A Day of Fire – Q&A with Ben Kane

Next Tuesday, November 4th, A Day of Fire – A Novel of Pompeii will be released. It’s a collaboration between Ben Kane, Stephanie Dray, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter. I’ve read an advance copy of it and will post my review here at the weekend. In the meantime, I was lucky enough to talk to one of the book’s authors, Ben Kane (I’d love to have interviewed them all, because they all play an equal part in the book’s success but there’s not enough hours in the day!).

Read on….

ben-kane

Ben Kane

Hi Ben, thank you very much for taking part in this Q&A session. I’ve just finished your new novel, A Day of Fire which is a collaboration between yourself and a few other histfic authors and describes the last days of Pompeii. First of all: why Pompeii? It’s been done before, probably most notably by Robert Harris in recent years. Were you confident you’d be able to come up with a story that added something new to the mix?

Pompeii remains one of the most identifiable events in all of history. The attraction of writing about it was too great to resist. I didn’t really think about whether we’d add something new – I was so thrilled to be writing about it that I didn’t care! Hopefully, we will have added a layer of poignancy to the story, by writing about six different characters, and their families/friends/enemies.

There are six of you in total, that have each written a section of A Day of Fire. How exactly did the project come about? Was one person responsible for gathering you all together and driving it along?

It was the brain child of Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray and Sophie Perinot, I believe. They’re all friends. Kate recruited me – when she asked, I said yes at once.

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Did you know the other authors before you started work on the book? I have to be honest, I’ve not read any of their other work, but I plan on changing that now!

I ‘knew’ Kate Quinn a little from a couple of internet fora, but I had never met the others. It’s great that you will now be checking out some new authors because of our book.

How was the synopsis worked out? Did one of you take the lead to come up with a basic plan, then everyone throw in their own ideas before you all settled on the outline?

We followed the timeline of the eruption – and weaved our stories around that, being careful not to have them ALL about the crunch event!

Pompeii - Garden of the Fugitives, image by Lancevortex

Pompeii – Garden of the Fugitives, image by Lancevortex

Obviously you’ve written quite a few of your own novels by now, so how did you find this project? It must have been really strange to try and fit your piece in among the others without it being too stylistically different or losing track of the overall plan.

In this respect, I was lucky. Due to the way the project unfolded, I wrote my story before anyone else, which meant I didn’t need to think of anyone else’s stories. When they had finished their pieces, I had to change a few things so that they all meshed together, but I found that fun and interesting rather than annoying.

Just some of Ben's books

Just some of Ben’s books

Your own chapter is different from the others, with the focus on an old soldier rather than a bride-to-be or a prostitute kind of thing. I thought it provided an interesting – and welcome – change from the other pieces and came at just the right time. Was this done on purpose?

Yes and no. I could have written about a serving soldier – those are my usual characters – or a civilian. I decided to go for a mix between the two – a veteran, with a gambling problem. I hope it worked.

Now that it’s about to be released, what do you think of the book overall? Where does it stand in your canon of work, in your opinion? I must admit I found myself welling up at certain points, it’s so powerfully written.

I really like it. At the start, I was a little wary – I hadn’t read the work of most of my co-writers. However, I found their stories to be great reads. I have no idea how it stands in my canon (no one’s ever said that before!) of work. Only my readers can judge that. I’m so pleased it touched you!

Pompeii and Vesuvius, image by High Contrast

Pompeii and Vesuvius, image by High Contrast

And A Day of Fire is self-published too. I find this a big surprise, to be honest. I’d have thought the publishing houses would have been fighting one another to put this out there! Not just because it’s a good book, but because each of you has a ready-made audience.

There’s a story in there…we did have a mainstream publisher on board for a while, but they pulled out for a number of reasons. Rather than continue to waste time looking for another publisher, we decided to self-publish and see what happened…

What’s next for Ben Kane? Any plans to write more books with other authors? You and your mate Anthony Riches could probably come up with something good, eh?

