened people waiting at Europe’s borders once they have read ‘Reconquista’.
You have a very active Social Media life. How can people find you?
Another of my favorite writers has gone to…. well probably not his reward. There aren’t a lot of rewards for spending most of your life cooking, hunting, fishing, writing and drinking. Seems kind of redundant.
Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall and so much more has passed. Go read something of his. Hell of a way to spend a weekend.
One of the pleasures of historical fiction is delving deep into time periods you’re fascinated by. Another is learning about things you didn’t know. The shelves are full of tales retelling the US Civil War or the exploits of Edward Longshanks, and that’s fine, but I love finding stories that I don’t know. That’s where Vicky Adin comes in. How much do you know about the founding of New Zealand? Yeah, didn’t think so…..
Vicky Adin is a New Zealand author living on the North Shore of Auckland within walking distance of the beach, the coffee shops and inspiration.
Three words sum up her passion in life: family, history and language. After decades of genealogical research and a life-long love affair with words (she actually enjoyed writing essays at school) she has combined her skills to write poignant novels that weave family and history together, based on real people, with real experiences in a way that makes the past come alive.
It’s the story of Brigid, a talented eighteen-year-old Irish lacemaker, who fled starvation and poverty to seek a better life in Australia, but life didn’t run smoothly in that harsh new landscape either.
Brigid must learn to overcome bias, bigotry and tradition as well as her own fears if she is to survive. She looks to one man for inspiration and protection: a man who, once her champion, soon became her adversary. She gathers those who matter to her most and moves to New Zealand. Gradually, her dreams become reality and tranquility prevails – until the day the man who seeks her downfall finds her.
What intrigues you about this story?
Living in New Zealand, I’ve always held a fascination for the 19th Century pioneers of our country, especially the women. They needed strength of mind as well as body to survive the journey, let alone flourish in the densely bush clad new country they came to. Being a genealogist in love with history, these men and women, and their ancestors, drive my stories.
The Treaty of Waitangi between The Crown and the indigenous Maori was signed in 1840 and only 40 plus years later, New Zealand was still a nation coming to terms with itself, defining what it meant to be a New Zealander and inventing its history as it went. How could I not want to write about such beginnings and the ordinary people who shaped our nation?
As a fellow colonial (albeit the nothern, completely opposite
corner of the planet) I agree that there are wonderful stories from around the world no one has heard. What’s your favorite scene in the book?
“Get out of the way, girl,” a man shouted pushing at her. She had no idea in which direction she was being pushed, but it took all her strength to stay on her feet. Above the storm’s turbulence, voices shouted, calling out for people they couldn’t find. Mud oozed underfoot, people lurched and skidded as they tried to escape the confines of the market place. Shrieks and wails rang in her ears – “Help me, God. Help.” Was that her own voice she recognised? – and still the relentless push persisted…
Brigid is caught up in 1887 Brisbane floods – one of the worst experienced. The damage done to the economy, the infrastructure and many families was immense and took a huge toll on the town. Brigid’s thoughts and feelings bring life to the facts of this natural disaster that nearly took her life, but instead gave her strength and hope.
How can we learn more about you and the PathFinder series?
There are some fun comparisons between author Johann Laescke and myself. Both of us have written a ton of non-fiction and business stuff before tackling our first novels, both our debut novels take place in the 1920s and have a passing (or more than passing) connection to Hollywood. We tackled the novels partly because our spouses were tired of us talking about it. Also, there is a high level of smart-ass in what we write. If you enjoyed The Count of the Sahara, you’ll probably dig his work. Figured it was high time to introduce you to him…..
So what’s the Johann Laesecke story?
Writing novels came late in life for me. For a very long time I thought that I could
write a book and must have said it too many times because the love of my life felt she had to tell me to “Stop talking about writing a book and start writing it!” She added a couple more descriptive words that I have left out of the quote, but I immediately recognized her wisdom and her exasperation that was vented at me in the directive. A few years later, after writing or partially writing five novels that I regarded at the time as hopeless failures, my inner muse (named Laure) began relating The Roaring Roadstoryline to me. Previous writings included business books and research papers, software design process books, training manuals, project proposals and other exciting dustbin trivia. Today, I am writing the third book in The Roaring Road series, and have found that all of those first five hopeless failure novels might yet come to life with a careful application of lessons learned.
