Saturday 29 September 2018

A Conversation with D. K. Marley #Shakespeare #Marlowe @theRealDKMarley

A Conversation with D. K. Marley

DK Marley is a historical fiction writer specializing in Shakespearean themes. Her grandmother, an English professor, gave her a volume of Shakespeare's plays when she was eleven, inspiring DK to delve further into the rich Elizabethan language. Eleven years ago she began the research leading to the publication of her first novel "Blood and Ink," an epic tale of lost dreams, spurned love, jealousy and deception in Tudor England as the two men, William Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe, fight for one name and the famous works now known as the Shakespeare Folio.

It is so wonderful to have you come back onto the blog. I know you are passionate about the works of Shakespeare and Marlow, and I would like to explore that passion with you today. There have been many novels about Shakespeare, why did you feel it was important to write about this particular topic?

Yes, there are many novels on Shakespeare, expounding the continued belief that he wrote the plays and sonnets attributed to him, but this novel gives wing to the possibility of someone else being the writer.

The Chandos Portrait (held by the National Portrait Gallery, London)

So, this novel is of historical importance?

I would rather say it is of historical interest. I am not a historian. Even though I love doing research for my novels, my passion is fiction and a story like this that is rich with intrigue and theories, well, it is the stuff historical fiction writers dream about. Both characters, William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, have a world full of questions surrounding them. There are endless avenues any writer can traverse when it comes to these two men.

What made you want to write about Marlowe and Shakespeare?

The first time I visited England in 1997, I took a tour of the Globe Theatre and there in the museum was a wall dedicated to the five other men who may have written the plays, a thought I had never imagined before. To this day, I truly don't know why Marlowe stood out to me, but I took out my notebook and began writing notes about him, knowing a story was there.

Shakespeare's Globe, London, England.

When I came back home and started researching on the Internet about the possibility, I came across some amazing discoveries. The more and more I delved, the more the theory sounded plausible. Given the fact that Marlowe was already a playwright and had access to far greater resources than Shakespeare ever did, the idea had merit, but the problem was the issue with his death at the age of twenty-nine in Deptford.

An anonymous portrait in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, believed to show Christopher Marlowe.

When I came across Peter Farey's discussion, the problem resolved and all of my questions melded together into one solution: he never died, but was exiled. This was truly a sixteenth century case of conspiracy and identity theft. The idea of a crime novel or suspense was quite interesting to me, even something on the line of Dan Brown's books, but in finding my own voice, historical fiction felt more like home, especially the time period of the Tudors. The Elizabethan era has always been my favorite period and I love tackling the job of weaving a bit of the old language with our modern tongue. While I tried to stay true to history, I did use artistic license, such as the additions of the subplot of Marlowe's imaginary friend, to round out a writer's torture who is plagued with a “muse,” as was Marlowe who was referred to as the “muse's darling.”

My grandmother gave me my first book of the complete works of Shakespeare when I was eleven years old. The language, the history, and the style of writing has intrigued me ever since. During my school years, I immersed myself into English Literature, even acting the part of Calpurnia in Julius Caesar when we studied that play.

There will be many who scoff at the idea that Shakespeare was merely an ambitious actor who stole the works of Marlowe; how do you approach this?

Of course, there will, and I expect that, but again, I do not claim to be a Shakespearean scholar or historian. Yet, sometimes the simplest of explanations lean more toward truth than elaboration. That is why I used the quote from Francis Bacon, who himself is another candidate for writing the plays - “The forbidden idea contains a spark of truth that flies up in the face of he who seeks to stamp it out.”

There may be a spark of truth to the idea that Shakespeare did not write the plays and there always will be those who wish to stamp out debate.

This is the same kind of wall the writers and men of ambition and progress, those of the “School of Night” faced during the Elizabethan era. I have been to some delightful debates over the years discussing the question of Shakespeare's authorship, the first and foremost being the lectures held at the Globe Theater in 2007.

There is even a petition people can sign on the internet called the Declaration of Intent for the Shakespeare Authorship Debate, although the site supports Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, as being the writer, which is fine with me, for any support for anyone other than the man Shakespeare shows I am not alone in believing that this actor from Stratford was not the man who wrote such eloquent and astounding verses; and yet, I am not against those who do believe.

