The Novel Approach is pleased to welcome author Alex Beecroft on Riptide Publishing’s Trowchester Blues blog tour. Enjoy Alex’s guest post, then be sure to leave a comment below.
Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for an e-book from Alex Beecroft’s backlist (*excepting Trowchester Blues*). Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 15, 2015 (*Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries*).
I’m still best known for my historicals. If people approach me for a foreword or a review, it tends to be for historicals. Given that my first book, Captain’s Surrender, was a historical, my ‘big break’ book, False Colors, was a historical, and my last book, The Reluctant Berserker was a historical, I shouldn’t be too shocked about this. I find history fascinating, and one of my favourite things is to visit a distant historical era and rejoice in how weird everything looks there.
Out of a disastrous inability to settle to any one thing, I’ve also written fantasy and contemporaries over the years. My fantasy includes The Wages of Sin, which is set in the 18th Century, and the Under the Hill books, which have a strong injection of World War II flying aces. I’m also currently writing something of an epic in which some pseudo-Etruscans are marooned on an island with some pseudo-Kushites. So it’s fair to say that there’s a strong undercurrent of history through the majority of my fantasy too.
My one previous contemporary, Shining in the Sun, was an exception to this rule. I had told myself that I wanted to see if I could write a contemporary, and I had decided that what I fancied was to capture a Cornish summer holiday in print. I thought it would be easy to write, because I knew the area, and I knew what it was like being a contemporary person, but dear God, it was nothing of the sort. I think it was the hardest book I’ve ever written to motivate myself to work on. I remember that I got to the end of it and thought I’ve thrown everything into this book. There’s nothing left. I’ll never be able to write a contemporary ever again.
I’m fairly sure that I even said so on my blog.
I should have known better, of course. My muse (if I only have one of them. I don’t know. They live in a grey fog and I never see where the words come from) heard that sentence and took it for a challenge.
But what if you could write contemporaries? It said. How could we go about making a modern day setting appealing to you? And the answer turned out to be, in part, add more history.
After all, I’m English, and I’ve grown up steeped in history. The town where I do my shopping has a cathedral that was founded in 673ad. I go in quite often and feel very aware of being part of a church community that has worshipped in that place for over a thousand years. It doesn’t feel natural to me not to have history interwoven with everything.
Not to mention the fact that a lot of my readers expect history from me, and I bet they would also feel a bit cut off, a bit beached on a thirsty and barren place, to be set down in modernity with no anchor to anything before it.
So there was my solution. I was going to write contemporaries and allow my characters to have a similar relationship to history as my own. I know what it’s like to be thrilled by and tender of antiquarian books the way Finn is in Trowchester Blues. One of the wonders of my university life was Manchester University’s John Ryland’s library where medieval manuscripts rub shoulders with papyri including the St John Fragment, believed to be the oldest extant New Testament text. Part of being a modern person for me is appreciating a good manuscript, and I gave that love to Finn wholesale.
In the same way, a lot of British villages have their traditions and even their legal idiosyncracies that go way back into the past. It used to be that the Lord of the Manor might house his workers in cottages on the estate known as tied cottages – the right to live in them was tied to the worker’s job serving the Lord, and they could be kicked out if they didn’t do as they were told. This is not a common practice any more, but it’s not completely eradicated either. Hence Lady Mary Harcombe of Harcombe house gets away with running her own private army.
History is everywhere in British towns. Glastonbury owes its prosperity almost entirely to the Tor and the Abbey where King Arthur is buried. These things draw in tourists. Trowchester has a Bronze Age barrow and a holy well, and a Roman wall which hasn’t yet been explored but I’m sure I’ll get round to it. I think it’s those things that made me feel I could be at home there.
I hope if you’ve liked my historicals you’ll take a risk on the Trowchester books because I’ve brought my own love of history to them. And I hope if you like contemporaries, you won’t object to a contemporary that wears its history like a femme fatale wears her mysterious past. Both, I hope, make the present substantially more interesting.
Blurb: Michael May is losing it. Long ago, he joined the Metropolitan Police to escape his father’s tyranny and protect people like himself. Now his father is dead, and he’s been fired for punching a suspect. Afraid of his own rage, he returns to Trowchester—and to his childhood home, with all its old fears and memories. When he meets a charming, bohemian bookshop owner who seems to like him, he clings tight.
Fintan Hulme is an honest man now. Five years ago, he retired from his work as a high class London fence and opened a bookshop. Then an old client brings him a stolen book too precious to turn away, and suddenly he’s dealing with arson and kidnapping, to say nothing of all the lies he has to tell his friends. Falling in love with an ex-cop with anger management issues is the last thing he should be doing.
Finn thinks Michael is incredibly sexy. Michael knows Finn is the only thing that still makes him smile. But in a relationship where cops and robbers are natural enemies, that might not be enough to save them.
About the Author: Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.
Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.
Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.
Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.
She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.