Tag Archives: historical fiction

HISTORYTELLER Scavenger Hunt!

***THE HUNT IS OVER! CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNER, CHRIS KEMP-PHILIP!***

Welcome to Historytellers Scavenger Hunt! This is a hunt dedicated to novels historically set in the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s, where all genre are welcome. You’ll get the opportunity to discover new authors, new stories, and to meet and talk to other readers who love this time period—not to mention that you’ll have the opportunity to win the grand prize. What is the grand prize, you ask? This includes digital copies of all the novels participating in the hunt.

The hunt will be online, today only, 17 March 2019, from 00:00 to 23:59 EST.

Go to the Historytellers Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. 

  

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the Historytellers Scavenger Hunt page.

 

***THE SCAVENGER HUNT***

Directions: I’ve included my lucky number on this post (You will spot it!). All my fellow authors participating in the hunt will include a lucky number on their posts. Collect the these numbers and add them up.

Entry Form: When you have that lucky total number, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Anyone can take part. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday 17 March 23:59 EST. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

LET THE HUNT BEGIN!

***Greetings! I am Beem Weeks***

Beem Weeks here. Born and raised in Michigan, USA. I’m an indie author, blogger, blog talk radio host, Social Media Director for Fresh Ink Group, and reviews coordinator/Rave Waves producer for Rave Reviews Book Club. I have written many short stories, essays, poems, and the historical fiction/coming-of-age novel Jazz Baby. I have also released Slivers of Life: A Collection of Short Stories and Strange Hwy: Short Stories. My current work-in-progress is a novel entitled The Secret Collector, set in 1910. I live to create with the written word.

 

 

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***JAZZ BABY***

While all of Mississippi bakes in the scorching summer of 1925, sudden orphanhood wraps its icy embrace around Emily Ann “Baby” Teegarten, a young, pretty teen.

Taken in by an aunt bent on ridding herself of this unexpected burden, Baby Teegarten plots her escape using the only means at her disposal: a voice that brings church ladies to righteous tears, and makes both angels and devils take notice. “I’m going to New York City to sing jazz,” she brags to anybody who’ll listen. But the Big Apple—well, it’s an awful long way from that dry patch of earth she’d always called home.

So when the smoky stages of New Orleans speakeasies give a whistle, offering all sorts of shortcuts, Emily Ann soon learns it’s the whorehouses and opium dens that can sidetrack a girl and dim a spotlight…and knowing the wrong people can snuff it out.

Jazz Baby just wants to sing—not fight to stay alive.

BUY LINKS:

A few words about Jazz Baby.

Jazz Baby is set in the summer of 1925. The locations drift between a little town in Mississippi called Rayford, and New Orleans, Louisiana. The story is told from the point of view of a young teenage girl named Emily Ann “Baby” Teegarten. Emily has been blessed with an incredible voice for a young white girl—she sounds like a soulful black woman when she belts out church spirituals. But Baby doesn’t want to sing just spirituals. It’s jazz that gets her motor running. When both parents are taken from her early in the story, all she has left in this world is an aunt who really isn’t up to raising a rebellious teenager, and her talent as a singer. This talent—as well as her beauty—catches the eyes of those who might help her as well as those who would hurt her.

The idea for this story came from multiple sources. There are elements that came about through stories my grandfather told when I was a child. His stories didn’t make it into the book, but the era and the environment were certainly influenced by his tales. The main character is based on a composite of three girls I knew in my teenage years. These girls were eager to live life, reckless in their pursuits, and often foolish where common sense would have been better served.

Emily is a curious girl. She’s curious about people, and about the world in which she resides. And she’s curious about sex and the power of her budding sexuality, and the various taboos attached to such forbidden fruit. But sex, to her understanding, isn’t about relationships or commitment. It’s about urges, and about moments in an afternoon or an evening. While traversing the seedy underbelly of New Orleans, Emily comes to understand that sex is often a currency. It can be used to bribe the wills of others, or it can be a means to put a few dollars in a girl’s pocket. And while Emily personally rejects such ideas, New Orleans is full of people with ideas of their own—ideas she may or may not be able to resist.

