Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Interview with novelist James W. George

Novelist James W. George joins me today and we’re chatting about his new historical novel, The Prophet and the Witch.

During his virtual book tour, James will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!

James W. George is a lover of history and historical fiction. He is a graduate of Boston University and a military veteran. He is currently residing in Virginia with his wife and children.

He published his critically-acclaimed debut novel, My Father’s Kingdom in January 2017. The novel described the prelude to King Philip’s War in New England in the 1670s. The Indie View gave it five stars: “This is high historical drama handled wonderfully…a tale that will fully engage you on every level.”

My Father’s Kingdom is a planned trilogy, and book two, The Prophet and the Witch, was published in September 2017. This is an epic novel that spans the entire conflict of King Philip’s War, and includes such notable historical figures as Josiah Winslow, Increase Mather, Metacomet, Benjamin Church, and Mary Rowlandson. The Literary Titan awarded it five stars and a gold medal for October 2017.

The author is looking forward to book three of the trilogy, and he can be found on Goodreads.

Welcome, James. Please share a little bit about your current release.
The Prophet and the Witch is a brand-new release. It is book two of a planned trilogy, but the book stands well on its own even without book one. The setting is New England in the 1670s, and the book explores the obscure but fascinating conflict known as “King Philip’s War.”

We’re all familiar with the tale of the Mayflower in 1620, and the first Thanksgiving. Even the most casual student of history is fairly knowledgeable about the American Revolution in the 1770s. But what, if anything, happened in the intervening 150 years?

The sad reality is, approximately fifty years after the first Thanksgiving, relations with the Native Americans of New England deteriorated so badly that they went to war with the Puritan English colonists. The leader of the rebellion was Metacomet, known as “King Philip” to the English. He was the son of the great Massasoit, who was instrumental in helping preserve and nurture Plymouth Colony in their early years.

The novel is extremely accurate from a historical perspective. It recounts the war through the eyes of major historical figures such as Josiah Winslow, Benjamin Church, Metacomet, Mary Rowlandson, Roger Williams, and Increase Mather. Additionally, a cast of fictional characters such as Israel Brewster, Constance Wilder, and Linto bring this chapter of history to life like never before.

It’s truly an epic tale, with Puritans, Quakers, Mohawks, Frenchmen, pirates, seventeenth-century drinking songs, romance, Elizabethan sonnets, witchcraft, militia marching songs, psalmody, a refined Scottish villain, riveting combat, erotic moments, witchcraft, a seafood feast, lacrosse, a treasurer you will love to hate, deep questions of faith, religion, and friendship, and a slow, insubordinate, flatulent horse. What else could you want?

What inspired you to write this book?
I love history and historical fiction, and I wanted to portray a chapter of history the average American was not familiar with. I’m not trying to be critical, but in my opinion, we’re kind of overdosing on WWII, the Tudors, and the Vikings, and I’d like to see some of the more obscure events in history brought to life. King Philip’s War was one of the most tragic and catastrophic events in American history, and too many of us have never even heard of it.

Additionally, the conflict has been the perfect vehicle to explore themes of religion, friendship, and courage in the face of evil.

Excerpt from The Prophet and the Witch:
This is from Chapter 29. Linto is a Native American Wampanoag, and his people have enlisted the help of New France to aid in their war against the English. Linto is remorseful, because he is convinced he has committed a grave sin during the prior week.

