Friday, 30 May 2014

Blog Hop: Meet My Main Character

Blog tagging. Blog hopping. Haven't you heard? All the cool kids are doing it!

I was tagged this week by Historical Fiction author Elizabeth Kales. This thing is pretty big, and you can track back through these 'hops' to discover some fantastic authors and their equally awesome work.

Look out for Liz's new novel - hopefully out by summer. I was very fortunate to cast my eyes over her dramatic scene involving a stormy crossing of the North Sea in the Age of Sail. Great stuff!

At the end of this post I'll be tagging another Historical Fiction type. Enjoy.


1) “So,” the interviewer asked, “what is your name? Are you fictional, or an actual historical person?”

“My name?” Jacob grinned, “You mean you’ve not heard of me? No… well… I suppose Gentleman of Fortune is a novel of my early days. The times before I become notorious. Very well, for a bottle rum – or brandy – I’ll humour you. I’ve had many names, but in 1699 – when my first tale takes place – I am known as Jacob Hollum. The surname is an Anglicisation of my Dutch mother’s ‘van Haarlem’. Am I fictional? Well… you won’t find my deeds in any of the modern history books…”

2) The interviewer fumbled in his drawer, finding a bottle of dark spirits. “So when and where is your story set?”

“You mean you haven’t read it yet? Well… I suppose we’ll need a drink.” Jacob grinned again, pulling the cork from the bottle with his pearly white teeth interlaced with gold pegs. “Gentleman of Fortune is set all over the bloody place. From my hometown of Whitby – a fishing port nestled between the North Riding’s moors in Yorkshire – that’s in England for the colonials amongst you.” He paused, pouring a healthy measure into the dirty tankard before him, “A lot of it takes place on the ocean too – I mean, this is a book about pirates after all. You’ll also see parts of Holland and London at the turn of the eighteenth century, just as Europe is set for all out war. It’s a lot of fun!”

3) “So you say… What should we know about you?”

“About me?” He took a sup of the strong spirit, savouring the burning sensation as it sloshed down his throat. “Well as you can see I’m a handsome fellow with a cheerful grin. But if you want the truth I’d best describe myself in the words of a wench I once knew. She calls me an arrogant bastard, says I only love myself and coin. This isn’t true of course – I love women too, and lots of them. Hah! I’m also not exactly what you would call hero material… I’m pretty good at ruining other people’s lives.”

He grinned again, taking another draught from the tankard. “That’s on the surface. Beneath this mocking grin and easy laugh there is a sensitive soul. In my younger years I loved and lost several times over. I suppose you could say that’s what Gentleman of Fortune is about. Me – a young smuggler turned illegal privateer – trying to find my place in the world. Looking back at those days, it’s quite embarrassing. I’d lose my temper and find myself in all sorts of trouble. These days I try to find amusement in anything I do… it’s the only way to stay sane. I still find plenty of time for making trouble of course.”

He took another long drink, wiping the excess upon his frayed cuff. “What else do you need to know? Well… truth be told, I’m a bit of a one trick pony. And that’s my skill with the blade. I prefer the backsword or cutlass, but at a push I’m quite adept with the rapier – as you’ll find out in the book.”

4) “So a womanising pirate, who considers himself a hopeless romantic in his youth. Rather clich├ęd… but let’s move on. What is the main conflict? What messes up your life?”

“Messes up my life? I’ll have you know I quite like my life!” He winked, drinking again. “Gentleman of Fortune is the story of how I become a pirate. It starts when a smuggling incident back home goes... ah... a little wrong, and leaves me implicated of bloody murder. I flee England to Holland, to a family I’ve never known and somehow end up involved with my long dead father’s sea robber family. They take me under their wing so to speak, and so my life seems to spin out of control as I embrace a life of blood and plunder. Pirates aren’t exactly a reliable bunch. The novel is filled with betrayal and revenge – again, I get caught up with it!”

5) “What is your personal goal?”

“These days it’s to live longer than my many enemies, but back when this novel is set, my idea of a goal is purely to become rich enough to impress the girl back home. I spend the whole novel fantasising about the fortune I’ll never make, worrying about this ordinary lass who’ll never be mine. It’s quite pathetic if you ask me…” He looked away with a wince.

“That changes when Maria comes along – she’s the Spanish lass from Rogues’ Nest. If you’ve read that, you’ll know all about Maria and her wonderful… erm… assets.” He grinned again, “Maria helps me mature – she brings out my better side, let’s me see life differently, but when a rift forms between the pirate crew, we are torn away from each other… seemingly forever. I’m forced to make some pretty tough choices after that, but each of them shape who I am now – a lovable rascal, and an anti-hero to boot.”

6) “What a modest fellow you are. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?” 

“Well if you haven’t figured out the name by now, you’re probably too stupid to open the pages. Who wrote these bloody questions anyway?”

7) “Actually, I just thought you’d want to put another shameless plug into the text. So when can we expect the book to be published?” 

“Soon actually… within a matter of days… and you’ll be hearing a lot more about my adventures in the near future. Gentleman of Fortune is more of an origins tale than anything else. It establishes who I am and the gritty world I inhabit. I’d also like to take this opportunity to reveal for the first time in public the brand new book cover. The dashing blonde fellow in the centre is me of course… Now, is that everything? Because the rum seems to be finished, and I need to find another drink…”
Gentleman of Fortune - available very soon, if not already!

Well what a rude gentleman he was. Be sure to lock away your wives and daughters if you see the filthy rogue about the dockside taverns!

I’m passing the baton along to another Historical Fiction author. His name is Peter Whittaker, and a fellow Northumbrian to boot!

Peter writes about the end of the Dark Ages - the fateful year of 1066 to be precise. It's a period of history I love, and when I lived in the UK you'd have seen me every summer with hair down, sword in hand, and part of a vicious Living History shieldwall.

His first novel - The War Wolf - is available on amazon here. Be sure to stop by his blog to read his interview soon.