Historical Film Coming Soon: War Horse

It’s Historical Film Friday! Every Friday I’m aiming to share a trailer about an upcoming movie with an historical subject.

The first up is War Horse, which follows a young man named Albert and his horse, Joey, and how their bond is broken when Joey is sold to the cavalry and sent to the trenches of World War One. Despite being too young to enlist, Albert heads to France to save his friend.

It is supposed to be out in January 2012 in the UK.

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New Historical Fiction Book: The Dower House by Malcolm MacDonald

The Dower House by Malcolm MacDonald

A second book from Severn House Publishing released on 1st October

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Severn House Publishers (October 1, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0727880616
  • ISBN-13: 978-0727880611
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 1 inches

Available from Amazon.com

Available from Amazon.co.uk

From the publisher’s website:

From war-torn Europe they came to Britain, yearning to start a new life. Together, they found it.
Spring, 1947. A concentration camp survivor, noted sculptor Felix Breit, arrives in London, hoping to rebuild his life and career. His opportunity comes when two English architects invite him to join a community they are creating at the Dower House, a Georgian country house in Hertfordshire. He is soon joined by Faith Bullen-Ffitch, an ambitious young publisher, but as the house fills with families, Felix realises he has fallen for Angela Wirth, a fellow camp survivor. But dare they ever admit their love, knowing the horrors in their pasts? . . .

And from Amazon:

Severn House adds to its engaging series of historical romances with the first in a new series by bestselling British author MacDonald set during in the devastating aftermath of World War II. Jewish sculptor Felix Breit has survived Nazi medical experiments at the Mauthausen concentration camp. He reaches London in 1947, where two architect friends, sensing that the war and its atrocities will utterly change humankind’s perspectives on our capacity for good and unspeakable evil, rent a 60-room country manor, the Dower House, in the hope of establishing a commune dedicated to a “post-war renaissance.” Their “community of the future” will include working class people, and all will strive for “the next stage of himself warning a Frenchwoman about the scars she’ll get if she “keeps picking at the wound,” thus establishing the tale’s moral center amidst post-war tension. Blending a well researched setting with an unusual story line, MacDonald captures the era’s specifics, and reaches for universal truths while probing wounded psyches in a damaged world. — Booklist, September 15, 2011

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New Historical Fiction Book: The Great Betrayal by Pamela Oldfield


The Great Betrayal by Pamela Oldfield

The UK Edition of this title was published in the June this year, but in the US it is out on 1st October.

Available from Amazon.com

Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Severn House Publishers (October 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0727880632
ISBN-13: 978-0727880635
Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches

Here’s some more information from the publisher’s website:

A tale of family, secrets and lies, from a well-loved author
1904, London. Lydia Daye adores her husband John, but his secret government job means he is often away. She consoles herself with her small son, Adam, and the knowledge that John’s salary allows them to live comfortably. Dolly Ellerway lives just two miles away, but in a different world. Pregnant, she is delighted when the father of her child says he’ll marry her, even though he can barely afford it. It seems unlikely that the two will ever meet, but one day Lydia sends a fateful letter that will change both women’s lives forever . . .

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New Alternate History – Stone Spring: The Northland Trilogy by Stephen Baxter

Stone Spring: The Northland Trilogy by Stephen Baxter

Hardcover, $25.95
ISBN 9780451464187 | 512 pages | 01 Nov 2011 | Roc | 9.25 x 6.25in

Available from Amazon.com

Available from Amazon.co.uk – published by Gollancz in the UK on 10th February 2011 in paperback – the hardback was published in the UK in 2010!

From Roc’s website:

Alternate history at its most mindblowing-from the national bestselling author of Flood and Ark.

Ten thousand years ago, a vast and fertile plain exists linking the British Isles to Europe. Home to a tribe of simple hunter-gatherers, Northland teems with nature’s bounty, but is also subject to its whims.

Fourteen-year-old Ana calls Northland home, but her world is changing. The air is warming, the ice is melting, and the seas are rising. Then Ana meets a traveler from a far-distant city called Jericho-a city that is protected by a wall. And she starts to imagine the impossible…

And from the description for the Hardback on Amazon.co.uk:

8,000 years ago Europe was a very different place. England was linked to Holland by a massive swathe of land. Where the North Sea is now lay the landmass of Northland. And then came a period of global warming, a shifting of continents and, over a few short years, the sea rushed in and our history was set. But what if the sea had been kept at bay? Brythony is a young girl who lives in Northland. Like all her people she is a hunter gatherer, her simple tools fashioned from flint cutting edges lodged in wood and animal bone. When the sea first encroaches on her land her people simply move. Brythony moves further travelling to Asia. Where she sees mankind’s first walled cities. And gets an idea. What if you could build a wall to keep the sea out? And so begins a colossal engineering project that will take decades, a wall that stretches for hundreds of miles, a wall that becomes an act of defiance, and containing the bones of the dead, an act of devotion. A wall that will change the geography of the world. And it’s history. Stephen Baxter has become expert at embedding human stories into the grandest sweeps of history and the most mind-blowing of concepts. STONE SPRING begins a trilogy that will tell the story of a changed world. It begins in 8,000 BC with an idea and ends in 1500 in a world that never saw the Roman Empire, Christianity or Islam. It is an eye-opening look at what history could so easily have been and an inspiring tale of how we control our future.

