My Author Interview with the Amazing Daniel Kelly, author of the amazing book, Heroes of Troy!

Trojan Horse, Troy, Trojan, Horse, Turkey, Ancient

Hi Daniel, a pleasure to meet you and congratulations on your book the Fall of the Phoneix receiving a bronze medal and being liked by Miles Cameron. I note that Manu Bennet (the actor behind Crixus of Gaul in Spartacus) has loved your book and posted a video to twitter about this. How long did it take you for you to complete the book and how long have you been writing it?

Good evening Neil, pleasure to meet you too and thank you for having me. Thank you also for your congratulations, yes, the award was a bit of a surprise.

Though not as big a one as when Christian Cameron posted that he liked my book, that was amazing and a little… shocking since I have been a fan of his for many years and reading his historical fiction.

Troy, Turkey, Ancient, Trojan, Homer, Historic

When one of the best writers of historical fiction in the world, probably the best on ancient Greece says they enjoy your work its sorta a big deal…

He surprised me by saying it in front of people at WorldCon when I had not thought he had even had a chance to look at it yet and I am pretty sure I blushed and went very quiet…

Ephesus 1

The book itself I had been working on slowly for nearly eight years, though I will admit there were a few copies I scrapped almost halfway through, gave up, started over fresh again, gave up again and might not have looked at for a few month at a time. It was a long process and, I think this is common to a lot of writers, questioned the point of it from time to time, questioned my own work and value. other days it just seems to flow but self belief and self motivation are some of the hardest demons to fight. ​

Q. When did you love writing, what made you want to become a writer, and what future projects can we expect from you currently? How long will it take you to write the sequel?

Perge, Treasures of the Turkey


I have always loved reading, historical fiction and fantasy mainly though I remember loving S.E.Hinton’s The Outsiders when I was young. My older brothers had it on their English class at school so it was lying around the house and I read it then had to read it again for school myself, watched the movie and it just never gets old, but there is so much out there that I rarely reread unless I am doing research.

But when I started working as a chef, because of the time restraints of the job, I actually had not read in a few years. Then about twelve years ago, when the recession hit I began working as a chef in a hospital which allowed me a lot more free time when I started reading again.

Parthenon on Acropolis, Athens

I think some of the first then were Tom Lloyds Stormcaller (which I love, recommend it to everyone) and Christian Cameron’s killer of men, both of which reminded me why I liked reading.

Then after reading David Gemmell’s series on Troy, it was like a door opened in my mind. it made me realise that a story can be retold differently than we have always been told and still be amazing. Some time around then I opened the computer on a blank page and started typing. I wasn’t even sure it was about Troy when it started.


I am currently working on three different projects. I find that helps me focus because if I get writers block on one I can switch over. usually when I am not focused on it, the answers comes and I can continue. though I am focusing more so on the sequel which I have mostly done. I would say about 80%. My others are actually far removed from that, one is a sorta… Dracula Origins story but again, very different with a different world, the other being a story of Irish origins, a legend from my home town of Creeslough in Donegal based loosely on the ballad of Turlogh and Aileen.

Q. I note that in this novel you made the Trojans much smarter and stronger than depicted in the Illiad. What was your reasoning behind this?

I wouldn’t say I made them much stronger and smarter. I like to think I made them more human. The Iliad… though I love it for having kept the story alive, is a work of fiction in itself, very little real can be taken from it. there is question over weather Homer even really existed, but even if he did, he was but one travelling bard at the time. this became the accepted version because it had a rich patron, much like Cesar Augustus was to Virgil’s Aenead, but it was still only written down over five hundred years after the events. Which remember begin with a god giving mortals a golden apple.

Q. Did you wish to explore the Greek afterlife in this novel?

I think I was more exploring morality.

Q. There have been many novels written on Troy. What did you want to do that made your novel radically different?
I felt that the children were raised in training for war in Greece, the richest being able to afford the very best tutors. The children of kings therefore would have probably had at least some interaction growing up, possibly training together, maybe even been friends. How would these relationships stand up in war. When they faced each other across battle lines, would love and friendships, or loyalty to a leader who is holding them together against their will with threats, violence and their own ill conceived oaths win out.