Portrait of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604) 

The question reminds me of a small episode where this very thing took place. I was standing in a group at the first debate held at the Globe and a gentleman looked at me when he discovered I was a Marlowan, and said, “O, you are one of those. I suppose you believe he was exiled.” Very calmly, I replied, “Well, you have to admit that the idea makes for a great story, and that is what I am, a story teller.”

What kind of evidence is there that Marlowe survived the tavern brawl in Deptford? And what evidence is there against William Shakespeare being the writer?

To me, Marlowe was as a brilliant writer as he was a spy. A man who could create such astounding characters, even if you only attribute those we know about – Faustus, Tamburlaine, Edward – shows he had the ability to form well-rounded characters. Walsingham was known for recruiting boys of genius at a young age for the underground spy ring, so a boy of Marlowe's caliber, a boy and man who could morph characters, would have fit into Walsingham's plans. It would not have been a difficult thing for Marlowe to do as a writer, for oftentimes writers use this technique for getting into the minds of their characters.

         What kind of questions should a person ask who is looking to do some research on this topic?

1.             Do we know Marlowe survived the death in Deptford without a doubt?
         No, but tell me this:
2.             Why was one of the most beloved playwrights of his day, before Shakespeare, buried in a common churchyard?
3.             Why did the Queen provide her own coroner for the inquest when she herself was not within the verge of the murder, and then give instructions that no one delve further into questionings about Marlowe's death?
4.             Why was Marlowe with three other well-known spies instead of presenting himself before the Privy Council at eleven o'clock, which was his punishment for the supposed seditious writings found in Kyd's apartments?
5.             Who is the mysterious man known simply as Monsieur Le Doux during those years Marlowe would have been dead?
6.             Why do we not hear anything about Shakespeare's writings until after Marlowe dies?
7.             Who is the Mr. W. H. to whom the sonnets are dedicated?
8.             Who is the “dark lady” of the sonnets?
9.             What kind of education did the two men have?
10.         What is the secret riddle of the epitaph above Shakespeare's tomb?
11.         Why was his grave dug twelve feet deep instead of the normal six foot?
12.         Why did Shakespeare's son-in-law, Dr. John Hall, leave off any mention of the day Shakespeare died in his journal?

There are so many questions, I could go on and on. If a person holds up all of these in relation to Shakespeare, the questions loom; and yet, when I held up each of these questions to Marlowe, all the answers, for me, fell into place.

A foul sheet from Marlowe's writing of The Massacre at Paris (1593)

Shakespeare did not have the education for such lofty writing, he did not have the background and there is no evidence of his having traveled. Even his friend, Ben Jonson, railed him on his lack of languages. Also, maybe just to me, but I thought it odd, there is no mention of his writings, or any books he may have had in his possession for his own research, in his will. For those in favor of Shakespeare, I am sure they will say it is because the plays belonged to the playhouse and the actors, but still, to me, there is a question.

There is no doubt Shakespeare was an ambitious man and a brilliant actor, and considering the time period he lived with poverty and sickness so rampant, a man might do anything to make sure of the survival of his family, the legacy of his name and his own ambition.

When you read some of the sonnets, many of the ones I have quoted in the novel, the desperation of a man writing the words resounds. Clearly, the sonnets show a man desperate for someone to recognize the hidden clues, clues that smack of the life of Marlowe, not Shakespeare. It was a common practice in those days to hide clues or riddles within writings, so this style of writing would not have been unusual for Marlowe. Also, he had all the means available to him to undertake a masque to save his own life – the money, the backing, the patrons, and a favor from the Queen herself, who was known to take great pains to protect those who protected her.

Shakespeare's Globe, London, England.

Any final thoughts on the Shakespeare authorship question?
Yea, simply this – an early American author, Napolean Hill, said, “All great truths are simple in final analysis, and easily understood; if they are not, they are not great truths.”

So, are you saying after all of this that you are a strict Marlowan and not a Stratfordian?

Well, no. I am saying that there are reasonable questions to the debate, and I am saying that the premise makes for a great story; but in truth, we will never know unless someone stumbles upon some profound letter one day revealing to the world the true author. Until then, I will remain an avid Shakespeare-lover. There are questions I have, but I have no questions about the beauty and genius behind the works themselves.

Thank you so much for coming onto the blog today and sharing your thoughts on Shakespeare and Marlow! I shall certainly have to check out your book!

