Interview with David Morrell, One of the Best Thriller Writers of the Last Four Decades, Talking his Delve Into the Victorian Era

Today, I’ve got a stellar interview with David Morrell, who needs no introduction. He’s been one of the top thriller writers of the last four decades, and an educator of the craft. In this interview, we talk mostly about this newest Thomas De Quincey Victorian Era trilogy, which is highly interesting, as well as how he does his research and he offers a few tips of advice for writers. You can see my review of his newest novel, Inspector of the Dead, HERE.

Hi, David! So pleased to have you back here on Oh, for the Hook of a Book! You have a long backlist of thriller titles, such as The Brotherhood of the Rose, that people love, but you’ve been making literary waves lately with your Victorian mystery series that stars Thomas De Quincey, the Opium-Eater! You’ve recently released the second novel in the series, Inspector of the Dead. How are you feeling about the success of the series?

David: De Quincey was one of the most brilliant literary personalities of the Victorian era. I’m so fascinated by him that I spent four years researching my two novels about him. It’s gratifying that readers share my fascination. My goal was to try to convince readers that they are literally on the fogbound streets of 1850s London.

Erin: I think you’ve succeeded. I certainly need to cuddle in a warm blanket when reading your books. Quite chilling in all the right ways!

It’s quite up and down with the cold here in Ohio still, so I’ll put on a pot of tea as I like to do. I know you probably rarely slow down (you’re a busy guy), so let’s relax for a few minutes and talk books and writing.

David: Great. Talking about books and writing is what I most like to do.

Erin: Ah, me too! Then let’s get started. I’ll begin with a broad question. You’ve had a lengthy publishing career. How has your craft grown or changed over time? What would you tell the 1972 version of yourself?

David: I’ve seen a lot of changes in the publishing world (back then, there weren’t any book signings or authors’ tours, and of course there weren’t any e-books), and a lot of changes in myself. For me, that’s the key. To change. My 1972 self felt the same way. From the start, I wanted to keep exploring.

Erin: Of course, you’ve published great thrillers like First Blood (which launched the Rambo craze), The Shimmer, and Creepers just to name only a few. Many have had some sort of historical, military, or government element to them. But going as far back as the Victorian Era in London is something new for you. Where did you discover your interest in the Opium-Eater and why did you decide to use him in the construction of these new mysteries?

David: I watched a 2009 film called Creation, which depicted Charles Darwin’s nervous breakdown after his favorite daughter died. He suffered from headaches, heart palpitations, insomnia, and stomach problems, to name a few ailments. Doctors of that era—focusing solely on his body and not his emotions—couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him.  At the turning point of the film, a character says to Darwin, “You know, Charles, there are people such as Thomas De Quincey who believe that we can be controlled by thoughts and emotions we don’t know we have.” This sounds like Freud, but the film takes place in the 1850s, and Darwin didn’t publish until near the turn of the century. Curious about De Quincey, I looked into his background and was amazed to learn that he invented the word “subconscious” and anticipated Freud’s psychoanalytic theories by almost 70 years. I suddenly had the idea to put De Quincey in a Victorian mystery/thriller, where he would be at the start of the detective tradition and use psychoanalytic theories to solve murders at a time when no one knew anything about what De Quincey called the caverns and abysses of the mind.

Erin: That is so COMPLETELY fascinating!! I can see what hooked you. On your website you said, “His (Thomas De Quincey) blood-soaked essays and stories influenced Edgar Allan Poe, who in turn inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to create Sherlock Holmes.”  He sounds like an interesting man on many levels. How did you complete your research (books, online, travel) in order to create a firm foundation of knowledge in order to write your books? Was it easy or difficult to turn up information?

David: I love research. For several years, all I read were histories, biographies, and cultural studies about 1850s London. I wasn’t satisfied until I knew how much a woman’s clothes weighed (37 pounds) and how the streets were constructed. De Quincey wrote thousands of pages that I re-read and re-read until I felt like I was channeling him. His recent biographers are Robert Morrison and Grevel Lindop. After I underlined almost every page in their books, I contacted them and asked them to read my manuscripts. They gave me notes. Robert and I often exchange emails every day, and Grevel invited me to visit him in England, where he took me on a guided tour of Manchester (where De Quincey was born) and Grasmere in the Lake District (where De Quincey lived in Dove Cottage after Wordsworth moved out).  All of the research was a fascinating adventure.

02_Inspector of the Dead Cover

Erin: That sounds so amazing! I know you to be someone to fully immerse in research and that really shows through in your novels. I know that you published an e-book called The Opium Eaterthat also includes a story based on true facts of De Quincey’s life and includes photographs. That’s a cool idea! I’ll include the link for those interested: http://davidmorrell.net/stories/the-opium-eater/

I’m sure all your research you accumulated helped you decide to publish this between the novels, but can you talk a little about your thoughts in sharing more of the historical background? Why was he called the Opium-Eater?

David: De Quincey’s most famous book was Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.  He was the first person to write about drug addiction. In the 1800s, laudanum was the only effective painkiller. A mixture of alcohol and powdered opium, it was as common in Victorian homes as aspirin is today. The bottles had a POISON warning, and most people knew to be careful with it. But De Quincey fell under its power. An average person would die from drinking a tablespoon of laudanum. In contrast, De Quincey sometimes drank sixteen ounces of it a day. The paradox here is that the drug affected him as a stimulant, and against expectations, he wrote some of the most amazing prose of the 1800s.

Erin: Thomas De Quincey seems like a good historical person to form a character around for a book like this. But how does his daughter, Emily, fit into the plot of the book? Was she truly his daughter? How did you construct her character and how has her role, as well as herself, grown in this second novel?

David: De Quincey’s daughter, Emily, did indeed exist. She was 21 years old, and she’s essential to Inspector of the Dead and Murder as a Fine Art. I knew that some readers might have trouble accepting an opium addict as a main character, no matter how brilliant and witty De Quincey was. So, I presented many of his scenes from Emily’s viewpoint. She’s funny and independent and irreverent. I reasoned that if readers liked her, they’d share her affection for her father. 

In the second novel, their relationship deepens. A Scotland Yard detective asks her to marry him, and she replies that she already has a great responsibility taking care of her father, that she can’t look beyond that, the point being that in the first novel we don’t see the burden of his addiction. He’s funny. He’s eccentric. He’s interesting.  But in the second novel, the cost of his addiction becomesmore evident.

Erin: Inspector of the Dead plot surrounds itself with the actual attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria. The murderer is clever. How much fiction do you blend with fact?

David: I tried to include as much historical fact as possible. Both De Quincey novels are based on famous crimes of the era. Murder as a Fine Art explored the Ratcliffe Highway mass murders of 1811, the first media-sensation killings in English history. The brutality of those murders literally paralyzed all of England, and forty-three years later, in 1854, De Quincey recreated them in his Postscript to “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.” The plot of Murder as a Fine Art imagines that someone uses De Quincey’s essay as a blueprint for committing the murders anew.