Q. What made you turn into writing a novel about Troy? What was the first moment you knew you were going to become a writer and what made you want to become one?
I don’t know that there was a moment as such. I wanted to try something, as much to get the idea out of my head as to write a novel. It progressed, almost of its own free will. Even yet I still question the publishing of it and wonder if I was mad to try but when I got to the end…

I wanted to know if there had been a point. If it was good enough. If I had only been doing it to occupy myself. Also though, I once told a younger group what I was writing about, I just said Troy and they thought I was talking about the American Magician.

Growing up, I cant even remember when I learned about troy but I know it was very young because by the time Weetabix brought out their Troy Advert.

I didn’t need it explained to me, I just sorta knew, and I would hate to think the old stories are dying out.

Q. How much research did you do for the Fall of the Phoenix? Can you let us in your research methods?
There was quite a lot of research, but I took bits from everywhere I could find it. From reading books and texts about it to even the films. Which, fair enough, are not accurate as regards the Iliad, but how accurate was the Iliad as regards the actual events? Nobody really knows for sure so even Gemmel’s troy series is as legitimate a source. Though I will admit to googling single pieces of information only to suddenly have twelve windows open with everything from wall construction to caltrops all open at once.

Q. How much difficulty did you have reading the Iliad when it came to the interpretation of Hector and Achilles? Did you examine both Roman and Greek viewpoints? Or did you find any other alternate cultures apart from Rome and Greece that had a viewpoint, if any on the Saga of Troy?
​Honestly, I am not sure I trust entirely any form of translation of the Iliad so its always going to be difficult. I have been through a few, but just translating a language that old is difficult, but then throw into the mix that, even if a version it translated perfectly, the very meaning of individual words change over years as a language itself gets abused.

But yes, I did examine Greek and Roman viewpoints as both were necessary for where my version of the story were going as I tied some of the various versions together without the involvement of gods

Q. What drew you to this period personally? For me, The Saga of Troy is the ancient’s equivalent of a grim-dark fantasy novel filled with everything you could find in any modern-day grim-dark fantasy novel. Murder, gore, blood, and loss. What similar inspiration did you find when writing about this period?
I would say Christian Cameron’s Killer of Men drew me to reading about Greek history more, and David Gemmell’s Troy set me on the path of writing this. I think you almost hit the nail on the head there. It is grimdark, its also why most grimdark are set in older worlds with swords and shield. It’s what almost every child grows up playing at, being the hero in a story, but in the real stories, the heroes die, fighting. Nobody goes in intentionally thinking they are going to be the bad guy, everyone has their motives and troy was the perfect setting for that. Almost everyone you would be cheering for in the beginning of the Iliad is dead by the end.

Q. How much did you take into account of Bronze Age Warfare? Many people think its flashy combat, just use a spear and shield. Did watching any youtube channels like Shadiversity or Lindybiege help you in accurately recreating Bronze Age Warfare? Or what historical sources did you us apart from the Iliad and did you personally travel to Greece and Turkey to understand the historical significance of these cities? Were you also inspired by the Atlantean legends?
Bronze age warfare is difficult, I didn’t use those youtube channels, however I had used some youtube videos from universities in Greece and Turkey, though I also took some liberties, purposely using the iconic spartan red cloaks because it identifies them in most peoples mind. armour in the period is not how modern people think of it and at the time of Troy, rather than the sculpted body armour that comes to mind thinking about it, it was much heavier, clumsier, armour which, to my mind at least resembles a copper barrel around the wearer.

This however does not leave much freedom of movement but does explain why archers so often aimed for the legs and feet. If someone goes down in that armour, they will have a mighty struggle getting back up. This is also why chariots were so popular rather than running around in that weight but that doesn’t lend itself so well to the battle scenes we like to imagine.

Q. I notice you added a lot of cultures that weren’t present in the Sage of Troy into the novel. Does this mean we might get explore other periods of the Bronze Age as well? Will we see you writing about Egypt? Hitittes? Assyrians?
A lot of those cultures were present around the time and with a war taking in the whole of the Aegean, they would have been forced to take sides.

