Tag Archive | author interview

“Silent Crossroads” Interview with Jem Duducu

jem crossroads portraitGood morning everyone!  Can you believe it is already September?  Days are cooling down (FINALLY) and Mithril and Arwen have at last given up on nesting for the year.

Over the summer I became acquainted with Jem Duducu, one of two hosts of the Condensed History Gems podcast. At the end of August, Jem and Greg (Chapman) were kind enough to bring me onto the podcast to talk about historical fiction verses narrative history, Shakespeare, and even share some period music from China, Korea, and Scotland. Take a listen to our podcast episode which I hope will be the first of many.

Post recording the podcast I decided to check out some of his writing work.  You can find my review for “The American Presidents in 100 Facts” at  https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RDBPCR4GC47AP.

silent crossroads jemI also decided to download Jem’s new novel “Silent Crossroads” and ask him some questions about it.  Here is that Q & A for your reading pleasure.

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LR: Silent Crossroads takes place during both World War I and World War II.  What interests you most about these time periods?  What do you personally find most compelling about those years?

JD: World War 1 really is the end of the “old world”. At the start of the war you have a Kaiser in Germany, the Habsburgs rule Austro-Hungary, there’s a Tsar in Russia and a Sultan in the Ottoman Empire and yet within a few years after the war, none of those century old institutions existed anymore. There were men fighting for institutions that literally were history by the end of the war.

As for World War II, it’s the war to go for so many people because it’s easy to work out the “good guys” and the “bad guys”. It’s rare to have such moral absolutes in a war. It’s also the most destructive war in human history, nothing to be proud of but scared Western Europe so much that this has been the longest peace in Western Europe since history began…

LR: You are best known for your non-fiction history books.  What made you decide to take on a historical fiction novel?

JD: On my Facebook page (@HistoryGems) as a “thank you” to regular followers, I used to make up history stories around their names. Everyone loved them, and the more grizzly the death, the better. I came up with the basic conceit for Silent Crossroads with one of them- a man changing sides in both world wars.  It’s the only one that had a few people reply that it would make a great novel. I kept piecing it together in my head, allowing the idea to evolve for a couple of years and then started writing it out when enough of the framework was there. The original was just a few paragraphs long, the final work is a little over 400 pages! I guess I got a bit carried away.

LR: Most writers draw at least some inspiration for characters and/or plot lines from their own lives.  What parts of Silent Crossroads come from your life?

JD: Harry Woods the soldier is nothing like me. Harry the husband, father and shop keeper, that’s much more me. My parents owned a shop in Portobello Market in London so the creaky stairs the serving customers, that was all in the back of my mind when describing the more mundane elements of his life.

LR: Are there any characters in Silent Crossroads who resemble people you know or parts of yourself at a specific time? Elaborate, please.

JD: A number of characters are named after friends and they get a sort of cameo although their characters may be quite different, they know who they are. Richard Barley has a small but vital part to play in the book and he’s a real guy, and just as smart as the fictional version of him but works in a very different line of business and s far less Machiavellian than the Richard in the book. Feisty clashes of will displayed by the female characters aren’t a specific woman, but as my wife, sister and mother are all very independent women, you could say they are all influences and vital in making the women believable. Also, the German Nurse Katarina is inspired by my sister in law and she loved what I did with the character.

LR: What details from real life did you integrate into this book that perhaps most people are not aware of as being historical?

JD: I put a brief synopsis of what’s real and what’s not right at the end. The battles in the wars and the rise of the Third Reich are well known. I think it may be the largely historically accurate character Wilhelm von Thoma that may surprise readers to know he did virtually everything that’s in the book. He is not widely known of and an example of a senior German officer who was genuinely uneasy about the direction Hitler was taking both his country and his army.

On the lighter side of things, I had an argument with the editor that there were ice cream parlours in Germany in the 1920s, but I proved to her I had done my research and there were.

Perhaps the most poignant bit of research is the message some American troops sent towards the end of World War I about being under friendly fire. The incident and message are both real.

LR: What lessons from WWI and WWII do you feel most people need to learn and remember about this time period?