The new novel, Inspector of the Dead, explores the astonishing eight attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria. One man even tried to shoot heron two consecutive days. I imagine that someone uses those attempts as the inspiration for a new attempt against her. He leaves cards at various crime scenes, mentioning the names of the previous men who tried to kill the queen. The idea is that when he runs out of names, the queen will be the next victim. The blending of fact and fiction was very precise and detailed.

Erin: Though this series is set in a very different time than many of your other books, you still bring a government and social aspect to them. You show the disparity between the upper European elite and those with less and how that creates a radical atmosphere. Do you feel that class struggles are always a recipe for rebellion, crime, murder, etc.? How important are these themes to you in your novels?

David:  The Victorian era was class conscious to an extreme. The difference between surgeons and physicians provides a good example. We think of surgeons as superior to physicians, but in the 1850s, surgeons weren’t respected. They actually touched their patients and, worse, dealt with blood and gore. Moreover, they accepted payment directly from their patients. In contrast, a physician never touched a patient and was paid indirectly by the druggist to whom the patients were sent. Thus surgeons were “in trade,” but physicians weren’t. A physician could be presented to the queen while a surgeon couldn’t.  The highest members of society were the peers (earls and dukes and so forth). Roughly one thousand of them controlled all of England’s wealth. The average wage for a laborer was fifty-two pounds a year. The average income of a peer was fifty-two thousand pounds a year. In 1848, revolutionaries marched on London, with the real risk that Parliament and the monarchy would topple.  The sometimes-violent tension between the social classes is a theme in both De Quincey novels.

Thomas de Quincey by Sir John Watson-Gordon/Wiki

Thomas de Quincey by Sir John Watson-Gordon/Wiki

Erin: You write with such vivid detail and description. I believe so, but plenty of others have said so as well. How do you immerse and delve so completely into an era you didn’t live in? How do you pen something that is so vibrantly authentic?

David:  I always felt that something was missing in Victorian novels, that I wasn’t getting the full picture. During my research, I realized that I was right. Authors such as Dickens didn’t explain what were to them obvious elements of their culture, but over the years, those obvious elements were forgotten until now when we almost need annotations to understand those novels. At the start of Inspector of the Dead, there’s a murder during a Sunday church service. The drama of the scene involves church pews. Today, we take for granted that pews are bench-like seats that stretch from aisle to aisle. But in the 1850s, pews were shaped like boxes with several benches in them, and a table, and probably a carpet and pillows and even curtains. These box pews had locked doors that were opened by pew openers, who made sure that only the families who rented the pews gained access to them. Dickens took this for granted and didn’t bother to explain it. Today, almost no one knows about this system, so I explain what Dickens and other Victorian novelists didn’t think it was necessary to point out. My De Quincey novels seem authentic because readers get the sense that they’re seeing the Victorian world truly for the first time.

Erin: That’s excellent, David! I can see that now you’ve mentioned it! I love how you’ve brought the era to light in such a descriptive way!

What is the number one (or two) thing(s) that thriller/suspense/mystery readers want each time they read a novel, no matter the era? What are the ingredients for a successful novel in this genre?

David: Because our world keeps changing and thrillers tend to respond to that world, the genre itself keeps changing.  Since 2003, the three biggest, most influential thrillers were Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. All three came out of nowhere. Their phenomenal success couldn’t have been predicted. In general, however, a successful thriller tends to provide an odd combination of distracting us from our troubling world while at the same time dramatizing the emotions that are troubling us. One reason I wrote my 1850s London novels is that I keenly wanted to be distracted from the modern world.

Erin: I admire your willingness to try different types of action writing as well, from these historical mystery novels to even your six-part Captain America comic book series. What is something from yourself as a writer that crosses over into each one of your works?

David: Marvel also asked me to write comic books for Spider-Man and Wolverine. It was fun to work in a different medium. In Captain America: The Chosen, I emphasize the virtues of courage, honor, loyalty, and sacrifice. Those are my constant themes—along with trying to be aware of what’s happening around us.

Erin: You’ve won or been a finalist for many various awards that most writers only dream of, like the Nero, Macavity, Edgar, and Anthony, as well as ITW’s Thriller Master Award and three Bram Stoker Awards. You’ve accomplished so much already, what keeps you writing? What broad goals do you still have for yourself in your career?

David:  I think it’s important to keep evolving and changing. Before I start a novel, I ask myself why the book is worth a year or two or even three years of my time. After all, time is the only important thing we have. There needs to be something about the theme, the research, and the way the book will be written that will hold my interest.  At the end, I hope to be a fuller person than when I started.

Erin: I know you get asked this a lot, but we all reach various readers, so what is the best advice you can give to aspiring writers that will encourage and motivate them to keep working?

David:  In terms of motivation, I think fiction writers tend to be damaged people who perform a kind of self-psychoanalysis, putting their anxieties on the page. Sitting alone in a room for hours and hours isn’t normal. So, fiction writers have a drive to tell their story and hardly lack motivation. As for building a career and going the distance, I give my writing students these two mantras.  1. Be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of another author. 2. Don’t chase the market.  You’ll always see its backside.

Erin: Is there another novel in the Thomas De Quincey series planned? I’d love to read about another murder case this team falls upon….if so, explain, if not, tell us what else you plan to write?

David: I always thoughts of this as a trilogy, so I’m working on a third De Quincey novel. Again it will blend fact and fiction and be based on a major crime that changed Victorian society.

Erin: What is the best place you’ve traveled to and what type of food would you travel the world to eat again (this is a fun question!)?

David: For research, I once went to Paris, where I found a restaurant near the Sorbonne. It served my favorite dish, cassoulet, and I went there four nights in a row, always ordering the same thing. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Erin: Thank you, David, not only for your amazing novels but also for doing this interview with me today! It’s been an honor for me.

David: Thanks for the chat. Your enthusiasm makes me smile.

Erin: That totally made my week!

02_Inspector of the Dead CoverInspector of the Dead, Synopsis~

Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Mulholland Books
Hardcover; 342p
ISBN: 9780316323932

Genre: Historical Mystery

GoodReads

David Morrell’s MURDER AS A FINE ART was a publishing event. Acclaimed by critics, it made readers feel that they were actually on the fogbound streets of Victorian London. Now the harrowing journey continues in INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his Confessions of an Opium-Eater,confronts London’s harrowing streets to thwart the assassination of Queen Victoria.
The year is 1855. The Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the English government. The Empire teeters.

Amid this crisis comes opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, one of the most notorious and brilliant personalities of Victorian England. Along with his irrepressible daughter, Emily, and their Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker, De Quincey finds himself confronted by an adversary who threatens the heart of the nation.

