The Last Royal Rebel

by Anna Keay (Bloomsbury, 2016)

During the horrific, botched execution of James, Duke of Monmouth, in 1685, the crowd remained silent and ‘many cried’, until, incensed by the ‘barbarous usage’ of the duke, they surged forward and would have torn the executioner to pieces had soldiers not prevented it. Yet the label on Monmouth’s portrait in the National Gallery reads: ‘charming, ambitious, unprincipled’. In The Last Royal Rebel, the Life and Death of James, Duke of Monmouth, Anna Keay shows us a complex, often contradictory man: a frivolous, pampered royal bastard with an astute political mind; a gambling spendthrift who becomes a war hero; a much-maligned man brought low by his sense of what was right and fair, and his need to be loved by his father. Continue reading “The Last Royal Rebel”

The Great Game.

Roller-skating in the Hindu Kush.

(Background research for The Empress Emerald)

‘Horrible looking hills loomed nearer and nearer and then you saw some sort of crack going up through the hills – and this was the Khyber Pass; great slabs of rock towering up on either side of you.’  (Ed Brown, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 1930s)

‘I set the defaulters to work with pick axes Continue reading “The Great Game.”

Writing historical fiction – when & why.

Which epoch and why? #1
JGH: ‘I write stories set in the seventeenth century and the early twentieth century.’

Question: ‘Why those epochs?’

Good question. Let’s look at some clichés first: Roman sword’n’sandal stories are bloody and exciting; the War of the Roses is full of intrigue; Tudor novels are sexy; Regency novels are titillating; Victorian novels are upstairs and downstairs; and World War stories are full love, loyalty and family suffering. But the seventeenth century has it all – and Continue reading “Writing historical fiction – when & why.”