The Iliad does have quite a few present including the Amazons, Dardanians and as far as whats modern day Libya. Phoenicians had settlements right around the Mediterranean including what would become Carthage. This was a war that effected everyone in the area for control of the Hellespont and access to the east at the time which was huge for so many trading routes.

Q. How many mythological elements did you want to add in Fall of the Phoenix bearing in mind that you were writing a historical fantasy novel. Did you want to go full in all mythological creatures at the Siege of Troy or did you want to maintain that element of realism where it was men fighting men?
I wanted to keep as much as possible to realism, removing the influence of the gods to just have it as men facing men for very human reasons of anger, jealousy and greed

Q. Who is your favourite character in Troy and how does that character inspire you in your day to day life?
Padesus was originally my favourite character to write, but I found myself liking Heraclitus more and more. I think he would have been a psychopath in different circumstances but he was put in a postition where killing was not just acceptable but approved of. I must admit though, that during a few days while writing, I was just having a bad day, and took it out on my characters. People I had intended to survive the war died in their droves.

Q. What is the best Irish dish for new-comers and what is the best place in Ireland to visit? Have you tried any Greek classical dishes yourself? I note this because you are a chef as well.
Haha, funny question, I suppose traditionally Irish stew, but Ireland was not traditionally known for its food, nowadays we have some of the best beef, lamb and chefs in the world but if you are looking for old Ireland, remember we suffered 800 years of war followed by a famine. the choice was Irish stew or bacon and cabbage.
As regards places to visit, everybody should see Newgrange. Ireland’s huge passage tombs, almost 1000 years older than the pyramids and they have over 60% of the whole worlds neolithic artwork in one place. even pre celtic from the time of tuath na danann.
​i have tried greek classical dishes but my favourites are mostly finger foods like stuffed olives and such. but they have some really nice dishes

Q. How did you maintain time balancing your work in the Kitchen as well as writing this novel? What was your reaction the first time you got a five star review?
​I cant say I really did manage time between work and writing. I wrote in the evenings when I wasn’t too tired after work.
As too my first five star review… I still can’t quite believe it and check to make sure it wasn’t a mistake

Q. Who are your favorite authors in historical fiction and fantasy currently, and which ones do you keep in touch with?
​oh that list could keep you going all day. I am lucky enough to be in touch with a few nowadays. historical fiction, I would have to say, Christian Cameron, Ben Kane, S.J.A Turney, Giles Kristian, Conn Iggulden, Steven Mckay and Rober Graves to name just a few.
As to fantasy, David Cameron, Miles Cameron, he gets in both lists, Tom Lloyd, Mark Lawrence, Peter Brett, Jonathan French, Robert V.S. Redick, Evan Winters, Jasper Kent, Dyrk Ashton, R.B.Watkinson… the list goes on.

Q. What was your reaction when you saw Miles Cameron post a picture of your book on Instagram?
Blushing and stunned silence

Thank you to Daniel Kelly for this excellent interview! Loved the answers, loved everything about this! Now FREE ON KU! Consider doing a purchase though, as its a a very great book. Has a fantastic twist at the end. Links down below to order and follow:

Amazon UK
Amazon US Link

Coinciding with the release of this great book, I saw Creative Assembly announce the release of Total War Troy Saga! Can’t wait for this, Daniel is your man 🙂 Hire him!

An Interview with Shaun Curry, author of the fabulous epic historical novel, Swords of Silence set in 16th Century Japan

Close Up Photography of Cherry Blossom Tree

A recent while ago, I reviewed Swords of Silence and loved it. I’ll be re-reviewing this novel again, as I think it deserves a lot more attention. My review can be found here: https://alalhambrabookreviews.home.blog/2019/08/22/review-of-swords-and-silence/

Below is the interview I did with the magnificent Shaun Curry. Thank you to Bengomo at Harper Inspire and Shaun for sending me an ARC for this.

