#Heroika Skirmishers – Bruce Durham and His Character #Fantasy #Historicalfic #Meetanauthor

 

Author section

Name (Mandatory) Bruce Durham

Give us a brief synopsis of your story: The remnants of a Peacekeeping force flee before the relentless approach of a corrupted madman who is nuking the world into oblivion. A glimmer of hope for the future presents itself in the form of a mysterious priest, a fabled horn and a legendary sword.

Why did you choose that time period/group of people to write about? I wanted to write about a slightly post-modern-day end of the world scenario, mix in some legend and myth and explore how modern-day soldiers would react to something completely out of the normal.

What is your usual genre? I’ve written across several genres, including historical, fantasy, Sf and horror.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? I’ll meticulously plot my story, then find some of the characters decide they have different ideas. It’s a bit of a struggle, but they usually win out.

If you could invite anyone from history or literature to dinner who would you choose and why? It would definitely be Robert E. Howard. His body of work was immense, encompassing fantasy, historical fiction, horror, poetry, westerns, boxing tales and pure adventure. Needless to say, his influence on me was immense. Just to pick his brain would be worth the steak dinner.

 

Character Section

Name (Mandatory) Grace Matthews

Tell us a bit about yourself. I am a Peacekeeper. My rank is First Lieutenant, 3rd  Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment. I’m a career soldier, single, not that its anybody’s business. Not much else to say.

How do you come to be on this adventure? I was stationed in the Sinai with an aircraft control unit when all hell broke loose. From there it was a steady retreat across North Africa and into Spain. This wasn’t so much as an adventure as it was about survival.

Tell us a bit about the society in which you live. Right now? It’s a madhouse.

Are you brave? I don’t know. I know I have a duty to the well being of the people in my command. If that makes me brave, then so be it.

How do others see you? You’ll have to ask them. They haven’t deserted, so I must be doing something right.

Do you believe in a god? At this point I don’t know what to believe in.

What do you REALLY think of your author? I hope he rots for putting me in this situation. I just wanted a normal life, you know?

Do you have a moral code? Duty.

If you could have three wishes what would they be? To live. To love. To be in a sequel.

Do you think you make a difference in your world? Time will tell.

 

AUTHOR BIO (short)

Bruce Durham lives in Mississauga, Ontario. He has appeared in Paradox: The Magazine of Historical & Speculative Fiction, Lovecraft eZine, Flashing Swords, Return of the Sword, Rage of the Behemoth, Sha’Daa: Last call, Lawyers in Hell, Rogues in Hell, Poets in Hell and Heroika: Dragon Eaters, among others.

 

Heroika: Skirmishers

Conflict is a constant. When force on force is inevitable only the intrepid need come forth. Summon the Skirmishers to their eternal purpose, to face a foe who must be opposed at all cost. Gird yourself and join the brotherhood of ‘do or die.’ HEROIKA: SKIRMISHERS is an anthology of desperate struggles in far flung time-scapes, the age-old smell of battle and death. SKIRMISHERS –Tales for the bold among you!

https://www.amazon.com/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

 

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Heroika Skirmishers Interviews – Travis Ludvigson and His Character

Author section

  • Name: Travis Ludvigson

 

  • Give us a brief synopsis of your story Nithing (an Old Norse term for a coward, an outcast or a man without honor), is a tale of betrayal and redemption set in the later part of what is known as the Viking Age. Grimolf is a warrior driven from his home, harried by those who would take his life and with it earn glory and riches. An opportunity to change his fate arrives and he must choose which path to follow.

 

  • Why did you choose that time period/group of people to write about? The Norse are a fascinating people made up of fighters, farmers, craftsman and seafarers. Their influence reached throughout much of the known world at the time, and can still be seen today. Additionally, they were a group of men and women who represented strength in the face of adversity and a fierce devotion to that which they loved.

 

  • How would you define a Skirmisher? A Skirmisher is a fighter who engages in smaller battles where hit and run tactics can be used. They can serve as scouts to collect intelligence, and can also serve as a small, quick reaction force that can be used to harry the enemy and keep them unbalanced. A Skirmisher is a fast, smart, efficient fighter who knows how to hit the enemy hard before they can properly react.

 

  • What are the challenges in writing historical fiction/fantasy? Ensuring that there is accuracy in the depiction of time and place of the story. I always take the time to do good research of the terrain, animals, names of both people and places, historical events and other details to be as true to the history as I can. However, I am also writing fiction, so I take some liberties to change a few things to better fit the story. You just have to find a good balance so you don’t destroy the vision you have created for the reader.

 

  • What is your writing space like? It is a cold, dark cave located well below ground, wherein I am surrounded on all sides by books; the ether filled with the collective murmuring of millions of voices and stories. Directly to my left sit Huginn and Munin (Thought and Memory) to provide inspiration. A mirror hangs in front of me so that I can look into my own eyes and try to discern whether the thoughts that are coalescing within are worthy of the story. And there is typically a dog or cat lounging somewhere nearby, just waiting for the chance to divert my attention to them.

 

  • If you could invite anyone from history or literature to dinner who would you choose and why? Man, there are so many it is really hard to narrow this down. If I had to choose one person from history, I suppose it would have to be Marcus Aurelius. He was a warrior, a statesman and a philosopher and would be a great dinner companion. Then afterwards, maybe he would be agreeable to sparring and could give me some pointers on using the gladius.

 

Character Section

1)Name: Grimolf

2)Tell us a bit about yourself. I don’t really like to talk. I enjoy fighting and drinking. In fact, I believe I will pour another right now.

3)Are you brave? I don’t fear anything or anyone, but I don’t know if its bravery or not.

4) Do you believe in a god? There are many gods and goddesses: Odin, Tyr, Thor, Frey, Freya, Sif and the other Aesir and Vanir.

5)Do you love anyone? Do you hate anyone? I did love someone deeply, but she betrayed me. And I hate the man who was my Jarl, that black-hearted coward is the one who took my whole life from me. One day I will introduce my axe to his head and settle the matter.

6) What do you REALLY think of your author? Well, he knows how to fight, and I can respect that.

AUTHOR BIO (short)

Travis Ludvigson is an author of urban, historic and supernatural fiction. He served with honor in U.S. Air Force Intelligence, tested his fighting prowess in a Muay Thai championship in Asia and is fiercely proud of his Norse heritage. He loves reading, spending time with his feisty wife and brilliant son, and playing with their giant mastiff and tough little bulldog.

