Saturday, February 28, 2015

Colin Falconer: Alexander the Great and My Aunt Ivy

Colin Falconer will be our key note speaker on 21 March 2015 at the 2015 HNSA Conference on the topic: ‘The ANZAC Tradition as Inspiration: Imagining the Past; Claiming the Present’. On a less serious note he will appear in our last panel of the conference with Kate Forsyth and Jesse Blackadder in In Bed with History: Sexy, Saucy and Sizzling Bedroom Scenes – A Romp! on 22 March 2015. 

Born in north London, Colin worked for many years in TV and radio and freelanced for many of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. He has been a novelist for the last twenty years, with over 40 works published widely in the UK, US and Europe. His books have been sold in translation in 23 countries. He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz. He also completed a nine hundred kilometre walk of the Camino in Spain. He did not write for over five years but returned to publishing in 2010 with the release of “The Silk Road’, followed by ‘Stigmata’ and most recently ‘Isabella Braveheart of France’.

You can contact Colin on his Twitter or Facebook or his website.

Colin's post explores the manner in which an author can be inspired to love history and literature  from a very young age in  'Alexander the Great and my Aunt Ivy.'

My primary school teacher's name was Mrs Boyne. She once told my mother at a parent interview: “Your son is a complete dreamer. He’ll never amount to anything in this life.” 
I still think that was a pretty harsh judgment on a seven year old. But she was right, of course, I was a dreamer. It was my greatest asset.
She told my parent this about the time I first read Jules Verne’s Michael Strogoff. To get my hands on it, I had to endure a slobbery wet kiss from my Aunty Ivy, but I considered it well worth it. By the end of that first afternoon, I was hooked on classic literature.
Every week my Aunty Ivy took the train down from London to have ‘a nice cup of tea’ with my mother in (what was then) rural Essex, and she’d always bring with her a collection of Classics Illustrated comics. She must have picked them up cheap in the markets in London. There were some Beanos and Victors mixed in, but I threw them out. My treasure was the cartoon versions of some of the world’s greatest literature. 
I read all of Jules Verne in an afternoon.
It was the beginning of my love affair with literature - or with epic stories anyway. By the time I was eight I had read Moby Dick, Doctor Jekyl and Mister Hyde, The Moonstone, The Black Tulip and Ivanhoe, was familiar with most of the major works of Alexandre Dumas (Père), Mark Twain and William Wilkie Collins and had even read most of Homer’s Odyssey (although I never found out how it ended because the last page had been ripped out.)
I don’t think that back then Aunty Ivy knew she was giving me primers for my future career, for no one in my family had ever used their hands for doing anything other than making shepherd’s pies or fixing corner cupboards. 
Those comic books were important to me. I was an only child and though not particularly bookish – I was then, and still am, a sports tragic – it nurtured in me a thirst for great stories painted on broad canvas.
So Aunty Ivy did not just give me the gift of something to read when it was raining too hard to play football. Classics Illustrated stirred my nascent imagination and at the same time gave me an undying thirst for travel and for adventure. These little gems of comics also made me want to time travel, because many of the places I was reading about no longer existed.
The only way I could revisit them was to recreate them in my head. Imagining them onto a page as historical novels was the next logical step.
I suppose what Mrs Boyne didn’t account for when summing up my future prospects was what would happen to my daydreams once introduced to the genius who sandwiched Les Miserables into 48 lurid pages with speak bubbles. 
But who could have?
This year I’ve written my forty something book, and I have been accorded the enormous honour of being asked to give the keynote address at the Historical Novel Society Conference in Sydney. I like to think that’s not too shabby for a boy who would never amount to anything.
Oh and I also have a novel about Alexander the Great about to be published in New York.
I'd send Mrs Boyne a copy, but we have kind of lost touch.
I’d definitely send one to my Aunt Ivy, if she was still around, God bless her cotton socks. 
Wherever she is in heaven, I hope the angels are making her a nice cup of tea.

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Colin Falconer will be appearing in the following panels at the 2015 HNSA Conference:

 21 March 9.00-10.00 am  Session One
Keynote Address: ‘The ANZAC Tradition as Inspiration: Imagining the Past; Claiming the Present’
In commemoration of the centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign, international bestselling author, Colin Falconer, will address the changing attitudes towards the ANZAC tradition which has inspired Australian historical fiction over the past 100 years.

22 March 3.50-4.35 pm  Session Six
In Bed with History: Sexy, Saucy and Sizzling Bedroom Scenes – A Romp!
Prepare to get hot under the collar as Kate Forsyth, Jesse Blackadder and Colin Falconer break down closed bedroom doors and read their racier scenes.

For more information on all our panels, please visit our site for programme details. And you can buy your tickets here.

You can also sign up to the mailing list to be the first to keep up to date with breaking news on the HNSA conference in 2015. 

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Here’s a tweet you might like to use:

Alexander the Great & My Aunt Ivy: Colin Falconer on #HNSA2015 blog @histnovsoc  

Register now for the #HNSA2015 conference! Let’s make a noise about #historicalfiction

And please take a look at our FREE BOOK OFFERS!

The first 30 ticketholders to purchase a ‘Standard’ Whole Conference Ticket will receive a free copy of either The Lace Balcony by Johanna Nicholls, The King’s Shadow by Barbara Gaskell Denvil or The Island House by Posie Graeme-Evans. 

All ticket holders will receive a Momentum ebook bundle in celebration of Felicity Pulman’s launch of Unholy Murder.

The first 50 fully paid ticket holders will receive a copy of Sherryl Clark’s new book Do You Dare – Jimmy’s War in celebration of her launch. 

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