Image result for swords of silence

Interview:

Hi Shaun, a pleasure to hear from you and thank you for agreeing to do this author interview, I hope you are doing well! First of all congratulations on the success of Swords and Silence, it is a fascinating book and I think you did a great job. Check out Shaun’s book here: etc

Thank you Neil, I knew your questions would be on the savvy end, so it is a great pleasure to participate! Thank you for interviewing me on Al-Alhambra! In the words of a samurai, it is an honour!

Black and White Mountain over Yellow White and Blue Sky

Q. What got you into writing in the first place? What was that moment that said to you, okay I’ve had enough and I want to do writing. Or was it through a different set of circumstances?

I first started writing as a child. I would write short stories or “novels” during school and then bring my writings home, where my Mom would type them up on our old-fashioned typewriter! Yes, this was before the days of computers…

Q. How has Japanese Culture inspired you in your daily life? What locations would you recommend to newcomers visiting Japan? What restaurants, temples or shrines would you like to go to?

From a relatively early adult age, I lived, studied, and worked in Japan as an “Ex-pat”. Even before I moved to Japan, I always had a keen interest in Japan and Japanese culture. Oddly enough, I would even sometimes bow for inexplicable reasons… Overall, I think Japanese culture has inspired me to be more disciplined and focused in my work.

For newcomers to Japan, I would recommend visiting several different locations to get a feel for the entire country! Each place is different and has its own feel. Personally, I really like Tokyo and Nagasaki, both prominent places in The Swords of Silence and The Swords of Fire Trilogy.

Pagoda in Gray Scale Shot

For restaurants, it is almost impossible for me to choose because I adore all Japanese cuisine and the food in Japan is so good!

For recommended temples or shrines, Nikkō Tōshō-gū is quite well-known and popular, so it is always worth a visit. However, as a Catholic, I love the Christian Churches on the southern island of Kyushu. The time that I spent in Nagasaki and surrounding areas was quite formative and influential in my writing.

Man Holding An Umbrella

Q. When figuring out the mindset of the Samurai Warlords, did you learn calligraphy and the Kanji script? How important is it do you think that historical writers should go to the country of origin that they are studying about and learn the local culture? What do you want to see more happening in historical fiction?

Turned-on Street Light

I took pleasure in learning some Kanji, but it is actually quite tough. Perhaps my greatest influence in Japan came from my rigorous martial arts training while I lived there. When I lived in Tokyo, I used to train at the World Aikido Headquarters in Wakamatsu-cho in Shinjuku-ku. While I was there, I used to train every day for several hours so the etiquette and the art really had a profound impact on me.

What would I like to see more happening in historical fiction? I crave authenticity in historical fiction, so the more research that an author does around the time period that their work covers, the better. Authenticity and details really help bring out the history well I find. To impart genuine authenticity, I personally think it is imperative that authors go and live in the culture that they are writing about; it can only add more depth and realism to their work – and adds to the writer’s credibility as well.

Mt. Fuji, Japan

Q. How did you come across the Jesuits, and when you compare religion today in Japan, you must have felt some sort of contemplation that at one point, Christianity was banned in Japan.

Since my youth, I have always been aware of the Jesuits, albeit more on a passive basis in my younger days. However, it was not until I passed a bookshop in South Kensington that I discovered a very interesting book in the window about them, which gave an in-depth historical account of their impressive proselytizing initiatives around the world. It was probably this book that inspired me to learn more about the Jesuits and their key missionary work in Japan.

Yes, Christianity was once banned in Japan, but time moves on, and I try not to let the past interfere with my experiences in the present. I love Japan’s culture and embrace its differences. Besides, it seems like Christianity is making a coming-back in modern times, which is great for religious freedom.

Samurai, Warrior, Sword, Katana, Fireflies, Firefly

Q. Where did you get the impression, through your historical research of the Samurai Warlords being scared of Spanish and Dutch Aggression? Were there secret dealings that you encountered? Not many know that the Medieval World wasn’t as excluded as it is made out to be. Were the Samurai aware that the Aztecs had been wiped out, and thus the Shogun had a fear of this exact nature? Is this what perhaps caused Japan’s isolation for 250 years?

