Tag Archive | historical fiction

“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.

—————–

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.

 

 

Advertisements

Character Profile: King Henry V of England

Today’s historical person is King Henry the Fifth of England.

 

330px-King_Henry_V_from_NPG

Portrait of King Henry V of England.

Series Name:  The Legendary Women of World History

Character name: King Henry V of England

Parents names: King Henry IV (Henry Bolingbroke) and Welsh noblewoman Mary de Bohun

Date of Birth: 16th September 1386.

Place of Birth: Monmouth Castle, Monmouthshire, Wales.

Reigned: 9th April 1413 to 31st August 1422.

Died: 31st August 1422 while on campaign near Paris, France.

Book appearing in: Catherine de Valois

 

 

Catherine de ValoisProfile:  Immortalized in Shakespeare’s play, “Henry V,” the real king was an ardent warrior who spent much of his reign trying to conquer France. After making outrageous demands, he used Princess Catherine as his excuse for renewing the Hundred Years War.  At home, Henry made English the official government language in England for the first time since the Norman Conquest.

Ideal actor to play in a film adaptation: Dr. Who alumnus Christopher Eccleston has an unsurpassed stage presence that worthy of the legendary king of England.

Connect with author-historian Laurel A. Rockefeller on twitter.

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

A little about the Dobunni

Hello everyone.  As many of you heard, I am starting a new series besides the Peers of Beinan:  historical fiction stories for children about inspiring women in history.

 

The first volume of five stories will cover ancient and medieval British history with a target audience of age seven and up.

 

The first of these stories has no title yet, but is about Queen Boudicca and is told by a Dobunni woman by the name of Keita to her daughter Moira as she and her daughter make cheese, a food the Roman soldiers particularly disliked about the British diet.

Here is the little historical blurb about the Dobunni that will appear at the end of the story — along with bibliography (of course)

Map_of_the_Territory_of_the_Dobunni.svg

Did you know?

The Dobunni were dark haired, not light haired like most native British peoples, suggesting they came from ancient Spain.  The name is believed to mean “dark people.”  They differed culturally from their neighbors in many ways, including their preference for peace instead of war.  The Dobunni were brilliant crafts people, as well as farmers like their neighbors, who chose to accept Roman rule in 43 CE.  They maintained a sizable territory in southwest-central England, including the communities that became Bristol, Bath (known as Aqua Sulis by the Romans), and their capital of Cirencester in Gloucestershire. In the 5th/6th centuries the Dobunni were slaughtered in great numbers by the invading Saxons with many of the survivors fleeing to Wales.  Dobunni lands became part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex, both which played key roles in creating the English national identity.

 

Read more about Queen Boudicca, the Iceni, Celtic Britain, and early medieval British history

 

http://www.britainexpress.com/History/Celtic_Britain.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/boudicca.shtml

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=2146412465

http://www.castlewales.com/medwales.html

http://www.unc.edu/celtic/catalogue/boudica/catalog.html

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-12752497

http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsBritain/BritainDobunni.htm

http://www.authenticireland.com/ireland-clothing/

Author Interview Janna Yeshanova*

Historical romance by Janna Yeshanova

Historical romance by Janna Yeshanova

Today we have historical fiction author Janna Yeshanova here to talk about her latest book, “Love is Never Past Tense.”

PoB:  Love is Never Past  appears to be a historical romance.  Can you set the scene for us historically?  When does it happen and where?  What is happening back then in that part of the world?

JY: At the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union collapsed and the nations that resulted suffered waves of ethnic violence and black market crime. Many people in positions of comparative privilege found their lives and livelihoods in ruins. Love Is Never Past Tense…  starts several years before and follows my lead characters through personal challenges and then the turmoil caused by world-shaping events.

PoB:  What genre do you feel best describes this book and why?

JY: Historical Romance is accurate but a bit misleading. I focus on the lives of my characters. The history shows up in some of the choices they make, where big events reshape otherwise ordinary lives. I draw on my own life enough that the book might best be classified as an epic historical romance based on a true story.

PoB:  What formats do you offer this book in and why?

JY: I offer it in hardcover, paperback, and most electronic formats, including Kindle, Nook, iBook and PDF. I want to offer it any way the reader wants to get it but have not done audio versions yet. If hard copies are ordered from www.loveisneverpasttense.com I am happy to sign them.

PoB:  What do you feel makes this book different from other books?

JY: As I said earlier, the book is based on a true story. The characters are real people. Some of the people participating in the plot told me that they are emotionally and vividly reliving the events in which they participated.

PoB:  What is it about you as a person that makes your book compelling to read?

JY: I am a person who lived through the events described in the book. I am a survivor. If I fall, I get back on my feet and face another day, hoping for the best, creating another situation that can lead to the place I want to be. I focus on my goals and try not to pay much attention to obstacles. With my Russian background, I see the glass half full (with Vodka). 🙂  

*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.

East Kingdom Wiki

The East

The East (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

East Kingdom Wiki

This is the wiki collecting information about the East Kingdom and its history (and therefore the histories of many other SCA kingdoms who were previously part of the East).  If you play in the East, please add your stories to this wiki.

History of the East Kingdom

The East

The East (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

History of the East Kingdom

Research is the key to every author’s success.  For the Peers of Beinan series, research into medieval history, science, and the history of the Society for Creative Anachronism all shape the stories each of you enjoy in my books.

But finding that information can be a challenge.

Fortunately there is a really good website for starting your adventure discovering nearly 50 years of medieval adventures in the Society for Creative Anachronism.

As the second oldest kingdom in the Society, the East Kingdom historian office has a lot of great information.  http://history.eastkingdom.org/index.php is the top level to the EK resources.  Whether you play in the society, write historical fiction, or just want to know more about the SCA as a whole, this site is a great starting point.