Tag Archives: historical fiction

Guest Post: Bonesaws and Bloodletting by Catherine Curzon

Old Time Medicine

Bonesaws and Bloodletting: Medicine and Folk Remedy in the Eighteenth Century

Many years ago I put the final full stop to a timeslip novel that catapulted its characters back from twenty first century Yorkshire the the 1950s. The novel was quite unlike anything I had written before and remains so to this day, fantasy not a genre that I would usually find working in. Fantasy, however, is not so easily defined as one might think and even in a work grounded firmly in the real world, we might find an element of everyday magic among the mundane.

My timeslip novel was a departure for me in more ways than one and, as some people may already know, I can usually be found settled squarely in the coffeehouses and gin salons of the long eighteenth century. On my daily blog, I share true stories of the Georgian and Regency era, whilst my fiction is set in that same period and is rooted firmly in the sometimes seedy underbelly of the eighteenth century world. My fictional companions are decadent playwrights and flamboyant whores, debauched hellfire patrons and, just occasionally, the Prince of Wales and his illustrious family. There might not seem to be much room for fantasy there and yet, in a world where the furies of the guillotine sell sleeping drafts by the banks of the Seine and an erstwhile Edinburgh physician mixes mysterious powders and tinctures in his St Andrew Square home, the line between medicine and folk remedy is perilously and, on occasion deliberately, blurred.

I strive for reality and accuracy in my fiction as much as I do on my blog yet, as a person who has always had an interest in the esoteric and those things that exist slightly outside of our comprehension and belief, the chance to mix in some folk remedies is irresistible. The question is, of course, where does the line between magic and remedy begin? In the world my characters inhabit, explicitly magical happenings would be jarring and unconvincing, let alone utterly out of place. Instead, it was important to me to take the folk remedies that I have known of since my childhood and place them in a milieu where their use and success was neither noteworthy nor unlikely. In fact, in the long eighteenth century, it could even be the physicians themselves who were viewed suspiciously by some of the populace, with doctors and surgeons in particular on occasion believed to be playing God. In the Age of Enlightenment, science and belief were constantly vying for the upper hand and for an author, this opens wonderfully dramatic possibilities!

Happily, this means I am able to show the dichotomy between the old and new ways and reflect the truth that both folk remedies and those taught in the medical schools of London and Edinburgh had their benefits and followers. it is a world where people are just as likely to follow their parents and grandparents in turning to the local healer, with the people of Paris turning to Madame Girard as she pedalled foul smelling bottles and mysterious powders from her single room on the banks of the river just as those well-helped Edinburgh souls put on their finery and take a trip to see Doctor Dillingham in his Edinburgh consulting rooms. Indeed, Dillingham’s own repertoire includes many a folk remedy cleverly repackaged to look like the latest in modern medicine. To Dillingham more than any other character, the latter is simply the next step in the former, in an evolution that has been ongoing for centuries. It is particularly fitting that he should embody this dichotomy most of all because he is a character whose public face is very much at odds with that he presents to those who know him personally.

The line between medicine and folk remedy is one that my characters tread carefully and allows me the chance to explore the best of both worlds. Because I honestly believe that approaches have their benefits, it’s a pleasure for me to delve into scenes of gruesome surgery and esoteric remedies and give both the reader and the thankfully fictional patients one or two surprises. It might not all be leeches, bloodletting and bonesaws, nor is it all cauldrons, herbs and muttered incantations but, where there’s a healthy mix of the two, I’m happy and my characters are, hopefully, healthy and well!

Madame Gilflurt aka Catherine CurzonGlorious Georgian ginbag, gossip and gadabout Catherine Curzon, aka Madame Gilflurt, is the author of A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life. When not setting quill to paper, she can usually be found gadding about the tea shops and gaming rooms of the capital or hosting intimate gatherings at her tottering abode. In addition to her blog at www.madamegilflurt.com, Madame G can also be spotted on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Her first book, Life in the Georgian Court, will be published by Pen and Sword Books.

Interview with Wendy Van Camp: The Write Stuff

The Curate's Brother on Amazon

I am always delighted when someone asks to interview me and it is particularly pleasant when an author of Raymond Bolton’s caliber does so. I hope you’ll stop by his website, The Write Stuff, and not only take a look at my latest interview featuring The Curate’s Brother, but read the other fine interviews and information he has there.

Interview With Wendy Van Camp

Author Interview: Jamie Maltman

I’m a big fan of historical fiction and when it gets mixed in with a good dose of fantasy, all the better! Please welcome Jamie Maltman, author and podcaster, to No Wasted Ink.

Author Jamie MaltmanI’m Jamie Maltman, from the Toronto area in Canada. When I’m not writing or consulting from home, I’m playing some kind of games (board-, video-, computer- or sports) with my wife and two young sons, or spending altogether too much time talking online about my beloved Toronto Raptors. We love to travel, but are keeping it closer to home while the boys are young.

I’m always reading at least one book, and if I don’t read someone else’s fiction before bed each night, my own ideas won’t let me sleep.

When and why did you begin writing?

Originally? When I was 4 or 5 I started to write my stories down. I typed, illustrated and bound my first little fantasy book around grade 2. I wrote a lot in high school, subverting English assignments to become fiction writing whenever possible, including the start of a novel I might revisit someday.

I started again after my son was born and I started reading to him, and wanting to share not just the stories of others, but my own. The non-kid stories took over soon afterward, and I don’t intend to ever stop.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Fall of 2011, when I made real progress on my first book, by writing daily for weeks at a time. Finishing the first draft of a complete novel probably sealed it.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Brush With Darkness is the first in my historically-inspired fantasy series, Arts Reborn, set in a world reminiscent of the classical Mediterranean, where people believe in myths and gods, but haven’t seen any actual magic in a thousand years.

