June 27, 2014

Caddy Rowland - Making History, Bohemian Style (Part 6)

Please welcome back historical fiction author and artist, Caddy Rowland, our regular contributor here at Historical Fiction Connection.

Le Chat Noir

Do you know where stand-up comedy began? When and where did humans first get the bare bones idea for making movies? I know some people who could easily answer both questions for you: those wonderful, creative bohemians of nineteenth century Paris!

Each and every one of them would immediately answer Le Chat Noir. Those of you who speak French might be scratching your head by now. You’re probably thinking, “What in the world does a black cat (chat noir) have to do with comedy and movies? The answer would be absolutely everything! Le Chat Noir is the name of a cabaret that existed in Montmartre during this wonderful era that I blog about. It was a hotspot for all the creative people who had gathered in the area, and once those flames of creativity had been fanned a virtual firestorm of new ideas took off. The firestorm took plays, music, painting, and acting to new levels—levels that, until then, people hadn’t even dreamed about.

Here’s what started it: A groups of writers and artist were meeting at the home of Emile Goudeau, a Parisian journalist who resided on the Left Bank. They called themselves Les Hydropathes (those who are afraid of water). Why? The answer is quite simple. These young men much preferred cheap wine and beer to plain old H2O. In fact, they drank great quantities of the first two beverages mentioned. Unfortunately, they were outgrowing Goudeau’s home. Not surprising, given the amount of artists in the area, and the propensity of young men to indulge in wine and beer.

Roldolphe Salis, an artist who came from a family with money, saw an opportunity. He had acquired a two room building, turning it into a cabaret. Since he knew Goudeau, he talked him into moving Les Hydropathes to to his new cabaret in Montmartre for their “meetings”. Since Salis had also been entertaining artists in his own home prior to opening the cabaret, he now had a large base of customers.

Les Hydropathes did not change locations quietly. On November 18, 1881, a torch lit procession crossed the River Seine from the Left Bank and made its way to Le Chat Noir. Heading up the parade was a man dressed in full Swiss Guard. He carried a halberd (battle ax and pike). Behind him marched (or perhaps staggered) a large group of very drunk, very loud young men, all singing and carrying wine. This signaled the grand opening of Le Chat Noir.

At first the young men avoided the darker room in the back. Artists, after, all, much preferred good light. To get the artists to fill both rooms, Salis mentioned within earshot of several creative types that the back room was reserved for the truly cutting edge artists. Needless to say, he suddenly had no problem trying to get people to gather in there!

On most nights, this cabaret offered an open stage. Musicians, singers, poets, and writers would just get on their feet to offer up their current works for practice, critique, or just plain showing off. None of them were paid. They were, however, always loudly—and sometimes harshly—critiqued. Why did they put up with it? Those same peers who critiqued also encouraged and nurtured them. Many eventually became great talents. When the painters brought their paintings for critique, loud arguments about painting style and technique often followed.

Le Chat Noir was “decorated” in a very eclectic style. No surprise there. It eventually ended up with kind of a Louis XIII feel. Salis, gifted in promotion, started a newspaper with the same name as his cabaret and sold advertising in it. Writers contributed stories to be included, some of which were very avant garde.

Le Chat Noir Journal

Salis was a master at publicizing his cabaret. One night he met patrons at the door, announcing his death. Then he led a funeral procession through the streets. Of course, they ended up back at Le Chat Noir. Some people accused him of using the artists, since they only received wine and absinthe as payment. Still, the artists seemed happy to be part of his grand scheme, and were never ones to turn down drinks.

Théophile Steinlen was hired to design a sign and posters for Le Chat Noir. During the renovation of the building housing the cabaret, Salis had noticed a raggedy, black alley cat hanging around. He felt the feline was a good symbol for the wild nightlife that would be found at his establishment. It was even said that when the cat’s tail was shown in an upright position in the cabaret newspaper, or in ads, it symbolized a male in the “aroused” position. That black cat became not only a symbol for the cabaret, but the name of the place as well. The resulting poster by Steinlen remains one of the most well known images from that era in Paris (of which Montmartre was, and is, a part of).

Théophile Steinlen's 1896 advertisement for a tour to other cities ("coming soon") of the Le Chat Noir's troupe of cabaret entertainers
It was only a matter of time until stand-up comedy was born. Offer an open stage, a performer, an audience, and dialog between the two, and soon there was bound to be witty barbs exchanged. The comedy that emerged from that, along with almost all of the songs sung on the stage, quickly became politically radical and/or raunchy. Soon, everyone who was anyone in the arts community was seen at this lively cabaret.

The bourgeoisie and many gentry started coming to Le Chat Noir for a walk on the wild side. Upper-class guests didn’t even mind that they were subjects of ridicule and jokes. Salis and his cabaret singer Aristide Bruand became known for being loudly rude to these visitors. Salis even banished those visitors into a dark corner if they came late. If they dared to leave during a performance they were called out and loudly insulted. The songs didn't change, and many found themselves the subject of amusement or derision during a performance. Still, they came - because Le Chat Noir was the place to be seen. The place became so packed that Salis moved the cabaret twice while it was operating, to accommodate the growing throngs.

Using zinc to cut out characters, shadow plays were created. By shining light on those characters they could reflect shadows on a white screen. These shadow plays were insanely popular with all classes. Soon these splays had scripts written for them, and musical accompaniment. Viola! There was the rough beginning of cinema.

Shortly after Salis' death in 1897, Le Chat Noir closed. When Picasso and others searched for it when they arrived for the Exposition in 1900, they were severely disappointed to find out that it had ceased to exist. How sadly ironic that one of the greatest artists of all time had missed out on perhaps the most popular artist's cabaret to ever exist.

I hope you find this little moment in time as fascinating as I do. Please click on the links in the post to learn more about Le Chat Noir. Until next month, I’ll leave you with a toast of absinthe, and a foggy “memory” of good times long ago in a very special cabaret with very special patrons.

Historical Fiction by Caddy Rowland: 

Contact and Social Media Info. For Caddy Rowland:

Author Email: caddyauthor@gmail.com
Twitter: @caddyorpims

June 24, 2014

Alison Morton's Successio - Book Blast and {Giveaway}

Follow Alison Morton's Book Blast for SUCCESSIO, the third book in her Roma Nova Series, from June 16-27 for a chance to win your own autographed copy and bookmark!

Publication Date: June 4, 2014
SilverWood Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Genre: Alternative Historical Thriller

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Roma Nova – the last remnant of the Roman Empire that has survived into the 21st century – is at peace. Carina Mitela, the heir of a leading family, but choosing the life of an officer in the Praetorian Guard Special Forces, is not so sure.