Blood and Ink

History shows Kit Marlowe died in a tavern brawl in Deptford in 1593, but did he? England is torn by religious metamorphosis and espionage. The stages of England and bright intellectual boys are used to bolster Queen Elizabeth I's reign and propagate the rising Protestant faith. At the age of eight, Christopher Marlowe, the muse's darling, is sucked into the labyrinth of secret spy rings, blood, murder, and betrayal, while his own ambition as England's favorite playwright drifts further from his grasp. As Christopher grows to manhood, he sinks further into the darkness, and a chance meeting with an unknown actor from Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare, sets him on a path of destiny; a fate of forced exile and the revelation that the real enemy was not the assassins of Rome, but a man who stared into his eyes and smiled. One he did not expect...

D.K. Marley

DK Marley is a historical fiction writer specializing in Shakespearean themes. Her grandmother, an English professor, gave her a volume of Shakespeare's plays when she was eleven, inspiring DK to delve further into the rich Elizabethan language. Eleven years ago she began the research leading to the publication of her first novel "Blood and Ink," an epic tale of lost dreams, spurned love, jealousy and deception in Tudor England as the two men, William Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe, fight for one name and the famous works now known as the Shakespeare Folio.

She is a true Stratfordian (despite the topic of her novel "Blood and Ink"), a Marlowe fan, a member of the Marlowe Society, the Shakespeare Fellowship and a signer of the Declaration of Intent for the Shakespeare Authorship Debate. Her new series titled "The Fractured Shakespeare Series" will tackle adapting each play into a historical fiction novel. She has traveled to England three times for intensive research and debate workshops and is a graduate of the intense training workshop "The Writer's Retreat Workshop" founded by Gary Provost and hosted by Jason Sitzes and Lorin Oberweger. She is also a blogger for her blog "The Jabberwocky Blog" on Wordpress. She lives in Georgia with her husband and two Scottish Terriers named Maggie and Buster.

Connect with D.K. Marley: Author Website • Facebook • Twitter • Instagram: @theRealDKMarley •Amazon Author Page • Goodreads • Jol's Book Club.

Friday 28 September 2018

Book Spotlight — A Suggestion of Scandal by Catherine Kullmann #Regency #HistoricalFiction @CKullmannauthor

A Suggestion of Scandal
 By Catherine Kullmann

If only he could find a lady who was tall enough to meet his eyes, intelligent enough not to bore him and who had that certain something that meant he could imagine spending the rest of his life with her.
As Sir Julian Loring returns to his father’s home, he never dreams that that lady could be Rosa Fancourt, his half-sister Chloe’s governess. Rosa is no longer the gawky girl fresh from a Bath academy whom he first met ten years ago. Today, she intrigues him. But just as they begin to draw closer, she disappears—in very dubious circumstances. Julian cannot bring himself to believe the worst of Rosa, but if she is blameless the truth could be even more shocking, with far-reaching repercussions for his own family, especially Chloe.
Later, driven by her concern for Chloe, Rosa accepts an invitation to spend some weeks at Castle Swanmere, home of Julian’s maternal grandfather. The widowed Meg Overton has also been invited and she is determined not to let the extremely eligible Julian slip through her fingers again.
When a ghost from Rosa’s past returns to haunt her, and Meg discredits Rosa publicly, Julian must decide where his loyalties lie.

Her captor had bundled her up a narrow back stairs and thrust her into this small attic room before locking the door from the outside. It must have been a maid’s bedroom, she thought, and recently occupied, for there was no accumulation of dust, let alone slut’s wool, and Mr Purdue’s housekeeper was generally spoken of as a slatternly creature although a good cook. She was not the sort who would think to ensure an empty chamber was swept and dusted.

The room was simply furnished; there was a narrow bedstead with a thin horsehair mattress covered in drugget, a rickety chair and a small deal table on which stood an empty, chipped jug and basin. Two wooden pegs were fixed to the wall behind the door and, to Rosa’s relief, she found a chamber pot under the bed. She had not yet brought herself to use it but knew she would have to if she were held here for long.

She had removed her damp spencer and spread it out to dry and, reluctant to take off her clammy gown, wrapped herself in the red cloak and lain down on the scratchy mattress. Just for ten minutes, she had told herself, until your head clears, but in fact she had slept although she did not know for how long, and woken shivering.