JD: I think World War I is arguably the most misunderstood major moment of history there is. It wasn’t all sitting in trenches for 4 years, troops were rotated out of the front lines every 7-10 days. The generals did care about their troops and there are many examples of innovation to try and break the deadlock be it the tank or the first example of (major) aerial bombardment. Also, it wasn’t a stalemate, the allies (particularly Britain) very much won the war and were amply compensated.

The less militaristic point is I wanted to show how dreadful Germany was after the war. Most people outside of the country don’t know there was a brief civil war in Germany, everyone knows about the hyperinflation but don’t realise that after recovering from that they were crippled again with the stock market crash of 1929. So it wasn’t just about the Versailles treaty. I think about how in desperate situations, people sometimes make desperate choices. If everything in Germany had been “fine” in the 20s and 30s then Hitler would never have risen to power.

 LR: What do you feel is the greatest legacy of each of the two wars?

JD: With the First World War, it was the redistribution of power. This was the point where Britain’s Empire reached its maximum size. It was also the end of a number of other empires (as previously stated). New countries were carved out like Palestine, Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria…and nothing bad has happened in any of those countries since!

World War Two, however, ended the last “traditional” Empire, Britain and cemented the power of two new empires. The Soviet Union had its own empire and influence spread across Eastern Europe and supported the Communists in China, something that is still impacting the news today. Of course, America was the big winner from both conflicts and again is still reaping the rewards 75 years later.

I could go on but I don’t want to turn this into a degree in 20th-century politics!

LR: If you decide to write another historical novel, what time period do you think would be the most interesting to explore and why?

JD: To try and catch the eye of the agents I actually have already written a second book. I deliberately made it very different to try and counter the reservations some had about Silent Crossroads. Set in the Middle East, in the 13th century, the protagonist is an Italian woman. Silent Crossroads looks at the horrors of mechanised warfare and the politics of the 20th century. This other work is about religion and how it may not have been used in the way you’d assume 700 years ago. This era and area are what I specialised in at university so it felt a bit like coming home.

Also being a woman in a man’s world she has all the best ideas, that none of the arrogant men give time too until it’s too late, I think you may like it. Saying that it didn’t catch the eye of the agents either, depending on how Silent Crossroads go, I may release that one too.

LR: What did you most learn about yourself in the writing of this book?

JD: Ha! Great question. That I can write battles and stoicism easily, that stuff just flows out of my keyboard. I guess I’ve watched too many war movies and documentaries. But I had to break a sweat to make the domestic elements and the female characters compelling too. And that’s important. If this was a just about a soldier fighting it wouldn’t be half as interesting as the end product. A wise person once told me “women are 50% of history” and therefore to show a mother’s worries as she see’s her daughter being seduced by fascist ideology and having to keep physically safe from all kinds of external threats, in some ways that are more what the book is about than Harry.

LR:  Thank you for taking time out of your very busy day!  You can purchase Silent Crossroads in both kindle and paperback editions on Amazon. Read my review here.

 

 

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The Writing Process Chain Blog Hop

Firstly I am not sure I am doing this right, but here I go.

A few weeks ago an author/blogger I know asked me if I wanted to be involved with the chain blog hop. Basically she posts and tags several people and they tag others they know and so on. We discuss our own writing processes and pass the baton.

The Questions are:


What am I working on?

When a sudden plague of mysterious cancers strikes the southwestern city of Nan-li, it falls to Lady Abbess Cara of house Ten-Ar to investigate, entangling her in a royal trap that may cost her life.

When a sudden plague of mysterious cancers strikes the southwestern city of Nan-li, it falls to Lady Abbess Cara of house Ten-Ar to investigate, entangling her in a royal trap that may cost her life.

The Lost Tales of the Anlei's Legacy Trilogy

Today I just published my first Peers of Beinan Series novella, “The Poisoned Ground,” as a paperback.  Find it in “The Lost Tales of the Anlei’s Legacy Trilogy” for kindle at http://tinyurl.com/ALLost.