She senses danger crawling towards her when she encounters a strangely self-possessed member of the unit hosting their exchange exercise in Britain. When a blackmailing letter arrives from a woman claiming to be her husband Conrad’s lost daughter and Conrad tries to shut Carina out, she knows the threat is real.

Trying to resolve a young man’s indiscretion twenty-five years before turns into a nightmare that not only threatens to destroy all the Mitelae but also attacks the core of the imperial family itself. With her enemy holding a gun at the head of the heir to the imperial throne, Carina has to make the hardest decision of her life…

Praise for Successio

“If there is a world where fiction becomes more believable than reality, then Alison Morton’s ingenious thrillers must be the portal through which to travel. Following in Caesar’s footsteps, she came with INCEPTIO, saw with PERFIDITAS – and has well and truly conquered with SUCCESSIO!” – Helen Hollick, author and Managing Editor Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews

“Alison Morton has done it again. SUCCESSIO is the latest in her series of powerful tales of family betrayals and shifting allegiances in Roma Nova. Once again, I was gripped from start to finish.” – Sue Cook, writer and broadcaster

Watch the Book Trailer

Roma Nova Series

Book One: Inceptio
Book Two: Perfiditas
Book Three: Successio

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

About the AuthorAlison Morton

Alison Morton writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with strong heroines. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French, German and Economics, a masters’ in history and lives in France with her husband.

A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, she has visited sites throughout Europe including the alma mater, Rome. But it was the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain) that started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by women…

INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series, was shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award and awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion® in September 2013. The next in series, PERFIDITAS, published October 2013, has also just been honoured with the B.R.A.G. Medallion®. Alison is currently working on the fourth book.

Connect with Alison Morton

Amazon UK Author Page
Amazon US Author Page
INCEPTIO Facebook Page
PERFIDITAS Facebook Page

Follow the Successio Book Blast

June 16: Flashlight Commentary & Princess of Eboli
June 17: Kincavel Korner, Mina's Bookshelf, & Literary Chanteuse
June 18: Kinx's Book Nook & Svetlana's Reads and Views
June 19: So Many Books, So Little Time, The Lit Bitch, & West Metro Mommy
June 20: Historical Fiction Obsession
June 21: A Bookish Affair & Broken Teepee
June 22: Just One More Chapter
June 23: The Little Reader Library & The True Book Addict
June 24: A Bibliotaph's Reviews & Historical Fiction Connection
June 25: Historical Tapestry & The Maiden's Court
June 26: Book Nerd & Passages to the Past
June 27: CelticLady's Reviews


To win an Autographed copy of SUCCESSIO & Bookmark please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open Internationally.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on June 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on June 28th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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June 22, 2014

Joyce Wayne's Cook's Temptation - Book Blast and {Giveaway}

HF Virtual Book Tours invites you to join Joyce Wayne as she tours the blogosphere for The Cook's Temptation! Enter the giveaway to win an eBook of The Cook's Temptation or a $10 Amazon Gift Card!

02_The Cook's Temptation
Publication Date: February 1, 2014 Mosaic Press
Formats: Ebook, Paperback

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Joyce Wayne brings to life the complexities of Victorian life, first in County Devon and then in London’s East End. The ‘big picture’ is about one woman’s life, class conflict, religious intolerance, suspicion and betrayal. The central figure is Cordelia, a strong-minded Jewish woman who is caught between her desire to be true to herself and her need to be accepted by English society.Cordelia Tilley is the daughter of a Jewish mother and an Anglican father. Her mother has groomed her for a life in English society while her father, a tough publican, has shown no tolerance for his wife’s social climbing or the conceits of their perspicacious daughter. Cordelia’s mother dies from typhoid fever, she tries to run the family ‘s establishment, she falls prey to a local industrialist, she gives birth to a son, she is tormented by her husband and his family. Finally, she is rescued by suffragette friends and sets off to start a new life in London.The Cook’s Temptation is about a woman who is unpredictable, both strong and weak willed, both kind and heinous, victim and criminal. It is a genuine Victorian saga, full of detail, twists and turns, memorable scenes, full of drama and pathos.

Praise for The Cook's Temptation

“Joyce Wayne’s debut novel, The Cook's Temptation, has the stately bearing of a nineteenth century novel – the mercilessness of Thomas Hardy, the black allegory of Nathaniel Hawthorne, the tense marriages of George Eliot. It is a story of how people become what you blame them for being.” – Ian Williams, poet and fiction writer, short listed for the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize

Buy the Book

Amazon CAN
Amazon UK
Amazon US (Kindle)
Amazon US (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository
Mosaic Press

About the AuthorJW 2

Joyce Wayne has an MA in English literature, has taught journalism at Sheridan College, Oakville, Ontario, for twenty-five years, and lives in Toronto, Ontario. She was a winner of the Diaspora Dialogues contest for fiction and the Fiona Mee Award for literary journalism. She is the co writer of the documentary film So Far From Home (2010), a film about refugee journalists persecuted for their political views, and various of her other works have been published in Parchment, Golden Horseshoe Anthology, Canadian Voices, and TOK6.

For more information please visit Joyce Wayne's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. She is happy to participate in Books Clubs by phone and Skype.

Virtual Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, June 9
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, June 10
Book Blast at Bab's Book Bistro
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, June 11
Book Blast at History From a Woman's Perspective

Thursday, June 12
Book Blast at WTF Are You Reading?
Book Blast at I'd So Rather be Reading

Friday, June 13
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse

Saturday, June 14
Book Blast at A Bookish Affair
Book Blast at Griperang's Bookmarks
Book Blast at Just One More Chapter

Sunday, June 15
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Obsession

Monday, June 16
Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, June 17
Review at Seaside Book Corner
Book Blast at Lily Pond Reads

Wednesday, June 18
Interview at From the TBR Pile
Book Blast at Historical Tapestry

Thursday, June 19
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Book Blast at Kelsey's Book Corner

Friday, June 20
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer

Saturday, June 21
Book Blast at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Sunday, June 22
Book Blast at Book Lovers Paradise
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection

Monday, June 23
Book Blast at History Undressed
Book Blast at CelticLady's Reviews

Tuesday, June 24
Book Blast at Mina's Bookshelf
Book Blast at Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, June 25
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Book Blast at Broken Teepee

Thursday, June 26
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes

Friday, June 27
Review at Historical Novel Review
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book


Up for grabs are 3x eBooks of The Cook's Temptation and 3x $10 Amazon Gift Cards! To enter, please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents only.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on June 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on June 28th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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June 20, 2014

Catherine Aerie's The Dance of the Spirits

Title: The Dance of the Spirits
Genre: historical fiction

Award: 2014 eLit Awards sponsored by Jenkins Group Publishing
Reviewed by: Kirkus Reviews, Midwest Book Review, and San Francisco Book Reviews.

