When I first became enamoured of early 19th century Britain, I had only one novel in mind. Who can think beyond that, honestly?
And then I had this cunning plan for four novels with each focusing on one of the four friends introduced in May 1812, and through each of them addressing one or another aspect of the period.
However, I quickly found myself immersed in the historical quicksands of the period, finding first the terrible consequences of the assassination of Prime Minister Perceval, and then being drawn further into the war that nobody was mentioning, the war raging across the Continent, war which tainted the lives of every single Briton of the period.
Hence May 1812 became my ‘home front’ novel…
Then, Of Honest Fame came along. And strayed. It had its own ideas about what it wanted to be. The one-plot about one-aspect novel plan went, er, to be fish bait, and Of Honest Fame expanded into a skein of many colours and characters, plots and places…it was about war. How could it be otherwise? (Or perhaps I read too much Dickens?)
So–to me–unexpectedly (those fish really did dine off the initial idea and of that there is now little trace…) the next novel is an historical follow-on of Of Honest Fame, featuring some but not all of those characters, plus a raft of those you haven’t yet met. But today may I introduce or reintroduce you to…
1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person? As in my previous novel, Of Honest Fame, there are a plethora of central characters, both historic and fictional. But the one I’ve chosen to talk about today is Sir George Shuster, otherwise known as Captain Shuster or Georgie.
2) When and where is the story set? Well, it’s A Tale of Two Cities set slightly later and gone hideously panoramic, with the action and manifold plotlines extending from London to Hamburg to Berlin to what was then Saxony or what is now Germany…so to Dresden and finally to Leipzig and from thence into France. I’m trying to keep it contained, do you see?
3) What should we know about him? Georgie stepped from the shadows in the first of my novels, May 1812. He was a spy, with a cheeky younger brother, a delicious sense of humour, and in that novel, he experienced a cataclysmic loss which truly marked him. He was a soldier. He had been a soldier under Wellington in Spain, so he had seen too much, experienced too much as they all had, but seeing it happen to others is different from such events happening to oneself.
Then he took up his post again in Of Honest Fame, investigating a series of leaks, escaped POW’s and murders connected with the British Foreign Office. But he was home in Great Britain where there were clean shirts and clean water and no one shooting at him, and after all the trauma of war he’d experienced, he was more than eager to put down re-establish himself there, to settle back in and leave the past and its nightmares behind.
4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his life? The war against Napoleon which is reaching its nadir. The Prussians and Russians are now allied against Napoleon and are determined to boot him from power at long last, and Britain is funding the Allied armies with everything from rockets to uniforms to muskets to spies to specie. Georgie’d like to stay home. But he’s s soldier. And when his orders come, he follows them, however torn between duty to his King and the desire to melt from his former life, but he will do his duty. They all did.
5) What is the personal goal of the character?
Foremost with Georgie is always to stay alive amidst the battles, the backstabbing, the vicissitudes and devilry of war and espionage and still to do his duty, to follow orders regardless of where they take him.
6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
The title is Or Fear of Peace, which comes directly from a letter from a diplomat of the period in which he is describing the worries besetting Allied command. Too delicious, don’t you think?
As for reading about it, well, much of my research for this next book has had to be from Russian and Prussian sources, which might make reading about a little tricky…that’s why you have me, isn’t it? But as things unfold, I shall keep everyone alerted to my…er…trials, tribulations, (expletives) and transmogrifications…
7) When can we expect the book to be published? As soon as one can manage it. But I will say this…the novel does have this bijou extravagance-ette of five different armies swanning and swarming about the European countryside, (they have generals too and posh uniforms) so sometimes all these fellows get a bit unruly…and they just don’t listen, do they? And they won’t stay where they’re put. So rude…
(A bit of the musical landscape for you from Helen Jane Long’s Porcelein… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mj446lUR-js )
There are other authors who will be following along in this blog hop, beginning with the fascinating and knowledgeable