About the Author
Stephen Baxter is the pre-eminent SF writer of his generation. Published around the world he has also won major awards in the UK, US, Germany, and Japan. Born in 1957 he has degrees from Cambridge and Southampton. He lives in Northumberland with his wife.

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New Historical Fiction: Shakespeare’s Mistress by Karen Harper

Shakespeare’s Mistress by Karen Harper
Published in the UK by Ebury Publishing (no info on US publication)
EAN: 9780091940423
Published: 10 Nov 2011

Order via Amazon

Information from the Publisher’s Website:

England, 1601. 
When Queen Elizabeth’s men come looking for William Shakespeare – a rumoured Catholic in a time of Catholic-Protestant intrigue and insurrection – they first question a beautiful, dark-haired woman who seems to know the famous playwright very well. Too well.

She is Anne Whateley, born in Temple Grafton, a small town just up the river from Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon. And as church records show – were anyone to look for them – Anne Whateley was wed to William Shakespeare in a small country church just days before he married another woman, Anne Hathaway, who has lived as his wife for decades.

In SHAKESPEARE’S MISTRESS, Anne Whateley – who may or may not be Will’s true wife – tells her story. Stretching almost fifty years, from the rural villages of Warwickshire to the bustling city of London, with its teeming streets and lively theatres, it’s a story of undying passion, for life, love, and literature.

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New Alternate History Book: Firestorm by Taylor Anderson

Firestorm: Destroyermen by Taylor Anderson is a new Alternate History book published on 4th October 2011

ISBN 9780451464170 | 432 pages | 04 Oct 2011 | Roc | 9.25 x 6.25in

Available from Amazon.com

And Amazon.co.uk  – seems to be simultaneous publication on 4th October on both sides of the Atlantic.

Here’s some more information from the publisher’s website:

“I cannot recommend Taylor Anderson too highly.” -David Weber, author of Out of the Dark

Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy and the crew of the USS Walker find themselves caught between the nation they swore to defend and the allies they promised to protect. For even as the Allies and the Empire of New Britain Isles stand united against the attacks of both the savage Grik and the tenacious Japanese, the “Holy Dominion”-a warped mixture of human cultures whose lust for power overshadows even the Grik-is threatening to destroy them both with a devastating weapon neither can withstand.

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New Historical Fiction Book: The Lion Wakes by Robert Low

I’m going to begin posting on a regular basis about the latest new historical fiction book releases. I hope you find these posts informative. My aim is to take a look at publisher’s catalogues to see what’s coming out in the next couple of months. This title is just about to be published in the UK.

The Lion Wakes by Robert Low is published in the UK on 27th September 2011.

ISBN: 978-0-00-733788-0
Size: 130x197mm
Format: Paperback
Imprint: Harper
Division: HarperFiction

See Harper Collins’ website for ordering details in the UK, and Amazon.com where there’s information about the Hardback edition.

Here’s some information about this new historical fiction book from the publisher’s website:

The first novel in a major new series as Robert Low moves from the Vikings to the making of Scotland.

It is 1296 and Scotland is in turmoil. The old king, Alexander III, has died after falling off his horse one dark and stormy night. Scotland’s future is in peril. Edward I of England, desperate to keep control of his northern borders, arranges for John Baliol, a weak man who Edward knows he can manipulate, to take leadership of Scotland. But unrest is rife and many are determined to throw off the shackles of England. Among those men is Robert the Bruce, darkly handsome, young, angry and obsessed by his desire to win Scotland’s throne. He will fight for the freedom of the Scots until the end. But there are many rival factions and the English are a strong and fearsome opponent. The Lion Wakes culminates in the Battle of Falkirk which proves to be the beginning of a rivalry that will last for decades…

‘In The Lion Wakes Robert Low has created an enthralling, complete world: profoundly researched, brilliantly imagined. The novel is intensely exciting, enjoyable and satisfying: a novel of honour, duty, chivalry, desperation, self-interest and fear – more sophisticated than almost any recent novel with an historical setting. Crackling with original descriptive prose – sudden, arresting images combined with dialogue and accents caught to perfection – there is something deeply lyrical about its use of language. Robert Low writes too well for this novel to be contained by the label of “historical fiction” The Lion Wakes deserves to be read by all fans of historical fiction, but also by many, many more – by all those who enjoy classic storytelling in wonderful prose’ Harry Sidebottom ‘An outstanding novel. The Lion Wakes is a fantastic read, written by a real master of historical fiction. Low has painted a most compelling picture of 13th century Scotland. I cannot wait for the next book in the series’ Ben Kane ‘With excellent characters and an engaging plot that reeks of authenticity, The Lion Wakes is powerful stuff. Robert Low is on my “to read” list from now on’ Anthony Riches, author of the Empire series

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Interview with William Knight, author of ‘Son of Flanders’

Our final author interview for Issue 2 is with William Knight, author of ‘Son of Flanders’, a World War I murder mystery set in the trenches of the Western Front.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m currently a student in Upstate New York, studying European History with a mind towards teaching. In my spare time I’m a bartender.