Author website/blog:

http://norseman73.wix.com/land-of-the-norseman

Twitter:

@TravisLudvigson

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/travisludvigsonauthor

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4272358.Travis_Ludvigson

Amazon page:

http://www.amazon.com/Travis-Ludvigson/e/B00BNASEIG/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1430185761&sr=8-1

Heroika 2 1.2 FINAL JPG

Heroika: Skirmishers

Conflict is a constant. When force on force is inevitable only the intrepid need come forth. Summon the Skirmishers to their eternal purpose, to face a foe who must be opposed at all cost. Gird yourself and join the brotherhood of ‘do or die.’ HEROIKA: SKIRMISHERS is an anthology of desperate struggles in far flung time-scapes, the age-old smell of battle and death. SKIRMISHERS –Tales for the bold among you!

https://www.amazon.com/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

 

 

 

#Heroika: Skirmishers – Witness the Birth of Alchemical Warfare! Read “The Naked Daemon” by S.E. Lindberg

Images (from Wikipedia) 

  • Emerald Tablet
  • Apollonius of Tyana
  • Alexandria Library

Author section

  • Name: Seth (S.E.) Lindberg
  • How would you define a Skirmisher? Any soldier roaming ahead of the core army, usually shield-less and including heroic civilians caught behind enemy lines.
  • What is your usual genre? I focus on alchemy-inspired, dark fantasy. With Perseid Press, I write in the Heroes in Hell series with two characters: the shamed evolutionist Ernst Haeckel (who embellished his beautiful drawings with fictional data) and the smug archaeologist Howard Carter (known for finding/raiding King Tutankhamun’s tomb); their yarn has them exploring the Egyptian Duat afterlife (Pirates in Hell, Lovers in Hell, … and more to come). Check out related Library of Erana posts: Hell Week 2018 – A Day in the Life of Haeckel and Carter and Hell Week 2017 – An Interview with Ernst Haeckel. Separate from Perseid Press, I rely on Sword & Sorcery as a medium to contemplate life-death-art with my Dyscrasia Fiction series (dyscrasia literally means “a bad mixture of liquids”, an alchemical term).
  • Give us a brief synopsis of your Skirmisher story: The Naked Daemon pits the mystic Apollonius of Tyana (deceased ~100 CE) against zealots who destroy what remains of the Alexandria Library. In life, his principles had been aligned with those of the pacifist gymnosophists (a.k.a. naked philosophers); hundreds of years past his death, Apollonius finds himself reborn as a daemon empowered with Hermes’s Emerald Tablet. He observes the Roman oppression over pagan scholars and is challenged with an urgent need to defend knowledge.
    • Will Apollonius rationalize war by unleashing the power of alchemy to do harm?
    • Will he become an angel or demon? How will alchemy transform The Naked Demon?
  • How did alchemy inform your first Heroika tale? “Legacy of the Great Dragon” (Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters) features the Father of Alchemy Thoth (a.k.a. Hermes) entombing his singular source of magic, the Great Dragon. According to Greek and Egyptian myth, Hermes was able to see into the world of the dead and pass his learnings to the living. One of the earliest known hermetic scripts is the Divine Pymander of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus. Within that, a tale is told of Hermes being confronted with a vision of the otherworldly entity Pymander, who takes the shape of a “Great Dragon” to reveal divine secrets. “Legacy of the Great Dragon” fictionalizes this Hermetic Tradition, presenting the Great Dragon as the sun-eating Apep of Egyptian antiquity. Hermes’s learnings are passed to humanity via an Emerald Tablet. The actual Emerald Tablet (if it was indeed “real”) is arguable the most popular work of Hermeticism since its reveals the secret of transmuting any material’s base elements into something divine or valuable (gold). Many refer to the Tablet as being the philosopher’s stone, or the knowledge embodying it. In fact, the tablet no longer physically exists, but translations of it do. Sir Isaac Newton’s translation of the tablet’s inscription remains very popular, and undeniably cryptic.
    • Apollonius, it appears, not only recovered the Emerald Tablet, but he was entombed with it.
  • Are you a plotter or a pantser? 100% Plotter.
  • What keeps you up at night? Night terrors.
  • What inspires you? Exploring the seam between reality and fantasy. Nightmares.

Character Section

1) Name: Apollonius of Tyana

2) Tell us a bit about yourself. Many claim you to be a miracle worker, rivalling your contemporary Jesus: “No need to compare one man, or woman, to any other. Misunderstood powers, used for good or ill, flow through we hierophants. In this respect, I am merely a conduit. A magos.”

3) Do you believe in a god, or gods? “Of course. I minister people on their behalf.”

4) How do you come to be on this adventure? “In my primary life, I spent decades searching, and reassembling, the Emerald Tablet of Hermes. Atop the sacred slab, in the Serapeum of Alexandria, I passed away. Then I rose, not as a ghost, but as a tangible body.”

5) You pause. Why? “Romans were ransacking the last vestige of the Alexandria Library. Their distaste for humanity revived me. Our conflict did not end peacefully.”

6) You look at your hands. How do you view yourself? “As a bloody daemon, for certain.”

7) Angel or devil? “In my life, I was angelic. Judgement awaits for what came next.”

8) How do others see you? “Most see me with their eyes. A living, naked philosopher. Like other, wise gymnosophists. My disciple Damos sees me through his heart. He is overly loyal. Indeed, he was buried and reanimated with me.”

9) Where are your possessions? “I possess nothing. Therefore, I have the possessions of all other men.”

10) Do you have a moral code? “Spread hope and enlightenment. Slay no living thing. Eat no flesh. Be free from envy, malice, and hatred. Be powerful without inspiring fear.”

11) If you could wish for anything, what would it be? “To abide by my own moral code without fail. The sacred powers, prima materia of Hermes’ Emerald Tablet, can be corrupted, however.”

12) Do you think you make a difference in your world? “Once I did. But then time passed. Now to protect some people, I am tempted to hurt others. Gods work in mysterious ways, through flesh.”

13) What do you fear? “By defending what is righteous, I introduced a new evil to the world.”

14) Which is what?  “Alchemical warfare.”

15) What do you REALLY think of your author? “S.E.? He should be less terrified of me when I visit. When I stand beside his bed, enflamed in chartreuse astral-fire, looming over his sleeping form, I mean only to convey messages. He need not swat my effigy away. He needs to chill. Not all ghosts come to haunt.”

16) What do you want to tell him? “The secrets of alchemy are wordless, conveyed best through dreams. Tonight, when light fades, and dreams wash over your vision. Peer beside your bed. See me, and I will answer you. Pray you do not see another.”