I sought to create a character that is at once fierce, independent, and determined, yet vulnerable, naïve, and dependent on others for her very survival. I want readers to come away with mixed feelings for this character—caring for the girl, while shaking their heads at her dangerous—even stupid—endeavors. I want her to be real. And to be real, there must be flaws. Judging by many of the reviews, I believe I’ve accomplished this goal.

My lucky number is 3. You need to add it to all the other lucky numbers.

Add up all the lucky numbers and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

***CONTINUE THE HUNT***

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author, Jennifer Lamont Leo!

GOOD LUCK!!

LINKS YOU’LL NEED!

This is number: 3
The link to the BLOG NEXT IN LINE: http://jenniferlamontleo.com/blog/
Link to HOW TO HUNT: https://sarahzama.theoldshelter.com/historytellers-how-to-hunt/
Link to the AUTHORS PAGE: https://sarahzama.theoldshelter.com/historytellers-scavenger-hunt-the-authors/
Link to the ENTRY FORM: https://gleam.io/gH08g/historytellers-scavenger-hunt

 

 

HISTORYTELLERS Scavenger Hunt Begins on Sunday!

Greetings to one and all. Just a short piece here in preparation of the HISTORYTELLERS Scavenger Hunt that is slated to begin on Sunday. And guess what? You’re all invited to play along. The hunt features twelve authors in the historical fiction genre (1910s, 1920s, 1930s) . These authors have joined together to offer a bundle of their books to a lucky reader—which just might be you!

Click HERE to get more details!

If you’re game, why not help us to spread the word?

SHARE THIS TWEET:  Are you a reader of #historicalfiction set in the first decades of the 1900s? Then we are on the same page! Join the #Historytellers scavenger hunt for a chance to win 12 novels set in your favourite period! http://sumo.ly/12u1T #historicalfiction #amreading #freeebooks

Now, to my fellow authors involved. We’re testing the circuit to make sure that everything will go smoothly on Sunday. Clues and the form to enter will be up only on Sunday. Not before and not after.

TO MY FELLOW AUTHORS

This is the link to the blog next to me in the hunt http://jenniferlamontleo.com/blog/

 

The “TREAT” Reads Blog Hop! Day 1

“Greetings!  Welcome to the 2nd RRBC “TREAT” Reads Blog Hop!  These members of RRBC have penned and published some really great reads and we’d like to honor and showcase their talent.  Oddly, all of the listed Winners are RWISA members!  Way to go RWISA!

We ask that you pick up a copy of the title listed, and after reading it, leave a review.  There will be other books on tour for the next few days, so please visit the “HOP’S” main page to follow along.

Also, for every comment that you leave along this tour, including on the “HOP’S” main page, your name will be entered into a drawing for a gift card to be awarded at the end of the tour!”

Author, Ronald Yates

 

 

Book: THE IMPROBABLE JOURNEYS OF BILLY BATTLES 

 

 

Book Blurb: The year is 1894 and Billy is aboard the S S China sailing to the inscrutable Far East. Trouble is not far behind. He has met a mysterious and possibly dangerous German Baroness. He has locked horns with malevolent agents of the German government and battled ferocious Chinese and Malay pirates in the South China Sea.

 

Later, he is embroiled in the bloody anti-French insurgency in Indochina–which quite possibly makes him the first American combatant in a country that eventually will become Vietnam. Then, in the Philippines, he is thrust into the Spanish-American War and the brutal anti-American insurgency that follows. But Billy’s troubles are only beginning.

 

As the 19th century ends and the 20th century begins, he finds himself entangled with political opportunists, spies, revolutionaries, and an assortment of vindictive and dubious characters of both sexes. How will Billy handle those people and the challenges they present? The answers are just ahead.

