One of the neatest things for me, as a writer, is working with other writers. I belong to an active writing group full of wonderful people, such as my friend Ali Abbas. Last June, I had the pleasure of beta reading one of Ali’s novellas, “Like Clockwork,” which Transmundane Press released in February, 2017. I hope you […]
Me, being interviewed!
Ali Abbas, the author of Like Clockwork was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. We hope you enjoy his interview; we did.
How much research did you do for Like Clockwork, and how much came from experience?
I worked for the Royal Navy for a while (in a civilian, non-sailing capacity). I picked up a lot about the culture and how deeply ingrained some standards and behaviours are from that time. Knowing my interest in these things, one of my colleagues loaned me a book of naval terms and history – there was nothing to do one an evening in Portsmouth but read it from cover to cover and back again.
In contrast, I knew next to nothing about clock making, the fashion of the time, and of course I had to double check some of the naval facts like cannon sizes and when certain ranks…
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Here it is – the first of the marketing promos from my publisher. Time to show the power of the internet.
It’s a raffle for a $10 Amazon gift voucher. With that you could buy a print copy of my book and have enough change to buy something that costs $4. Bargain. Or better yet, a beautiful fob watch, or thrill of thrills an ebook of my short stories.
Actually, Transmundane Press did the whole thing much more beautifully than I could – check out their teasers and giveaways page to see how marketing is done properly.
OK Here’s the deal, you click on the link. It doesn’t take you anywhere sinister, just my author page (although the picture of two staring women with flames in the background is a bit sinister). That’s it. No need to like or share anything, although I’d be delighted if you did.
There are no restrictions. Family and friends can play, even people who have taken out restraining orders against me.
And if you made it this far down head over to youtube to see the trailer…
It has happened. Thanks to Transmundane Press my novella is live and kicking. Head over to their store, or Amazon, to pop a copy into your shopping basket.
See my previous post here if you want to read excerpts.
and I’ll shortly be adding all those lovely people who have added a promo on their blogs…
Mark the date: 28th Feb is our target for publication. Since my last announcement my friends at Transmundane Press have been busy coaxing my vision out of the virtual paintbrush of a designer, and here we have it.
Here’s a reminder of what it is all about:
Commander Raymond Burntwood of the Royal Navy has returned to England where he meets the reclusive heiress Lady Ariana Grayhart. After the scandal of a night spent dancing together, Ariana returns home to Northumberland. Raymond’s superiors—seeking information about Ariana’s father—dispatch the commander under the cover of courting the heiress.
All is not as it seems in the Grayhart household. Captain Grayhart is an invalid, the servants maintain a monkish silence, and secrets are layered upon secrets. Everyone has their own agenda, from Raymond’s friend and confidante Du Bois, to the family lawyer Sir Berwick, and Ariana herself.
In the midst of it all, Raymond must unravel the truth of Captain Grayhart’s decline and save Ariana’s reputation and fortune. In doing so, he learns dark secrets about himself that could tear his world apart.
And if that is not enough to whet your appetite here is an excerpt:
“Mon ami, you have taken the enemy flagship as a prize.” Du Bois was in fine form that evening. He lounged in the little cubicle of the dark, panelled restaurant and pulled on a cigar, adding to the dimness. The clink of cutlery from the other diners was distant; this was evidently a place for quiet conversation between men of means.
“How so?” I tried not to take umbrage at his statement; my limited financial resources were a testament to my lack of success in taking ships as prizes. My record of sinking the enemy was, in contrast, something to be proud of.
“Lady Ariana Grayhart. She is the only child of Captain Grayhart, whose late wife was the only daughter of the Duke of Wearhaven. The title of course lapsed without a male heir, but she retains the honorific as the granddaughter of a Duke.”
“Of course.” I had no idea about this sort of thing, but a response seemed to be required.
“What that means is she is rich. Rich in the manner of my forefathers.” He ticked off the elements on his long fingers, “Grayhart money from trade and factories, Wearhaven land to invest it on, and of course, the grand weight of the title. Any one of those would be beyond the dreams of a bootstraps boy like you.”
He was not being unkind, what he said was true. I joined the Navy when my mother died. My father was a sailor I had never met, and who had long been lost at sea.
“The Grayharts already owned swathes of your cold country. Edward Grayhart marrying up into the Wearhavens caused something of a stir, but the result is that it makes Lady Ariana a unique catch. Her arrival in London from Northumbria was eagerly awaited, and all the landless second sons were lined up to woo her.” He pointed his cigar at me, “Until you came along.”
I laughed at that. “I had no idea of any of this.”
“That could be what attracted her, someone courting for courting’s sake alone.” He leaned forward and said in a conspiratorial tone, “The young ladies are, of course, agog with the romance and the scandal, as well as being delighted by the removal from the field of an unbeatable rival.”
“Removal from the field?” I laughed again. “You forget that I have been at sea all my life, what do I know of women and courting? Besides, I know nothing of her feelings, nor have I made any proposal to her.”
“Faugh, Raymond, hang your head in shame. In front of all London society, you dance with her all night. You both ignore everyone else. You even ignored me.” That last seemed to hurt him most of all. Sparks flew as he stubbed the cigar out angrily.
“And yet you sit there and claim to have made no proposal.” He gripped my arm, fingers like iron. “You may escape to sea again, and come home to marry the daughter of a baker or a spice merchant. But memories are long for girls, and London will not quickly forgive or forget yesternight.”
Head over to Transmundane’s blog to read another excerpt.
This is a lesson in heresy. Britishness comes with an over politeness, and a self effacing reticence that means we often don’t ask, and don’t get. We hold back, which to other cultures can come across as aloof and rude. If you don’t get it, follow Very British Problems on Twitter. Lucknowites have it too, and regular readers of my blog will know of my connections there. So I have this thing squared.
Except, once, and only once, I put it aside. Those lovely, life affirming, literature loving people at Transmundane Press were running an open call for submissions. After the Happily Ever After is out now and I urge you to buy it, even though I’m not in it. It is significant because I emailed them and asked.
The question was about The Lesser Evil (my Harry Potter fanfic).
It fits the brief, I wrote, but… copyright.
The inestimable Alisha wrote back: I like it, but… copyright. Send me something else.
I emailed them a 26k novella. Like Clockwork. They liked it. They’re going to publish it. It’s coming soon.
There’s the lesson in heresy. Sometimes you just have to ask.
And now you’re asking: What’s it all about Ali?
Here’s where the teasing starts. It is a gothic suspense/horror/mystery/anti-romance with some steampunk elements set in Victoria England.
It is also a bit Hornblower without the sailing. I worked with the Royal Navy for a year in a civilian, entirely non seafaring capacity, almost twenty years ago. I still look back on that time with great fondness, and Like Clockwork is a hat tip to the wonderful people I worked with. The etching of Portsmouth Harbour hangs over my desk, and was, among other things, a parting gift from the project team. No client gives consultants parting gifts, but they did to me. The image below is of the note on the back.
* Project CAPITAL rolled out the MoD’s financial management system. 2SL/CNH = Second Sea Lord, Commander in Chief Naval Home Command, which is the part of the implementation I joined.