Excerpt: THE SILENCE OF SCHEHERAZADE by Defne Suman (Head of Zeus)

SumanD-SilenceOfScheherazadeUSNext month, Head of Zeus are due to publish The Silence of Scheherazade by Defne Suman, a historical novel set at the beginning of the 20th century. Along with that eye-catching cover, it sounds really interesting, too. Here’s the synopsis:

At the heart of the Ottoman Empire, in the ancient city of Smyrna, a devastating moment determines the fates of four families.

On an orange-tinted evening in September 1905, Scheherazade is born to an opium-dazed mother in the ancient city of Smyrna. At the very same moment, a dashing Indian spy arrives in the harbour with a secret mission from the British Empire. He sails in to golden-hued spires and minarets, scents of fig and sycamore, and the cries of street hawkers selling their wares. When he leaves, seventeen years later, it will be to the heavy smell of kerosene and smoke as the city, and its people, are engulfed in flames.

But let us not rush, for much will happen between then and now. Birth, death, romance and grief are all to come as these peaceful, cosmopolitan streets are used as bargaining chips in the wake of the First World War.

Told through the intertwining fates of a Levantine, a Greek, a Turkish and an Armenian family, this unforgettable novel reveals a city, and a culture, now lost to time.

And now, on with the excerpt!

Continue reading

Guest Post: “Accuracy & Writing Historical Fiction” by Adrian Goldsworthy

GoldsworthyA-CoV1-FortHCI have always loved history, was lucky enough to study it at the highest level, and after teaching for a while have been even luckier to make a living writing non fiction history books. At the same time, I have always loved historical novels. At their best they give a flavour and feel for a place and an era much faster than reading conventional history. So when I came to write historical novels, accuracy was very important to me. A novel will only work if readers get caught up in the plot and want to spend time with the characters, but the world it conjures up has to feel real, at least on its own terms, and that is as true of fantasy or science fiction as it is for stories set in the past. The world of the story has to be convincing enough for readers to visit it in their imagination. Many readers and authors do not care too much if that world bears little or no relation to the reality of the past as long as it is consistent. That is fine, after all, reading should be about pleasure and we all have different tastes. However, I am a professional historian and find it hard to switch off, which makes me an unrepresentative reader, and I only stick with a novel if I feel that the research behind it and the author’s sensitivity for the period are good. Since, like most authors, I write books – whether novels or non fiction – that I would like to read, that is how I try to write my stories. So each novel begins with research. Continue reading

Q&A with CLIFFORD JACKMAN

JackmanC-AuthorPic (© Antoine Tanguay)Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Clifford Jackman?

I’m a lawyer and novelist who lives in Guelph with my wife and two sons. My first novel, The Winter Family, was longlisted for the Giller Prize and shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award.

Your new novel, The Braver Thing, is due to be published by Random House Canada in August. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

The Braver Thing is like a combination of Treasure Island and Animal Farm, about a group of pirates that forms to chase a big score and then struggles to govern themselves. Continue reading

An Interview with JACK WHYTE

WhyteJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Jack Whyte?

Jack Whyte is probably one of Canada’s most prolific and popular authors of historical fiction, and his books have been translated into numerous languages, including all the major languages of Europe. In 2009, in recognition of his sales record in Canada alone, the Globe and Mail published a two-page tribute to him under the title, “One Pen, One Sword, One Million Copies Sold.” He is the progenitor and creator of seventeen historical novels that fall into three subcategories. Ten of them, known collectively as A Dream of Eagles in Canada, The Camulod Chronicles in the USA and Legends of Camelot in the U.K., are set in post-Roman Britain around the turn of the fifth century. All three editions comprise the same ten books — the text is unchanged and unchangeable — but the titles are different in each incarnation, since individual publishing houses, historically, have always had complete rights to govern everything else about the books within their own jurisdictions. Continue reading

Interview with LUCY ADLINGTON

AdlingtonL-AuthorLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Lucy Adlington?

I’m a writer, first and foremost. I’ve written novels that flirt with science-fiction and fantasy, but all with history woven through. I’m also a costume historian, which means I get to research and write about the myriad ways in which clothes give clues about cultures in the past and present.

Your new novel, The Red Ribbon, will be published by Hot Key Books in September. It looks rather interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

The Red Ribbon is my latest novel. It’s a story of a girl who has to make impossible choices when given the chance to survive in a nightmare scenario. It’s also about nurturing friendships during adversity. It celebrates hanging onto your own identity regardless of what’s stripped away from you. Continue reading

Interview with JAMES HENEAGE

Let’s start with an introduction: Who is James Heneage?

