When I was in undergrad, Jack and Ate were my literary boyfriends. I devoured the trilogy and waited FOREVER for the next release. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of Absolute Honour (back when it was first published in Canada) and I think I just sat and looked at it and clapped.
The Blooding of Jack Absolute is one of my absolute FAVOURITE historical novels and as you all know I read historical fiction like it's going outta style, that says a lot.
Humphreys is an epically well-rounded author. In fact, I don't think he can write anything subpar or mediocre: from his YA forays to his exploration of the Anne Boleyn period to Vlad the Impaler and even to Constantinople and Shakespeare! He kinda does it all. The rest of us should just hang our heads in shame.
But for me, it's JACK! ... always Jack! And Ate, of course. These books taught me as a developing writer ( far more in the beginning of my formative years when I first read them ten or so years ago) that the best books spark and sizzle with personality. That you should write what you love. It is so obvious that there is so much of the author in these books ---sense of humour, passion for Hamlet! and history and staged flourish-- that the books, in turn, are bright and sparkling and wonderful to read. Ack! here I am again....waxing loquaciously about Jack and Ate...
this happens a lot, mea culpa.
Instead, CC Humphreys was kind enough to answer some questions !
1.) You paint a myriad of historical backgrounds in your fiction often featuring real-life personages from the times of Anne Boleyn, Vlad the Impaler, Shakespeare and---- in the Jack Absolute books---Richard Brinsley Sheridan. How difficult is it to blend fact and fiction in this way and seamless integrate real-life characters into the action of the novel?
After you do a ton of research, you have to take a deep breath and just plunge in. I am a novelist, not a historian and my first duty is to tell a good story. That said, I do try to honor a real historical personage, basing my characterization of them on a variety of sources. However – and it’s a big however! – they are also characters at the service of my plot. As long as I feel I haven’t insulted them, or made them do things that seem implausible or simply wrong, I feel they are mine to use. Some of their descendents might feel differently though! Strangely, on my recent tour of ‘Jack Absolute’, I read at the Ear Inn, in New York City. The owner was a descendent of Sheridan – and he seemed rather pleased with the take I had on his ancestor.
2.) What drew you to the Plains of Abraham for Jack's second (first chronological) adventure? This is a well-known subject for Canadian history students; but unfamiliar to a greater reading populous.
When I was at school (back in pre-history!) the battle was still well taught. But ‘empire’ as a concept has gone out of fashion, the negatives outweighing the positives. But it was so important in North American history – and just so dramatic! The last roll of the dice. The midnight climb up those cliffs (which I did as research, though in the middle of the day). Irresistible to Jack – and to me, of course.
3.) How does your passion for theatricality and your stage background (including the sword fighting! ) inform your literary choices?
Hugely. I always feel I create characters that, if they were ever to make it to the screen (and I hope they do!), would really stand out. Even the minor ones have something ‘to play’, some trait, some objective to pursue. Also, I love to advance the action with dialogue. I can hear my characters speaking the lines. As for swordfighting – well, I love swords, so love depicting them being wielded.
4.) You are one of the few authors who can successfully transition between Young Adult fiction and adult Historical; are these writing experiences different? How?
They are – but not as different as you might imagine. Its all storytelling and it’s more in the choice of subject and character that they might differ rather than in the execution. I think teens are able to handle most things grown ups can. I don’t tend to linger much in my writing, but perhaps I do cut to the chase even more quickly in my YA books.
5.) Do you like Game of Thrones?
I actually can’t read the books. I tried but they are just too… scattered. I appreciate the skill of the world building but like to follow certain characters and hate to see them vanish for 150 pages at a time. I am hooked on the series – it distills it all down, and the acting and script are excellent.
6.) When do we get to see Jack and Ate again?
Alas, Ate only makes a brief appearance in the next Jack adventure, ‘Absolute Honour’. Sad, because I love writing him. But if I get the chance I will definitely write more of the Mohawk. I have the sequel to the first novel a quarter written and he’s big in that.
Apparently you can buy a free preview on amazon kindle; but you don't want the free preview--- just buy the entire trilogy. now.