Interview with J. Boyce Gleason about his debut novel Anvil of God and the Carolingian Era

Today we welcome J. Boyce Gleason to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! Yesterday, I reviewed his book, Anvil of God, and you can read that HERE.  Stay awhile and check out his interview where we talk about his book, who Charles the Hammer really was and how his time period made lasting changes to the world, and what else J. Boyce will be writing in the future.

Anvil of God

We look forward to hearing about your life and writing today J. Boyce! How has the lovely Autumn weather been treating you?

J. Boyce: It’s beautiful here, sun’s out – a little cold, but I like that.

Erin: As I sit down to post this, it’s snowing here.  So much for Autumn weather! Let’s have a seat (indoors!!), grab a warm drink, and begin our conversation!

Q:  For those who aren’t familiar with your book or subject matter, what is Anvil of the God about in your own words? Who is Charles the Hammer?

A: Anvil is based on the true story about what happens to the family of Charles the Hammer when he dies in 741.  Like most families in crisis, they struggle with the loss and its implication for their futures.  Unlike most families, the choices they make have an impact on an entire continent.

The grandfather of Charlemagne, Charles was never king.  He was the military power behind the throne for the Merovingian Kings (recently made famous by Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code).  Charles intended to put his own children on the throne, but his unexpected death put all his plans into jeopardy.  That’s where the story of Anvil of God starts.

Q:  How did he get that tough nickname?

A: He is best known for stopping the march of Islamic armies across Europe.  By the eighth century, the Caliphates had swept over most of Northern Africa and into what is now Spain.  In 732, their armies crossed the Pyrennes, heading for Tours (where many of Christianity’s holy relics were kept).  Charles stopped them at Poitiers and, in a surprise midnight attack routed the Islamic army. 

Q:  Is Anvil of God your first novel? If so, how did it feel for it to finally be published? How long did it take you to write it?

A: It is my first novel and, I’m relieved that it is finally out there in print. It took about two years to write and another two to edit.  It is also a little scary to have your work out there for public critique.  Fortunately, the reviews so far have been good.

Q:  What is your favorite part in the book? Who is your favorite person from that time period that is in your book? And why?

A: I originally expected to write a story about Charlemagne, but when I started doing the research, I couldn’t seem to find a good starting point.  I kept moving backward in time until I discovered the story of Trudi, Charles the Hammer’s daughter.  In what historians called “the scandal of the eighth century,” she falls in love with a rebel leader and flees Charles’s court to escape an arranged marriage.  I knew immediately that it was where Anvil would start.  She is one of my favorite characters and her journey provides a central story arc to the book.  I’m also a big fan of her brother Pippin, but much of his story will be told in the next book.

Q:  What do you hope will intrigue readers about your book, either to buy or to recommend?

A: I think there are several aspects that make it compelling: strong characters, a dynamic storyline, crisp dialogue and powerful conflicts.  What I think makes it interesting is that, although a story of military conflict, the two primary plots are driven by women – and strong women at that.  Much of the story is also framed by the conflict between religions, which, I believe, resonates with what is going on in the world today. 

Q:  The book is based on a true story, how so? How much so?

A: Most of it is true — at least as much of it as I could research.  I wanted it to be accurate.  What I like to tell people is that, we know what happened in history.  I like to write historical fiction to find out why it happened.  At the end, I include an author’s note that details what is history and what is fiction. 

Q:  What is the most important series of event that took place during the time period of your book? What made lasting waves into the future?

A: It is a pivotal point in the history of western civilization.  The Carolingians – as Charles’s family is called by historians – set the bar for European rulers for the next thousand years.  For a brief moment in time during the dark ages, Europe was united, the ancient glory of Rome was restored and the arts and literature flourished.  It was a renaissance before the Renaissance.

Q:  Are the middle ages your favorite time period from history (it’s one I adore)? If so, what makes you favor it so much?