Simon Baroba is a new legionary in the Pazian army, more talented in logistics and cartography than war. Shadush, Grand Thane of the Scentari, awakens dark elemental magic, and thirsts for revenge over the Pazians that stole his people’s land. When Simon meets Elysia, the intriguing young sculptress who creates works of incredible beauty, she opens his mind to a whole new way of looking at the world, and the threat it faces. Simon must explore his buried creative Talents in order to play his part in defending the Republic from destruction.

It’s about the characters and how their personal worlds are impacted by this return of magic, and how that fits into the wider world. The events kicked off in the first book keep escalating over the course of the series, with book 2: Blood of the Water releasing summer 2014, and book 3 scheduled for the fall.

What inspired you to write this book?

I love history, and the Classical Mediterranean is one of my favorite periods. I had been considering some historical fiction ideas for a while, with a lot of research and picking out interesting setting points for that world. At the time, and completely unrelated, I started telling my very young son a story about a child being bored in school and doodling, but then finding out his doodling had power. The ideas began to collide, and I had just finished reading some books by Guy Gavriel Kay, where he borrows heavily from real history without putting words in the mouths of actual historical figures. Everything came together and the book started writing itself.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I prefer to stay close to my individual character viewpoints so they can experience the world through their thoughts and perceptions. I try to be lean on description, but my readers seem to appreciate the details that are on the page. I definitely keep things moving forward.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Any possible reading of the title ends up being valid. Simon is a painter, and he’ll have to explore that magic in order to face the evil threat to his nation. But he also narrowly escapes that darkness early on in both dreams and reality.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The potential for greatness when people pursue their innate talents. There are other themes lurking under the surface that will be fleshed out more as the series goes on, but I won’t be pointing them out just yet.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Not me, but people who have been discouraged from pursuing their art at some point in their life. There are too many I know, but more and more are finding ways to come back to it later in life.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I started reading C.S. Lewis’ Narnia and Tolkien’s Middle Earth when I was 3-5 years old, and they instilled my life-long love of fantasy.

Colleen McCullough (Masters of Rome) and James Clavell (Asian Saga) were the first two historical fiction authors who inspired me to look to the past for incredible stories.

Umberto Eco both inspired and terrified me with how much esoteric knowledge you can pack into one book, while delivering an amazing story.

Guy Gavriel Kay, Steven Erikson, and R Scott Bakker are all Canadian writers of fantasy who have created incredible worlds with their own living history, sometimes based on our own, and others as deep and rich as if they were real.

More recently, Neil Gaiman inspires with everything about his work, including his incredible audiobook narration. I hope to do the same someday.

And while I was never a Stephen King or horror fan growing up, reading his On Writing inspired me to actually pursue this crazy calling. And to read and enjoy his non-horror books.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I had a brief mentorship experience with a local writer, Richard Scarsbrook (The Monkeyface Chronicles), who was writer-in-residence at my community library right when I was getting more. After attending his classes, he sat down to read my first few chapters with me. His combination of positive and constructive feedback spurred me onward to finish the book and ultimately publish it.

In the SFF world, Brandon Sanderson is one writer I’d love to have as a mentor, since he’s both a great writer and a fantastic teacher. Or Patrick Rothfuss. Every time I listen to him talk about writing, I’m blown away.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Keri Knutson from Alchemy Book Designs. I saw some of her work from a post on the Kobo Writing Life Blog, checked out her pre-made covers, and saw her portfolio, so I e-mailed her and soon after we were working together. I’ve loved what she’s done so far, and I get lots of compliments on my cover.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write something, anything, all the way through to the end. If you can’t get through your current project, write something shorter first. Completing something, anything, will give you the confidence to write the next thing, or the bigger thing.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for reading, and I love to hear from you! I look forward to sharing more stories in this world, and many more. I’m only getting started. Please join me for a weekly chat about what we are reading and topics related to reading on To Be Read Podcast, I am the co-host of the show and would love to hear from you!

Brush with Darkness Book CoverJamie Maltman
Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada


Published by Testudo Press

Cover Design: Keri Knutson, Alchemy Book Covers


Blog Tour: The Curate’s Brother Featured On The Chronicler

The Curate's Brother on Amazon

New Release Regency Romance – The Curate’s Brother ~ a variation of Jane Austin’s Persuasion

Leisl Kaberry is a YA fantasy author who has featured my new ebook on her blog. I hope you’ll stop by to read about my new release and to check out Leisl’s fantasy books too. The artwork on the covers is excellent!

About Leisl Kaberry:

I was never going to be a writer…seriously. Somehow despite my great love of telling and writing stories, writing as a career was just not a consideration at all… I had other plans. However I was kind of propelled towards it… or perhaps my characters and world were begging me to be released from their prison (which is my mind) to be able to frolic on paper. So here it is, my first book of a trilogy, a teen fantasy adventure, Titanian Chronicles – Journey of Destiny.

Fantasy Sci-Fi Network Author Interview with Wendy Van Camp

I am pleased to be interviewed about my new release, The Curate’s Brother, on Kasper’s blog: The Hunters of Reloria. In it I talk about my ebook, my writing process and a little about how I got started as a writer. I hope you’ll stop by Kasper’s blog and leave a comment there. We’d both love to hear from you.

A little about my interviewer: Kasper Beaumont was born and raised in Australia and lives a quiet life with the family in a seaside town. She has combined a love of fantasy and a penchant for travel in the Hunters of Reloria series.

Interview with the versatile Wendy Van Camp for the Fantasy Sci-Fi Network

The Curate s Brother Book Cover