“Vous ĂȘtes malheureux?”
Linto morosely drew another card, and ignored Captain Alain Fontaine.
“Qu'est-ce qui ne va pas?”
Linto should have been using the opportunity, as Captain Fontaine expected, to study the language of their new allies. As the captain repeatedly conveyed, within a few years New England would merely be an extension of New France, and a working knowledge of French would be vital.
“Are you unhappy, Linto?”
The shift back to English stirred Linto from his dull torpor. He briefly made eye contact, played his card, and sighed. They were playing “one and thirty,” and this would certainly be the fourth consecutive hand Linto would lose. His three cards currently added up to a paltry seventeen points, and he knew Fontaine would capitalize on his discard.
“I will take your three, and…voila. I have thirty-one. Or better yet, I have trente et un.” Linto stared vacantly into space.
“Linto, speak to me. You miss your family, no? I miss my family as well. My daughter is named Madeline. She is with her grandmother in Lyons. Tell me, what are the names of your children?”
Linto blinked and stared at the table. “Will Father Jacques ever come back, Cahp-ee-tehn Alain?”
Fontaine remained cordial. “I do not believe so. I have told you before. He will spend the spring to the west of here, on the shores of the ocean lake. It is very far, but he will save many souls. But I can answer all of your questions. You wish to know more about the English heresies? How they revile the Holy Father?”
Linto reached absent-mindedly for the cards, and lethargically shuffled them, much to Fontaine’s surprise. “A fifth hand, Linto? Surely, your luck must be ready to change?”
Linto briefly ruminated on the concept of luck. “Cahp-ee-tehn Alain, do you confess your sins?”
“Father Jacques told me true Christians will tell a holy man all the things they have done wrong, and they will ask to be forgiven. Do you think people are punished if they don’t tell a holy man all the things they have done wrong?”
“You think of such serious matters all the time, Linto. The sky is clear, the English are on the run all over the land, and we are roasting ducks today. There will be a big lacrosse game to watch in the afternoon. I think we will also see at least thirty more warriors arrive this week, and they will bring muskets.”
Linto continued his ineffective shuffling. “How often do you tell the holy man your sins? What if you do bad things every day?”
Fontaine reached for the cards and took them. “Linto, you have been moping like a sad Puritan ever since you went to see the Nipmuc. Weren’t they overjoyed at the news? Aren’t they making preparations for two hundred new warriors?”
The reminder of deception and falsehood triggered an even deeper gloom in Linto. He sat silently, and was relieved when one of Cahp-ee-tehn Alain’s attendants came in with cheese and brandy. Linto hoped the subject would now quickly change.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Book three of the trilogy will move forward approximately fifteen years. There was another obscure but fascinating war that rocked New England during that time, and evidently, in 1692, there was some kind of kerfuffle in Salem that got everyone all excited.

Additionally, the audiobook for The Prophet and the Witch is in progress. My narrator, Mr. Angus Freathy, is phenomenal. He does all the accents, easily differentiates between dozens of characters, and doesn’t falter with any of the exotic names and places. He even does the tipsy singing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always enjoyed the academic writing associated with school and work, but 2017 is the first year I’ve begun professionally writing.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
No, I’m not a full-time writer. Fortunately, my work schedule affords me time to write, especially when I’ve been working night shift, and I’m at home on my days off wide-awake at 2AM.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Things come much easier when I’m listening to classical music.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I remember a fifth-grade career project when I listed “aerospace engineer” and depicted myself standing next to an airplane with a clipboard. How geeky is that? I guess I was pretty close, as I did get an engineering degree and spent twenty-two years in the Air Force.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’m extraordinarily proud of this book, and the initial reviews have been terrific. One review I’m very fond of came from romance author Shashane Wallace, who noted “The Prophet and the Witch is a book for everyone.” In other words, even if you’re not normally drawn to historical fiction, I’m confident you’ll enjoy this tale of love, war, courage, religion, friendship, and faith.

Goodreads | Amazon

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
It’s been a pleasure. Thanks for having me!

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Lisa Brown said...

congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

James George said...

Good morning to all!

Thank you for hosting me here today, Lisa. I see you are a New England enthusiast (and who isn't). Please feel free to chime in with any insights about the places and events of King Philip's War. Most of the action takes place near Swansea, MA and present-day Bristol, R.I.

I know a lot of the pronunciations have been pretty interesting for my audiobook narrator, Angus Freathy. Aquidneck, Sakonnet, Pocasset, Quaboag, and my favorite, Quacumquasit Pond.

Victoria Alexander said...

Sounds like a great book, thanks for sharing :)

Bea LaRocca said...

Congrats on your new book release! This sounds like my kind of read. Thanks so much for sharing your Q & A. I enjoyed reading.

Edgar Gerik said...

Great interview

Ally Swanson said...

Congrats on the new book and good luck on the book tour!

Nikolina Vukelic said...

I really enjoyed reading your interview, thank you!