"The story begins in the spring of 1951 at the height of the Korean War. Caught in the thick of the fray is US Army lieutenant Wesley Palm and his men, whom are forced into a retreat after acting as a rearguard for their breaking unit. Despite a fierce defense of their positions, the US troops are eventually forced to give the field to the Chinese. During the chaos, Wesley finds himself lost in a forest. He discovers the dwelling of a local Korean peasant, where he encounters a female Chinese soldier-surgeon, who, unbeknownst to him, is Jasmine Young. He nearly kills her, but refrains from doing so out of the presence of a Red Cross armband on her. After the two part ways; Wesley eventually enters a deserted Buddhist temple and manages to identify directions from his previous knowledge on Asian architecture. He led his men flee southwards. However, Jasmine is also revealed to have sought shelter in the same temple. At daybreak, she is found by her own respective army, and assigned to be in temporary charge of a makeshift field hospital. However, massive casualties, wretched conditions, and dire shortages of supplies and bare necessities make it more of a futile morgue. Jasmine is sent to a new field hospital where she saves the life of a young avid officer, Tin-Bo Song, who was also once her family’s favorite servant boy in the past.

Before the war, Jasmine had been the pampered daughter of a wealthy, but also complicated family. Her life is punctuated by experiences of wealth and plenty on the one hand, and family misery on the other. Throughout Jasmine’s young years, her mother continually encourages her to become a doctor so that she will be self-sufficient and not have to depend upon an unfaithful man, as has Jasmine’s mother. Into the mix of family life is added Tin-Bo, a street waif whose ability to learn quickly makes him a favorite amongst the servants, of Jasmine’s mother. When communism comes to China, Jasmine, to save her family’s honor, goes to the war in Korea. While there, she meets an American, Wesley. Through the death and misery of a war-torn land, Jasmine and Wesley find love, while Tin-Bo concludes that Jasmine is to be his or she is to belong to no one else."

Available on Amazon 
Also on Goodreads and Barnes and Noble

About the author
Catherine Aerie graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a master degree in finance, and was inspired to write The Dance of the Spirits while researching a family member’s role in the Korean War. The Dance of the Spirits is her debut novel, a fruit after about two years of research. She currently reside in southern California.

June 18, 2014

Bob Van Laerhoven's Baudelaire's Revenge - Guest Post and {Giveaway}


Life is tough. Work hard. Build a house. Be normal. Don’t stay out late. Don’t catch cold. Don’t drink.

These were the kinds of things said to me when I was growing up as a lonely and vaguely melancholy 17-year old in a small Flemish village surrounded by pinewoods on the border between Belgium and The Netherlands. Later in life, I’d learn the hard way that borders—wooded or not—are often rough and dangerous places. But for then, all is peaceful and entirely too predictable, and I was searching for something that would appease a formless longing within me. My parents, poor and hardworking people, were hoping I’d become a postman: regular job, steady income, and healthy, too, with biking many miles each day across the flatlands of De Kempen—a rural area inhabited by small farmers and workers in Antwerp’s harbor—to distribute letters written by the gnarled hands of simple people.

I was a dreamer and I loved to read, but my parents were reticent to leave me to my books.
No good can come from this laziness, they said. He needs to build some character. He’s skinny, let him do some real men's work. 

So I did a real man’s job in the harbor, steeling my muscles in the holds of ships filled with Rhine sand. But my dreamy, sad nature didn’t evaporate there. I continued my reading after dark, in bed, with a flashlight.

When I could, I’d escape to the village’s small but well-kept library where I found, by accident (or was it Fate?), a translation in archaic Dutch of Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire, whom the French like to call “a cursed poet.” How my heart thrilled when I read the Flowers of Evil of this poète maudit! Here was a kindred soul speaking to me in delicate words and sublime rhythm. Baudelaire evoked the unbearable weight of living in a neurasthenic, hypersensitive language, so rich and contrasting, so vile, yet so exquisitely beautiful. I vowed to read the original, believing that French was a more melodic language than my own Dutch dialect. The librarian, a retired schoolmaster with the reddest hair you ever saw, noticed the aesthetic hunger burning in my awkward self and promised me a copy of Les Fleurs du Mal. With this slim volume and a French-Dutch dictionary, I spent many nights. The lines I read brushed against my heart like the fluttering of innumerable insect wings.

Sans cesse à mes cotés s’agite le Démon.... There it was : a demon, lurking, agitated in the depth of my being—an eternal and culpable desire. It was as if Charles Baudelaire had read my mind: I was guilty of dreaming the impossible: to become an author.

They said it couldn’t be done. They said: “Your dream is not for our kind of people.” So, two years later, I left home with nothing but my hopes, starting a life that rambled from pillar to post, Jack of all trades and master of none, eventually learning to write novels by writing and discarding, writing and discarding, writing and discarding.

The yearning remained, whispering in the night. And so I became a writer the only way I knew how: for thirteen years, I lived the life of a travelling writer in war-torn countries, in Somalia, Bosnia, Gaza, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Kosovo, Liberia, Mozambique, Burma, Burundi and other places ravaged by violence. There, I wrote the stories of the people I came into contact with, trying to analyze what drives mankind’s perpetual violence.

All that time, while witnessing reality, I longed for the imaginative, which literature has always used as a reflection on reality. And so I finally sat down to fulfill a promise the 17-year old with his flashlight underneath the blankets had made: I will write about this doomed poet Baudelaire so that people will know what it’s like to seek such feverish beauty in the depths of decadence.

I learned later that all things happen for a reason, that I had to witness the suffering and violence of war in order to be able to write Baudelaire’s Revenge. I needed to have those experiences to understand how to write about the harsh parable of passion and deceit Baudelaire wrote – to find the seeds of the Flowers of Evil.

They said it couldn’t be done. They wrote in the newspapers: “How can a Flemish guy with no degree whatsoever write convincingly and poetically about one of France’s greatest icons of literature?

Two years later, Baudelaire’s Revenge was published with great success in the Netherlands and Belgium, and subsequently in a French translation with overwhelming acclaim in France and the French speaking parts of Canada. Now, with also a Russian and Italian translation in the making, I remember days when I said to myself: “This is way above my head, it can’t be done.” For months on end I lived with my brain drenched in the essence of the turbulent 19th century and wrote drafts, new drafts and then again... What kept me going, was the memory of a 17-year old, lonesome boy wandering through the woods that surround his village, holding Les Fleurs du Mal in his hands, reciting verses out loud while the trees absorbed every syllable...