Ha! I would love to write other books with other authors – it’s finding the time. For the moment, I am sticking with my next novel, Eagles at War. That’s set in Germany, in 9 AD, and concerns the disastrous battle in which Rome lost 3 legions. It’s out in April 2015.

Speaking of Mr. Riches, how’s the Romani Walk fund-raising going? You have a new film out soon, isn’t that right? Are you, Tony and Russell (Whitfield) going to do it all over again next year?

(For those of you who don’t know, the #RomaniWalk is a mad event that I’ve done for the last two years, walking silly distances for charity, wearing even more silly amounts of Roman armour.) We raised over £26,500 this year, which is about £7,000 more than last year. Not bad! We had a film made of the walk, yes, which is looking for a home! We may or may not do another walk next year – it depends a little on the TV situation. 2016, definitely!

Ben, Anthony Riches and Russell Whitfield in full Romani Walk mode!

Ben, Anthony Riches and Russell Whitfield in full Romani Walk mode!

Thanks for talking to me, Ben, I hope A Day of Fire finds a huge readership. It honestly deserves it and, considering the price it costs for the Kindle version histfic fan have no excuse not to buy a copy!

Thanks very much for interviewing me, Steven, and for reading and enjoying the book. Cheers!

A Day of Fire – A Novel of Pompeii is out on November 4th, but you can pre-order your Kindle copy NOW from these links. It will also be available as a paperback on the 4th if you prefer that format. Do yourself a favour, don’t miss this brilliant book, and be sure to check back here over the weekend to read my review!

UK readers:

USA readers:

Knight of the Cross audiobook now available – cheap too!

The new novella is now available as an audiobook. You can get it from Audible UK (£4.99), Audible.com ($6.95)  or iTunes (£3.95 UK, $5.95 US)! No idea why it’s cheaper on iTunes, but…come on, less than a fiver for an audiobook?!

Two and a half hours of entertainment, get your copy now from one of these links! No idea how the Apple thing works, but the Audible app is free for your tablet, smartphone or PC. I like to listen to audiobooks in the car — just download the free app, buy the book, then plug your smartphone into your car stereo input jack! Better than listening to your Wham! cds again, that’s for sure. Oh, and if you already bought the ebook you SHOULD get this even cheaper!

Never listened to an audiobook and been put off by the high price – well, you have no excuse now. Less than a fiver!

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Knight-of-the-Cross-Audiobook/B00OME98EE

http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Fiction/Knight-of-the-Cross-Audiobook/B00OME7364

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/knight-cross-knight-hospitaller/id931637988

Knight Of The Cross-Audible-Front

Knight of the Cross audiobook sample!

The full audiobook will be available from Audible/Amazon within the next couple of days. For now, here’s a short sample. Have a listen and share with your histfic loving friends!

The full production lasts just 2.5 hours so it will be, I imagine, very cheap. If you ever fancied trying out an audiobook but didn’t want to pay £15 or whatever, this will be ideal!

The Elder Sign…

 Not my pic, it's from a pendant you can buy here, just to give the artist/photographer credit where it's due: https://www.etsy.com/.../hp-lovecraft-elder-sign-pendant...

“Here, take this and sleep with it by your side.” He pressed a small, flat stone into Sir Richard’s gauntleted hand and the knight examined it curiously. It was inscribed with the symbol they’d seen on the house on the outskirts of the town; a line with five smaller lines branching off it, like a tree. “It’ll protect you,” the merchant promised, “as it protects the buildings you’ve seen with the same stones outside. I must go now – if they discover I’m helping you they’ll kill me as they did my wife.”
He pulled away from the knight’s grasp and headed off into the shadows. “Come to me again if you need me. But act quickly – Dagon is coming!”