 

AUTHOR BIO

S.E. Lindberg resides near Cincinnati, Ohio working as a microscopist, employing scientific and artistic skills to understand the manufacturing of products analogous to medieval paints. Over two decades of practicing chemistry, combined with a passion for the Sword & Sorcery genre, spurs him to write graphic adventure fictionalizing the alchemical humors (primarily under the banner “Dyscrasia Fiction”).  With Perseid Press, he writes weird tales infused with history and alchemy (Heroika: Dragon EatersHeroika II: SkirmishersPirates in Hell, Lovers in Hell). S.E. Lindberg is a Managing Editor at BlackGate.com, reviewer of authors on the topic: Beauty in Weird Fiction, and co-moderates a Goodreads group focused on Sword & Sorcery.

S E Lindberg Author-site / Amazon Author Page / S E Lindberg on Goodreads / Dyscrasia Fiction on YouTube / Twitter Handle@SethLindberg

Heroika: Skirmishers

Conflict is a constant. When force on force is inevitable only the intrepid need come forth. Summon the Skirmishers to their eternal purpose, to face a foe who must be opposed at all cost. Gird yourself and join the brotherhood of ‘do or die.’ HEROIKA: SKIRMISHERS is an anthology of desperate struggles in far flung time-scapes, the age-old smell of battle and death. SKIRMISHERS –Tales for the bold among you!

https://www.amazon.com/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

#Heroika: Skirmishers – Interviews – Sean Poage and His Characters #Meetanauthor

Name (Mandatory) Sean Poage

Give us a brief synopsis of your story – A Handful of Salt

At the dawn of the fourth century, BC, Cyrus the Younger hired an army of ten thousand Greek mercenaries to challenge his brother for the throne of the Persian Empire. His Greeks were victorious, but he was slain and the Greeks were stranded deep inside the Persian Empire without supplies. Their only way home was to fight their way north through the mountains of eastern Turkey to the Black Sea, as described through the eyes of one of their leaders, Xenophon.

It is considered one of the greatest feats of military history and has often been recounted and reimagined, but never through the eyes of their adversaries, the Persians, or the ancestral tribes of eastern Turkey. One event, in particular, is haunting and tragic. Today we struggle to understand the mind-set of ancient cultures, often making the mistake of seeing their world through the filter of our own values. This story is an attempt to understand a heroic perspective alien to our own.

  • Why did you choose that time period/group of people to write about?

I love ancient history and the Anabasis is fascinating, but there is not much left to say about it from the Greek side of the story. However, no one has done a piece from the point of view of the Anatolian tribes that the Greeks encountered as they struggled to get home. Why did these tribes continually attack the Greeks? Why did one village commit mass suicide when the Greeks came too close?

  • What research did you do for the story?

I always do a lot of research for my stories. The Anabasis, of course, is the primary text. I also had to determine the most likely route, which is still in dispute. Then I had determine the most likely location for the events of my story, determine the tribe that lived there, what they called themselves, how they related to their neighbours, to the Persians and so on. I love this stuff.

  • How would you define a Skirmisher?

A skirmisher is typically a lightly armed soldier who relies on speed and manoeuvrability to be effective in battle, rather than heavy armour and weapons. While the goal of heavy infantry is to come to close battle with the enemy and slog it out, skirmishers try to outmanoeuvre the enemy, hit and run, break up enemy formations, wear down the heavy soldiers and win in the long game.

  • What are the challenges in writing historical fiction/fantasy?

For me, it is getting each detail right. I can’t bear to bend history to my story. If I include it, it must be factual, or at least plausible to history.

  • What is your usual genre?

Historical fiction, so far, though I intend to do more in fantasy and scifi, eventually.

  • How do you define a hero?

To me, a hero is someone who freely and knowingly risks his or her own welfare for the benefit of another, without thought to any reward.

  • What did you want to be when you grew up?

Originally an astronaut. I was certain I would be NASA’s first kid in space. Apparently, they didn’t have my correct address. I wanted to write stories from my teens, but not much came of it. Now I am finally indulging that dream.

Character Section

1) Name Gocha

2) Tell us a bit about yourself

I am a seasoned warrior, husband and farmer. My wife and I have shared a difficult life, full of sorrows as well as blessings. Our circumstances in life have fallen low, but we have a fine heifer, two asses, some sheep and goats. But no children, anymore.

3) How do you come to be on this adventure?

Invaders from a distant land threaten our homes, so I must do my duty to protect them, and try to impart my experience on our young warriors.

4) Tell us a bit about the society in which you live

We are an ancient people, attuned to the rugged mountains of our ancestors. We sing, dance, tend our farms and pastures and raise our children to respect the ancient ways. We have no towns larger than a few dwellings, but impenetrable strongholds on the mountainsides. We wage no wars on those who leave us be, but we fight unto death against any who threaten us. The Taochi Never Submit is our creed, and never have we been conquered.

5) Are you brave?

What is bravery? Is it the thoughtless lack of fear? I have known dreadful fear, but have never shrunk from my duty.

6) How do others see you?

I do not care.

7) Do you believe in a god?

Of course. They have little to do with us mortals, but our ancestors are with us, always. They watch over us, judge us, and if we are worthy, will welcome us to their company when this life ends.

8) Do you love anyone? Do you hate anyone?

I love my wife, Bedisa. She is wise, kind, and stronger in spirit than anyone I have ever known. I love my loyal friend, Temur. I love my daughter, who I may not name since she has become a handmaiden to the Wife of the Dead. Or perhaps the Wife, herself. I love my three sons, who have already joined our ancestors. I hate no one.

AUTHOR BIO (short)

Sean Poage, has had an exciting and varied life, as a laborer, soldier, police officer, investigator, computer geek and author. Travelling the world to see history up close is his passion.

These days he works in the tech world, writes when he can, and spends the rest of the time with his family, which usually means chores and home improvement projects, with occasional time for a motorcycle ride, scuba dive, or a hike in the beautiful Maine outdoors.