A: It is one of my favorite periods because so much of who we are was shaped back then.  Our cultural and political touchpoints are all framed by stories of the Middle Ages.  Knights in shining armor, damsels in distress, chivalry, noblesse oblige.  It’s everywhere. 

Q: Do you like other historical time periods? If so, what other periods strike your fancy and why?

A: I’m a big fan of American history as well as Europe in the 20th Century.

Q:  Will Anvil of God be a stand-alone or a series?

A: It is definitely a series.  Anvil tells about one third of the story I originally planned to write.  So, there’s a lot more to cover.  Fortunately for me, the rest of the family’s history is just as compelling. 

Q:  What other books do you plan for the future (beyond if the aforementioned is a series)? What else do you dream of writing?

A: I’ve already started a book based on the early life of Ben Franklin.  I try to peel away the carefully constructed tale he left for humanity about his early years.  At the moment, it’s called “Sin of Omission.”

Q:  How much research time went into your Anvil of God? Did any facts surprise you?

A: I took a great deal of research.  I’d be hard pressed to quantify it.  Let’s just say it was more than I expected.  Every person I name in the book had to be grounded not only in the region, but the time period.  And much of what I learned surprised me.  I knew a fair amount about Charles the Hammer and Charlemagne (I had studied them in college). But, I knew almost nothing about their families or who they were as people.

Q:  Your favorite food of choice for long writing or editing sessions?

A: After a morning of writing, I’m big on Vienna Fingers and coffee to set me up for the afternoon.

Q:  Where can readers connect with you?

A:  I’m on Facebook: J. Boyce Gleason and on Twitter:  @JBoyceGleason.  I’m also writing a blog at

Q:  Where can your book be purchased?

A:  You can buy hardcover, softcover and e-book versions virtually everywhere online.  If you want to comparison shop for price, I’ve got a link to most of them on my website at

Erin: Thank you, J. Boyce, for stopping by the site today to talk to me. I love the middle ages and enjoy reading books that bring it to life! It’s been an informative interview. I look forward to more books by you in the future and wish you the best of luck!

J. Boyce: My pleasure, Erin.  I enjoyed the questions and the opportunity to share some background with you and your readers.

Anvil of GodANVIL OF GOD, Synopsis~

Publication Date: July 26, 2013
Paperback; 440p
ISBN-10: 1475990197

It is 741. After subduing the pagan religions in the east, halting the march of Islam in the west, and conquering the continent for the Merovingian kings, mayor of the palace Charles the Hammer has one final ambition-the throne. Only one thing stands in his way-he is dying.

Charles cobbles together a plan to divide the kingdom among his three sons, betroth his daughter to a Lombard prince to secure his southern border, and keep the Church unified behind them through his friend Bishop Boniface. Despite his best efforts, the only thing to reign after Charles’s death is chaos. His daughter has no intention of marrying anyone, let alone a Lombard prince. His two eldest sons question the rights of their younger pagan stepbrother, and the Church demands a steep price for their support. Son battles son, Christianity battles paganism, and Charles’s daughter flees his court for an enemy’s love.

Based on a true story, Anvil of God is a whirlwind of love, honor, sacrifice, and betrayal that follows a bereaved family’s relentless quest for power and destiny.

Author J. Boyce Gleason, Biography~

J. Boyce GleasonAfter a 25-year career in crisis management and public affairs, J. Boyce Gleason began writing historical fiction and is publishing his first novel ANVIL OF GOD, Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles.

With an AB in history from Dartmouth College, Gleason brings a strong understanding of the past to his historical fiction. He is married, has three sons and lives in Virginia.

For more information please visit

Link to Tour Schedule:
Twitter Hashtag: #AnvilOfGodTour

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1 Comment

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One response to “Interview with J. Boyce Gleason about his debut novel Anvil of God and the Carolingian Era

  1. Pingback: New Novel Anvil of God Receives Rave Reviews | Pop Blam!

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