That memory whispered to me: “It can always be done.”

About the book
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Pegasus Books
Formats: eBook, Hardcover

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It is 1870, and Paris is in turmoil.

As the social and political turbulence of the Franco-Prussian War roils the city, workers starve to death while aristocrats seek refuge in orgies and seances. The Parisians are trapped like rats in their beautiful city but a series of gruesome murders captures their fascination and distracts them from the realities of war. The killer leaves lines from the recently deceased Charles Baudelaire’s controversial anthology Les Fleurs du Mal on each corpse, written in the poet’s exact handwriting. Commissioner Lefevre, a lover of poetry and a veteran of the Algerian war, is on the case, and his investigation is a thrilling, intoxicating journey into the sinister side of human nature, bringing to mind the brooding and tense atmosphere of Patrick Susskind’s Perfume. Did Baudelaire rise from the grave? Did he truly die in the first place? The plot dramatically appears to extend as far as the court of the Emperor Napoleon III.

A vivid, intelligent, and intense historical crime novel that offers up some shocking revelations about sexual mores in 19th century France, this superb mystery illuminates the shadow life of one of the greatest names in poetry.

Praise for Baudelaire’s Revenge
“[An] intense historical crime thriller. The intricate plot, menacing atmosphere, and rich evocations of period Paris have undeniable power.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Vigorous. A finely-tuned balancing act between style and content. Add to all this the extremely convincingly painted tragic characters and the multitude of mysterious figures, and what you get is a winner who gives added luster to this jubilee edition of the Hercule Poirot Prize.” (The jury of the Hercule Poirot Prize)

“Van Laerhoven packs much complexity into 256 pages, giving this historical mystery the heft of a far longer work ( …) The book’s main preoccupation is the conclusive demonstration that everyone is guilty of something—the only mystery is, to what degree? The flowers of evil, sketched in lurid botanical detail…” (Kirkus Reviews)

“(A) decadent tale….Commissioner Lefèvre’s philosophical discussions with artists and poets and a creepy Belgian dwarf are fascinating….” (NY Times Book Review)

“Published for the first time in English, this roman policier isn’t so much a straight detective story (although there are two detectives in it) as an evocation of a mind-set that now seems extravagant: the 19th-century poet’s fascination with sex and death. It’s no wonder this title won the Hercule Poirot Prize: the author is Belgian, as is the prize, and the twisted plot is as complicated as Agatha Christie’s most convoluted mystery. Mystery aficionados will love this pastiche of Wilkie Collins and Edgar Allan Poe.” (Library Journal)

“(A) gritty, detail-rich historical mystery novel involves the reader in a subtle narrative web. This complex mystery from an award-winning Belgian author joins history and literary history to create a sly, smart revenge tale.” (Shelf Awareness Pro)

Watch the Book Trailer

About the author
Bob Van Laerhoven became a full-time author in 1991 and has written more than thirty books in Holland and Belgium. The context of his stories isn’t invented behind his desk, rather it is rooted in personal experience. As a freelance travel writer, for example, he explored conflicts and trouble-spots across the globe from the early 1990s to 2005. Echoes of his experiences on the road also trickle through in his novels. Somalia, Liberia, Sudan, Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar… to name but a few.

During the Bosnian war, Van Laerhoven spent part of 1992 in the besieged city of Sarajevo. Three years later he was working for MSF – Doctors without frontiers – in the Bosnian city of Tuzla during the NATO bombings. At that moment the refugees arrived from the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. Van Laerhoven was the first writer from the Low Countries to be given the chance to speak to the refugees. His conversations resulted in a travel book: Srebrenica. Getuigen van massamoord – Srebrenica. Testimony to a Mass Murder. The book denounces the rape and torture of the Muslim population of this Bosnian-Serbian enclave and is based on first-hand testimonies. He also concludes that mass murders took place, an idea that was questioned at the time but later proven accurate.

All these experiences contribute to Bob Van Laerhoven’s rich and commendable oeuvre, an oeuvre that typifies him as the versatile author of novels, travel stories, books for young adults, theatre pieces, biographies, poetry, non-fiction, letters, columns, articles… He is also a prize-winning author: in 2007 he won the Hercule Poirot Prize for best thriller of the year with his novel De Wraak van Baudelaire – Baudelaire’s Revenge.

For more information please visit Bob Van Laerhoven’s website. You can also connect with him onFacebook and Twitter.

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June 16, 2014

Ayelet Waldman's Love and Treasure - Guest Post

At the heart of my novel Love & Treasure lies a pendant in the shape of a peacock, of inconsequential monetary value, but vast personal importance. This necklace, found on the Hungarian Gold Train by the American Army officer assigned to guard the property, connects that first part of the novel to the two subsequent, similar to the way the Stradivarius violin known as the Red Mendelssohn (1721), functions in the film The Red Violin.

I structured the novel this way because I became very interested in the idea of property and value. What makes a certain piece of property valuable? What, for example, is the “worth” of the pair of tall silver-plated candlesticks I inherited from my great-grandmother? Objectively, they are probably not worth very much. Though ornate, they were common, not unusual in any way. Mine was not the only Bubbe to smuggle such candlesticks out of Minsk beneath her skirts. To her they were immensely valuable because they were given to her as a wedding gift. In fact, the candlesticks she kept for almost 70 years longer than the husband, whom she divorced as soon as she tracked him down in the Lower East Side of New York City. Upon finding him, she met the young and pretty reason he’d failed to send for her and their daughter as he’d promised, and after beating him about the head and shoulders (or so I like to think), she set about getting
herself a divorce.

It is the legacy of strength and power that story represents that makes the candlesticks so precious to me. When I am feeling exhausted or put upon, when my privileged life seems unendurable, I recall that young woman making her way halfway across the world, her young daughter in tow, determined to make a new life for herself in America, and I straighten my spine. You’ve heard the phrase “Man up?” Well, in my house we Bubbe Up.

But as I said, those candlesticks are silver-plate, not even silver. How much would they be worth on their own, without that history and the people who appreciate it? How much would they be worth as part of a train full of similar property, when all the people who cared about those candlesticks and carpets, wedding rings and china services, are dead, burnt to ashes along with their dreams of descendants? It’s this question that I struggled to address in the novel Love & Treasure.