Statue, Equestrian, Bronze, Samurai, Japan, Sword

One of the biggest failures of the “west” or European powers in Japan was the fact that they brought their European rivalry and squabbles to the shores of Japan – and then directly to the Shogun. These quarrels included not only trading clashes, but also religious ones. The result was that the Shogun was constantly being courted to take a side in these disputes, and as a consequence, the Europeans aggressively battled for his ear and favour. This European political posturing, particularly espoused by the English and the Dutch, led the Shogun to be very cautious – and then fearful of a Spanish (or Iberian) invasion. In blunt terms, the English and the Dutch directly told the Shogun that the Iberians would seek to conquer Japan as they had done elsewhere in the new world around this time. Amongst other factors, the Shogun took these threats seriously.

Q. You reference Buddhism in Swords and Silence often, have you visited any Buddhist Shrines in Japan, and which of them have inspired you in your daily life spiritual wise? What fascinating secrets did you discover when learning about the rivalry that Buddhism and Christianity had in Japan during this time period?

Samurai, Silhouette Art, Lone Warrior, Moon

Buddhism became the Shogun’s mandated religion in Japan around this time. Yes, the Shogun told you what your faith had to be. If you disobeyed, torture and killings were the likely result. Buddhism was not viewed as a threat to the Shogun’s supreme dominance in Japan. Christianity, on the other hand, was viewed as a threat to the Japanese mindset of unconditional obedience so it was outlawed. The Shogun also believed that he should be revered as a ‘god’ and did not like the idea of mere peasants worshipping anyone other than himself.

Pink Flowers On Trees

Buddhism and Christianity often clashed in old Japan, particularly amongst the Buddhist and Catholic Priests who wanted the people’s following. I did not want The Swords of Silence nor The Swords of Fire Trilogy to be divisive like it was in the 16th and 17th Centuries, so I created a number of scenes where the Buddhists helped the Christians and made friends of one another. In my writing, I did not see the need to re-open old religious wounds. Unity is always more powerful than division in my opinion.

When visiting Japan, I would recommend tourists to visit all the old temples, shrines and churches that they can fit into their schedule; they are all fascinating and part of Japan’s long history.

Q. Did you watch any Kurosawa films, and did Miyamoto Mushashi’s the Book of the Five Rings influence your writing?

Person Walking on Street Near Buildings

I have seen Kurosawa films and I have read Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of the Five Rings, but these did not really play a big part in formulating The Swords of Silence. I did of course research and study the samurai, their warlords, the Shogun and his regime, but my principle guide in the devising The Swords of Silence and the entire Swords of Fire Trilogy was my historical research. I let history be my guide and formulated a story around this.

Q. What is the best Japanese local cuisine for you? And what would you recommend as an easy meal to start with?

In truth, I love nearly all Japanese cuisine, so it is very hard for me to choose one dish over another. However, if I had to pick one meal, I would recommend a large bowl of udon alongside a plate of katsu.

Q. When you first heard of the Samurai, what impression did you find of them? And when you deepened your research, what were some shocking stories you discovered about them? Do you admire the Samurai? Do you think that if the Samurai had won the Boshin War, would Japan have taken a different path? Your novel teetered on the possibility of an alternate history route, but would you be interested in discovering this in the future?

Orange  Temple

I respect samurai for a number of their traits, including honour, loyalty, discipline, focus, their training, etc. However, to the lay farmers and peasants who worked the rice-fields, the samurai were vicious bullies who abused their power around the time of The Swords of Silence (i.e. the early 17th Century). Many warlords (“daimyo”) and their samurai turned the peasants who worked their lands into raw slaves! Regrettably, many samurai abused their high privileged position in society, and for this I do not respect them.

The Boshin War took place a long time after The Swords of Silence (i.e. 1868 vs. 1626) and this particular war is not my area of expertise. However, I can say that it is entirely possible that Japan could be a Christian country today if different individuals ruled as Shogun. The decisions of the early Shoguns, i.e. Ieyasu, Hidetada, and Iemitsu paved the way for a long-standing ban on Christianity. These decisions were entirely subjective and a different lineage of Shoguns could have chosen to let Christianity flourish in the country.