 

 

Twitter: @jhawker69

A Q&A with Jane Marlow, author of How Did I Get Here? Book 2 in the Petrovo series

Greetings, dear readers. It is my pleasure and honor to introduce to you Jane Marlow, author of the soon-to-be-released historical fiction novel How Did I Get Here? Book 2, the Petrovo Series. This book will be available on May 8.

 

 

A Q&A with Jane Marlow, author of How Did I Get Here? Book 2 in the Petrovo series

 

  1. What inspired you to write How Did I Get Here?

 

While I was conducting research for the first novel in the Petrovo series, Who Is to Blame, I kept bumping into this thing called the Crimean War. Eventually, I realized it simply had to be the backdrop of my next novel for two reasons. First, the Crimean War was the guinea pig for a myriad of innovations that forever changed the face of warfare. The second factor that grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go was the War’s magnitude as a gruesomely ugly historical reality.  Not only was the carnage on the battlefield hideous, but an even greater number of fatalities were attributable to disease, malnutrition, winter exposure, and lack of competent leadership. Not until World War I would more people die as victims of war.

 

  1. What led to your fascination with Russia in the 1800s?

 

I trace my interest back to 6th grade when mother dragged me kicking and screaming to a professional stage performance of Fiddler on the Roof. But as my feet began tapping with the music, I experienced the proverbial smack-to-the-forehead. I was just at the right age to gain an inkling of understanding about prejudice, suppression, rural culture, and the deep-seated role of religion.

 

  1. You researched the book thoroughly. Did you know when you started how extensive your research would become?

 

Research turned out to be a little more problematic than I expected. Although I located a modest number of books and articles, the Crimean War doesn’t play a prominent role in US history, and I was left with many uncertainties. I attempted to locate a graduate student in the US who would proofread my manuscript for historical accuracy but found no takers. I ended up consulting with the Crimean War Research Society in the U.K. I’m particularly grateful for their expertise for the chapter that took place at the Malakov bastion.

 

  1. What is one of your favorite stories or details about life in 19th century Russia?

 

While conducting research, I was taken aback by the fact that prostitution was a regulated business in Russia during the 1800s. For example, in order to control syphilis and other venereal diseases, prostitutes were required to be examined periodically. Their customers, however, had no such obligation. The policy seems akin to placing a dam half-way across the river, doesn’t it?  My third book in the Petrovo series offers readers an insider’s view of a Russian brothel.

 

  1. Where did you begin your research and where did it lead you? Any advice for other authors writing historical fiction?

 

My research began way back in the late 1980s. Because the Internet wasn’t an option in those days, I scoured the library for books and articles. Thank goodness for the Interlibrary Loan program! I also took a sightseeing trip to Russia which included spending time in the rural farmland that serves as the setting for my fictional village of Petrovo. Nowadays, I’d urge any historical fiction writer to befriend their local librarians. They know the ins and outs of the various online databases.

 

 

  1. What was it like writing from the perspective of a male character? Any challenges?

Such a daunting undertaking for a senior-citizen woman to plunge herself into the mindset of a young, virile male! One tool I used was to read and reread Jonathan Tropper’s novels. His flawed, lustful protagonists crack me up!

 

  1. What distinguishes How Did I Get Here? from other narratives about the Crimean War?

 

American authors have produced very little in the way of fiction set in the Crimean War; therefore, it’s a wide-open canvas. Second, my novel doesn’t end with the war. It shows a veteran’s struggle with the then unnamed consequence of war, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Third, as a veterinarian, I felt compelled to demonstrate the agony war inflicts on animals. My eyes tear up every time I read my own passage in which the protagonist has to kill a horse that was injured in battle.

 

  1. As a writer, how do you weave fact and fiction into a novel?

 

Conceptually, it’s easy if your mind is prone to flights of fancy. However, meticulous research and double-checking is required if the characters are well-known persons or if the setting is a well-documented event.

 

This particular book presented an additional challenge. During the 1800s, Russia used what is known as the Old Style calendar (O.S.), which is 12 days behind the Western New Style (N.S.) calendar. Hence, historical Russian events are often dated along the lines of “Oct 24 O.S. (Nov 5 N.S.).”