I’m interested in your stories of family heirlooms. Share them with me on Facebook, or via my website www.ayeletwaldman.com

About the book
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Knopf Publishing
Formats: Ebook, Hardcover, Audio

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A spellbinding new novel of contraband masterpieces, tragic love, and the unexpected legacies of forgotten crimes, Ayelet Waldman’s Love and Treasure weaves a tale around the fascinating, true history of the Hungarian Gold Train in the Second World War.

In 1945 on the outskirts of Salzburg, victorious American soldiers capture a train filled with unspeakable riches: piles of fine gold watches; mountains of fur coats; crates filled with wedding rings, silver picture frames, family heirlooms, and Shabbat candlesticks passed down through generations. Jack Wiseman, a tough, smart New York Jew, is the lieutenant charged with guarding this treasure—a responsibility that grows more complicated when he meets Ilona, a fierce, beautiful Hungarian who has lost everything in the ravages of the Holocaust. Seventy years later, amid the shadowy world of art dealers who profit off the sins of previous generations, Jack gives a necklace to his granddaughter, Natalie Stein, and charges her with searching for an unknown woman—a woman whose portrait and fate come to haunt Natalie, a woman whose secret may help Natalie to understand the guilt her grandfather will take to his grave and to find a way out of the mess she has made of her own life.

A story of brilliantly drawn characters—a suave and shady art historian, a delusive and infatuated Freudian, a family of singing circus dwarfs fallen into the clutches of Josef Mengele, and desperate lovers facing choices that will tear them apart—Love and Treasure is Ayelet Waldman’s finest novel to date: a sad, funny, richly detailed work that poses hard questions about the value of precious things in a time when life itself has no value, and about the slenderest of chains that can bind us to the griefs and passions of the past.

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Praise for Love and Treasure
“Love and Treasure is something of a treasure trove of a novel. Its beautifully integrated parts fit inside one another like the talismanic pendant/ locket at the heart of several love stories. Where the opening chapters evoke the nightmare of Europe in the aftermath of World War II with the hallucinatory vividness of Anselm Kiefer’s disturbing canvases, the concluding chapters, set decades before, in a more seemingly innocent time in the early 20th century, are a bittersweet evocation, in miniature, of thwarted personal destinies that yet yield to something like cultural triumph. Ayelet Waldman is not afraid to create characters for whom we feel an urgency of emotion, and she does not resolve what is unresolvable in this ambitious, absorbing and poignantly moving work of fiction.”
—Joyce Carol Oates

“One is quickly caught up in Love and Treasure with its shifting tones and voices—at times a document, a thriller, a love story, a search—telescoping time backwards and forwards to vividly depict a story found in the preludes and then the after-effects of the Holocaust. Waldman gives us remarkable characters in a time of complex and surprising politics.”
—Michael Ondaatje

“Love and Treasure is like the treasure train it chases: fast-paced, bound by a fierce mission, full of bright secrets and racingly, relentlessly moving.”
—Daniel Handler

“Complex and thoughtful, moving and carefully researched, this is a novel to love and treasure.”
—Philippa Gregory

“This lush, multigenerational tale… traces the path of a single pendant…. Inventively told from multiple perspectives, Waldman’s latest is a seductive reflection on just how complicated the idea of ‘home’ is–and why it is worth more than treasure.”
—Publishers Weekly

“A sensitive and heartbreaking portrayal of love, politics, and family secrets . . . Waldman’s appealing novel recalls the film The Red Violin in its following of this all-important object through various periods in history and through many owners. Fans of historical fiction will love the compelling characters and the leaps backward and forward in time.”
—Mariel Pachucki, Library Journal

About the AuthorAyelet Waldman is the author of the newly released Love and Treasure (Knopf, January 2014), Red Hook Road and The New York Times bestseller Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace. Her novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits was made into a film starring Natalie Portman. Her personal essays and profiles of such public figures as Hillary Clinton have been published in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Vogue, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Her radio commentaries have appeared on “All Things Considered” and “The California Report.”

For more information please visit Ayelet’s website. Her missives also appear on Facebook and Twitter.
Her books are published throughout the world, in countries as disparate as England and Thailand, the Netherlands and China, Russia and Israel, Korea and Italy.

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June 13, 2014

Reina M. Williams's Miss Darcy Decides

An Excerpt from Miss Darcy Decides, Love at Pemberley, Book Two

Georgiana lit the paper on fire and dropped it into the hearth. The flames met, consuming each other in a blue-yellow crinkle. Warmth, a partner, someone other than paper and flames to share her troubles with, someone special, like her brother had Lizzy, like James had Kitty. But Georgiana had friends, loved ones, and for that she was grateful.

“Georgiana? If you wish to be alone...” Kitty stood by the door, looking still the glowing new bride. Her cheeks, plumped from her smile, blushed pink like her gown.

Georgiana shook her head and motioned for her friend to join her on the settee in front of the fire. The small room was Georgiana’s favorite—the light blues and mauves of the fabrics, the few trinkets that were Georgiana’s mother’s, including her delicate writing desk, comforted Georgiana.

“James and my brother have gone on their business?” Georgiana eased into the cushions. She fluffed the skirt of her sky blue day dress.

“Yes, they are also riding to the new house, to check on the progress of the renovations.” Kitty placed her hand on Georgiana’s. “I am glad we are to have this time together before James and I move to our new home.”

“As am I.” Georgiana’s neck ached, tight from feeling. She was truly happy for Kitty and her cousin James, and for her cousins Anne and Albert, all newly wed, but there was a lingering longing—Georgiana wished for a love of her own. But the thought of change, on the crest of these other changes, made her retreat into herself. Kitty studied her. Her friend’s concerned frown made Georgiana muster a smile.

“It is not as if it will be the last we shall see each other.” Georgiana’s shoulders tightened. She had been alone so long, and then surrounded by love. Now it was all changing again. “You and James are to be very near. Even at thirty miles, the Bingleys are at an easy distance, and your new home is not above five.”

“And you shall tire of us, for we must be here often to see our new niece or nephew.”

Georgiana tilted her neck, trying to loosen the knots. It was a happiness, that her brother and dear Lizzy expected their first child, yet fear constricted Georgiana. Her mother had died in childbirth. Georgiana could not bear it should such a thing occur to Lizzy, to her dear brother, to their family. Their mother’s death had all but destroyed their father. She could not see such happen to her dear, her only, brother.