Q. What did you keep in mind when researching about the Samurai about their legendary mythical status in Japanese society? Did you keep in mind that most of that status is built upon propaganda while reflecting that the Samurai were just as brutal as European Warlords in this time period? The Last Samurai heavily immortalised the image of the Samurai in Western minds, but what did you want to show? What was your interpretation?

It’s no surprise that Hollywood likes to glorify a lot of things and Tom cruise et al. did a great job of glorifying the samurai in the film ‘The Last Samurai’. But is this really what samurai were like? Were they really as virtuous as this Hollywood picture portrays?

According to ‘The Bushido Code’, for example, the eight virtues of Bushido are as follows: (1) Rectitude and Justice, (2) Courage, (3) Benevolence and Mercy, (4) Politeness, (5) Honesty and Sincerity, (6) Honour, (7) Loyalty, and (8) Character and Self-Control.

It’s very hard to generalise of course, because the samurai have a long history in Japan, but if you look at the warlords and samurai around the years 1620-1640, history suggests these men possessed only half of these virtues – at best.

They lacked rectitude, they were not brave, they were not merciful, they were not polite, they were not sincere, and they lacked character and self-control. They were effectively corrupt. Granted they were loyal, but did they have honour? Where is the honour in starving a village of women and children in pursuit of exacting a higher rice production from them? Where is the honour in torturing and killing innocent peasants because of their beliefs?

Sadly, many samurai were immoral and corrupt during this particular time period, so it really makes you think about what Hollywood painted for us in ‘The Last Samurai’. Wait until you read Book 3 of The Swords of Fire and you will be shocked by these alleged honourable samurai…

Q. What famous castles would you recommend for visitors, and what castles did you visit personally that inspired you to put in the novel?

Pagoda Temple Near Lake Under Cloudy Sky

Japan has a very long and rich history and there is truly so much to discover in this fascinating country. I will of course always recommend travellers to visit Tokyo and Kyoto, but to get a real feel for The Swords of Silence and The Swords of Fire Trilogy, I highly recommend people to visit the southern island of Kyushu and the city of Nagasaki. While in the vicinity, make sure to also visit Shimabara and all castles and ruins in the area.

Photo of Himeji Castle Behind White Cherry Blossoms

Q. Where will you be taking this series forward? Will we get to see Josean Korea? China?

I do not want to give too much away, but I can tell you that the action heats up quite dramatically and historically in the remainder of The Swords of Fire Trilogy. I often tell people that Book 1 is only the appetizer and that Books 2 and 3 are truly the main course of the series. So, if you enjoyed Book 1, fasten your seat-belt because the clash between the Shogun’s regime and the Christians and ronin really amplifies – and on a much larger scale. I would be surprised if you are not shaking your head in disbelief by the events that take place at the end of Book 3.

Q. How much amount of study and attention did you under-take to understand Medieval Japanese Combat? I ask this so future authors can take reference.

Since the age of 18, I have been an avid student of Aikido and martial arts. I moved to Japan in my early twenties to study and train at the most famous dojo in the world. When I arrived, they mopped the floor with me. I don’t think I have ever been beaten up as badly as then. Over time however, I improved, and eventually began to hold my own. Later, after more training, I became a black belt, and I believe I bring this martial training and spirit to my writing.

But while real-world martial training is helpful, I also had to understand the samurai and their battle techniques. Fortunately, there are a lot of great books on the subject matter, and so I have combined my real-life training with samurai history to hopefully bring a genuine combat experience to my readers.

Q. How long did it take for you to get writing?

I started writing shorts stories and “novels” as a child, so it is something that I have always done and enjoyed. I really like the idea of story-telling, particularly if there is meaning or a moral message behind it. All told, The Swords of Silence and The Swords of Fire Trilogy took almost two decades for me to research, write and publish. This journey has not been easy.

Q. Did you encounter any common daily life stories that either shocked you or said, this is a great story to add into my book etc.

The history of the time period that I have chosen to write about is shocking, and as suggested, I believe the ending of Book 3 will shock you. In conducting my research, I probably shook my head a thousand times at the disturbing findings that I discovered. Some of these historical findings made me mad and made me question the evil that men are capable of. How can human beings treat each other like that – I often thought. These truly were dark ages, and I only hope that we can truly learn from them and not repeat our mistakes.