In May I plan on releasing Poisoned Ground to kindle as a separate novella (May 27th) and The Lost Tales into paperback.

I am also working on a May release for book two of the Legendary Women of World History Series, “Catherine de Valois.”  From there, my focus turns to finishing the “Princess Anyu Returns,” the third and final book in the Anlei’s Legacy Trilogy.

Princess Anyu Returns concludes the Anlei's Legacy Trilogy

Princess Anyu Returns concludes the Anlei’s Legacy Trilogy

2015 will mean the beginning of the next Peers of Beinan trilogy looking at the Great Migration and early settlement of the planet.


How does my work differ from others?

My background is poetry, music, and academic non-fiction.  As many of you know, I was originally published as a poet, then as a non fiction writer with Yahoo Voices.  I love non-fiction; I love the research, the learning, and the amazing connections you find when you explore many different academic disciplines.

 

My writing very much grounded in this love of learning, knowledge, and getting the facts, the data right.  I usually say that I am not so much imaginative as I am logical (my blood is red, not green, I swear — even if you heard otherwise!).  I extrapolate and redact very well which is a fancy way of saying that I am good at filling in gaps in a pattern and figuring out what should be there.

Ghosts of the Past

Everything I do is very scientific — even when I am not writing non-fiction or science fiction.  I try to be as non-fictional as I can within the boundaries of the story.  I bombard people with questions and work very hard to get details RIGHT.  So when someone is murdered by crossbow (as happens in “The Ghosts of the Past”), where that quarrel (crossbow arrow) lands is precisely chosen based on what medical doctors have told me.  Whether a person dies instantly or has a few seconds/a minute to get out last words can be a matter of just millimeters or centimeters.  And yes, to me, it is important to get it right.  A medical doctor is likely to be reading that scene.

Now the same applies to my history work with the Legendary Women of World History.  First, I draw upon primary source materials — but then I go to the archaeology and anthropology to help me fill in gaps.  I also ask questions.  For example, author Alexandra Butcher of Bristol, UK helped me know what Boudicca and King Prasutagus probably ate at their wedding reception which I set on the beach of the North Sea (Iceni lands being right on that North Sea coast).

I made up the whole wedding/beach scene for the novella.  But it’s a believable scene because it applies a dozen different facts or probable facts based on geography and culture.

Most writers I know are more willing to just make things up.  The scientist in me will not do that; I have to create things that are believable to me within the boundaries of the known.  Fortunately, I am blessed with a great education that helps me do that.  Though I must ask the BBC to please please please make more programs available in the United States.  That way I can do even better work!


Why do I write what I do?

I want to inspire people and encourage people to think about and discuss social issues.  Too often we feel the weight of life’s challenges.  We become overwhelmed with difficult life events.  We feel lost.  We lose hope.  We judge others.  We fail to care.

But none of this has to be.  We can do better.  We can make choices that make tomorrow better than today.  We can change our world with every choice we make in every single day and every thought in our minds.

As Sentient Beings we possess this amazing ability to learn from the experiences of others.  The people we learn from do not have to be real; they can be legendary or fictional too.  When we see people or characters go through the same challenges we face, we relate to them — and are inspired to take up the same solutions that they find success in.

Books have an enormous power to transform our lives.  Can it be any wonder that literacy has always been at the heart of slavery in all its forms?  When we keep people from reading, we also block them from finding solutions to their problems, cutting them off from vital role models for success.

I write to teach, to inspire, to transform the world around me.  I also write as part of the music of my own heart and soul, the songs that have brought me through adversity and into the Light.  In singing — whatever the form — I rise up from the ashes of my life’s challenges and soar on powerful wings of joy.


How does my writing process work? (something like do you plan it all, do you start with a short story and do you work from there.)

The process varies with the individual article or story or book I am working at the time.  Sometimes I create the cover art first.  Sometimes I spend weeks full of 15 hour days just researching.  Sometimes I just get a melody in my head and start writing whatever comes into my heart — music, lyrics, prose, whatever it decides to be.