This killer targets members of the upper echelons of British society, leaving with each corpse the name of someone who previously attempted to kill Queen Victoria. The evidence indicates that the ultimate victim will be Victoria herself. As De Quincey and Emily race to protect the queen, they uncover long-buried secrets and the heartbreaking past of a man whose lust for revenge has destroyed his soul.

Brilliantly merging historical fact with fiction, Inspector of the Dead is based on actual attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria.

Praise for Inspector of the Dead

“Riveting! I literally thought I was in 1855 London. With this mesmerizing series, David Morrell doesn’t just delve into the world of Victorian England—he delves into the heart of evil, pitting one man’s opium-skewed brilliance against a society where appearances are everything, and the most vicious killers lurk closer than anyone thinks.” —Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Crash & Burn and The Perfect Husband

What the Victorian Experts Say:

“Even better than Murder as a Fine Art. A truly atmospheric and dynamic thriller. I was fascinated by how Morrell seamlessly blended elements from Thomas De Quincey’s life and work. The solution is a complete surprise.” —Grevel Lindop, The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas De Quincey

“The scope is remarkable. Florence Nightingale, the Crimean War, regicide, the railways, opium, the violence and despair of the London rookeries, medical and scientific innovations, arsenic in the food and clothing—all this makes the Victorian world vivid. The way Morrell depicts Thomas De Quincey places him in front of us, living and breathing. But his daughter Emily is in many ways the real star of the book.” —Robert Morrison, The English Opium-Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey

“I absolutely raced through it and couldn’t bear to put it down. I particularly liked how the very horrible crimes are contrasted with the developing, fascinating relationship between Thomas De Quincey and his daughter, Emily, who come across as extremely real. It was altogether a pleasure.” —Judith Flanders, The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Reveled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
iBooks
IndieBound
Kobo

Author David Morrell, Biography~

03_David Morell ©_Jennifer_EsperanzaDavid Morrell is an Edgar, Nero, Anthony, and Macavity nominee as well as a recipient of the prestigious career-achievement ThrillerMaster award from International Thriller Writers.

His numerous New York Times bestsellers include the classic espionage novel, The Brotherhood of the Rose, which was the basis for the only television mini-series to be broadcast after a Super Bowl.

A former literature professor at the University of Iowa, Morrell has a PhD from Pennsylvania State University.

His latest novel is INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD, a sequel to his highly acclaimed Victorian mystery/thriller, Murder as a Fine Art, which Publishers Weekly called ”one of the top ten mystery/thrillers of 2013.”

For more information visit David Morrell’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/inspectorofthedeadblogtour/

Hashtags: #InspectoroftheDeadBlogTour #HistoricalMystery

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @_DavidMorrell

04_Inspector of the Dead_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

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Murder and Mayhem in Victorian London? Inspector of the Dead: David Morrell’s Thrilling Thomas De Quincey Sequel

02_Inspector of the Dead CoverReview~

What can you really say of David Morrell that isn’t great? He’s a master at all types of suspense and thriller books that he writes, including his newest foray into Victorian England with his Thomas De Quincey historical mysteries. First publishing Murder as a Fine Art in 2013 (you can read my review of that HERE and an interview I had with him there HERE), he’s now back with a sequel called Inspector of the Dead.

Morrell features his mysteries around Thomas De Quincey, known as the Opium-Eater, a man who wrote essays during this era where the dark, cobbled streets of London were ripe with addiction, lust, and murder. It’s said that he inspired Edgar Allan Poe, who in turn inspired Arthur Conan Doyle in his creation of Sherlock Holmes. He also struggled with opium addiction (it was legal in Britain at this time, but most people kept their use a secret), which caused him much strife in his life with dreams and nightmares. Morrell obviously has painstakingly researched the man and the time period, both in the fact that is historical revelations of this man and the creation of his character seem so vivid and authentic, as well as, his time period descriptions are atmospheric and captivating.

He seemed to have a lot of Victorian Era and Thomas De Quincey scholars and educators read through his book prior to publishing, which shows that he cares very much about getting it right for readers, whether its actually fiction or not. It’s historical fiction, and he doesn’t like to take many liberties with the man himself, but creates an accurate character based on his findings, set on a case that also surrounds real historical events that entertains and absorbs the reader into the book.

This time, a murderer is killing people and leaving notes on their bodies of those who have attempted to assassinate or overthrow Queen Victoria and evidence points that Queen Elizabeth might be the final target! It’s 1855 and the English government is already weakened by war, so the murderer must be stopped. De Quincey, who’s become quite the professional sleuth, his daughter Emily, and Scotland Yard detectives are on the move in order to stop this threat.

Morrell unravels the mystery of the murder with seamless ease, giving us clues and snippets, but leaving us hanging till the end. His pace, plotting, and placement of scenes and dialogue are intricately linked, making the readability of this novel very high and quite enjoyable. We see a portrait of a criminal consumed with jealously, rage, and hurt. Through Morrell’s writing, even though we don’t know the murderer, we can feel the depth of his heart on fire with the wrong type of passion. It’s ominous and ethereal in all the right ways for a novel in this fog-laden mystery.

As always, Morrell layers within his novel the social issue of class structure, as those being murdered are from upper society, while the criminal moves around into circles of higher class victims by wearing disguises. Don’t we all sometimes put on  a “disguise” in order to fit in? Doesn’t our anger at not being included sometimes create anger or rage within us? De Quincey even tries to breaks the ideal norm by admitting his addiction publicly, as well as speaking to the point that he can do what he does better based on being in a better social station.

Morrell writes this novel from various view points of De Quincey, the suspect, Emily, and the Scotland Yard gents, Ryan and Becker. Sometimes this can catch readers off guard, but I think he constructed the novel in this vein flawlessly. He allowed us to feel better connected to the secondary characters, and sets up Emily to be a very independent heroine. As De Quincey is a bit Holmes like, Emily seems to be his Watson. She’s fierce, intelligent, and wholly my favorite character within the book.

Inspector of the Dead can be read stand alone, as Morrell does a nice joy of getting readers caught up with must know details, but reading Murder as a Fine Art will give you a more compelling view of Victorian London, where he really fleshes out the descriptions and presents the setting to us so vividly we feel as if we ourselves are hiding in the shadows. Though there are also amazing period details in the sequel, and vignettes of other new locations, such as homes of the weathly, prisons, asylums, and such. He’s also moved further past our surroundings and helped us to delve more into the characters and their relationships with each other and within society. The murders are gritty, grisly, and reminiscent of any within all those Jack the Ripper tales. Something about Victorian London is dark, grim, and creepy and Morrell doesn’t sway from that “lonely boot tap on stone street sound behind you”-type of affectation.