 

 

Heroika: Skirmishers

Conflict is a constant. When force on force is inevitable only the intrepid need come forth. Summon the Skirmishers to their eternal purpose, to face a foe who must be opposed at all cost. Gird yourself and join the brotherhood of ‘do or die.’ HEROIKA: SKIRMISHERS is an anthology of desperate struggles in far-flung time-scapes, the age-old smell of battle and death. SKIRMISHERS –Tales for the bold among you!

https://www.amazon.com/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

Blog Tour – Daughter of the Sun

Daughter of the Sun
Cult of the Cat Book 1
by Zoe Kalo
Genre: YA Contemporary Mythological Fantasy
EGYPTOLOGY. MAGIC. MYSTERY. AND CATS, LOTS OF CATS…
Sixteen-year-old Trinity was born during a solar eclipse and left at the doorsteps of a convent along with a torn piece of papyrus covered with ancient symbols. Raised by nuns in the English countryside, she leads a quiet life until she’s whisked away to the Island of Cats and a grandmother she never knew.
But before they can get to know each other, her grandmother dies. All that Trinity has left is a mysterious eye-shaped ring. And a thousand grieving cats. As Trinity tries to solve the enigma of the torn papyrus, she discovers a world of bloody sacrifices and evil curses, and a prophecy that points to her and her new feline abilities.
Unwilling to believe that any of the Egyptian gods could still be alive, Trinity turns to eighteen-year-old Seth and is instantly pulled into a vortex of sensations that forces her to confront her true self—and a horrifying destiny.
Storyteller at heart…
A certified bookworm and ailurophile, Zoe Kalo has always been obsessed with books and reading. The pleasure of writing and sharing her fantasy worlds has remained. Today, Zoe passes her stories to you with lots of mystery, adventure, a hint of romance, and the delicious sweep of magic.
Currently, she balances writing with spending time with her family, taking care of her clowder of cats, and searching for the perfect bottle of pinot noir.
Connect with Zoe Kalo on the web.
An ancient Egyptian themed gift related to the book (I need to decide which, as I have several possibilities)
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

 

Blog Tour – Jack the Ripper Victims Series – Guest Post – Alan M. Clark

Themes in the JTR Victims Series

jack the ripper victims banner

 (Although this list is rather dry reading, imagine they are not just themes in a set of novels, but aspects of a reality that had an impact on the lives of real people)

Women’s issues and how they evolved in Victorian England

1)Women as the property of their husbands, having to obey, with little or no recourse against physical, psychological, or sexual abuse.

2)The slow evolution of these issues in Victorian England.

3)The worth of a woman in society having much to do with the worth of the man to whom she is wed.

4)The relative worth to society and employers of single middle-aged women with no family ties.

Poverty and social conscience

1)The relief system—the workhouses, out-relief, casual wards, and infirmaries.

2)Opinions based on social Darwinism that helped maintain a class system. The oppression and suppression of those of a lower station in a class system.

3)The various approaches of the innumerable beggars in the streets.

4)The use of child labor.

5)Scavengers of Victorian London, such as bone grubbers, toshers, pure finders, and mudlarks.

6)The struggle for survival in a time of societal change, great advances in technology, and a rapidly changing economy.

The industrial revolution and unemployment

1)The advantage employers had over workers with high-unemployment during the industrial revolution: low wages, abusive practices.

2)Child labor.

3) Piece work for manufacturers, such as finishing articles of clothing, making small items, adhering labels, or whatever small factory work a laborer might take home to be done in spare time or by children in the evenings. The term “piece work” comes from the fact that the worker is paid by the completed piece.

4)The dangers of the workplace in a society with few industrial and employment safety regulations: exposure to poisonous chemicals, powered equipment, and the stresses of highly repetitive labor over long work shifts with little variety.

Alcoholism/Addiction

1)The availability of drink (considered by many in that time another form of food).

2)Alcohol used to treat water to make it potable. Such water is given to children even at a very early age.

3)The use of alcohol to dampen feeling and the escape intoxication provides.

4)The bargaining alcoholics do with themselves as the disease creates ever more physical and social difficulties for the sufferer.

5)The availability of opium in various forms for children and adults.

Education

The evolution of education for the children of the poor—the slow introduction of mandatory education.

Prostitution

Who engaged in prostitution and why the practice could seem attractive—see all categories above.

Alan M. Clark’s Jack the Ripper Victims Series is comprised of five novels, one for each of the canonical victims of the murderer. These stories are not only meant to appeal to those interested in the horror that was the Autumn of Terror, but also those interested in the struggles of women in the 19th century. They are well-researched, fictional dramatic stories meant to help readers walk in the shoes of the victims and give a sense of the world as each of the women may have experienced it. The timelines for the stories run mostly concurrently, so it doesn’t matter in what order the books in the series are read. They are simultaneously drama, mystery, thriller, historical fiction, and horror. They are novels concerning horror that happened.

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A Brutal Chill in August

The First Victim of Jack the Ripper

by Alan M. Clark

Genre: Crime Horror

Print Length: 348 pages

Publisher: IFD Publishing

Publication Date: December 7, 2019

We all know about Jack the Ripper, the serial murderer who terrorized Whitechapel and confounded police in 1888, but how much do we really know about his victims?

Pursued by one demon into the clutches of another, the ordinary life of Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols is made extraordinary by horrible, inhuman circumstance. Jack the Ripper’s first victim comes to life in this sensitive and intimate fictionalized portrait, from humble beginnings, to building a family with an abusive husband, her escape into poverty and the workhouse, alcoholism, and finally abandoned on the streets of London where the Whitechapel Murderer found her.

With A Brutal Chill in August, Alan M. Clark gives readers an uncompromising and terrifying look at the nearly forgotten human story behind one of the most sensational crimes in history. This is horror that happened.

Amazon * Apple * Apple Audiobook * B&N * Kobo

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31683532-a-brutal-chill-in-august

 

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Apologies to the Cat’s Meat Man

The Second Victim of Jack the Ripper

Print Length: 158 pages

Publisher: IFD Publishing

Publication Date: June 9, 2017

This novel is part of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series. Each novel in the series is a stand-alone story.

Annie Chapman led a hard, lower-class life in filthy 19th century London. Late in life, circumstances and her choices led her to earn her crust by solicitation. After a bruising brawl with another woman over money and a man, she lost her lodgings and found herself sleeping rough. That dangerous turn of events delivered her into the hands of London’s most notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper.

Contrasting her last week alive with the experiences of her earlier life, the author helps readers understand how she might have made the decisions that put her in the wrong place at the wrong time

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Kobo

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34862405-apologies-to-the-cat-s-meat-man

 

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Say Anything But Your Prayers

The Third Victim of Jack the Ripper

Print Length: 224 pages

Publisher: IFD Publishing

Publication Date: June 11, 2017

This novel is part of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series. Each novel in the series is a stand-alone story.

An imaginative reconstruction of the life of Elizabeth Stride, the third victim of Jack the Ripper. The beast of poverty and disease had stalked Elizabeth all her life, waiting for the right moment to take her down. To survive, she listened to the two extremes within herself–Bess, the innocent child of hope, and Liza, the cynical, hardbitten opportunist. While Bess paints rosy pictures of what lies ahead and Liza warns of dangers everywhere, the beast, in the guise of a man offering something better, circles ever closer.