The editor in me is a cold, harsh mistress.  If something does not sound right to my ears, it does not stay on the page.  For me, music and novels are very little different.  This could be an extension of my sight loss; I am low vision.  But it is also just part of being a musical creature.  My writing is musical and that quality gives it an elegant, legato sort of character that I hope inspires and stirs souls.

 

I tag:  Alexandra Butcher

Alexandra Butcher is the British author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles series and several short stories in the fantasy and fantasy romance genre.  She is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet and a dreamer. When she is grounded in the real world she likes science, natural history, history and monkeys.

 

Blog: http://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6430414.A_L_Butcher

 

Twitter:@libraryoferana

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

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alexandra-Butcher/e/B008BQFCC6

Author Interview: Ritch Gaiti*

The Big EmptyGood morning! Today we have author Ritch Gaiti with us to talk about his writing and his new book, “The Big Empty.”

PoB:   What if any social issues do you explore in “The Big Empty?”

 

Set in downtown New York City and the Bronx, the book starts as a simple mystery and slowly evolves into a major conspiracy around historical events. The ultimate message in the book has been the American’s injustices towards the American Indian but that is not evident until later in the book. The story takes place in locales far away from what we normally associate with the American Indian. Yet, New York, once the center of our government and commerce, is where it all began. Woven into the fabric of the plot, are nuggets of American history and Indian culture to provide some of the historical basis of past events and tragedies.

PoB: What formats are you offering your book in and why?

Ebooks of all kinds and paperback through Amazon. Most people are reading ebooks these days but occasionally, the feel of the paper texture adds a pleasant sense to the act of reading. And maybe someone would want to put The Big Empty on the bookshelf just to impress his or her friends. 

 

PoB:  How have your experiences living and working in New York City shaped this book?

The core of the book takes place downtown Manhattan, Wall Street, to be precise. I spent most of my prior career there and I loved the area.  I have always been fascinated by the architecture, the mix of new and historical buildings, and the seemingly incestuous streets that wind into themselves. I described the environment as I saw it and felt it and made many trips back to Wall Street as I wrote The Big Empty. I brought this sensitivity along with a sense of history into the book – keeping in mind that the ‘wall’ of Wall Street was once the boundary of civilization in America.

PoB:  I lived in Brooklyn for several years.  What will New Yorkers and former New York city residents like me find familiar in this book?

 

I was brought up in Brooklyn. In fact, my last book, Dutching the Book, was about gamblers in 1960’s Brooklyn. The Big Empty however, takes place in Wall Street and the Bronx. The lead character, Rick Wallace, who has been away from New York for too long experiences it once again. I tried to deliver the sensibilities and sensations of someone who is not accustomed to the city the way the city folks are – from the loud cacophony of the subway, to the tall overpowering buildings, to the beauty of Wall Street, to the dirty water street franks, to the mixed architecture and diversity of the Bronx. A real sense of the city from all strata is delivered. I also introduced New York/American history into the story line – I find it fascinating and sometimes we all take it for granted.

 

PoB:  In what ways do you see your background working on Wall Street reflected in the plot and characters of “The Big Empty?”

 

Some of the characters are based on composites of people I have met along the way.  But my role on Wall Street was technology development – diametrically opposed to the lead character’s background.  In fact, the lead character was a far away from Wall Street as you can imagine. Yet, he was deeply affected by some significant business events. Other than conveying my impressions of the physical environment and a sense of business, my background did not reflect in the story. What did reflect, however, was the research and homework I had done on American history, Native American culture and my passion to bring out past injustices

 

 

*Disclaimer:  Opinions expressed in author interviews belong exclusively to the authors featured and do not represent the viewpoints of the Peers of Beinan series, author Laurel A. Rockefeller, or any other related entity.  Presented interviews do not constitute endorsement of any product, service, or point of view.  Readers are encouraged to form their own opinions concerning presented content herein.

Repost: Awesome Gang Interview of Laurel A. Rockefeller

Here is the Awesome Gang’s interview of author Laurel A. Rockefeller

author Laurel A. Rockefeller in 2012

author Laurel A. Rockefeller in 2012

http://awesomegang.com/laurel-a-rockefeller/