About the book
Publication Date: January 21, 2014
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
eBook; 77 pages
Heat level: Sweet

Miss Darcy Decides is a light, sweet Pride and Prejudice novella, book two in the Love at Pemberley series.  While visiting a young woman—who was not so fortunate as Miss Georgiana Darcy in escaping the persuasions of a rogue—Georgiana meets Sir Camden Sutton, whose reputation causes Georgiana to wonder as to his motives. Her wondering soon turns to a different feeling when Sir Camden comes to stay at Pemberley, showing himself to be a very different man than was rumored. While Sir Camden struggles with his past and his commitment to his future, as well as the ill intentions of haughty Caroline Bingley, Miss Darcy must decide whether to listen to others, or the words written on her heart.

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About the author
Reina M. Williams loves period dramas, sweet reads, fairy tales, cooking and baking. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her two boys, who hope to someday take a research trip to England with their mom. For more information please visit Reina M. Williams's website. You can also connect with her on TwitterGoodreads, and Pinterest.

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June 09, 2014

Kathy Fischer-Brown - Spotlight and {Giveaway}

Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter: Book 1, The Serpent’s Tooth trilogy
Publication Date: June 13, 2012
Books We Love Ltd.
Formats: eBook, Paperback

As a child, Anne Fairfield dreams of the father she never knew, the hero who died fighting the French and their Indian allies in a land across the sea. Her mother’s stories, and fantasies of her own devising, sustain and nurture her through a poor and lonely existence. Until one winter night, a strange man comes to call, and the life she has known comes crashing down like shattered glass.

Forced to confront sordid truths, secrets and lies, the headstrong young woman begins to learn that, like generations of women ruled by their hearts, she is destined to follow in their footsteps.

Set against the backdrop of 18th century England, Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter is the first book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy, which follows Anne from the rural countryside, to London society and into the center of the American Revolution.

Praise for The Serpent’s Tooth
4 Stars “Jane Austen showed us the gentle side of 19th century England; Kathy Fischer-Brown sets her work a century earlier and shows us how envy, revenge, and greed can work to effect long-term changes on one young woman…. The author does a wonderful job of showing all these complications clearly, with apt description, and I could easily see this series as a movie-maybe one day I will. So, if you are a fan of dark gothic themes, enjoy seeing the underbelly of British society and what goes on behind the scenes, as it were, I highly recommend you buy this trilogy.” — Long and Short Reviews

4 ½ Stars “…This is a dark novel that deals with the resentment and anger of a girl who has been misled and cannot seem to get past her grief …. While not a typical romance, this is a fascinating, complex story that I completely enjoyed. It is well written and entertained me with mystery, suspense, scandal, sinister characters and first love.” — Romantic Historical Lovers

Must Read “… the first book in ‘The Serpent’s Tooth Trilogy’ [is] a very well written plot filled with romance, suspense and danger. The author’s characters were developed well and believable…. Recommended for all suspenseful historical romance fans.” — My Cozy Corner Reviews

Courting the Devil: Book 2, The Serpent’s Tooth trilogy
Publication Date: August 31, 2012
Books We Love Ltd.
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Four years after a near fatal blunder uproots her from her home and inheritance, Anne Darvey, daughter of the Marquess of Esterleigh, finds herself an indentured servant on a farm near Fort Edward in New York, as the British army advances toward Albany. Driven by guilt over the pain she has caused her father and grief over her lover’s death, she sets out to deliver a message. The consequences lead to the discovery that all is not as it seems, and sets in motion events that lead to love and danger.

Set against the backdrop of the American Revolution, Courting the Devil is the second book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy, which follows Anne from her childhood in the rural English countryside, to London society, and into the center of the American Revolution.

Praise for Courting the Devil
5 Stars “I liked this book even better than the first, perhaps because there were more kind, decent–even funny–characters than were in the aristocratic snake pit depicted in the first novel. The author’s knowledge of this theater of the American Revolution is accurate; she knows the period well. Her characters are three-dimensional, proper 18th Century people in a well-researched setting….” — Juliet Waldron, author of Mozart’s Wife

… a high caliber historical drama. I commend Ms. Fischer-Brown on her research and attention to detail. It moves well with interesting characters and story lines….Two thumbs up for Courting the Devil.” — Writer Wonderland

4 ½ Stars “…kept me in suspense and filled with anticipation of what was to come. This book was written with gentle reminders and hints of the past without rehashing the original story and the scenes were descriptive and engaging….I like the Anne of this book a lot more than the previous book. It is clear she has grown up a bit and sees things differently.” — Romantic Historical Lovers

The Partisan’s Wife: Book 3, The Serpent’s Tooth trilogy
Publication Date: February 6, 2013
Books We Love Ltd.
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Faced with an impossible choice, Anne Marlowe is torn between her husband’s love and the hope of her receiving father’s forgiveness. As American forces follow up on their tide-turning victories over the British at Freeman’s Farm and Bemis Heights, Peter is drawn deeper into the shady network of espionage that could cost them both their lives.

Is his commitment to “the Cause” stronger than his hard-won love for Anne? Will her sacrifice tear them apart again…this time forever? Or will they find the peace and happiness they both seek in a new beginning?
The Partisan’s Wife follows Anne and Peter through the war torn landscape of Revolutionary War America, from the Battle of Saratoga to British-occupied New York and Philadelphia, and beyond.

Praise for The Partisan’s Wife
5 Stars “In The Partisan’s Wife, the last book in the trilogy, the author picks up where the second book left off. I have to admit that I am totally impressed with the author’s research into the time period her books are written in, everything was just perfect. With more twists and turns, the author finishes off the trilogy with an unexpected ending. I would Highly recommend the trilogy for all suspenseful historical romance fans, but be sure to read them in order so your not missing out on anything.” — My Cozy Corner Reviews

5 Stars “This is the last book of the trilogy. The historical research is outstanding. Kathy does a great job with the characters and story, everything is very believable. The whole trilogy is a read I would recommend to any one that loves historical fiction.” — Goodreads Review

4 Stars “The story itself was wonderful. It was beautifully told with lots of detail and exciting pace. I found myself staying up late at night just to see what was going to happen next, and in the moments that I couldn’t read I was always thinking about it. The Serpent’s Tooth Trilogy is an excellent read that you shouldn’t let pass you by!” — Unabridged Chick

4 Stars “…the author wrote such descriptive details of the surroundings that I was able to paint a vivid picture of what each of our characters endured. Overall this was a very different type of romance story. The author had a unique idea and created a compelling story around it…. I really enjoyed these books and am glad Anne finally understood what it is she wanted and was able to move on.” — Romantic Historical Lovers

4 Stars “I absolutely loved this book! The attention to detail was incredible…. From the actions and speech patterns of her characters to the way the settings were depicted, I could feel like I was living during the Revolutionary War, watching the story as it unfolded….” — Once Upon a Book

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Winter Fire
Publication Date: November 6, 2010
Books We Love Ltd.
Formats: eBook, Paperback

When Ethan Caine pulled the unconscious woman from the half-frozen creek, he had no idea that his world was about to explode. Dressed in quilled doeskin of Iroquois design, she stirred up dark secrets from his past. At the same time, she was everything he desired. But she was more Indian than white, and on the run for murder. He needed to know the truth. He needed to find it within himself to trust her.