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Kobo

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22913933-say-anything-but-your-prayers

 

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Of Thimble and Threat

The Fourth Victim of Jack the Ripper

Print Length: 168 pages

Publisher: IFD Publishing

Publication Date: September 28, 2017

In Victorian London, the greatest city of the richest country in the world, the industrial revolution has created a world of decadence and prosperity, but also one of unimaginable squalor and suffering. Filth, decay, danger, sorrow, and death are ever-present in the streets. Catherine Eddowes is found murdered gruesomely in the city’s East End. When the police make their report, the only indicators of her life are the possessions carried on her person, likely everything she owned in the world. In Of Thimble and Threat, Alan M. Clark tells the heartbreaking story of Catherine Eddowes, the fourth victim of Jack the Ripper, explaining the origin and acquisition of the items found with her at the time of her death, chronicling her life from childhood to adulthood, motherhood, her descent into alcoholism, and finally her death. Of Thimble and Threat is a story of the intense love between a mother and a child, a story of poverty and loss, fierce independence, and unconquerable will. It is the devastating portrayal of a self-perpetuated descent into Hell, a lucid view into the darkest parts of the human heart.

 

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Kobo

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36440709-of-thimble-and-threat

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The Prostitute’s Price

The Fifth Victim of Jack the Ripper

 

Print Length: 342 pages

Publisher: IFD Publishing

Publication Date: August 30, 2018

 

A novel that beats back our assumptions about the time of Jack the Ripper. Not the grim story of an unfortunate drunken prostitute killed before her time, but one of a young woman alive with all the emotional complexity of women today. Running from a man wanting her to pay for her crimes against his brother, Mary Jane Kelly must recover a valuable hidden necklace and sell it to gain the funds to leave London and start over elsewhere. Driven by powerful, if at times conflicting emotion, she runs the dystopian labyrinth of the East End, and tries to sneak past the deadly menace that bars her exit.

Although THE PROSTITUTE’S PRICE is a standalone tale, and part of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series, it is also a companion story to the novel, THE ASSASSIN’S COIN, by John Linwood Grant. The gain a broader experience of each novel, read both.

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Kobo

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41796486-the-prostitute-s-price

About the Author

Author and illustrator, Alan M. Clark grew up in Tennessee in a house full of bones and old medical books. His awards include the World Fantasy Award and four Chesley Awards. He is the author of seventeen books, including twelve novels, a couple of novellas, four collections of fiction, some of them lavishly illustrated, and a nonfiction full-color book of his artwork. Mr Clark’s company, IFD Publishing, has released 42 titles of various editions, including traditional books, both paperback and hardcover, audiobooks, and ebooks by such authors as F. Paul Wilson, Elizabeth Engstrom, and Jeremy Robert Johnson. Alan M. Clark and his wife, Melody, live in Oregon. www.alanmclark.com Visit his blog: https://ifdpublishing.com/blog

Website * Blog * Facebook * Facebook * Instagram * Amazon * Goodreads

Giveaway

 

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

https://www.silverdaggertours.com/sdsxx-tours/jack-the-ripper-victims-series-book-tour-and-giveaway

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Warrior Woman of the Samurai – Blog Tour #Historical Fiction

Firefly
Warrior Woman of the Samurai Book 1
by India Millar
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
There are some who believe that the honor of a samurai is reserved for men.
But they are wrong.
Keiko was born the daughter of a samurai. But as a mere younger sister, her future was to run errands for her lovely elder sister and obey her father. Until the day it fell to her to defend the honor of her sister and her family…
Mantis
Warrior Woman of the Samurai Book 2
Keiko’s men are dead, slaughtered by peasants in a desperate attempt to obtain food for their starving families. She is the last of her line; without her, the noble and ancient house of Hakuseki will die.
In order to try and save her family name, this noble samurai warrior woman is forced to humble herself at the feet of the local daimyo. When he ridicules her and takes the family estate for himself, the samurai code of bushido says there is only one thing left for Keiko.
Vengeance.
Keiko plots to take revenge for the actions of her greedy noble lord and revenge against the men who wanted to buy her and keep her as their slave.
Just like the praying mantis, Keiko lures her enemies into a sense of safety before taking her revenge…
Chameleon
Warrior Woman of the Samurai Book 3
Keiko’s revenge on her enemies is almost complete. Like her namesake, the chameleon, she has changed herself to attract and entrap the men she seeks. Now, just one man remains unpunished. But before she can complete her vengeance, karma destroys her plans cruelly. Niko—her adopted younger sister—has been kidnapped. Keiko is sure she knows who is behind the abduction, but she cannot act alone to get Niko back. She is forced to turn to the most unlikely ally to help her—Akira, the most feared yakuza in Edo.
Karma forces Keiko to change her colors to get what she wants. She has become as adaptable as the chameleon. But first and last, she is still a warrior woman of the samurai.
I started my career in the heavy industry of British Gas and ended it in the rarefied atmosphere of the British Library. Now, I share a blissful early retirement on the wonderful Costa Blanca, living in a male-dominated household with my long-suffering husband, a cat and a dog.
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

 

Guest Post and Book Spotlight – Historical Fiction – Never The Twain – Jane Fenwick

Brothels and Prostitutes by Jane Fenwick @jane_fenwick60 #neverthetwain #historicalcrimenovels #romance #victorianwhitby

Brothels and prostitution feature in the opening of my new book Never the Twain. Men have used prostitutes since time began. There is even one mentioned in that very famous book The Bible!

Prostitution has always been a way for women to support themselves when all other means of earning a living have been exhausted. Very few women would have chosen this path had another option been open to them. In Never the Twain identical twins April and May find themselves in the unenviable predicament of being sold into prostitution.

Never the Twain is set in 1890 a time when it is easy to forget that women had very few rights. Women were considered chattel and on marriage were passed from their father’s care to that of their husband. Women like April and May, the protagonists in Never the Twain, had no male protectors and so had to make their own way in the world. April and May, through no fault of their own, are sold into prostitution so their actress mother can be rid of them. The acting profession in Victorian times was regarded as only a step away from prostitution and so it is easy to see why the twins’ mother would place them in the care of a Madam.

Educated women were still rare and middle class educated women rarer still. Had they been impoverished vicars’ daughters they would have found it relatively easy to get positions as governesses or companions. However, without a letter of reference they would have struggled to gain respectable employment. The twins could have taken work in domestic service or shop work but April and May would have found such work low paid and demeaning. Without means or protection their options would have been limited and falling into the poverty trap was a risk to avoid at all costs; once you lost the roof over your head there was no social security to fall back on. Once their “mother” died April and May were very much on their own.

Each twin had a different solution to their dilemma but ultimately the solution they agreed upon led to dire consequences. April knew that although they were educated it would be difficult to find respectable positions though she was willing to try. However, she allowed her twin to convince her to enter the brothel as a way of buying time – they were assured they would be untouched until their eighteenth birthday. It was a decision they would both come to regret.