Overall, Inspector of the Dead’s action, details, and pace are likened to a screen script, which will leave you playing this out in your head with a clear picture. It will seep into you, making you feel frightened, quite possibly losing sleep, yet you’ll also feel part of the mystery-solving team. Have you heard of 3-D books? No? Well, David Morrell’s writing is as close as you’ll ever get.

Morrell once again mixes a recipe of authentic history, vaporous setting, refined plot, and fluid, steady action with on-point elemental social structure apportion. Highly recommended for those who like Victorian era murder mysteries like Sherlock Holmes, or possibly reminiscent Poe’s Dupin mysteries, a tad of Wilkie Collins, and the social intricacies and period details work of Charles Dickens, and yet with Morrell’s signature thriller action pacing and visual effects.

02_Inspector of the Dead CoverInspector of the Dead, Synopsis~

Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Mulholland Books
Hardcover; 342p
ISBN: 9780316323932

Genre: Historical Mystery

GoodReads

David Morrell’s MURDER AS A FINE ART was a publishing event. Acclaimed by critics, it made readers feel that they were actually on the fogbound streets of Victorian London. Now the harrowing journey continues in INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his Confessions of an Opium-Eater,confronts London’s harrowing streets to thwart the assassination of Queen Victoria.
The year is 1855. The Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the English government. The Empire teeters.

Amid this crisis comes opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, one of the most notorious and brilliant personalities of Victorian England. Along with his irrepressible daughter, Emily, and their Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker, De Quincey finds himself confronted by an adversary who threatens the heart of the nation.

This killer targets members of the upper echelons of British society, leaving with each corpse the name of someone who previously attempted to kill Queen Victoria. The evidence indicates that the ultimate victim will be Victoria herself. As De Quincey and Emily race to protect the queen, they uncover long-buried secrets and the heartbreaking past of a man whose lust for revenge has destroyed his soul.

Brilliantly merging historical fact with fiction, Inspector of the Dead is based on actual attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria.

Praise for Inspector of the Dead~

“Riveting! I literally thought I was in 1855 London. With this mesmerizing series, David Morrell doesn’t just delve into the world of Victorian England—he delves into the heart of evil, pitting one man’s opium-skewed brilliance against a society where appearances are everything, and the most vicious killers lurk closer than anyone thinks.” —Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Crash & Burn and The Perfect Husband

What the Victorian Experts Say:

“Even better than Murder as a Fine Art. A truly atmospheric and dynamic thriller. I was fascinated by how Morrell seamlessly blended elements from Thomas De Quincey’s life and work. The solution is a complete surprise.” —Grevel Lindop, The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas De Quincey

“The scope is remarkable. Florence Nightingale, the Crimean War, regicide, the railways, opium, the violence and despair of the London rookeries, medical and scientific innovations, arsenic in the food and clothing—all this makes the Victorian world vivid. The way Morrell depicts Thomas De Quincey places him in front of us, living and breathing. But his daughter Emily is in many ways the real star of the book.” —Robert Morrison, The English Opium-Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey

“I absolutely raced through it and couldn’t bear to put it down. I particularly liked how the very horrible crimes are contrasted with the developing, fascinating relationship between Thomas De Quincey and his daughter, Emily, who come across as extremely real. It was altogether a pleasure.” —Judith Flanders, The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Reveled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime

Buy the Book~

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
iBooks
IndieBound
Kobo

Murder as a Fine Art, Synopsis, First Thomas De Quincey Novel~

Murder as a Fine ArtGaslit London is brought to its knees in David Morrell’s brilliant historical thriller.

Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his memoir Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, is the major suspect in a series of ferocious mass murders identical to ones that terrorized London forty-three years earlier.

The blueprint for the killings seems to be De Quincey’s essay “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.” Desperate to clear his name but crippled by opium addiction, De Quincey is aided by his devoted daughter Emily and a pair of determined Scotland Yard detectives.

In Murder as a Fine Art, David Morrell plucks De Quincey, Victorian London, and the Ratcliffe Highway murders from history. Fogbound streets become a battleground between a literary star and a brilliant murderer, whose lives are linked by secrets long buried but never forgotten.

David Morrell, Biography~

03_David Morell ©_Jennifer_EsperanzaDavid Morrell is an Edgar, Nero, Anthony, and Macavity nominee as well as a recipient of the prestigious career-achievement ThrillerMaster award from the International Thriller Writers.

His numerous New York Times bestsellers include the classic espionage novel, The Brotherhood of the Rose, the basis for the only television mini-series to be broadcast after a Super Bowl.

A former literature professor at the University of Iowa, Morrell has a PhD from Pennsylvania State University.

His latest novel is INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD, a sequel to his highly acclaimed Victorian mystery/thriller, Murder as a Fine Art, which Publishers Weekly called ”one of the top ten mystery/thrillers of 2013.”

For more information visit David Morrell’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/inspectorofthedeadblogtour/

Hashtags: #InspectoroftheDeadBlogTour #HistoricalMystery

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @_DavidMorrell

04_Inspector of the Dead_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

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C.W. Gortner Writes About the Iconic Coco Chanel: Exquisitely Written with Compassion and Class

MC coverI was thrilled the moment I heard about this book and I already knew it would be one of my top five favorites of the year. The recipe was perfectly set up to make it so: 1) Coco Chanel is one of my idols, primarily for her insatiable spirit to defy boundaries as a woman and in her craft (plus I love anything Chanel!) and 2) Christopher Gortner is one of my very favorite people and authors. I knew that if anyone could do a really extraordinary job featuring Coco, it would be him.

I’ve read, and own, other books about her. Some I noticed he read in his research as well. Due to this, I also knew that he’d done a great amount of research, yet I knew he’d bring a compassion and an experienced storytelling style to the novel that might have been lacking a little in others. Upon reading his book, I believe I was correct! Being involved in fashion himself, studying it and working in the field before becoming a writer, I knew that he’d also understand and bring to light the fashion end of it that so many others have not. He did, with superb detail. He proves the fact that fashion is not always about frills, but also about defining oneself.

In the beginning segment of the book, Gortner asks “Who is Coco Chanel?” As a reader, we are viewing her at an older age, fixing hem lines on models and watching them in thought as they wear her garments down the runway. Then, her story begins in 1895 when her mother dies, her father doesn’t want her or her siblings, and her aunts devise to send them away to an orphanage. She’s abandoned, and in this, changed forever. What she does take away with her from her childhood, however, is her sewing talent and ability. It’s something her mother taught her when she was little.

From there, we begin to understand and watch Coco’s struggle to find her place. Being sent to Notre Dame at Moulins, a convent boarding school, she discovers her heart is telling her she wants to “be someone…do something.” She isn’t interested in marrying a man so they can take care of her. She first travels to Vichy and finds her desire in hats. Not bedazzled hats, but in simplifying hats. She isn’t afraid of changing things up. Coco’s class is found mostly in her simple, streamlined vision. I appreciated how Gortner’s perception of her seemed so authentic, humble, and with so much more to her than the stoic woman we know now as THE woman behind the Chanel empire. Through his descriptive and delicate details that he strategically placed, we can feel her passion and determination. It’s easy to cheer on this insightful woman in her desire to offer her fashion views to the world, which in turn, changed the way women viewed themselves, and still do.