Well, having a name for the voice in your head is certainly a start. What’s the series about?
Dan Lindner, a young sheba-chaser and fan of the late film star Wallace Reid is grabbed by thugs and taken to the local mob chief, who threatens him with dire consequences if he doesn’t undertake an unusual mission. Seeing no way out he reluctantly decides to go but his new flapper girlfriend Laure leaves him, thinking he is joining the mob. With his German Shepherd Dog named Raider (aka The Road Trip Dog) Dan begins his journey on the roaring road from his home village of Long Grove Illinois, driving a prototype Duesenberg Model X to the Wine Country of Napa and Sonoma.
Book 1 The Road West is the story of Dan, Laure and Raider’s adventures on their way to California and up to the time they begin their return to Long Grove. The young couple must contend with road bums, prison escapee bank robbers, a corrupt sheriff, Laure’s father who catches up with them, and a gang hired to take Laure back to the Chicago crime boss’s son who has become both enraptured and enraged with her. Dan undertakes to rescue Laure from a rustbucket ship on the rough San Francisco waterfront. Seeking a few days of fun before their return journey from Napa to Chicago, Dan and Laure take a trip to Hollywood, meeting silent era film stars like Douglas Fairbanks, W.C. Fields, Buster Collier, Alice White and Billie Dove. They also make friends with sexy Louise Brooks, who devises a prank that succeeds and delivers major unintended consequences reverberating through the series. Spiced with speakeasy visits and served with Napa wine to make a thrilling road trip tale. “What Could Possibly Go Wrong?”
OOOOOH, extra points for use of “sheba-chaser.” I know why I enjoy reading about the 20s, but what is it about this time period that you find so fascinating?
The nation was still recovering from World War I when the Eighteenth Amendment made Prohibition the law of the land and the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote. Young women who had been trapped in the strict social mores of the early 1900s seized their new freedoms and ran with them. Lois Long, flapper and reporter for The New Yorker magazine in 1925 wrote “All we were saying was ‘Tomorrow we may die, so let’s get drunk and make love”. Many of the citizens who publicly wanted Prohibition found that gangsters had stepped in to provide them with the booze they secretly sought. Other factors included the explosion of automobile ownership and road travel in the 1920s, stories from writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the burgeoning popularity of the movies (aka ‘flickers’). Law enforcement struggled to catch up with the wildly profitable organized crime mobs. It was wild times for everyone and I weaved each of these catalysts into the story.
I admit to have fallen in love with Dan and Laure. They are young and initially naive but thrown into situations where they learn to respect, trust and rely on each other while becoming best friends and falling in love. But this is not a romance book. It is a hard-edged sexy historical fiction thriller, spiced with mayhem and humor influenced by my exposure to W.C. Fields, Rocky and Bullwinkle and Gary Larson’s The Far Side comics.
Without spoilers, what’s your favorite scene in the book?
The event that really begins the adventure and mayhem is when Dan meets Laure. I had a lot of fun writing that scene. Reading it still makes me laugh. There’s another scene related to that, but sorry, no spoilers!
I am a sucker for any time period with swords, arrows and buckles being swashed. No big surprise, then, that I really enjoyed Wayne Grant’s “Saga of Roland Inness” series. It takes place during the same time period as Robin Hood, the Third Crusade and various unending wars in Wales. What’s not to like?
So what’s the Wayne Grant story?
I grew up in a small cotton-farming community in Louisiana and escaped the cotton patch by going to West Point. After graduation, I spent five years in the US Army during the post-Vietnam, Cold War period, stationed in West Germany and later, South Korea. I later went on to a civilian career in government, including a senior position in the Pentagon during the Reagan years. I’m retired from that world now and have been writing full time for the past two years. I live in Raleigh, NC with my wife and have two grown sons.
So what’s the series, and in particular your first entry, “Longbow” about?
Longbow is the first book in a four book series (The Ballad of Roland Inness) that follows fourteen year old Roland Inness as he comes of age in 12th century England, where the Normans maintain a tight grip on their subjects. Roland tries to feed his starving family by poaching a deer on the Earl of Derby’s land, which brings down disaster on his family, as his father is killed by the Earl’s son and Roland is forced to become a fugitive.