 

Imagine being an author (i.e., me) doing research on a war in which one of the military forces used Old Style while the opponents used New Style. Additionally, some authors mark their books, articles, and online resources with either N.S. or O.S., but other authors don’t deem it necessary to specify which calendar style they use. Then try to coordinate actual events (some N.S., some O.S.) into a fictional narrative in which timing was crucial to the story. My sanity underwent a notable decline in during this period of writing.

 

  1. Were there any unexpected obstacles you encountered when you began writing How Did I Get Here?

 

The same aspect that I hope will attract readers—a story about a little known but ghastly war—was also a hurdle—finding detailed depictions from the Russians’ point of view.

 

  1. What do you hope your readers will get out of the novel?

 

My desire is that readers find several take-home messages:

 

First, the old adage, “Beauty is only skin deep.”

 

Second, malevolence and injustice can mold a child, but fortitude plus a helping hand can remake the man.

 

Third, every person is obligated to give back to society. And not just according to what he received from it, but at a higher level.

 

Fourth, a better understanding of the demons of war as manifested in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

 

 

  1. Who’s a character from the book you wish you could meet?

 

I relish 10-year-old Platon’s inquisitiveness, boundless energy, and joie de vivre. In fact, I’d adopt him if I could. But since I can’t, I’m entertaining the possibility of writing a book with him as the protagonist, so I can watch him mature into a man.

 

  1. What was your favorite novel growing up?

 

By the time I reached junior high, I was ready to put the Nancy Drew series behind me. Being a typical girlie-girl, I was forever enamored by the first adult, mainstream novel I read, Gone with the Wind.

 

  1. What authors/books do you draw inspiration from?

 

If only I could be as talented a writer as Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Russo!. During a seminar on writing fiction, the instructor told us that taking pen in hand and writing and re-writing good passages from favorite books would promote brain neuron connections that would improve our own writing. I must have copied the same passage from Nobody’s Fool at least 200 times!

 

  1. Can we expect more books in the Petrovo series?

 

You bet! The third novel in the series will offer an insider’s view of the seamier side of 1870s Moscow.

 

  1. Where can readers find your books and learn more about you?

 

       Both novels are available in paper, Kindle, and Audible formats on Amazon. If your local bookstore doesn’t stock the book, request that it be ordered.

 

For more about me as an author, plus a few chuckles from Slavic Slapstick, as well as jaw-dropping tidbits about historic Russia, visit my blog at www.janemarlowbooks.com, and subscribe to my free, no sales gimmicks, no obligation e-newsletter with quarterly in-box delivery.

 

 

 

PRESS CONTACT

Elena Meredith | PR by the Book

512-481-7096 | elena@prbythebook.com

The Baby Teegarten Interview (#RRBC Book & Blog Block Party)

 

Hi and WELCOME to Rave Reviews Book Club’s BOOK & BLOG BLOCK PARTY at THE INDIE SPOT!  Location: MICHIGAN.

***

Here’s What I’m Giving Away Today:

GIVEAWAYS ARE CLOSED!

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNERS: Mae Clair, Rob Kimbrell, Mary Schmidt, and Jerry Marquardt.

***

Number of Winners for this stop: 4

I decided to have a little fun with this Book & Blog Block Party stop. In the years since Jazz Baby first saw publication, some readers have been curious as to what happened to Emily Ann “Baby” Teegarten. Did she ever make it to New York? Were her dreams of singing jazz professionally ever realized? Did she find success? Well, presented here, is an interview with Baby Teegarten, which takes place ten years after the novel ends. This is meant to be a glimpse into the life our protagonist may have created for herself.

The Baby Teegarten Interview!

 April 15, 1935

She chose the meeting place. I could lie and tell you readers that I arrived thirty minutes early just to get a feel for the room. But the truth of the matter is, I get a little nervous with this one. Most of you have been reading my column for the better part of 15 years. You know the names that have graced my page: Babe Ruth, Harry Houdini, Clara Bow, Harold Lloyd—even Charlie Chaplin agreed to a sit-down chat back in 1924.