Coco 2

Gortner takes readers on a journey of Chanel’s life as she seeks love on her terms, even though her work is her true calling, not serving a man. When she became mistress to Etienne Balsan, he suggested that she not follow her passions, for instance, and she felt the limitations that men and society could put on women. In this, Coco realizes that her freedom as a woman would come from making her own money. She meets and begins an affair with Boy Capel, falling hard in love with him; however, even in that love it is still not enough to consume her completely (it doesn’t define her) and she realizes that her “being” is her work. This then, her work ethic, would always make others, men and women, feel inferior and jealous. However, in many ways Boy supported her efforts with money, loaning her money (which she paid back) to open her store fronts, and she was truly in love with him, so when he passed away she immortalized their relationship with her logo of interlocking CCs (Capel and Chanel).The depth of emotion that Gortner portrayed in these sections of his book were poignant and moving. Some portrayals of her have shown she had the ability to use others to get what she wanted, but Gortner shows us this was not always what it seemed. I didn’t feel that way with his novel.

In showcasing the initial portion of Chanel’s life, Gortner encompasses her growth of self and moving past these relationships, and where other books on Coco have left off, he picks up and leads the second half of the book into featuring her emerging empire through her time until the end of WWII when her business lessened in France. Most of all, I enjoyed seeing the materialization of perfume, Chanel No. 5, which is still probably the most iconic perfume on the market. It was fascinating watching her business sense and her reactions and relationships with others in regards to her business.

Coco 3

The woman we see emerge in her 40s is rather blunt, unemotional, and a work-a-holic. She stated that “men don’t understand me,” so she’d never marry, but she took many lovers. It’s obvious that at some point to deal with all her past sorrows, she immersed herself in work and remained detached from others. Her life pretty much felt over to her once she lost Boy, I think, except for her work dreams. She became a business woman to admire in that she didn’t let anything get in the way of her dreams, most of all any men.

Her life was one of drama, from her relationships to her alleged involvement with Nazis in WWII, and she was constantly reinventing herself in some shape or form, yet somehow always aligning to her simple style ideals. She was a patron of many artists and free thinkers. She wasn’t afraid to put past ideals of society for women in her fashion either. She created leisure wear for women made from cloth like jersey, commonly otherwise used in men’s underwear. She’s famed for the little black dress and the Chanel suit (especially in America after WWII), while leading what seemed like a life of constant intrigue. I loved watching her career unfold in this book, from her first millinery work and hat creation to her amazing French store fronts of clothing, accessories, and perfume.

coco 1

I believe that Gortner truly took his care with this book. He POURED his entire being into writing this book and that certainly shows. He embodies the true Chanel, her heart and her intellect, her passion and her work. He paints a true portrait of the creative artist she was and opens up our heart as readers to her, allowing us to love every part of her incorrigible spirit. He introduces us to her lovers and her friends so that we don’t just see her as a solitary figure, but we see her within her vulnerable moments as well.

There’s been many books written about Coco Chanel and her work and life. However, Gortner has written an elegant story that only he can tell, leaving her a lasting legacy and giving her a soul in a way like no other I’ve read. If there’s one book you buy all year, buy this one, whether you’re already a fan of Chanel like me, you have an interest in fashion, or you’d love to read a compelling and captivating novel of one of the most iconic women of all time. It’s a gorgeously written book full of courage, compassion, depth, and soul.

MC coverMademoiselle Chanel, Synopsis~

(historical fiction)

Release date: March 17, 2015
at William-Morrow/HarperCollins

384 pages

ISBN: 978-0062356406

For readers of “The Paris Wife” and “Z” comes this vivid novel full of drama, passion, tragedy, and beauty that stunningly imagines the life of iconic fashion designer Coco Chanel—the ambitious, gifted laundrywoman’s daughter who revolutionized fashion, built an international empire, and became one of the most influential and controversial figures of the twentieth century.

Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her siblings are sent to an orphanage after their mother’s death. The sisters nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that will propel the willful young woman into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood.

Transforming herself into Coco—a seamstress and sometime torch singer—the petite brunette burns with ambition, an incandescence that draws a wealthy gentleman who will become the love of her life. She immerses herself in his world of money and luxury, discovering a freedom that sparks her creativity. But it is only when her lover takes her to Paris that Coco discovers her destiny.

Rejecting the frilly, corseted silhouette of the past, her sleek, minimalist styles reflect the youthful ease and confidence of the 1920s modern woman. As Coco’s reputation spreads, her couturier business explodes, taking her into rarefied society circles and bohemian salons. But her fame and fortune cannot save her from heartbreak as the years pass. And when Paris falls to the Nazis, Coco is forced to make choices that will haunt her.

An enthralling novel of an extraordinary designer who created the life she desired, Mademoiselle Chanel explores the inner world of a woman of staggering ambition whose strength, passion and artistic vision would become her trademark.

C.W. Gortner, Biography~

CW GortnerC.W. Gortner is the international bestselling author of six historical novels,
translated in over twenty-five languages to date.

His new novel, Mademoiselle Chanel, traces the tumultuous rise to fame of iconic fashion designer, Coco Chanel.

In 2016, Random House will publish his eighth novel, “Vatican Princess”, about Lucrezia Borgia.

Raised in Spain and a long-time resident of the Bay Area, C.W. is also dedicated to companion animal rescue from overcrowded shelters.

Visit his website. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter

Subscribe to his newsletter

Buy the book: HarperCollins | IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

GIVEAWAY / GIVEAWAY / GIVEAWAY

You can enter the giveaway here or on the book blogs participating in this tour (just click on the badge below to follow the stops on the tour. Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook; they are listed in the entry form below.

Click on “Entry-Form” below to enter:

Entry-Form

Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! [just follow the directions on the entry-form]

6 winners and open to US only:
5 printed copies + 1 beautiful, handcrafted beaded bracelet inspired by Coco’s
black-and-white signature colors and camellia design

Mademoiselle Chanel bracelet

Click on the banner here to follow the other stops on the tour:

Mademoiselle Chanel banner

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Sudetenland by George T. Chronis is a Historical Thriller Set in Central Europe at the Pinnacle Time of Hitler’s Rise

02_Sudetenland_Cover-683x1024

Review~

First of all, this is an extraordinary book! The subject matter drew me in, primarily because I’d studied a lot of WWII in college and it’s an era I enjoy, but I had no idea that it would be so massively insightful and entertaining. I was thrilled about the latter part as well, since I’m into reading espionage and intrigue-based books. I think this novel deserves to be garnering a little more enthusiasm from historical readers and historians themselves who like in-depth, research based books from an era where there’s many books to choose from on the shelves, but not as much about this particular segment taking place in Central Europe.