What attracts you to historical fiction?

I’ve always loved history. When I first started at University I was a Criminal Justice major. After the first History class I took, I changed my major that very day. And reading fiction that takes place during an actual historical event is an amazing experience. Unlike history books which provide the backdrop to a historical era, fiction allows you to delve deeply into the subject, almost a worm’s eye view.

Is this your first story about WW1?

The first one I attempted to get published. The first that I wrote was a horror story, that didn’t pan out the way I’d hoped. The war itself was such a horrific event, that adding supernatural elements to the plot felt a bit extraneous. I was thrilled when I discovered Alt Hist as the genre is currently suffering for publications and the care and attention to detail put into the magazine by the editor, Mark Lord, has made this a truly enjoyable experience.

How did you get the idea for the story?

Like many of my ideas, I often find it hard to trace the genesis. I’ve always wanted to write a story set during the war, and one day I traced an outline that became Son of Flanders.

Your story gives a vivid portrayal of the trenches. How do you think soldiers were able to cope with the conditions they faced?

By a remarkable feat of inner strength. The shelling was continuous, 24 hours a day. And the conditions were absolutely abhorable. One soldier described finding a fellow Tommy stuck in a shell hole during the Passchendaele campaign. They were unable to extricate him from the mud, and had to watch as he slowly drowned. And also through their sense of humor. It often comes through the pages when I read memoirs from the time period.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on another story set during the First World War. Just a fascinating subject, with so much to explore.

William has had stories published in Electric Velocipede, Space and Time Magazine, and Necrotic Tissue. His website is www.williamknight1.blogspot.com.

Don’t forget to check out William’s story ‘Son of Flanders’ in the second issue of Alt Hist.

Interview with Andrew Knighton, author of ‘Long Nights in Languedoc’

Andrew Knighton is making writing stories for Alt Hist a bit of a habit! With a piece of medieval historical fiction in both issue 1 and issue 2, I’m hoping that we’ll be seeing much more of his work in the future. Find out a bit more about him in our interview.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I grew up in Norwich, and following a couple of detours now live in Stockport, part of the growing sprawl that is Greater Manchester. I spend most of my time doing the sorts of things people do to avoid reality – playing games, writing fiction, and working in an office.

How did you get the idea for ‘Long Nights in Languedoc’?

The two I’ve had in Alt Hist came from different places mentally. ‘Holy Water’ came from reading about local Cheshire myths, and then cramming together the ones that seemed to have a thematic connection. The story that a lord had a statue executed particularly appealed to me because it showed an idea taken to its logical yet absurd conclusion.

‘Long Nights in Languedoc’ was inspired by my undergraduate dissertation from over a decade ago, which was about the role of chivalry during the Hundred Years War. I love the idea of chivalry, and again it’s the absurdities and contradictions that appeal to me. No-one really lived by its rules, so I wanted to explore the behaviour of someone who tried. The monsters became a vehicle for that – an impossible challenge for an impossible person.

Both your stories for Alt Hist have been set in the Middle Ages. What’s the appeal of this period in history for you?

It’s in my upbringing. My parents used to take me to castles during my summer holidays, and my dad read me Ivanhoe and Lord of the Rings at a susceptible age. I loved the glamour and excitement that is the fantasy of the middle ages, an age of heroism completely different from our own. As I grew older and more jaded I became fascinated by the reality of that period, the inequalities and stupidities that made the Middle Ages so much like the modern world. But it’s mostly still a love of castles.

Who are your favourite authors/books and why?

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald, because of its wonderful depiction of a person as a product of their setting, and never gets bogged down in its prose. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller – a story that’s funny, sad and insightful, full of great characters and with a smart, playful structure. Julian May’s Saga of the Exiles – an epic story with an unusual setting and some fascinating, deeply damaged characters.

Now that I look at those choices together, it seems that I like contradictory characters facing impossible situations and defying the accepted order. And I don’t like straightforward happy endings. There needs to be some bite.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve been playing with ideas about smugglers. There’s a period sometimes referred to as the scientific age of smuggling, when people along England’s south coast went to ingenious ends to turn a tax-free profit. Fake hulls, hidden chambers, secret coves, chases across sea and shore. But just as fascinating is the context, the way that a certain type of crime became acceptable to whole communities, and a way for them to retain some independence from oppressive power structures. It’s not just a struggle for rum, it’s a struggle for
identity and for control. But turning that into a successful story is proving tricky.

Andrew has a website at https://andrewknighton.wordpress.com.

His stories for Alt Hist are:

‘Long Nights in Languedoc’ from Issue 2

‘Holy Water’ from Issue 1

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