Still, this one is different.

The she I’m referring to is popular jazz vocalist Baby Teegarten. They don’t come any bigger than Baby these days. Three consecutive years as the country’s highest-paid entertainer proves this fact.

I lock down a table at the rear of McSorley’s Tavern on East 7th Street—which also happens to hold a strict policy for not allowing women inside.

But Baby Teegarten, well, she’s not just any woman.

“This is her neighborhood,” the fellow tending bar tells me. “She has a swanky place overlooking Central Park. Bought it from Babe Ruth himself.”

It’s the Babe who introduced Baby to McSorley’s.

“Nobody bothers her in here,” the barkeep explains. “Besides, if she’s pals with the Babe, she’s all right by us.”

I knock back a Scotch and soda. It’s what steadies my nerves. Only Mae West ever had me taking a nip before an interview.

I’ve seen Baby perform a dozen times easily—this going back to those first shows she did at Swelby’s Joint. Two thousand patrons lined up every night just to witness the Baby. She’d been just shy of her fourteenth birthday back in those early shows. But any fool with eyes and ears could tell she was special.

Oh, sure, we all recall the backlash at allowing a mere child up on those club stages. But nobody could—or would—stand in that girl’s way. No, sir. She’d have busted any full-grown man in the chops, should one be so bold as to try.

Prompt, this one. She arrives at 3 o’clock sharp, with her entourage in tow. By entourage I mean her manager, Abe Horowitz, and Job Pritchett, husband of Baby.

Mr. Pritchett, he’s a large fellow, to be sure. Tall and wide, real sturdy; the sort of man who likely spent his youth throwing bales of hay around the farm, maybe even punching cows—literally. Hollywood handsome: blond hair worn messy, pale blue eyes, an easy laugh. He’s more threatening than threatened. Famous in his own right, he’s known the world over for his paintings and sculptures.

Baby is a true vision, greeting patrons by name up by the front door. She’s resplendent in a violet-colored summer dress that falls just below her knees. Diamonds sparkle on her fingers and wrists, her ears, at her delicate throat. There’s even a gold bracelet on her right ankle.

Eyes as green as emeralds track me down in my corner.

There’s a subtle sweetness in her scent.

Lilacs.

“Hey, there,” she says. “I’m supposed to talk with you today?”

I’m lost for words in this moment, so I just nod like a mute fool.

“You don’t mind it here, do you?” Her accent is rich, wrapping her every word in a southern twang thicker than molasses—and just as sweet.

My voice carries a slight tremble, but I manage a quick, “No, ma’am.”

Baby Teegarten settles on a bar stool next to mine. “This is Mister Pritchett, my husband,” she says.

Job Pritchett’s massive hand takes mine with a gentle squeeze. “Good to meet you,” he tells me in a boyish tone. A lucky fellow, this one.

Abe Horowitz needs no introduction: Club owner, manager of a handful of singers and musicians. Connected. He mined gold when he discovered Baby Teegarten.

Job’s lips brush Baby’s lips. His voice comes soft, almost a soothing thing. “Me and Abe will be up at the bar—if you need us.”

It passes there in the space between them: his subtle caress of her cheek, her gentle squeeze of his hand. These two are infatuated with one another.

“Lord a-mercy, I love that boy,” she says, once we’re alone. “We got our tenth anniversary coming this summer.” She waves her right hand in my face. “He just got me this one right here.”

She means the full five carat diamond set in white gold on her ring finger.

“What does it feel like to make more money than the president of the United States?” I ask, leading us into the interview.

Her petite shoulders give up a shrug. “Just means I can buy whatever I want—’Cept Jobie’s the one buys my jewelry. That boy makes nearly as much as me.”

She’s a tiny thing, maybe five foot two. I’m guessing it might take an extra big lunch to push her past a hundred pounds. And though she doesn’t mention it, this day is her twenty-third birthday.