I am a fifty-nine year-old writer who’s spent his life involved in the worlds of books and history. In 1987, I set up Ottakar’s, which I built into a 150-bookshop chain before selling it to Waterstones in 2006. I’ve been a Booker Prize judge and Chaired the Costa Book Awards. I was Chair of the Cheltenham Literature Festival before founding my own festival devoted entirely to history: ‘The Chalke Valley History Festival’, which now attracts some 40,000 visitors a year. I’ve been a writer since 2010 and have written four works of fiction, all set in the 15th Century at the end of the Byzantine Empire, much of which are set in the Peloponnese. So I’ve built a house there where I now live for half of the year. Continue reading

Cover Reveal: THE GREEN COUNT by Christian Cameron (Orion)

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Today, we have a cover reveal for you! The Green Count is Christian Cameron‘s latest historical military epic, and the third in his William Gold series (also known as the Chivalry series). It is due to be published by Orion Books on July 13th, 2017. Here’s the synopsis:

Famagusta, November 1365. The world teeters on the brink of bloody political upheaval… and Sir William Gold is caught right in the thick of it.

After the bloody trials of Alexandria, Sir William Gold is readying for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to ease the burden on his soul. He hopes, too, that the Holy City might allow his relationship with Emelye, cousin of the Green Count of Savoy, to develop.

But the Roman Emperor of Constantinople has been taken hostage by an unknown enemy, and the Green Count is vital to the rescue effort. It is up to Sir William to secure his support, but he soon finds that his past, and his relationship with Emelye, might have repercussions he had not foreseen…

Suddenly thrust onto the stage of international politics, Sir William finds himself tangled in a web of plots, intrigue and murder. He must hold true to his chivalric principles, and to his knights, if he is to save the Emperor and survive to tell the tale.

The first two novels in the series — The Ill-Made Knight and The Long Sword — are also published in the UK by Orion.

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Christian Cameron is also the author of the Traitor Son Cycle, a best-selling fantasy series, under the pseudonym Miles Cameron (published by Gollancz in the UK and Orbit in the US).

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Also on CR: Guest Post on “How I do Research”

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Interview with BARBARA BARNETT

barnettb-authorpicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Barbara Barnett?

Chicago-based author-blogger-editor Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics Magazine.

Always a pop-culture and sci-fi geek, Barbara was raised on a steady diet of TV (and TV dinners), but she always found her way to the tragic antiheroes and misunderstood champions, whether on TV, in the movies or in literature. (In other words, Spock, not Kirk; Han Solo, not Luke Skywalker!) It was inevitable that she would have to someday create one of her own (like Gaelan Erceldoune!). She’s always been a bit quirky and is happy to admit she’s managed (with her soul mate of a husband Phillip) to raise two geeky children of her own (sorry, Shosh and Adam, you never had a chance!).

She is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA’s HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as “The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture,” “The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes,” “The Hidden History of Science Fiction,” and “Our Passion for Disaster (Movies).” This autumn, she will reprise her MENSA appearance with “The Conan Doyle Conundrum.” Continue reading

Upcoming: MISTER MEMORY by Marcus Sedgwick (Hodder)

SedgwickM-MisterMemoryUKI’m a fan of Marcus Sedgwick’s work — I thought his previous novel for adults, A Love Like Blood, was superb. Ever since finishing that, I’ve been eagerly awaiting his next novel. And, in July, Hodder will be publishing Mister Memory. Here’s the skinny:

In Paris, at the end of the nineteenth century, a man with a perfect memory murders his wife. But that is only the start of the story… A dazzling literary mystery from prizewinning author Marcus Sedgwick.

In Paris in the year 1899, Marcel Després is arrested for the murder of his wife and transferred to the famous Salpêtrière asylum. And there the story might have stopped.

But the doctor assigned to his care soon realises this is no ordinary patient: Marcel Després, Mister Memory, is a man who cannot forget. And the policeman assigned to his case soon realises that something else is at stake: for why else would the criminal have been hurried off to hospital, and why are his superiors so keen for the whole affair to be closed? 

This crime involves something bigger and stranger than a lovers’ fight — something with links to the highest and lowest establishments in France. The policeman and the doctor between them must unravel the mystery… but the answers lie inside Marcel’s head. And how can he tell what is significant when he remembers every detail of every moment of his entire life?

Mister Memory is due to be published in the UK by Hodder, on July 14th, 2016. For more, check out the author’s website, and follow him on Twitter and Goodreads.

Interview with MICHAEL LIVINGSTON

LivingstonM-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Michael Livingston?

I’m someone who wears a lot of hats.

In my day job, I wear the hat of being a professor of English at The Citadel in Charleston, SC. I teach courses mostly in medieval literature — Beowulf, Chaucer, and such — but I publish far more widely in literature and history. Most of my colleagues refer to me as a cultural historian specializing in the Middle Ages, and that fits well enough — except that I also publish a fair amount on the works of Tolkien and other modern fantasists.

And now, thanks to The Shards of Heaven, I get to add the Hat of Novel Writerness, much to my great astonishment and glee!

Your debut novel, The Shards of Heaven, will be published by Tor this month. It looks rather fabulous: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

The Shards of Heaven is the first novel in a trilogy of the same name. It’s the story of fantasy and history colliding at the rise of the Roman Empire, as the children of Caesar fight to find and control the legendary artifacts of gods both old and new, and a new myth is born in the struggle. Continue reading