***

Every port and harbour had their fair share of prostitutes. In seafaring towns prostitution was especially rife. Men who had been at sea for months had needs and a range of options were available for them to choose from when they were back ashore depending on their tastes and budget. From tuppeny streetwalkers to those who worked the inns, taverns and bawdy houses. And then there were the higher class brothels such as the one in Never the Twain, Mrs Jansen’s establishment where the higher ranks of the seafaring community, as well as the local gentry, were catered for.

In Victorian times gentlemen of rank often married for reasons other than love. The aristocracy, and increasingly the newly emerging merchant classes, often married to improve their finances and position in society. They married to join two influential families together or to gain the dowry of an heiress. Couples often married to unite two prominent families where one provided a title and the other party supplied the money. These misalliances often resulted in some gentlemen seeking their pleasures elsewhere especially once their wives had produced an “heir and a spare”.

For some, using “high class” brothels as opposed to regular bawdy houses offered ‘respectability’ as the brothels were often well-appointed almost like a gentlemen’s club. The girls were also thought to be cleaner and accomplished in the art of seduction. However, I found from my research, that some gentlemen liked “a bit of rough” too on occasions and would purposely seek out women of the lower orders as something different, a thrill!

The Victorian period saw the rise of a new class; the middle or mercantile class. “New Money” was made from newly emerging industries and manufacturing. The industrial revolution made enterprising men rich. My male protagonists Edward and Alistair Driscoll would have been part of this growth of the Nouveau Riche. Their fortunes had been made in the past from the slave trade and from importing tobacco from the New World – in this instance from Virginia. Now they were dealing in imports and exports and were adding to their fortunes.

Mrs Jansen boasted that her whores were “free from disease” and “practised in the arts of seduction”, something most men of position would appreciate. Men like Captain Edward Driscoll – being from new money – would have been the mainstay of Velda Jansen’s provincial brothel. In a port such as Whitby where a whore could be bought cheaply by any passing sailor, Mrs Jansen’s brothel would have been the epitome of class – if you weren’t from London that is. Anything which could attract her more wealthy clients would have been a boon for the avaricious Madam. So when beautiful, identical twin virgins were offered to her she saw the guinea signs flash before her eyes. She knew a marketable commodity when she saw it and here were two beauties ready for the plucking.

***

Sometimes prostitutes are portrayed as being happy with their lot or “the tart with a heart” but the reality was seldom so straightforward or agreeable. The girls were effectively slaves and the Madams ruthless. You can probably guess what would happen to one of Mrs Jansen’s “clean girls” if she became infected by a punter or when she lost her looks. Her only choice would be to walk the streets for business. As a result her life span would be considerably shortened. A girl would put up with a lot to keep herself from plying her trade in the dangerous ginnels and inns of Whitby so whatever the punter wanted the punter invariably got. The Madams would turn a blind eye to most things, even if this meant the girls were brutalised. So long as the gentleman did not spoil a girl’s face – the Madams would not be pleased if one of their precious girls were to be disfigured. Very occasionally a girl would get “lucky” and a punter would pay for her sole use or set her up in her own establishment as his mistress. Rarer still was the gentleman who married a whore.

In Never the Twain I wanted to show how devastating it would be for two relatively well brought up, educated young girls like April and May to find themselves in this frightening and dangerous situation. The twins, had they been ‘launched’, would have been sold to the highest bidder and thereafter used and abused day and night until their beauty faded. Such an end for the girls who were only valued for their beauty and bodies would have been shameful. In Never the Twain we see April and May struggle to survive the brothel but their lives soon become marred by jealousy and greed, betrayal and murder.

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Never the Twain: A twin tale of jealousy and betrayal, love and murder.

The year is 1890. The port of Whitby is heaving with sailors and where there are sailors there are brothels doing a roaring trade. Beautiful identical twins April and May are in desperate straits. They have been abandoned by their actress mother and are about to have their virginity auctioned off to the highest bidder by a notorious brothel madam.

Their fate is hanging in the balance when Captain Edward Driscoll a handsome, wealthy shipping tycoon from Glasgow saves them before they can be deflowered.

But have they exchanged one form of slavery for another?

April, reluctantly swept up in her twin’s secrets and lies unwittingly becomes embroiled in a murderous conspiracy. Is May’s jealousy stronger than the twin bond which has always connected them?

 

Available from:
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2mbA6hp
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2ksAaZI

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Never the Twain: A dark blend of Gothic romance and murder.

 

Jane Fenwick lives in the market town of Settle in Yorkshire, England. She studied education at Sheffield University gaining a B.Ed (Hons) in 1989 and going on to teach primary age range children. Jane decided to try her hand at penning a novel rather than writing school reports as she has always been an avid reader, especially enjoying historical and crime fiction. She decided to combine her love of both genres to write her first historical crime novel Never the Twain. Jane has always been a lover of antiques, particularly art nouveau and art deco ceramics and turned this hobby into a business opening an antiques and collectables shop in Settle. However her time as a dealer was short lived; she spent far too much time in the sale rooms buying items that ended up in her home rather than the shop! Animal welfare is a cause close to Jane’s heart and she has been vegetarian since the age of fourteen. For the last twenty years she has been trustee of an animal charity which rescues and rehomes cats, dogs and all manner of creatures looking for a forever home. Of course several of these have been “adopted” by Jane!

Jane has always loved the sea and although she lives in the Yorkshire Dales she is particularly drawn to the North East coast of Yorkshire and Northumberland. This coastline is where she gets her inspiration for the historical crime and romance novels she writes. She can imagine how the North East ports would have looked long ago with a forest of tall masted ships crammed together in the harbours, the bustling streets congested with sailors, whalers, chandlers and sail makers. These imaginings provide the backdrop and inspire her to create the central characters and themes of her novels. As she has always loved history she finds the research particularly satisfying.

When she isn’t walking on Sandsend beach with her dog Scout, a Patterdale “Terrorist” she is to be found in her favourite coffee shop gazing out to sea and dreaming up her next plot. Jane is currently writing a historical saga series again set on the North East coast beginning in 1765. The first two books are being edited at the moment; My Constant Lady and The Turning Tides. Look out for My Constant Lady in 2020.

 

Find her on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook , Pinterest or Web.

 

GIVEAWAY!

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Dirty Dozen Author Interview – Judith Starkson #Histfic #Hittites #Meetanauthor

Author Name: Judith Starkston

  1. *Please tell us about your publications.