Roland manages to elude capture with the aid of a strange monk named Tuck and ultimately finds refuge with a gruff Norman knight. Sir Roger de Laval recognizes the boy’s skill with a longbow and other qualities that make Roland valuable as a squire. Roland hates the Normans for killing his father, but comes to recognize through his new master that not all Normans are tyrants. This is a story about vengeance, but also a tale of courage, and loyalty and family—all played out in a world of violence and intrigue.
I was corrupted early by Errol Flynn (that’s what she said…. sorry couldn’t help myself) what’s your excuse? What is it about that period you find so entertaining?
Longbow actually began fifteen years ago as a serial story for my two young sons. I had just read a great history of the 3rd Crusade, so when they asked me for a story, I decided to tell them a tale about a boy squire who goes on Crusade. The battles in the Holy Land and the events back in England are filled with larger-than-life characters (Richard, Saladin, evil Prince John, Queen Eleanor) that have inspired myths and legends ever since.
In a slight departure from historical fiction norms, I’ve incorporated both real and some legendary characters from that time in my story. I did not want to do a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, though Tuck and Robin are characters in my books, and so created my own hero, a young boy descended from the Viking invaders of England who has extraordinary skill with the longbow.
I don’t think it’s much of a departure, I did the same with The Count of the Sashara. It’s fun sometimes when history and pure nonsense mix, and you’ve done a good job. Without giving away the store, what’s one of your favorite scenes in the book?
Roland witnesses Sir Roger’s daughter being taken prisoner by Welsh raiders. Millicent de Laval has not been very kind to the new squire, but Roland knows his duty, and sets out on foot after her. He uses all of his skill as a woodsman to track the girl and her captors into the wilderness of the Clocaenog forest of northern Wales.
Where can people learn more about you and your books?
I’ve had a couple of requests to share this interview with people. My buddy, Phil Gerbyshak, interviewed me on his video podcast about how to make big changes in your life and tackle challenges like completing your first novel at age 54.
Here’s the whole thing on YouTube. I hope you’ll find some inspiration and a little entertainment.
Full disclaimer: I view Westerns like I view Super-Hero movies: I know that most of what I’m seeing or reading is as much mythology and wish-fulfillment as history, but that’s okay as long as they’re fun. I’m also aware that there are political and social ramifications associated with them. I just maintain a healthy skepticism/cynicism about it all and enjoy the ride. Some people, though, take the whole “Wild West” thing very seriously and that’s where today’s interview comes in.
Anthony Whitt is a darned good writer from the Austin, Texas area. He’s currently working on a trilogy about the hardy settlers that scratched a living out of the Texas Hill Country surrounding Austin after the Civil War. Hard Land to Rule is first in the trilogy that takes the reader on a ride through treachery, greed, lust, and death in a riveting tale that’s more than just another western.Cold Hard Ride continues the story as the characters battle their inner demons and devious enemies in the hills and the hellhole known as Austin. His goal is to create a trilogy with continuity, but make sure each book delivers a compelling story in its own right. The third book has a release date planned in the spring or summer of 2016.
So briefly, what’s the Hard Land to Rule trilogy all about?
Hard Land to Rule is a story of faded love, forbidden temptations, treacherous adversaries, and the conflict of competing interests on the Texas frontier. Returning from the Civil War where he served as a sergeant, Matt is forced to deal with a marriage complicated by a tragic death and the alienation of his wife. He can’t seem to find the right combination to patch things up despite his dedicated efforts to provide for his family and maintain his ranch in the hills. The times are economically tough after the war and opportunistic carpetbaggers prowl the countryside searching out targets for their aggressive efforts to secure ranchlands burdened with overdue taxes. Raiding Comanche complicate the harsh conditions he faces in the Hill Country while he is also forced to battle the unscrupulous politicians and businessmen that call Austin home. Surrounded by overwhelming problems it’s no wonder that an attractive neighbor with a struggling marriage of her own tempts him with her siren song of seduction. A proposition to serve as a Texas Ranger seems to offer an answer to his tribulations, but opens him to a plague of personal doubts and uncertainties that threaten to undermine the life he has worked hard to mold out of an unforgiving land.
Besides a higher than usual loathing for Texas politicians, what is it about the story that grabbed you?