The book is extremely long, at almost 800 pages, so it would make for a great purchase when you want a book to really study and read over a length of time. It’s one to savor, like a long-length movie marathon. It’s one of those great gifts, and not to be sexist because as a female I liked it too, that makes for a cool Father’s Day gift or a history buff’s birthday. It’s a rare gift book, where you really feel like you are giving someone an epic read that they’ll treasure. I remember being assigned books like this in college to read and discuss, so as well, this would be a great novel for students.

I like this description from Amazon, so though it’s long, I’m going to post it too. It will give you a great idea of the novel before I continue on with my review:

The Sudetenland. To Europe’s well-heeled in the Nineteenth Century, this was a place of world-renowned spa resorts nestled in the mountains ringing Western Bohemia. But bad blood and unfinished business from the First World War had taken their toll on the Sudetendeutsche – three million ethnic Germans unhappily living in the new nation of Czechoslovakia. In 1930 they were just one more ethnic complication among many in Central Europe. Eight years later, these people had found a champion in Adolph Hitler, and the smart money in Paris and London wagered the next World War would detonate in these storybook mountains and valleys.

Sudetenland© is a sweeping historical novel set against Central European intrigue during the late 1930s leading up to 1938’s Munich Conference. Having swallowed up Austria, Adolph Hitler now covets Czechoslovakian territory. Only France has the power to stand beside the government in Prague against Germany… but will she? The characters are the smart and sometimes wise-cracking men and women of this era – the foreign correspondents, intelligence officers, diplomats and career military – who are on the front lines of that decade’s most dangerous political crisis.

Sudetenland© introduces readers to Jan Burda, the Czech intelligence officer who must thwart the Nazis operating on his own soil; Ros Talmadge, the Paris-based American who is trying to make a name for herself as a foreign correspondent while staying one step ahead of her mercurial boss; Dietrich Morgen, the street brawler from Hamburg who found a home in Himmler’s SS; Ladislaw Capka, the Czechoslovak army tank commander trained in the finest French military academy who is determined to take the fight into Germany if war comes; Nathan Bulloch, the American military attaché in Prague who wanted to see the world but saw little reason in getting killed doing so; and Anton Krisch, who comes out of the Esterwegen concentration camp a much more dangerous man than when he was thrown in. With remarkable attention to historical detail, Sudetenland© also features man actual personages who played a vital role during this international crisis including Charles de Gaulle, Winston Churchill and Frantisek Moravec.

Hitler’s unshakeable will demands that the Sudetenland be ripped from Czechoslovakia and joined with Germany. If Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš ignores the advice of French premier Édouard Daladier and refuses to give up Bohemian territory willingly, then Hitler orders that it be taken by force. As the crisis builds over the summer of 1938, any spark, any perceived indignity could ignite the German dictator’s rage and start the war the leaders of France and Great Britain are so determined to avoid. Sudetenland© takes readers behind the scenes into the deliberations and high drama taking place within major European capitals such as Prague, Paris, Berlin, Vienna and London as the continent hurtles toward the crucible of a shooting war.

Chronis really must have challenged himself with this endeavor. His research is pain-staking and accurate, his times, places, and events are authentic, and yet, his characters are also genuine and engaging. They were smart, funny, and dynamic, with dimensional personalities and ease of connection. I really liked, being a journalist myself, how he used foreign correspondents (a dream job!) and other secretive operations people to propel the plot. He certainly must have taken his time as an author to intertwine all his research to the doings of his fictional characters as he seems to have perfectly coupled them into an thrilling historical novel.

Chronis knows his military speak and his history, having delved completely into the historical situation. He’s as precise as Tom Clancy when it comes to miitary details, but with descriptions and dialogue that are effortlessly endearing and captivating. His historical detail and research never really bogs down the novel though as some of those large military thrillers do for me. I was focused on this story and flipping the pages in anticipation.

There are many questions to ponder when reading, or after reading, this novel. It opens so many thought processes. He breathed out the narrative of this book, but never left gaps unfilled in a boring or strange manner. For the length of the book, his thriller and screen-type of writing kept the novel moving for me. I’d love to see this on the screen on a Saturday afternoon!

Chronis has completed an epic foray into WWII-era politics that is suspenseful, thrilling, and as well, endearing. It has intrigue, romance, and action enough that any historical reader will be enamored. I highly recommend this book for its amazing historical research and its engaging story. I look forward to Chronis considering to write a second book!

Sudetenland, Synopsis~

02_Sudetenland_Cover-683x1024Publication Date: September 30, 2014
BookBaby
Formats: eBook
ASIN: B00O2T6B9Y

Sudetenland is the premiere novel by author George T. Chronis. The book delivers suspenseful and sweeping historical fiction set against Central European intrigue during the late 1930s leading up to 1938’s Munich Conference. Having swallowed up Austria, Adolph Hitler now covets Czechoslovakian territory. Only France has the power to stand beside the government in Prague against Germany… but will she? The characters are the smart and sometimes wise-cracking men and women of this era – the foreign correspondents, intelligence officers, diplomats and career military – who are on the front lines of that decade’s most dangerous political crisis. If Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš ignores the advice of French premier Édouard Daladier and refuses to give up Bohemian territory willingly, then Hitler orders that it be taken by force. The novel takes readers behind the scenes into the deliberations and high drama taking place within major European capitals such as Prague, Paris, Berlin, Vienna and London as the continent hurtles toward the crucible of a shooting war.

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
iBooks
Kobo

Praise for Sudetenland~

“Chronis impresses with such a challenging and intriguing debut effort, well written, impeccably researched.”
— Melinda, Unshelfish

“Anyone that is looking for a thorough and rewarding read will enjoy Sudetenland.” — Diana, BookNerd

“The plot moves quickly along keeping you intrigued with well defined characters and great imagery to help immerse yourself in the story… I adored the way George managed to weave together the tragedy of war, depression and politics with romance, love and hope.” — Jennifer, pirategrl1014

Author George Chronis, Biography~

03_George-T.-Chronis-300x254After years as a journalist and magazine editor, George T. Chronis decided to return to his lifelong passion, storytelling. A lover of both 1930s cinema and world history, Chronis is now devoted to bringing life to the mid-20th Century fictional narratives that have been in his thoughts for years.

Sudetenland© is his first novel. Taking place during turbulent times in Central Europe during the 1930s, the book took eight years to research and write. The author is already hard at work on his second novel.

Chronis is married with two daughters, and lives with his wife in a Southern California mountain community.

For more information please visit the Sudetenland website or George T. Chronis’s website, or follow him on Tumblr. Subscribe to George T. Chronis’s newsletter.