I’m the author of three books of historical fantasy based on the Bronze Age Hittites—an empire of the ancient Near East nearly buried by the sands of time. My books take “a quarter turn to the fantastic,” to borrow Guy Gavriel Kay’s phrase, and give full expression to the magical religious beliefs of these historical people. My first book, Hand of Fire, is set in the Trojan War and told from a woman’s viewpoint, Briseis, Achilles’ captive. Currently, I’m writing a historical fantasy series based on a Hittite queen. The first book in that series Priestess of Ishana is available FREE Oct 2-6. The second book, Sorcery in Alpara, launches Oct 14.

  1. What first prompted you to publish your work?

When I was researching my first book and figuring out the Trojans, I made a startling side discovery—a queen I’d never heard of who ruled for decades over an empire I’d barely heard of, despite my training and degrees as a classicist. It was the Hittite empire, of which, it turns out, Troy was a part. The queen was Puduhepa (whom I call Tesha in my fiction–the Hittite word for “dream” because she had visionary dreams). I’m particularly interested in the theme of women as leaders, so I was hooked. The Hittite empire could be called the forgotten empire, but fortunately, recent archaeology and the decipherment and translation of many thousands of clay tablets have filled in parts of the lost history. We now have many Hittite letters, prayers, judicial decrees, treaties, religious rites and a variety of other documents, but overall our knowledge still has huge gaps in it. I use shifted names in my series, such as Hitolia for the Hittite empire, to cue my readers to how much I have to fill in imaginatively from those fragmentary records. It also gives fair warning to the magic that I give free rein to, the rules of which derive from Hittite practices, but I do let the story go where a good story should and that means a lot of fantasy. It was that juicy primary source material, an extraordinary female ruler, and an intriguing ancient world that prompted me to write Priestess of Ishana and Sorcery in Alpara.

  1. Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?

I outline my novels in a couple different ways before I start writing, but those outlines are subject to change whenever the story and characters take me into new realms I hadn’t imagined at the start.

I use a couple approaches to outlining and organizing my manuscripts. One is very character/theme/pacing driven, Libbie Hawker’s book Take Your Pants Off. The other, very plot and pacing driven, is a storyboarding technique that means I’ve got each of my books laid out on a three-sided board like we used for our school science projects. It’s explained in Alexandra Sokoloff’s Screenwriting Tricks for Authors. You’ll notice in both the word “pacing.” I found as I learned the craft that pacing was both the hardest part to get right and the most essential. If readers aren’t compulsively drawn through my story, it doesn’t matter how beautiful my writing is and all the rest (though I work hard to get all that nailed). A good story is hard to put down—that’s something we all intuitively know. The corollary is that if a story is hard to get through, it isn’t very good!

  1. What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey?

Write at least a little bit every day and give yourself permission to write “bad words.” What do I mean by that? Just write and don’t worry whether it’s crap or not. Later you can go back and edit or trash if need be. I find that it is often the days when I think I’m writing the worst that I discover on later read, I’ve written some of my best. And you can only fix words that are actually on the page.

  1. If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat.

I’ve never gotten over my fascination with Achilles in the Iliad. He’s maybe legendary rather than literary, but I’d like to sit down and listen to him (probably admire his physique also…). He’d probably want lamb roasted on spits spiced with garlic and cumin, and I love that also, so I’ll go with that. Some fresh flatbread right off the hot stones to go along with it!

  1. What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work?

I’m using this technique—offering free my first book in the series, Priestess of Ishana, from Oct 2-6. I’m doing it right before the second book comes out, so I’ll see buy through and get paid that way. I think it’s a viable marketing strategy. I don’t think reaching new readers is demeaning. It’s what you do as an author, and putting books into people’s hands seems like a good thing overall. If I was expected to give away books for free all the time, that would be silly. But accessing a lot of new readers I wouldn’t have any other way? That sounds smart to me. So do download a copy of Priestess of Ishana, and then if you really enjoy it, buy Sorcery in Alpara.

  1. What are your views on authors commenting on reviews?

I spread the word when I get a particularly strong review, especially from someone I really respect. When someone writes a bad review, I see no reason to react one way or the other, certainly not comment on it. I let my fiction, my author notes, all the background material on my website speak for itself when someone has a wrongheaded idea in a review. Reality has a way of coming through over time, so I don’t sweat it. If someone points out a perceptive way to improve in a review, I go to work in my next book and make sure I fix that. I’m happy to learn from all sources.

  1. How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at?

I have gone deep into the research, both the book/reading part (years of that) and the travel. I’ve gone to the archaeological sites, landscapes, and museum collections in Turkey that are the source material for my world-building. I contact the dig directors and museum curators so that I can talk with them and learn first-hand from the people who really know. I spent a whole day at the site that we think was Tesha’s hometown that I call Lawaza, but was called Lawazantiya by the Hittites. It’s the archaeological site of Tatarli near the city of Adana in Turkey. The key reason they think it’s her hometown is that the dig mound (with Bronze Age ruins of the right kind) is surrounded by seven springs. The Hittite records from the capital of the empire describe this town as having seven springs. The dig director took me to each of the springs–one of them appears in a key scene in Priestess of Ishana and I could never have gotten the atmospherics of that scene right if I hadn’t been there. One of the wildest subjects I’ve run across is the Hittite magical rite to remove a curse that I use in Priestess of Ishana. It involves chickpeas. Who knew that the way to get the demons out was via garbanzo beans? The Hittites were obsessed with curses and they believed sorcerers caused all kinds of evil with them. If you had to remove a curse from someone, you baked a loaf of bread with chickpea paste in the middle (basically humus) so that when you touched the bread to the cursed body while saying the right spell, the paste would absorb the pollution. I couldn’t make up this stuff in a million years, but the Hittite culture hands it to me. I just have to write it into compelling page-turners.

  1. If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why?

I’m having a lot of fun writing griffins into my series, so I’ll choose that mythical creature to be. It turned out, much to my surprise as I wrote, that griffins, or at least the ones in my books, have a very dry sense of humor. And they are wickedly good warriors and can soar into the heavens, and yet they have a big soft spot for their cubs who are allowed to climb all over the grownups, so I suspect hanging out as a griffin for a while could be very entertaining.

  1. What is your writing space like?

I’m very lucky and have a big window in front of my workspace that looks out on my garden. I write on a lovely inlaid wooden writing table with a comfortable armchair. So I’m all set to keep my butt in that seat for a good stretch every day.