Q. What amount of research did you do when researching the Jesuits, and who helped you in this endeavour?

The research that I did on the Jesuits was conducted through a variety of means and sources, including books, old Jesuit letters that were written and sent to Rome around this time period, as well as meeting with modern Jesuit Priests in Japan, Europe and North America. The Jesuits have a long respectable tradition in academia and their historical records are impeccable. I leveraged a lot of my research off their strong resources. I really must thank all the Jesuit Priests who were patient enough to sit down with me, share their research, and impart their knowledge.

Q. What are the characters you loved creating, and if you took them from the past, who would you dine with? Which historical figures of Japan are your heroes?

My favourite characters in The Swords of Fire Trilogy are Father Joaquim, Catechist Tonia, Master Watanabe, Amakusa Shiro, and some new characters that emerge in Books 2 and 3. I would like to dine with them all and have a grand-old party – maybe one day in the Heavens!…

One of my favourite historical figures is Daimyo Konishi Yukinaga, who was a Japanese Christian warlord before the time of The Swords of Silence. Having lived between 1555 and 1600, he was probably the most distinctive Christian warlord in Japan’s history – before the Tokugawas seized the Shogunate and banned Christianity.

Perhaps one day I should write a story about Daimyo Konishi! He was a legendary samurai!

Q. Will we be seeing Japanese mythology in the future? It is perhaps one of the most under-rated mythologies out there and there haven’t been many books dealing with this.

Never say never, but I don’t think I will be writing about Japanese mythology any time soon. While interesting, this is one subject that I will leave to another writer! I really hope they have their creative juices flowing when they write this one!

Q. Would we be seeing references to Romance of the Three Kingdoms? The Japanese still love this national epic of Chinese literature, and that can be seen in movies, videogames and music. Did that influence you during your writing?

‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’ did not influence my writing, but I am of course intrigued by its unique blend of history, legend, and myth. These are always great attributes for stories in my opinion. In many ways, my writing in The Swords of Silence has sought to employ a similar unique mixture – albeit quite grounded in real history.

Q. How did you get the publication deal with Harper Inspire? I imagine you must have been delighted when that happened!

HarperCollins is an incredible publishing house and I was thrilled to sign a deal with Harper Inspire! I believe our deal was consummated through a great relationship and interest in my work. I also have a great agent in New York City, Peter Rubie, CEO of FinePrint Literary Management. Publication of The Swords of Silence and The Swords of Fire Trilogy is the result of a successful collaboration of a large group of talented people, include Rose Sandy and Bengono Bessala at Harper Inspire.

Q. What would you say to aspiring authors taking for example, one of the many routes into publishing?

On a broader level, I would tell them not to take no for an answer. If you believe in your work, which you must, you will eventually find a way to publish your work. I spent a very long time on “Rejection lane” before I found a path that worked.

Hybrid publishing, for example, can be a great way to get your work out there and noticed by one of the big publishing houses, but there are many other paths as well. The most important thing however is to never give up! As the old Japanese proverb goes “Fall down seven times, Stand up eight!”

Thank you so much for this Shaun! An excellent interview with equally fantastic answers. To my followers, ORDER NOW! I’ll post both Amazon US/UK Links, and be sure to DROP a REVIEW if you LIKED IT! Share on Twitter, Instagram, FB, and Goodreads! Please leave a review on Goodreads as that’s VERY important to writers! PRE-ORDER NOW ON AMAZON US!

Please note images are used from the publisher’s website, and images are used from here: https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-and-white-mountain-over-yellow-white-and-blue-sky-46253/

Amazon UK link: ^^^

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My Review of Origins by Nicole Sallak Anderson

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Blurb:

This is the lost story of Lord Ankhwenefer, known to the Greeks as Chaonnophris the Rebel, the last native Egyptian Pharaoh. The brilliance and heartache of his rebellion weave a tale that history has forgotten.

Until now.

In the year 205 B.C, after centuries of Persian and Macedonian occupation, a rebel king rises from the south to take ancient Egypt back unto native hands. He will battle the Ptolemy line for twenty years, and rule almost eighty percent of Egypt, yet in the end, history will never mention his name.