Giveaway~

Enter HERE to win a gift card from George!

Follow the Tour

Sudetenland Tour Graphic

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Interview with George T. Chronis About his Debut 1930s Historical Thriller Set in Central Europe

Today, I have an interview with George Chronis, author of Sudetenland, which the synopsis states is a “suspenseful and sweeping historical fiction set against Central European intrigue during the late 1930s leading up to 1938’s Munich Conference.”

With smart characters and a great story, George’s debut novel is one you’ll want to consider if you like the 1930s/WWII era! In the interview, George will talk about how he came to writing, the era he’s writing in, and even his favorite films. It’s very interesting!

Enjoy!

Hi George, and welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! How has the launch for your first novel, Sudetenland, been for you? Such an interesting historical book.

George: Thank you very much for having me! The launch has been new and exciting. This is my first novel, and it is self-published, so you do your research and discover all of these wonderful options available. The e-book version came out in October, and I just put out a print version with CreateSpace this month. In-between I have worked with some delightful people to get the word out about Sudetenland.

Erin: That’s so wonderful! New and exciting! Come in and have a seat. I’m sure it’s not snowing in California, but alas, in Ohio, we have snow again. I’ll glad  you wore your coat. Let’s heat up with some hot tea or a beverage of your choice?

George: Tea would be wonderful, thanks. Well, my little slice of California is atypical. We are 6,000 feet up and three weekends ago a big storm rumbled through and dropped a foot of snow on us… so I am sympathetic. But you are right, it’s very hot right now. We’re getting mid-60s during the day and mid-40s at night. But in Los Angeles you can add 20 degrees.

Erin: I’ll pour that tea, still very chilly here. I forget sometimes that parts of California have different weather conditions. I’m so far removed. How about we get started!

Q: You’re a former journalist turned author. I talk to many fellow journalists who end up writing historical novels. I suppose it’s the research component? What do you think? (Or maybe the urge to write more than what’s allowed in the ever-decreasing news space? Ha!)

George: When I was a kid I devoured history books with a passion, so I guess it all started back then. I arrived at journalism from a weird angle. In college I was on the speech and debate team, which teaches you research, structure and delivery skills that mirror those needed by a journalist. My first love was film, but when that did not work out as planned, I landed a writing opportunity and ran with it. But working as a journalist and editor gave me the further skills and experience that made it possible for me to consider writing a book.

Q: Your bio says that you are lover of old cinema and world history. When and how did you become inspired to start researching your first novel? How long did it take to research?

George:The kernel for Sudetenland had been germinating for a long time. In addition to reading history, back as a teen I was a scale modeler. There was a national association that helped with a lot of networking, including pen pal matchmaking. During the 1970s I ended up with a pen pal in Prague. I would send him model kits and he would send me books and magazines. Naturally, I could not read any of this material, but there were plenty of color plates and you got a good sense of the topic context. Think of it as a window on 20th Century history from a Czechoslovak perspective. After that I was interested in that perspective and began picking up sources in English. Somewhere in the mid-1990s I came across a wonderfully well-researched magazine article that was a what-if examination of what might have happened had Germany and Czechoslovakia come to blows in 1938. That got me thinking on taking a fictional approach and I started directed research to that goal in 1999.

02_Sudetenland_Cover-683x1024

Q: How did you conduct your research, for instance, did you do it just online, go to various libraries, or travel? How did you compile it all?

George: All of those! So much has changed since I started this project. Most of the primary research was done via used books acquired at local shops or found and purchased online. Two books were pivotal. There was Master of Spies by Frantisek Moravec. He was the person in charge of Czech military intelligence and it is a fascinating read with amazing details. Then there is Berlin Diary by William Shirer. He was an amazing journalist that worked for Hearst and went on to be one of Edward R. Murrow’s radio broadcasters in Europe with CBS. Both of these fellows had these amazing first-person observations and anecdotes. There was so much wonderful material between the two of them that the only way I could avoid guilt in using it all was making them both characters. I also spent two weeks in Prague in 2000 to try and soak up as much background and ambiance as possible.

What came out of this primary research was a day-by-day timeline running between 1937 and 1938 with significant historical events. There were less frequent date entries running all the way back to 1932. The end document was huge but it gave me a roadmap of where characters could be on any given day and insight on what I could have them do. After I started writing I found online sources to be a fantastic tool for contextual research. You can know where you want a character to be and what you want them to do when you sit down to write a scene, then you realize you need a hotel or bridge, etc. That’s where quick online searches helped a lot. What started out in a collection of physical documents and volumes ended up as digital storage.

Q: Why do the 1930s in particular intrigue you?

George: My wife says it is a past life and she might be right. But when you grow up in Los Angeles in a certain era with revival houses, local TV stations showing old flicks in the wee hours and a cable network called Z Channel dedicated to cinema, you have all of these windows on past eras. The ’30s was a decade of tremendous upheaval and technological change. People had to think quick and land on their feet to stay ahead. That’s why I think you see so many smart and sassy characters coming out of that decade. There’s also a great sense of adventure that permeates the era. You can call it escapism for people who wanted to forget their troubles for a while, but you see these delightful adventure stories and screwball comedies coming out of the 1930s that I simply adore.

Q: Secondly, your novel is set in this time of war, leading up to the Munich Conference, and focuses on the political aspects of the time and the role of the French. Can you talk about why this point in time was crucial, important, or interesting?

George: Beyond this being a fascinating period in history in its own right with critical implications to how the world is today, it all goes back to that what-if scenario I mentioned before. What happens if the crisis does erupt into conflict before there can be a Munich Conference? In reality, it would not have taken very much and I insert a plausible incident in late September 1938 that careens history in a different direction. The world becomes a very different place. The other important reason is that in making this change I would have the opportunity to establish a very different Cold War with very different dynamics. Cold War fiction was a genre I really enjoyed but the genre lost its steam with the fall of the Berlin Wall. I wanted my own Cold War to play with that no one else would have. Sudetenland was the best and most factually supportable route to this end.

Q: Why did you choose to focus on the characters that you did in your novels? How much of a role did the foreign correspondents, diplomats, intelligence operatives, etc. play in your novel and in history?

George: Originally, Sudetenland was a much less ambitious story. The book was going to be more of a spy thriller with far fewer characters. But what I have found is that your best characters write themselves. That was the case with Ros, the only correspondent I envisioned early on. I fell in love with her and wanted to give her more to do. That required throwing out the second act and crafting a whole new one. Then I needed some other correspondents for her to play off of. The whole bunch pretty much ran off with the show. Yet in addition to getting some wonderful material out of them, the correspondents added this whole chaotic element to the narrative that was very fun to work with. They also made it possible to add in some screwball comedy for tension relief. Another benefit is that with all of these characters I could put more first-person experiences into the story by taking them to more locales where something critical was happening. I used real people in much the same way by having them play the part they lived. Jan Masaryk, for example. He was the Czechoslovak ambassador to the United Kingdom. By all accounts a very colorful character. You read up as much as you can on where he was and what he said, and then fill in as plausibly as possible when you extend the person when necessary in the fiction.

