I would like to welcome CC Humphreys to Royal Reviews!
1. Tell us something about yourself, so that we can get to know you a bit better…
I was born in Toronto, lived in Los Angeles till I was seven, then grew up in London, England. I returned to Canada in 1991, went back to London for a while, then resettled in British Columbia in 2006. You could say I am a serial emigrant. I now live in a lovely house on an island, in a forest near the ocean with wife, son and cat.
I come from a family of actors – all grandparents and my dad – so I was sort of doomed to follow. The curse of blood! Have acted across the world, from London’s West End to 20th Century Fox in Hollywood. Perhaps my most famous role was as Caleb the Gladiator in the Biblical Roman epic NBC’S Anno Domini in the 80’s. Though I have also played Hamlet, Lord Mountbatten – and was the original voice of Salem the Cat in ‘Sabrina the Teen Age Witch’.
I knew I wanted to write, to tell the stories that swirled in my head. I began with plays, wrote three of them. But historical fiction was what I always loved – and when the story of Anne Boleyn’s Executioner hit me in 1999, I knew I had to write it. That book, ‘The French Executioner’ was a bit of a hit – and now I am publishing Number 11 – the one I’ll talk about now.
2. Your historical novel, A Place Called Armageddon, is out now—congrats! Could you tell us about it?
I’ve decided that what I write is ‘the Intimate Epic’. So this is a big scale portrait of one of the world’s most epic battles – but told through the eyes of several characters. Spoiler alert: Constantinople Falls. But hopefully my readers are so caught up in the private lives of men and women on both sides of ‘the wall’ that they are with me to the end. There are victories and defeats for people we’ve come to know, even within the overall victory and defeat.
3. What prompted you to write A Place Called Armageddon?
Istanbul. Constantinople. (You’re allowed to break into song now!) The city blew me away when I first went there. The sense of it being both the centre of so much history for so long, being so important and the sense that it still is: truly one of the most vibrant places in the world. And when I read about the cataclysmic – and triumphant – events of 1453, I just had to delve into it. Because the city is made up of people whose ancestors fought on both sides. They shape the wonder of today. And this was such a turning point in its history. In the history of the world.
4. How much research went into this novel?
Tons. You just have to read my bibliography. I am a closet historian – well, perhaps I am out of the closet now! – so I love reading all about it, every aspect from belief to the Bosphorus. But the best part of research is going. Sitting in the places where events I read about have taken place. I think there’s a resonance in stone, an echo, you can pick it up. And meeting the people – aspects of them become the characters.
5. How did you decide how much historical detail to include?
Personally I don’t like history lessons in books. But people need to know some of the history to understand the context of the characters dilemmas and choices. So I try to make that ‘history’ an active part of the story. Not just a description of the fabulous Theodosian Walls – but a character tripping over them, realizing how weak they are in places. Having memories of making love on this spot – where Turkish warriors will storm over in a week.
6. What can readers expect next?
Well, in the States, my wonderful publishers Sourcebooks have bought my entire backlist of novels and are bringing out two a year. So next year you will get that first novel, ‘The French Executioner’ followed by the first of my 18th century soldier-spy series, ‘Jack Absolute’.
7. Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?
Always remember it’s a process – a journey not an immediate destination. Let your first draft be rough, poorly spelled, ungrammatical – just tell the story. That stage is not about good its about getting it down. Too many people stop because their first efforts are not like their favorite authors final ones. Don’t confuse the stages – and keep going. I did!
About the Book
You know how the siege of Constantinople ends. It’s written in the history books.
But what was the human toll? What are the stories of the people involved? How did they experience this epic battle that tore apart cultures, religions, and families?
That is what you will discover in author C.C. Humphreys’ new novel A Place Called Armageddon: Constantinople 1453 (ISBN 9781402272493; SEPTEMBER 2012; $25.99; Fiction; Hardcover).
The year is 1453. The city of Constantinople is at the center of a clash of civilizations. For the Greeks, it’s their home that has withstood attacks for centuries behind mighty walls. For the Turks, it’s the prize they have spent centuries trying to win.
Humphreys features a wide cast of characters from both sides of the rampart in A Place Called Armageddon. At the center are Gregoras and Theon. Twin brothers from Constantinople. One an exiled mercenary who has vowed never to return. The other a rising diplomatic star hiding a secret of betrayal. A woman who has captured one’s heart, but is married to the other as a trophy. Two brothers fighting for glory and redemption.
A Place Called Armageddon also imagines what the battle meant for two real-life historical figures—Emperor Constantine and Mehmet, sultan of the Turks. Both men fighting for the gods they believe in. Both sides tasting victory and defeat before the final showdown. Among those fighting is engineer John Grant, a Scotsman brought to Constantinople to recover the formula for Greek fire, and Achmed, a Turkish farmer lured into service by the promise of the spoils of war. Lurking in the shadows is Leilah, a sorceress who plays a dangerous game with both sides.
From sword fights with pirates to explosions in tunnels and towers, secret rendezvous in the enemy camp, and the religious and moral dilemmas of war, Humphreys once again uses his dramatic flair and meticulous research to weave fiction into fact.
About the Author—Chris (C.C.) Humphreys is an actor, playwright, fight choreographer, and novelist. He has acted all over the world and appeared on stages ranging from London’s West End to Hollywood’s Twentieth Century Fox. As C.C. Humphreys, Chris has written six historical fiction novels. The first, The French Executioner, told the tale of the man who killed Anne Boleyn and was runner up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers 2002. Its sequel, Blood Ties, was a bestseller in Canada. Having played Jack Absolute, he stole the character and has written three books on this “007 of the 1770s”—Jack Absolute, The Blooding of Jack Absolute, and Absolute Honour—short listed for the 2007 Evergreen Prize by the Ontario Library Association. He is also the author of Vlad: The Last Confession (Sourcebooks, 2011). For more information, visit www.cchumphreys.com.
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