  1. Is there a message in your books?

My fictional Tesha, based on the historic Queen Puduhepa, provides a worthy model for leadership—particularly the value of female leaders, which we’ve been thinking about lately, so this seems timely. She certainly wasn’t perfect, and some of her actions are hotly debated among historians as possibly self-serving or politically motivated rather than ethically driven. She gave me nuanced material to work into my hero’s character. But, despite that human complexity, or perhaps because of it, she had brilliant skills as queen in many areas: diplomatic, judicial, religious and familial. Most famously, she corralled Pharaoh Ramses II of Egypt into a lasting peace treaty. The surviving letters to Ramses reveal a subtle diplomat with a tough but gracious core that made her able to stand up to the arrogant Pharaoh without giving offense. She also took judicial positions that went against her own citizens when the truth wasn’t on their side. Fair justice wasn’t something she was willing to toss overboard when it was politically inconvenient. Her equal partnership with her husband was a much-admired model even in the patriarchal world of the ancient Near East. I’m enjoying working in these themes from a real woman into my historical fantasy series, one book at a time.

  1. How important is writing to you?

I love the long hours at my desk spent lost in the world that I write and in the company of my characters. I enjoy it every day. It’s my fulltime occupation.

Links

Newsletter sign up (for a free short story and book deals): https://www.judithstarkston.com/sign-up-for-my-author-newsletter-for-books-news-special-offers-and-freebies/

Website  https://www.judithstarkston.com/

Priestess of Ishana  https://amzn.to/2DXpdXt

Sorcery in Alpara  https://amzn.to/319vuIj

Hand of Fire  https://amzn.to/2KOb6a0

 

Bio

Judith Starkston has spent too much time reading about and exploring the remains of the ancient worlds of the Greeks and Hittites. Early on she went so far as to get degrees in Classics from the University of California, Santa Cruz and Cornell. She loves myths and telling stories. This has gotten more and more out of hand. Her solution: to write historical fantasy set in the Bronze Age. Hand of Fire was a semi-finalist for the M.M. Bennett’s Award for Historical Fiction. Priestess of Ishana won the San Diego State University Conference Choice Award.

 

Summer in Scotland – Tour and Giveaway

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Walking in Queen Mary’s Footsteps: Palaces and Castles

By Laurel A. Rockefeller

 

Welcome to “Summer in Scotland,” our month-long celebration of Scotland and in particular the Scotland known and loved by its most famous queen, Mary Stuart, better known simply as “Mary Queen of Scots.”

 

Across Queen Mary’s forty-four years she lived in France, reigned in Scotland, and died in England. Though not all of the places she guested at, lived at, and/or worked from still exist (notably Fotheringhay Castle where she was executed in 1587), these six palaces and castles are not only still standing, but they are open to the public for you to visit this summer.

Linlithgow Palace (West Lothian, Scotland)

Built as a retreat from court life at Edinburgh Castle by the Stewarts, the peace and quiet of Linlithgow make it the perfect getaway for royals and modern visitors alike. Overlooking Loch Linlithgow, there is scenic beauty and waterfowl aplenty to melt away whatever stress comes your way. No wonder it was the Stewarts’ preferred place to give birth and is Queen Mary Stuart’s birthplace.

Open year-round except on 25 December, 26 December, 1 January, and 2 January. Tickets start at £7.20 and are available at https://tickets.historic-scotland.gov.uk/webstore/shop/viewItems.aspx?cg=TKTS&c=WSLOTHIANS.

 

Château Blois (Loire Valley, France)

Located in the Loire Valley about halfway between Orléans and Tours, Chateau Blois was 15th and 16th century France’s preferred royal residence.  Here Queen Mary and Prince François spent countless weeks in the year at court.  Later, in 1617, it became home to Marie de Medici’s court in exile. Along with her came her very loyal chief advisor, Armand-Jean du Plessis, better known as Cardinal Richelieu (see “His Red Eminence, Armand-Jean du Plessis de Richelieu”).

Open year-round, tickets start at €12. Go to http://en.chateaudeblois.fr/EvenementChateauVisite/2040-prepare-your-visit.htm for details and tourism package options.

 

Château de Chambord (Loire Valley, France)

Favoured by Queen Mary’s father-in-law Henri II and designed in part by Leonardo da Vinci, Chambord is an architectural masterpiece that takes you into the mind of its creator.  Features a unique double-helix staircase designed by da Vinci so that no one going up can meet anyone going down on it.

Open year-round except on 25 December and 1 January, you can stroll the outside grounds for free. Tickets to visit the castle and private gardens start at €14,50.  Go to https://www.chambord.org/en/plan-your-visit/opening-hours/ for more information.

 

Edinburgh Castle (Edinburgh, Scotland)

At the heart of Queen Mary’s reign stands Edinburgh Castle which, appropriately, dominates the Edinburgh skyline.  Situated on a cliff high above the rest of the city, it is easy to see why King David I (son of Margaret of Wessex and brother to Empress Matilda of England) chose the site for his castle. Queen Mary and her parliament ruled from here and on 19 June 1566 she gave birth to King James VI in the same bedroom you can visit today. Queen Mary herself made several improvements to the castle which intially she found dark and cold compared to the airy grandeur of the French court, adding wall-coverings and art to warm both body and soul, especially in winter.

Open year-round except on 25th and 26th December. Tickets start at £17.50 if you purchase your tickets online or £19.50 if you purchase at the gate.

 

Stirling Castle (Stirling, Scotland)

Built in 1107, Stirling Castle is one of the historically most significant landmarks in Scotland’s long pursuit of freedom and independence from English conquest. William Wallace and Andrew Moray famously fought the Battle of Stirling Bridge near here in 1297 to retake the castle from England. Robert the Bruce’s 1304 victory at Bannockburn likewise returned it to Scotland. In 1503, King James IV built its Great Hall. Queen Mary held her baptism service for her son James (VI) here in 1566. When it was James VI’s turn to baptise his son Henry in 1594, he also held the baptism and its celebrations at Stirling Castle.

Open year-round except on 25th and 26th December.  Tickets start at £15 if you purchase online or £16 at the gate.

 

Lochleven Castle (Kinross, Scotland)

Built in the 14th Century, Queen Mary guested at Lochleven before its tower turned into her prison in 1567.  This is where she miscarried or aborted James Hepburn’s baby, and where she abdicated her throne in favour of her son James.

Open 1 April to 31 October. Closed from 1 November to 31 March. Access by boat only. Tickets start at £9.00 which includes boat fare. Go to https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/lochleven-castle/prices-and-opening-times/ to purchase advance tickets (strongly recommended).

Wherever your summer takes you, I hope you will spend part of it with Queen Mary Stuart and will make “Mary Queen of the Scots: the Forgotten Reign” your first and best introduction to Scotland’s most tragic and famous queen. Available at your favourite bookstore worldwide in English, Chinese, French, Spanish, German, and Italian. See http//www.laurelarockefeller.com for complete links to all editions.

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