Throughout the early years of my youth, my grandparents and their tales of the old days exerted a heavy influence on me. My grandfather often talked about his time as a cowboy working the ranches in the rugged hills west of Austin. During the first years of his marriage to my grandmother they actually traveled and lived out of a covered wagon to follow the work wherever it was available. As a young boy on family drives through the Texas Hill Country I can still recall them pointing out the locations of Indian trails they remembered seeing in their younger years.
My grandfather also regaled us with tales of his grandfather, a sergeant in the Civil War and a famous Texas Ranger with a colorful history. One of the favorite stories I grew up hearing from him was about an Indian raid on his grandfather’s homestead west of Austin. Despite my great-great grandfathers reputation as a well-known Texas Ranger the Indians gave him little respect and singled his place out for a raid. The tale always fascinated me and I set out to write a fictionalized short story about the event unaware of where the decision would lead. After the story received early praise, it transformed into a full-length novel that needed room to grow. As a result, the decision to write a short story became a life changing moment that gave birth to the Hard Land to Rule Trilogy.
What’s your favorite scene in the book?
It’s hard to pick a favorite scene in Hard Land to Rule because I strived to stitch the chapters together in a cohesive flow of storytelling. But if I have to select my favorite scene it would be the one where three innocent characters are oblivious of their danger as they stroll into a Comanche ambush guaranteed to inflict death and perhaps rape if things proceed as the warrior plans. The reader is fully aware of their impending peril and is forced to take the walk with them unsure of their collective fate. The buildup of tension is such that my editor advised me not to change a single word in the scene. Naturally I was delighted to receive this kind of advice.
For what it’s worth, I think your strongest writing is in the action scenes, so I tend to agree. Where can people learn more?
If you read enough history, especially military history, you realize that while every war is different, each also is similar. There’s bravery, individual heroism, and personal battles within the bigger ones. There’s also the death of innocents, the death of innocence, destruction and an aftermath seldom sung about in legend. That’s where Don Kean’s book, “I Didn’t Sign Up For This” comes in.
Don, tell us a bit about yourself, and where the idea for the book came from.
I was practicing General Dentist for 25 very long years. I gave it up in 2012 and have since been employed in retail management . I enjoy reading and writing about the American Civil War. I love that time period in history and I find so many of the people who served on both sides of the conflict to be truly inspiring. I also enjoy automobile racing and fishing. My greatest passion is fishing at Kentucky Lake. While their on my honeymoon in 2008 I took a sightseeing trip to Fort Donelson. While visiting I was deeply moved by the fact that this terrible war happened in my home state of Kentucky. The background for the story in “I Didn’t Sign Up For This” takes place in that very region.
In a nutshell, what’s the book about?
The book tells the tale of a young man from remote Western Kentucky who
decides to join the Confederate Army at the war’s outbreak. Young Joshua takes part in many of the largest battles in the Western Theater of the war. He is deeply traumatized by the carnage and destruction. His self-worth and Christian faith are challenged. At war’s end he reluctantly returns home feeling that it will not be the same. He begins to struggle with recurring nightmares and terrifying flashbacks about his experiences in the war. He struggles greatly to cope and his faith and sanity hang by a thread. An old childhood friend begins to romance him much against his will. She remains strong and persistent despite his rejection of her advances. Along with the aid of unseen spiritual forces he slowly heals The spiritual intrigue is a slowly unraveling mystery throughout the narrative. He eventually finds love joy and blessing seeing that his life has truly always been blessed.
While the war itself is a strong theme of this story it is not the central one. It’s about choices in life and the fruit they may bear. Young Joshua’s post war struggle with a P.T.S.D. like illness is a terrible fruit of his earlier choice to go to war. Ultimately it is a story about the love of an almost angelic like woman who nurtures a hurt mans heart. It is a story of triumph over heart rending tragedy. It is a story of God’s unconditional love, Redemption and Deliverance.
There’s probably a three-beer conversation to be had about the confluence of faith and warfare… I’m dealing with that in my own new book set in the Crusades, and I suspect we differ on that, but styles make fights… and books. What’s your favorite scene?
I think my favorite scene would be the one where he spends his first evening at a field hospital after the bloody Battle of Shiloh. He awakens in the middle of the night to a chorus of suffering. He compares it to what Hell might be like, a place of unending pain and suffering, a place where there is no hope.
Where can people learn more about you and your book?