C C Humphreys:
I have again been fortunate in that Chris has agreed to answer some of my frivolous questions regarding his book, Chris is one of my favourite authors, it seems the air in Canada breeds writing ability (might have to move there…. if it wasn’t for all that…Cold). I hope you like the Interview, any lacking in the interview is my daft questions, so feel free to comment and give me questions for future interviews.
What ever you do please click one of the links and buy the book, its not often i say “i promise” but in this case i mean it, “I promise you will not be disappointed” this is once again a great book and riveting read.
1: What led you to write about one of the darkest periods in history?
My agent and I were chatting and he was talking about the book. How people love the artifact, the touch, the smell. ‘I can see a rack of books at WH Smiths Charing Cross. The title ‘Plague’. All black and red and…”
“Hold on,” I said, “Are you talking about the Great Plague of London?”
“Well, as an example of books that are black, and red and…”
“Give me a moment,” I said.
I went into my writing hut and these characters, this plot, just exploded. It was like I was being tapped on the shoulder by people, ‘I’m Captain Coke. I’m a highwayman. Known as Captain Cock. You should put me in your book.” So I did. And the backdrop of the plague was just too darkly delicious to not want to write about.
2: Recently you have written standalone books, How many books in this series?
At the moment, two. I am working of ‘Fire’ right now. Same characters, different dramatic backdrop.
3: Once again the redoubtable Absolute family make an appearance, do you have a conscious reason for the link (or just for fun)?
It’s mainly fun – but I like the way Wilbur Smith has linked up all the Courtenays. I also love a certain blood continuity – this is what happened to a beloved character’s family. That way, in a way, the character himself or herself lives on.
4: Do you have a clear Absolute family tree to refer to and help guide you to other stories to write?
No. Well, maybe a vague one in my head. I’d like to link up Lucy’s son with Monmouth’s rebellion, then his son will be Jack’s dad, Mad Jamie. That would be a hoot!
5: Where do the inspiration for your characters come from: EG: Pitman & Captain Coke/Cock.
Gosh! I don’t know really. They are inspired by so many things: modern cop dramas; cavaliers vs. roundheads. I liked the idea of old enemies uniting in a common cause. Of a world turned upside down, enabling a gentleman and a working class man to come together in mutual respect.
6: With a subject and period like this, how do you get into the writing flow? Is it like getting into Character on stage?
I suppose I do act out my characters a little. Though its more a mumble at my desk rather than striding about, shouting. But yes, I use acting techniques to create them and drive the action. What does she want now? What’s stopping her getting it?
7: Your books have been some of my favourite reads over the last few years (especially Shakespeare’s Rebel) what has been your personal favourite? And what has been the biggest challenge (and why?)
I always find that question hard to answer. They are all my children, I love them all for different reasons. ‘Rebel’ was very personal, with the whole Shakespeare/Hamlet/sword thing. Also, fathers and sons move much of my writing now as I have one, am one.
‘Vlad, the Last Confession’ was the hardest because the subject matter was so dark. I didn’t want to whitewash a killer but I also didn’t want to depict a psychopath. Also the history was so complex how was I to render it entertainingly without giving lessons, which I abhor. Hitting on the structure, the ‘confession’in the dungeon centred it for me. It was a huge technical and emotional challenge, so I learned a huge amount doing it. I think it leapt me forward as a writer.
8: As you are located in Canada, can we look forward to a tour for the latest book? (will there be signed copies anywhere?)
I hope so! I love the UK and seem to be writing about London more and more. No plans … however if you get lots of people to buy Plague… I’ll sign happily!
9: Normally my last question is a fun one, who would you invite to dinner… but for your good self… If you could have any 4 people from history to walk the boards with you, or watch the play whom would they be any why?
Very good question! I think I’d like to play Laertes to Burbage’s Hamlet, with Will in the wings… then have Vlad the Impaler join us for a pint or seven at the Spoon and Alderman afterwards. That’s a conversation I’d like to partake in!
Many thanks for visiting