I ask, “When did you first start singing?”

“Since I can recollect. Pastor Pritchett first had me up in front of the congregation when I was just five. That’s when I took to singing for other folks who ain’t just my kin.”

“Mississippi, right?”

Her head tips a short nod. “Down Rayford—up a piece from Biloxi.”

“A Delta girl, huh? You pick cotton down there?”

A silver cigarette case finds her hand. “Picked a bunch. Mister Kuiper used to pay me a dime for each sack I managed. I made a dollar a day most days.”

“Doesn’t sound like much.”

“It does to a little girl ain’t got much of nothin’.”

A Lucky Strike settles between her lips. Smoke rolls from her dainty nose.

Questions my editor suggested filter through the small talk. “You’re working a lot with George Gershwin. How’d that come about?”

“Georgie’s sweet,” she says, sending smoke rings chasing after her words. “His family knows Mister Horowitz’s family. He liked my voice and wrote some songs for me—’Cept I’m the one writes the words, since I’m the one has to sing ’em.”

Sales figures wedge their way into the conversation—nobody sells more phonograph records than Baby Teegarten.

“A million,” she offers. Says it as if she doesn’t really believe it herself. “I mean, a person can reach into his pocket, grab a hundred of something, and toss it on the floor and say, ‘Yep. That’s a hundred.’ But nobody can throw a million anything on the floor and count that.”

She’s had three of them reach that plateau in recent years.

“Where’s your favorite place to play?” I ask, scratching off another one from my editor.

“Paris is nice.” Her hand gives up an abbreviated wave, catching the barkeep’s attention. “What’s so amazing there is, those folks don’t speak no English, but they sure know all the words to my songs.”

A bottle arrives at our table. Not exactly what I expected.

“Co-cola,” she says, drawing a long pull. “Mister Horowitz don’t like for me to drink liquor while I’m gabbing with newspaper fellas. He says I just might talk too much.”

I feign shock. “Secrets?”

There’s an endearing sweetness in her giggle. “Oh, I got plenty of secrets.”

“Horowitz really looks after you, huh?”

“He’s the best. Like a second daddy. Doesn’t let anybody get close enough to take advantage.”

She spends a lot of time on the road, traveling by train, singing in places like Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, and Kansas City. Big theaters, is where she sings these days. Gone are the smoke-filled clubs with dance floors and drunken revelers.

“I like the theaters,” she says. “And I really like seeing different places. But I do miss the New York clubs. I could do two shows a night and be at home with Mister Pritchett by one in the morning. Now, I do one show for five thousand people—nobody drinking or dancing—a night at a hotel, then up before the devil and off to the train station and the next city.”

There’s a weary tone creeping into her answers. Well, maybe weary isn’t the right word. Cautious, perhaps.

“Do you ever take time off? Maybe stay home for a while?”

She does—but only because the men in her life force her to do so.

“Once Mister Pritchett and Mister Horowitz get together, they’re worse than two fathers.”

Baby Teegarten will soon add actress to her resume. She just this week signed to play a role in a new James Cagney movie.

“It’s only a small part,” she explains. “I play a singer in a jazz club. I’ll sing two new songs they wrote just for the film.”

“Any lines?”

Just one. But that’s fine by her. “I ain’t no movie star.”

No, she’s not. But that doesn’t stop the real movie stars from turning out wherever Baby Teegarten treads a stage. It’s fashionable to be seen at her shows.

“Jean Harlow got my autograph last summer in Chicago.” She says it like it’s a normal thing that happens to most people.

“How’d you come to be friendly with Babe Ruth?”

That shrug raises her shoulders again. “He came to my shows most nights he was in town—back when I still played the clubs. Once he decided to buy a house in the country, I bought his apartment.”

“I guess that makes you a Yankees fan, huh?”

It’s a playful thing, that sideways glance she throws at me. “Ain’t no self-respecting Mississippi girl gonna ever cheer on no Yankees.”