Knight of the Cross – just 77p/99c on Kindle, now! Paperback also available and audiobook will be on Audible within the next day or so!
And carving yourself a few stones with the Elder Sign on them might be a good idea in time for Hallowe’en

http://stevenamckay.wordpress.com/buy-books/

Not my pic BTW, it’s from a pendant you can buy here, just to give the artist/photographer credit where it’s due: https://www.etsy.com/…/hp-lovecraft-elder-sign-pendant…

A Day of Fire – A Novel of Pompeii by Ben Kane et al

I’ve been very lucky to get an advance copy of a new book, Day of Fire – a novel of Pompeii by some of histfic’s finest writers, including Ben Kane who’s supported me since before Wolf’s Head was even published.

I wasn’t sure how well the book would work, being a collaborative effort with sections written by different authors and, to be honest, I’ve never read any of the contributors’ other work (apart from Ben, obviously).

I’m glad to say I’m loving it. I mean really loving it. I think it’s safe to say this one of the best books I’ve read in the past five years at least – it’s fantastic. Which is just as well, as it would have been pretty awkward for me if I’d thought it was shit after agreeing to review it…

You can look forward to a Q&A with me and Ben in the next couple of weeks, before I post my review.

In the meantime, you can pre-order the novel on Amazon. It’s only £3.15 in the UK (I assume it will be the same ludicrously low price in the rest of the world). Click the cover image below to check it out!

Another new review with a GIVEAWAY!

Here’s another fantastic review of Knight of the Cross, this time by Stuart S. Laing from The Review blog group. If you leave a comment after the review you’ll be entered into a giveaway to win a signed copy of the paperback. What are you waiting for?!

“One aspect of this book which is wonderfully refreshing is how McKay uses modern folklore, created by the Internet generation, in such a way that it feels like genuine legends from the medieval age. Just as our ancestors once gathered around their fire-pits in roundhouses to tell stories through the long, dark winter nights, the Internet has become its modern equivalent where 21st century folklore is spawned and spread until it becomes familiar to many. “

http://thereview2014.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/review-of-knights-of-cross-by-steven.html

Steven A McKay: Knight of the Cross (Review)

stormwatch1977:

Another great review from another hugely respected reviewer for Knight of the Cross!

Originally posted on parmenionbooks:

My name is Steven A. McKay and I’m a writer from Old Kilpatrick, near Glasgow in Scotland, heavily influenced by the likes of Bernard Cornwell, Douglas Jackson, Simon Scarrow, Ben Kane et al.

My first book, Wolf’s Head, is set in medieval England and is a fast-paced, violent retelling of the Robin Hood legends. I think my take on the theme is quite different to anything that’s been done before. It hit the number 1 spot in the UK “War” chart, reached the overall Kindle top 20 bestsellers list and is available on Kindle and paperback from Amazon here:  http://smarturl.it/2636  . The sequel, The Wolf and the Raven was also a “War” chart number 1 as well as hitting the top spot in the US “Medieval” chart.

The third book in the series is coming along nicely and should – all being well – be available around late 2014/ early 2015

View original 405 more words

New interview with me by Layered Pages, take a look!

Here is an interview by Stephanie Hopkins of the Layered Pages website. This was mostly supposed to be about Wolf’s Head and my first Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion but some other stuff is covered too. Since The Wolf and the Raven has now also been awared the Medallion you can look out for another interview with Stephanie focused on that sometime in the next few months.

Here’s an excerpt from our chat:

Stephanie: How did Robin meet Sir Richard-at-Lee and Stephen?

Steven: I stuck to the original, well-known legend for the most part. Sir Richard is passing through the forest and the outlaws stop him, to rob him basically although it doesn’t end up like that. I thought it would be a nice twist to make him a Hospitaller Knight and Stephen, his grumpy sergeant-at-arms followed on from that. They’re a couple of great characters and they bring a nice new dynamic to the outlaw group. You can find out more about them in the new novella Knight of the Cross which follows Sir Richard as he goes up against ancient evil in Rhodes…

You can read the rest of the interview here:

http://layeredpages.com/2014/10/09/interview-with-two-time-b-r-a-g-medallion-honoree-author-steven-mckay/