Banished by the Seneca Indians who adopted and raised her, ostracized by the whites in the settlement, Zara Grey wanted only to be accepted. “Ethancaine” treated her with kindness and concern. It was easy to trust him. But her Indian ways disturbed him, and in her heart she would always be Seneca.

Praise for Winter Fire
5 Stars “This historical story will take you back in time and capture your heart in an era of hard times, of family ties and of a love that is meant to be. I can’t say enough how great this story is. It is well plotted and flows so easily that before you know it… You can’t put it down. You have to see what will happen next. I “HIGHLY” recommend this book!! You can’t go wrong on this one.” — Amazon reader review

5 Stars “I liked this book so much, I read it twice. Moves along well and keeps your interest. Would recommend it.”— Amazon reader review

4 Stars “Kathy Fischer-Brown recreates the terror of the Indian wars and vividly evokes the wonder of newfound love.” — Faith V. Smith, Romantic Times

“Winter Fire is a beautifully written, well-researched novel of passion and honor…If you’re looking for an adventure, a history lesson, and a touching romance, you’ll find it wrapped up in Winter Fire. I highly recommend this wonderful tale.” — Jani Brooks, Romance Reviews Today

4 Stars “Kathy Fischer-Brown … does an excellent job of weaving in the cultures clashing against each other, the unfounded prejudices of societies that don’t understand each other, while still keeping the focus on the romance. This is a touching story, the characters are vivid, the history is accurate, and the details really give the story a sense of place.” — The Romance Studio

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About the Author
As a child Kathy wanted to be a writer when she grew up. She also wanted to act on the stage. After receiving an MFA in Acting from the Mason Gross School of the Arts and playing the part of starving young artist in New York, she taught theater classes at a small college in the Mid-West before returning home to the East Coast, where over the years, she and her husband raised two kids and an assortment of dogs. During stints in advertising, children’s media publishing, and education reform in the former Soviet Unions, she wrote whenever she could.

Her love of early American history has its roots in family vacations up and down the East Coast visiting old forts and battlefields and places such as Williamsburg, Mystic Sea Port, and Sturbridge Village. During this time, she daydreamed in high school history classes, imagining the everyday people behind all the dates and conflicts and how they lived.

Claiming her best ideas are born of dreams, Kathy has written a number of stories over the years. Her first published novel, Winter Fire, a 1998 Golden Heart finalist in historical romance, was reissued in 2010 by Books We Love, Ltd., which also released Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, and The Partisan’s Wife.

When not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, photography, playing “ball” with the dogs, and rooting on her favorite sports teams.

For more information visit Kathy Fischer-Brown’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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June 06, 2014

Lynn Cullen's Mrs. Poe - Interview and {Giveaway}

Thank you for being our guest at Historical Fiction Connection today, Lynn. We appreciate you answering our questions and look forward to your answers.

It’s a pleasure to be here! Thank you for hosting my book.

What inspired you to become a historical novelist?

I’ve been in training for being a historical novelist since I was a kid, when my dad used to take our family on history-themed camping trips. For three weeks of every summer we made the rounds of pioneer villages, historical sites, and museums. I don’t think we missed a single pioneer reenactment this side of the Mississippi. I grew up looking for past worlds, and fed this love by reading nearly every fictionalized biography in the juvenile section in my local library (which my dad also took me to) as well as novels about pioneer times like those in the Little House on the Prairie series. Little did I know that this was the perfect background for writing fiction set in the past. I have my father to thank for it.

Your book new book is Mrs. Poe. What led you to write this novel? Have you always been fascinated by Edgar Allan Poe, as many are (including me)?

Poe came to me at a traumatic time in my life, when my husband was recovering from a brain injury that he’d received from having meningitis and my own future as a novelist was in question—the book I had been working on had been turned down by my former publisher the week he became ill. The day that I’d brought my husband home from the hospital, I was pacing in my office, wondering how we were going to survive. (My husband was also unemployed, one of the many who’d lost their jobs in the recession.) In my frantic state, Poe popped in my mind. It was puzzling because I didn’t know much about Poe. I ran to the computer and looked him up, and liked what I saw. I loved his underdog status—he was an orphan, struggled with poverty, and was desperate for love and success—but it was his affair with Frances Osgood that caught my eye. When she met Poe, she had just been abandoned by her husband and was trying to support her two children with her writing. An alarm went off. I knew this woman. I had to write about her and her relationship with Poe.

What is your opinion of Edgar Allan Poe? There are many rumors surrounding his persona historically. Do you think any of them are true? 

Poe is the victim of the nastiest smear job in literary history, courtesy of his archrival, Rufus Griswold. In an astonishing turn of events, Poe’s aunt and mother-in-law, Maria Clemm, made Griswold, who was known to despise Poe, Poe’s literary executor. The moment Griswold got his hands on Poe’s papers, he began to doctor them to support his outrageous lies about his competitor. Griswold is responsible for our image of Poe as a drunk, a madman, and a ghoul. In reality, when Poe rose to fame from “The Raven” in 1845, the time of MRS. POE, he was thought of as a gentlemanly ladies’ man, known for his exquisite manners and stirring readings. His scary stories were paying the bills, and so he wrote a few, but at the time, his contemporaries didn’t confuse the man with the villains in these tales. He was known just as well for his love poems, which he began writing for Frances Osgood in 1845. No wonder his peers had no doubt that he was having an affair with her—it fit their image of him as a ladies’ man.

One of the most persistent rumors about Poe is that he was a drunk. Most modern scholars believe that the man had a problem in that one drink could make him very drunk, but that he was not a big consumer of alcohol. He was desperately poor and needed to stay sober to work, and work he did. The recent exhibit at the Morgan Library in New York City provided proof, at least for me, of his sobriety. The letters and manuscripts on display from his late teens to his death were, to an item, neat and precise in both penmanship and thought. No one in their cups could have produced such elegantly composed script. Griswold, of course, talked a great deal about Poe’s drunkenness. It’s interesting that this slander persists, even with hard evidence to the contrary. Also interesting is that Griswold did not promote the talk about the Poe-Osgood affair. No wonder—he was quite jealous of the pair. HE wanted to be associated with Frances, not Poe.