Abe Horowitz’s approach signals a wrap to our discussion. I’d been promised twenty minutes, Baby gave me thirty.

“Gotta get ready for the trip to Hollywood,” she says, gaining her feet.

She offers a handshake, which abruptly becomes a friendly hug.

Job Pritchett, arm around Baby’s waist, sweeps the girl away, following Abe Horowitz out the front door, into the crowd moving along 7th Street.

It takes a few moments for my head to clear itself of her scent, her voice, her very presence. It’s not a difficult thing to see why so many have fallen for this lovely young woman.

“She just has a way about her,” the barkeep says as I make my getaway.

She certainly does, I tell myself. She certainly does.

Grab a copy of Jazz Baby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sex In Stories? What’s All The Fuss?

I read a tweet the other day from an author posting a comment he’d received regarding one of his novels. The comment went something like this: “Great story, but way too much sex.” In all honesty, I’ve not read the book in question. But the issue of sex in literature has long been a thorn to some, a crime to others, and a selling point to many.
Lady Chat
D.H. Lawrence faced all sorts of legal issues concerning his novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover upon its original release back in 1928. That book—and much of his other works—was banned in England and the United States for decades. The Free World at its finest. I understand some people prefer “clean” stories. There are many classics that carry a solid G rating that have been favorites for hundreds of years.

Today, with the advent of self-publishing, writers of erotica have found an audience—some with great success. I don’t write erotica, nor do I read it. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for it. There is sex in my novel. Sexuality is a human trait—indeed a trait of most living creatures. There is the romantic element, which gives rise to the romance novel. For those who want their sex without love, there’s lust. Lust is a strong emotion that everybody experiences at some point in life—though some would deny they’ve ever been guilty of that sort of sin.

Then we come to sex for curiosity’s sake. A girl kisses another girl just to see what it’s like. A guy cheats on his wife of twenty years just to satisfy an urge to know what it would feel like to be with somebody else. Sex and sexuality is part of being human. It’s part of being alive. It’s real life. It’s what gives breath to the fictional characters authors create. To deny it is to deny our humanity.

 

Now, that doesn’t file0001371332238mean you have to read about it in some novel that makes you uncomfortable. That’s why we still love the classics.

So if you’re not into sex in your story, pick up a copy of Little Women, Moby Dick, or A Farewell to Arms. A great book is always a great book.

All Authors Blog Blitz

Greetings, readers! I am thrilled to be able to participate in this year’s All Authors Blog Blitz. I am grateful to Y. Correa for extending the invitation. Now let me introduce Dorinda Balchin, author of the historical novel Heronfield.

Dorinda Balchin

Heronfield by Dorinda Balchin

Tony Kemshall is a young man excited by the prospect of adventure when war is declared in 1939. When the German war machine invades France in early 1940, Tony goes to St Nazaire to be with his French grandmother until things become settled. As the British Expeditionary Force retreats Tony puts his grandmother on board ship for England, then sets out to seek action and adventure. But the realities of war are very different to his earlier romantic notions, and as Tony gets caught up in the retreat to Dunkirk he develops a deep hatred of the Germans. After experiencing stuka attacks on civilians and the evacuation of the beaches he determines to fight to avenge the deaths he has seen.

Tony speaks fluent French which, coupled with his intimate knowledge of the St Nazaire area, makes him an ideal recruit for the Special Operations Executive who are looking for people to fight behind enemy lines. The SOE ask him to work for them, to be a spy, and he readily agrees. The problem is, the life of a spy is secret, and he can tell no-one about his work. Tony’s father constantly compares him with his brother David, a fighter pilot and hero of the Battle of Britain, and can only see Tony’s cover job with the Ministry of Economic Warfare as a sign of cowardice. Sarah, the woman he loves, compares him to the brave soldiers she treats in hospital, and finds him wanting. As the war drags on over six long years Tony finds himself alienated from those he loves, and realises that this war will cost him far more than he ever imagined. With his relationships in England at an all-time low Tony clings to his new family, the group he puts together working with the French Resistance.