Born Prince Ankhmakis, the last in a line of native Egyptian kings, he is raised with one purpose—to help his father reclaim Egypt from the Macedonian occupiers and return their country to dynastic greatness. Fate, however, has its own plans. For lies and deceit live in the hearts of all involved, from his family to the priesthood, and the Greeks aren’t the only ones who seek to destroy him.

Natasa is in training to become the High Priestess of the temple of Isis. Her task is to strengthen the royal family with the magic of the goddess through love and pleasure. She never thought the connection between her and Ankhmakis could be so strong, or carry a power coveted by those lurking in the shadows. Nor did she know that the child they would create would have her own great destiny to fulfill.

Together, Ankhmakis and Natasa must defend the potential of their love from those who would seek to use it for their own gain. Theirs is a world of magic, power, riches, and lust, and there are those within the court who would do anything to keep Ankhmakis and Natasa apart. Between mystical forces, murder, and illicit schemes–only the gods know if they’ll survive.

My Review:

Origins by Nicole Anderson is a sweeping epic tale of Ancient Egypt that has more magic and mystical elements that will keep you gripped to the edge of your seat. This novel is superbly done, with well written character motivations. I felt that the characters in the book, whether it was Chanax, Set, Natasa and the Greeks, or even Anhkmakis had realistic motivations. Part of the problem of being in a royal family, is that fate decides your destiny. This novel emphasises this a lot. It’s like the Tudors show, if I were to put it in comparison.

What I also liked about the novel was that Nicole depicted both sides as morally grey. Of course there was a rebellion in Egypt after the Battle of Raphia in 272 BCE, but the Ptolemaic Greeks made sure to remove any notice, any hint, any news about this. Both Egyptian and Greeks were attacking each other for the dominance of Egypt. Some of the visuals in this book are epic! There was a scene which I would not spoil, but just imagine that you’re going through a movie. It has the power of lightening comparable to Zeus. It is an epic scene and I loved this.

That being said, some of my nitpicks would be that sometimes I felt the chemistry between Ankhmakis and Natasa was developed a little faster, and thus I would have wanted to seen more scene development between them. I also would have had made Chanax’s motivations a bigger part of the novel. I would also have wanted to seen how the Greeks had dis-respect for the native Egyptians, because although we’re following the perspective of the Royal Families, a little insight from the Commoners would have been good. I would also have wanted to seen more mythical depictions of Horus and Ra as well. I like that through this novel we’re going through quotes that explain Egypt’s history. This gives a sense that I’m reading through a lost hidden scroll that has been discovered after thousands of years.

If there was anything this novel could be even more great, each characterisation has the detail of Game of Thrones potential. Nicole does not shy to show the brutality of this world, how people treated each other, and how the world was essentially for the Ancient Egyptian during this time period, an dangerous period to live in. It is no doubt that many Egyptians desired the return of a strong and native Egyptian Pharaoh, but I read somewhere in a prophecy that the Ancient Gods of Egypt would abandon this land. There’s an interesting quote in this novel about Kemit and strange lands. Find that, and you’ll see what I mean. Nevertheless, I like historical fiction. Sure I do. But I’ve grown more accustomed to Ancient Historical Fiction having mythology and Gods. I’m of the belief that you should have more mythological presence in historical novels. I understand that in today’s age, you don’t have enough resources to establish how people spoke a language thousands of years ago. Hence, you’ll use language from the 21st century to relate for your audience. Shakespeare did the same thing. However, I myself would like to see more mythological presences because that is how the Ancients viewed it. For them, mythology was real. It was their religion, it was their life. That’s me as a reader.

With a few nitpicks along the way, sometimes I felt the characters were often agreeing too often with each other. Hence, we need more scenes of conflict. It depends as this is based on a royal family, so generally everyone would have agreed on important issues. It wasn’t so clear cut, oh no evil prince wants to take over the throne, etc. It is, more like today’s political families that know the value of power. Hence, this is all an exercise of power. All of it is.

This is a great novel, and I really loved this. My rating is 5/5

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