Q: How do you feel that the thirties decade ushered in important changes within the United States? And in comparison, how do you feel that they changed the world?

George: Perhaps in a display of national dynamism.In many ways the United States in the 1930s is a country attempting to find its way – staggering, trying to right itself from a major body blow. There is a lot of shared trauma and solidarity to pull together and get ahead. So the focus is primarily domestic. But in the world at large there is a lot of nasty stuff happening that keeps interrupting that focus. World War II forces the U.S. to take a commanding lead in global affairs. But 1930s America is a much more tentative player on the world stage. The question I will be developing in the sequel is how does the U.S. react when there is no World War II and the country is now faced with an early Cold War.

Q: Why did you decide to write Sudetenland as a historical fiction as opposed to a non-fiction? You’ve shared a lot of factual information, so where is the line drawn for you?

George: On the one hand there is a great deal of under-appreciated history that I wanted to share with others but I was more driven to tell a good story. The history gives you the conditions and context to tell a good story.

Q: Will your next book be a sequel and continue on in time chronologically?

George: There is a sequel in the works that I am doing primary research on, and yes it will continue on chronologically where Sudetenland leaves off. The next book, however, is a Film Noir that I am very fond of. The story started out life as a screenplay I wrote years ago that actually got some traction with a producer at a major studio for a time. Most people who read it back then thought it was enjoyable more like a book despite the script form. So I am updating the narrative and crafting it into a novel. It is a much smaller story than Sudetenland yet I am enjoying breathing new life and depth into it.

Q: Do you have advice for other journalists who jump the fence into novel writing? For instance, I have to always remember to switch between AP style and Chicago Manual of Style!

George: Again, my path to writing a novel is a little weird. I was a film student in a screenplay program. Inside my noggin the voice of my thesis advisor still intones directives on narrative structure and character development. Then there is the journalism experience that helps me adapt all of that into a novel format. Most days, however, I have this poignant feeling that I am simply channeling Howard Hawks. My advice is that there is no singular way to write a novel, or skill set to get there. People can argue about whether internal threat or external threat is more compelling, of whether more dialogue or less dialogue is appropriate, or whether prose is written for the sake of grammatical flourish or driving the narrative – these are all personal tastes. Yet everyone appreciates reading a good story. So if you have a good story to tell, write it, the rest will attend to itself.

Q: What other time periods in history interest you? Will you write about any others?

George: The next book takes places in the late 1940s. There are a couple of contemporary stories I’d like work up, as well as a number of other stories that are set around the Civil War and the Spanish American War. One of the contemporary projects has historical hooks going back to the 4th Century. 

Q: As stated, you like 1930s cinema. What are some of your favorite movies of that period and why?

George: Oh my, I could go on a bit answering that one but I will try to be concise. Only Angels Have Wings: at its heart its a rewarding relationship movie about a group of pilots with a dangerous job and how they cope. Arise My Love: what a girl has to do to get her props as a correspondent with lots of heart and humor. The Adventures of Robin Hood: simply an all-round perfect film. His Girl Friday: one of the best flicks ever made set around screwball reporters. Too Hot to Handle: a mostly outlandish but fun romp about newsreel reporters who will stop at nothing to get the story. If I Were King: an endearing and touching take on poet François Villon matching wits with King Louis XI.

Q: What books and authors interest you? Have any other authors inspired your own writing?

George: Probably most of my inspiration comes from director Howard Hawks in the kinds of stories I want to tell and the way in which I want to tell them. From the literary side, Tom Clancy proved you could dive deep into detail and craft a hard charging narrative around the facts. Umberto Eco for the beautifully arcane circumstances that he fashions. Dashiell Hammett and Edgar Rice Burrows for their deeply personal and compelling pulp adventures. Jules Verne, for if you actually read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea you are introduced to a seething political commentary on the British Empire that is haunting. For a consecutive set of the most imaginative stories: James P. Hogan.   

Erin: Thank you so much George for doing this quick interview with me. I wish you success! I’m always happy to support new writers! Do stop back by anytime! :)

George: The pleasure is all mine, Erin. Thank you very much for the opportunity.

Sudetenland, Synopsis~

02_Sudetenland_Cover-683x1024Publication Date: September 30, 2014
BookBaby
Formats: eBook
ASIN: B00O2T6B9Y

Sudetenland is the premiere novel by author George T. Chronis. The book delivers suspenseful and sweeping historical fiction set against Central European intrigue during the late 1930s leading up to 1938’s Munich Conference. Having swallowed up Austria, Adolph Hitler now covets Czechoslovakian territory. Only France has the power to stand beside the government in Prague against Germany… but will she? The characters are the smart and sometimes wise-cracking men and women of this era – the foreign correspondents, intelligence officers, diplomats and career military – who are on the front lines of that decade’s most dangerous political crisis. If Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš ignores the advice of French premier Édouard Daladier and refuses to give up Bohemian territory willingly, then Hitler orders that it be taken by force. The novel takes readers behind the scenes into the deliberations and high drama taking place within major European capitals such as Prague, Paris, Berlin, Vienna and London as the continent hurtles toward the crucible of a shooting war.

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
iBooks
Kobo

Praise for Sudetenland~

“Chronis impresses with such a challenging and intriguing debut effort, well written, impeccably researched.”
— Melinda, Unshelfish

“Anyone that is looking for a thorough and rewarding read will enjoy Sudetenland.” — Diana, BookNerd

“The plot moves quickly along keeping you intrigued with well defined characters and great imagery to help immerse yourself in the story… I adored the way George managed to weave together the tragedy of war, depression and politics with romance, love and hope.” — Jennifer, pirategrl1014

Author George Chronis, Biography~

03_George-T.-Chronis-300x254After years as a journalist and magazine editor, George T. Chronis decided to return to his lifelong passion, storytelling. A lover of both 1930s cinema and world history, Chronis is now devoted to bringing life to the mid-20th Century fictional narratives that have been in his thoughts for years.

Sudetenland© is his first novel. Taking place during turbulent times in Central Europe during the 1930s, the book took eight years to research and write. The author is already hard at work on his second novel.

Chronis is married with two daughters, and lives with his wife in a Southern California mountain community.

For more information please visit the Sudetenland website or George T. Chronis’s website, or follow him on Tumblr. Subscribe to George T. Chronis’s newsletter.

Giveaway~

Enter HERE to win a gift card from George!

Follow the Tour

Sudetenland Tour Graphic

1 Comment

Filed under Q and A with Authors