This novel tells the story of the war in Europe from many different perspectives – spy, fighter pilot, VAD nurse, Civil Defence worker, civilian, the French Resistance, American GI. The one thing they all have in common is a link to Heronfield, the country home of Tony’s family in peacetime which has been turned into a convalescent hospital for the duration of the war. It is their link with this place which enabled me to create such a diverse group of characters whose lives could be woven together in a realistic way, just as so many diverse characters really did come together during the long years of the Second World War.

Heronfield grew out of the kernel of a thought I had when reading about a soldier shot as a coward. What if he wasn’t a coward at all? What if he had to hide his true self for the good of his country? From that small seed Heronfield grew.

I have always had a passion for history, and wanted Heronfield to be as historically accurate as possible within the confines of my story. I spent years researching the key points – Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, the bombing of Coventry, the work of the SOE in France, civilian life, D Day and beyond. The more I learnt, the easier it was for me to weave the stories of my characters into the timeline. For me a story needs to be character driven – Who are these people? How do they react? Why?  The Second World War was a time when ordinary people did extraordinary things. For me, as a historian, finding what is at the heart of these people, what makes them tick, is just as much what history is about as the politics and big battles.

In Heronfield, Tony is an idealist. He has great strength of character, is resourceful, intelligent and physically fit. He is immensely proud of the trust that his country places in him and shows great bravery under incredibly difficult circumstances, laying his life on the line in France to bring the war to an end as swiftly as possible. Yet, when in England, his life is full of frustration and anger as he watches another man with the woman he loves, unable to convince her that he is not the coward she thinks he is. Sarah wants to believe in him but finds it impossible when she sees men who are desperate to fight, and the injured from all parts of the globe. How can she love a man who sits behind a desk and does nothing? How can she care for him while he watches others die so that he can be safe? There is always a small voice inside Sarah telling her that she is wrong, that there is more to Tony than meets the eye, but after years of hurt she is faced with a choice between this man and a brave soldier who offers her love and honesty, something Tony seems incapable of. So, what should she do? As the war in Europe moves to its dramatic conclusion Sarah begins to realise that sometimes you should trust your heart, not your head. But sometimes that kind of knowledge comes to us too late.

I wrote the first draft of Heronfield when I was a ‘stay-at-home-Mum’ looking after my children. When they went to school and I returned to teaching there was no time to set aside for such a massive project, and so my manuscript sat on the shelf gathering dust until I gave up teaching and moved to India with my husband in 2008. We now live there, running a guesthouse, and I have found the time to write. Heronfield came back down from its shelf and was published in 2012. I have had some great feedback, a number of people have told me how they have learnt so much about the Second World War from reading Heronfield, which pleases the historian in me. But I also realise that people have only learnt a lot about the war in Western Europe. What about Eastern Europe? The Far East? North Africa? Over the last few months I have come to realise that Heronfield is only the first of a quartet of books which can give the same treatment to all the ‘Theatres of War’. When I have finished the novel I am currently working on I shall happily return to World War II, different characters, different stories, but still people to love and to hate and to journey with through one of the most destructive periods of man’s history.

The prestigious Historical Novel Society will be publishing a review of Heronfield in August 2014. Please do take the time to have a look when it is out! http://historicalnovelsociety.org/

Heronfield Cover

Dorinda’s website http://dorindabalchin.com/

Heronfield’s own webpage http://heronfield.wordpress.com/

Lulu print edition http://www.lulu.com/shop/dorinda-balchin/heronfield/paperback/product-21490087.html;jsessionid=4FE4A6D6DE52359D5F84F16B50A665C3

Amazon print and Kindle editions http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=heronfield&sprefix=heron%2Cstripbooks

Other ebook formats: epub, mobi, pdf, rtf, lrf, pdb, txt http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240504

Dorinda’s GoodReads Page can be found at http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7095663.Dorinda_Balchin