Posted in fiction, Guest Post, Historical, Interview on January 18, 2014

Today I am welcoming author David Ebsworth to StoreyBook Reviews!  He is the author of several books and his most recent book is The Assassin’s Mark which I spotlighted for you just the post down!  He writes some fascinating historical fiction and I was quite excited when he said he would let me interview him for my blog.

assassins markjacobites apprentice

What inspired you to start writing historical novels?

I’ve always read historical novels – definitely my favourite genre – since I discovered Rosemary Sutcliff as a young teenager. But it was one of my school teachers, I think, who actually inspired a lasting interest in history’s hidden stories and the telling of them. Harry Flood’s eccentric modus operandi was to shout out three seemingly unrelated words or phrases at the class and challenge us to identify the appropriate historical event. So… “Yellow Rose!” “Raccoon-skin hat!” and “Poplar Avenue!” would have led us unerringly, even in Liverpool, to The Alamo. Get the idea?

Harry couldn’t really be bothered with dates or even very much with “facts” – since his obsession was more with other notions… that history is generally written by the victors, and therefore inherently suspect; that history is always in the eye of the beholder; and that there is no such thing as historical fact, only historical interpretation. But, above all, Harry Flood’s motto was that, beneath every headline episode from the history books, there always lurks at least one untold tale. And it’s those that I search for to provide my inspiration.

So you’ve always wanted to write?

It’s certainly true that I’ve always dabbled with writing and I frequently had to produce lengthy reports for work. Then, somewhere in the middle of all that, I realised that if I expected people to take note of my reports or presentations, let alone act on them, they needed to have exactly the same attributes as decent fiction. So beginnings, middles, ends, conflict, white space and grab-lines became a regular feature of even my most functional and mundane analysis.

And when I was coming up to retirement, I wanted to do something apart from “hobbies” – though, goodness knows, I’ve got enough of those! Hobbies seemed like a perfectly acceptable option if I was simply going to fill time while waiting to “pop my clogs” but not if I wanted to embark on a meaningful third age. But writing – and writing historical novels – seemed like a realistic possibility. Of course, I quickly realised that actually writing a book is only the start of a process, not the end. There’s the whole process of getting published. Then marketing your product. Then starting, inevitably, on book number two. And, before you know it, you’re not only a creative artist but also a budding entrepreneur with a five-year business plan.

It sounds like a pretty diverse plan too. I saw that you also wrote a children’s story and that it was the first book you completed. How difficult was it to switch writing styles?

I was still in work at the time, but I’d started writing two very different things. One was the untold story of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s support by Jacobite merchants in Manchester, England, during 1745. This eventually became The Jacobites’ Apprentice, and it’s been lovingly described as “Deadwood meets Amadeus.” It’s pretty near-the-knuckle in parts and has some very dark sections.

At the same time, I was working on an illustrated book for children called Leonardo Lumpskull. I’d written the story and completed the line drawings – though I’ve now got a collaborator to help me complete the artwork.

Actually, I found this split-personality process incredibly painful. Leonardo is quite cuddly. Jacobites is most definitely the opposite.

I remembered the number of times over the years that people had said to me, ‘Oh, you’re completely different when you’re not in work.’ Well, there’s a surprise! Are any of us the same at home, or socially, as when we’re in that strange and alien land we call work? Not many of us, I bet. And really, it occurred to me, why should that be any different when we’re writing? Hence I began to think about a pen name, something to help me put on a different persona when I needed to get down into life’s historical sewers. So David Ebsworth (my grandfather’s name was Ebsworth) was born that same day!

So when you’re not being David Ebsworth, what do you do for fun?

Well, I did warn you about the number of my hobbies!

When I’m not actually writing or marketing, I like to swim – usually a mile or so each day. And no, I know that doesn’t sound much like fun but I love it, and that time also helps me to mull over whatever I’ve written earlier in the day. I’m lucky, too, that I can spend a fair chunk of each year in southern Spain. So Spanish food, wine and culture are very high on my list of fun things – which is the reason they feature so strongly in The Assassin’s Mark. Then there’s sailing, of course, another great love of my life.

But when we’re back in Wrexham (North Wales), my wife Ann and myself also run a weekly Games Night – open house really for the grandkids and older family members. Board games mainly, like Carcassonne, Forbidden Island, Settlers of Catan, etc. Plus some decent nibbles (tapas, naturally) and a huge dose of the kids’ inexhaustible sense of humour. Did I mention, by the way, that they’re all history students? No? Strange that. And reminds me that I must try out some of Harry Flood’s brain teasers on them next Wednesday.

Thank You David for those insightful replies.  Readers – you can find Dave in many places including these:

Website * Twitter * Facebook

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