I have a very fascinating guest today on the blog! Please, meet Colin Falconer, author of The William Shakespeare Detective Agency series - historical mystery lovers, fans of crime fiction and Elizabethan history, you’re in for a treat. Read on and enjoy our author interview.
Q. Welcome to Mina's Bookshelf, Colin! I have to say, I read your biography and I thought that your life must be the main source of inspiration for your writing. So adventurous! Can you share with us your background and the 'hows' and 'whys' you became an author of historical fiction?
A. The why started with my Aunty Ivy when I was a little boy. Every week she took the train down from London to visit with us in (what was then) rural Essex, bringing with her a collection of Classics Illustrated comics. She must have picked them up in the markets in London. There were some Beanos and Victors mixed in, but I threw them out. My treasure was the cartoon versions of some of the world’s greatest literature. I read all of Jules Verne in an afternoon. By the time I was eight I had read Moby Dick, Doctor Jekyl and Mister Hyde, The Moonstone, The Black Tulip and Ivanhoe, was familiar with most of the major works of Alexandre Dumas (Père), Mark Twain and William Wilkie Collins and had even read most of Homer’s Odyssey (although I never found out how it ended because the last page had been ripped out). I don’t think Aunty Ivy knew she was giving me primers for my future career, for no one in my family had ever used their hands for doing anything other than making pies or fixing corner cupboards.
But those comic books were vital to me. I was an only child and though not particularly bookish – I was then, and still am, a sports tragic – it nurtured in me a thirst for great stories painted on broad canvas. So Aunty Ivy did not just give me the gift of something to read when it was raining too hard to play football. She helped stir a nascent imagination and at the same time gave me an undying thirst for travel and maybe doing adventurous things as well.
These little gems of comics also made me want to time travel, because many of the places I was reading about no longer existed. The only way I could revisit them was to recreate them in my head. Imagining them onto a page was the next logical step.
Q. Let's talk about your latest release, The William Shakespeare Detective Agency: The School Of Night. How did the idea of a detective cousin of William Shakespeare come about?
A. I love Shakespeare and I wanted to write about his life but you have to be careful there, you're messing with an icon of literature if you try and imagine things about him that didn't happen. Yet no one at the time thought of him as an immortal - he certainly didn't think of himself that way. It made me wonder how his family saw him - and so his bumbling, brawling, well-intentioned cousin was born. I also wanted to write some stories that gave an outlet for a touch of humour in an historical setting, while also giving a window on Shakespeare's actual life. Whew!
Q. Do readers need to be apasionadoes of Shakespeare and Elizabethan history to fully appreciate this series? Which elements (history, mystery, suspense, romance, crime) did you mix in to keep your readers engaged in the story?
A. I write about all periods of history and my approach is always the same: even if you don't know anything about the history - I often don't before I start writing and researching - it won't matter. The story comes first. You may learn interesting stuff about the period - indeed I hope you will - but my first job is to keep you awake at night turning pages.
Q. Are there any other books in the works?
A. The second book, The Dark Lady, has just been released. There will be 12 in the series by the time I'm done. I just need the time to write them! I have my print contracts to fill as well. But I love writing about Big Will and I have his future all mapped out for him. Poor bugger, if only he knew the trouble I'm about to cause him. I'm sure God must have had the same sadistic sense of humour when he planned some of the twists and turns in my own life.
Q. It's impossible for me to talk about Shakespeare without stirring the pot about the controversy on his real identity. Real or imposter? Which side are you on?
A. Oh I think some people need to get a grip. Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. Ask Ben Jonson.
Q. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever had to do to research material for a book?
A. I don't know the craziest. None of it seems crazy when you're doing it, just interesting. The bus across the Taklimakan desert for SILK ROAD was a nightmare. Venturing into certain dingy parts of Mexico City and VeraCruz on my own for BLACK WITCH was perhaps ill advised. Pamplona and the Death Road - that was just for fun. I have much crazier stuff planned for the next 12 months.
Q. If you could be a Shakespearean play or character, who would you be?
A. Mercutio. (I actually think it would have been more interesting if he got the girl.)
Q. Your favorite line from a Shakespeare's play.
A. "Give me my Romeo. And when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun."
I absolutely agree with you on Mercutio getting the girl, Colin! It’s been such a pleasure to have you on the blog. Thank you for your time and best of luck with everything :)
About the book
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Cool Gus Publishing
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Series: The William Shakespeare Detective Agency
Genre: Historical Mystery
“My name is William Shakespeare. No, not that Shakespeare; and no jests please, I’ve heard them all. I’m the other one, the ne’er do well cousin, the loafer, known to family and friends as the dunce, the one who could not recite Cicero or Horace, who could never be as good as his clever cuz, the one who has just come to Bishopsgate from Stratford with silly dreams in his head and a longing to make something more of himself than just a glover’s handyman.”
What he finds in London is Lady Elizabeth Talbot, who is willing to pass a few shillings to this blundering brawler if he will help her find her husband. Poor William does not realize the trail will lead to the truth behind the death of Shakespeare’s great rival, Christopher Marlowe – or to a lifelong love affair with a woman far above his station.
Each book tells the story of William’s adventures as England’s first gumshoe, set against turbulent Elizabethan politics; of his romantic pursuit of the impossible Elizabeth Talbot; while charting the career of his up and coming dramatist cousin, the bard of Stratford, but just Will to his family.
Buy the Book
About the Author
Born in London, Colin first trialed as a professional football player in England, and was eventually brought to Australia. He went to Sydney and worked in TV and radio and freelanced for many of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. He has published over twenty novels and his work has so far been translated into 23 languages.
He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity has led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz.
He currently lives in Barcelona.
For more information please visit Colin Falconer’s website. You can also find him on Facebook or follow on Twitter.
The School of Night Blog Tour Schedule
Saturday, January 10
Spotlight at Historical Readings and Views
Monday, January 12
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, January 13
Spotlight at Layered Pages
Thursday, January 15
Interview at Teddy Rose Book Reviews
Friday, January 16
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Monday, January 19
Spotlight at Susan Heim on Writing
Tuesday, January 20
Review at Book Nerd
Thursday, January 22
Review at Just One More Chapter
Friday, January 23
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Saturday, January 24
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Obsession
Sunday, January 25
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Monday, January 26
Review at Boom Baby Reviews
Wednesday, January 28
Review at Carpe Librum
Thursday, January 29
Interview at Mina’s Bookshelf
Interview at Books and Benches
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book
Friday, January 30
Review at Brooke Blogs
Friday, February 6
Spotlight at Passages to the Past