Do you have a process when you're doing research for your books?

I start with reading biographies on my characters. I then read tangent materials found in the bibliographies of the biographies. (Try saying that sentence five times fast!) Once I’ve read about the characters, their families, and their friends and enemies, and have made a study of the settings and times, I hit the streets that the characters walked. I start writing my books early into the research, and then travel to the scenes that I’ve written about, which in turn spawns new scenes. So in effect, I’m writing and discovering things about my characters and their stories all at once. If I had my druthers, I would simply exist in this pretend world for the year or so it takes me to write a book. But it’s never as straightforward as that. Family is super important to me—I brake for grandkids!

You grew up in a large family? What was that like? Any adventures that stand out from your past?

I was the sixth of seven kids and so was on my own a lot. This was fine with me. I spent a lot of time in an imaginary world in which I was a pioneer girl or little lost child, which was perfect training for a writer. I had to figure out things for myself, and what I loved figuring out most was how people ticked. I also loved nature and animals and spent every moment I could outside, which I still do today. In fact, I’m writing this on a laptop on my patio, where I write for most of the year. Note that birds always work their way into my book—they’re always flying around me, so zip! They appear in the book. I notice that rivers always feature in my books, too. I grew up nine houses away from the St. Joseph River in Fort Wayne (only a mile from Johnny Appleseed’s grave—more history!) I used to swing from the riverbank by hanging onto weeping willow branches and got my first lesson on sex by studying the crude drawings spray-painted under the bridge near my home.

Are you currently reading any historical fiction? If so, which one(s)?
The most recent work of historical fiction that I’ve read was a historical thriller by M.J. Rose, THE COLLECTOR OF DYING BREATHS. I loved all the ideas and philosophies that she worked into her story. I really enjoy being educated as well as entertained and COLLECTOR was excellent at both.

What is your favorite historical fiction book and/or who is your favorite historical author?

I’ve been greatly influenced by WUTHERING HEIGHTS, which is not historical fiction, of course, but is set in the past and has the authentic historic feel that I strive for in my books. I read it while working on my last three novels. I love how it’s constructed, I love the characterization, I love the story. And I love dark, wounded Heathcliff. Especially when he was played by Ralph Fiennes in the BBC Films version of the book.

Do you have your next project in the works and can we get a hint?

I’m working on a book about Mark Twain and the women in his life. I am finding that anyone who becomes famous by changing their name and personality might have major personal issues....

Lynn, thanks again for joining us today. We really enjoyed chatting with you and look forward to hosting you here at HFC again in the future. We wish you continued success with Mrs. Poe

Thank you for your interest and support. It’s always a pleasure to chat with people who understand the thrill of exploring the past.

Note: Was this not an excellent interview, readers!? I hope Lynn stops by and reads this because I would first like to send my best wishes to her husband and family. I hope he has made a full recovery. I also want to mention that Wuthering Heights is also one of my favorites and the Ralph Fiennes version of the film was also my favorite. He was a perfect Heathcliff! Finally, someone who 'gets' Heathcliff, as I do. Thanks again, Lynn for a wonderful interview!

About the book
Paperback Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Gallery Books


Great Reads of 2013 –NPR
Books That Make Time Stand Still –Oprah.com
Editor’s Pick—The Historical Novels Review
Best Books of 2013—Atlanta Magazine
Indie Next List Pick

A vivid and compelling novel about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe—at the same time she becomes the unwilling confidante of his much-younger wife.

It is 1845, and Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York; not an easy task for a woman—especially one with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband. As Frances tries to sell her work, she finds that editors are only interested in writing similar to that of the new renegade literary sensation Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem, “The Raven” has struck a public nerve.

She meets the handsome and mysterious Poe at a literary party, and the two have an immediate connection. Poe wants Frances to meet with his wife since she claims to be an admirer of her poems, and Frances is curious to see the woman whom Edgar married.

As Frances spends more and more time with the intriguing couple, her intense attraction for Edgar brings her into dangerous territory. And Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child, is actually more manipulative and threatening than she appears. As Frances and Edgar’s passionate affair escalates, Frances must decide whether she can walk away before it’s too late…

Set amidst the fascinating world of New York’s literati, this smart and sexy novel offers a unique view into the life of one of history’s most unforgettable literary figures.

Praise for Mrs. Poe

“Is it true that Edgar Allen Poe cheated on his tubercular, insipid young wife with a lady poet he’d met at a literary salon? Cullen makes you hope so.” –New York Times

“This fictional reenactment of the mistress of Edgar Allan Poe escorts you into the glittering world of New York in the 1840s…A bewitching, vivid trip into the heyday of American literary society.” –Oprah.com, Book of the Week

“Vivid…Atmospheric…Don’t miss it.” –People

“Nevermore shall you wonder what it might have been like to fall deeply in love with Edgar Allen Poe… Mrs. Poe nails the period.” –NPR

“A page-turning tale…Readers who loved Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife will relish another novel based on historical scandal and romance.” –Library Journal, starred review

“Immensely engaging…Set upon the backdrop of a fascinating era…this is not only a captivating story of forbidden lovers but an elaborately spun tale of NYC society.” –The Historical Novels Review

“A must-read for those intrigued by Poe, poetry and the latter half of nineteenth-century America.” –RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

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About the author
Lynn Cullen grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the fifth girl in a family of seven children. She learned to love history combined with traveling while visiting historic sites across the U.S. on annual family camping trips. She attended Indiana University in Bloomington and Fort Wayne, and took writing classes with Tom McHaney at Georgia State. She wrote children’s books as her three daughters were growing up, while working in a pediatric office and later, at Emory University on the editorial staff of a psychoanalytic journal. While her camping expeditions across the States have become fact-finding missions across Europe, she still loves digging into the past. She does not miss, however, sleeping in musty sleeping bags. Or eating canned fruit cocktail. She now lives in Atlanta with her husband, their dog, and two unscrupulous cats.

Lynn Cullen is the author of The Creation of Eve, named among the best fiction books of 2010 by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and as an April 2010 Indie Next selection. She is also the author of numerous award-winning books for children, including the young adult novel I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter, which was a 2007 Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and an ALA Best Book of 2008. Her novel, Reign of Madness, about Juana the Mad, daughter of the Spanish Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand, was chosen as a 2011 Best of the South selection by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and was a 2012 Townsend Prize finalist. Her newest novel, MRS. POE, examines the fall of Edgar Allan Poe through the eyes of poet Francis Osgood.

For more information please visit Lynn Cullen’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

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