She had banged on the door and called until her voice gave out and had then peered down from the window, rapping on the pane when she saw a groom cross the yard. He had not looked up, nor had Sir Julian later even though she had hammered the jug against the thick glass.

She pulled the cloak around her. Without it, she would have felt even more chilled. Judging by the fading light, it must be eight o’clock. Was Purdue going to leave her here all night? She was thirsty—apart from the few sips of watered brandy she had taken nothing since nuncheon. Sighing, she sank down onto the bed again only to spring up when she heard firm footsteps outside her door. It opened just wide enough for a hand to place a tin plate of thick sandwiches on the floor.

“Take it in and I’ll give you some wine and water,” Mr Purdue said.

She tried to tug the door wider open but he resisted. “Remember, Miss Fancourt, it is your choice. Is it to be the hard way or the easy way? I shall not make you drink if you prefer not to.”

Be sensible, Rosa, she told herself fiercely and picked up the plate. It was immediately replaced by two tin mugs.

“You have thirty seconds to remove them,” the hateful voice said.

Suddenly, she craved liquid. After a first, hasty sip, she was able to snap, “How dare you hold me prisoner!”

“Now, now, my pet! You will find I dare a lot.” He laughed softly, pulling the door shut. Just before it closed, he said, “I almost forgot,” and tossed a soft bundle into the room. She snatched it up—it was her reticule and gloves.
The door slammed. She heard the key turn followed by the rattle as it was removed, then his footsteps retreated. She was alone again.

Catherine Kullmann
Catherine Kullmann was born and educated in Dublin. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, she moved to Germany where she lived for twenty-six years before returning to Ireland. She has worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector.
Catherine’s debut novel, The Murmur of Masks, received a Chill with a Book Readers Award and was short-listed for Best Novel in the 2017 CAP (Carousel Aware Prize) Awards. She is also the author of Perception & Illusion. Her latest novel, A Suggestion of Scandal, was published in August 2018.
Catherine loves to hear from readers, you can find her: Website  FacebookTwitterAmazon Author Page.

Thursday 27 September 2018

Book Spotlight ~ The Promise of Tomorrow by AnneMarie Brear #Edwardian #historical #WWI @annemariebrear

The Promise of Tomorrow
By AnneMarie Brear

Charlotte Brookes flees her lecherous guardian, McBride, taking her younger sister with her. After a year on the road, they stumble into a Yorkshire village where the Wheelers, owners of the village shop, take them in. This new life is strange for Charlotte, but preferable to living with McBride or surviving on the roads. 

Harry Belmont is an important man in the village, but he’s missing something in his life. His budding friendship with Charlotte gives him hope she will feel more for him one day, and he will marry the woman he yearns for. 

When McBride discovers where Charlotte lives, his threats begin. Harry fights to keep Charlotte safe, but World War I erupts and Harry enlists. 

Left to face a world of new responsibilities, and Harry’s difficult sister, Charlotte must run the gauntlet of family disputes, McBride's constant harassment, and the possibility of the man she loves being killed.

Can Charlotte find the happiness that always seems under threat, and will Harry return home to her?


‘I arrived home yesterday.’ Harry stared around the warm, neat shop. He moved to the fire and put his hands out to the flames, not wanting to think about the disastrous visit to London. ‘How’s everything in the village?’

‘All is well, as far as I know, anyway.’ Wheeler held up one of the tall glass jars of boiled sweets. ‘For the children?’

‘Yes, thank you. A quarter of each that you have, please.’

‘Those pit children are fortunate to have such a generous employer as you.’ As Wheeler started weighing out the brightly coloured sweets, a young woman walked out from the rear doorway and paused beside him.

Harry stared at her, never having seen her before. His heart gave a jolt, surprising him. A tingle of physical awareness gripped his whole body.

‘Master Harry?’

Realising that Stan Wheeler had been speaking to him, Harry gave a little cough and tried to recapture his reeling senses. The young woman before him was a delicate beauty. ‘You-you have a new assistant, Mr Wheeler?’

‘Indeed, Master Harry, for nearly six weeks now.’ Wheeler grinned, his whole demeanour showing his happiness. ‘Charlotte, this is Mr Harry Belmont, of Belmont Hall. Master Harry, may I present Miss Charlotte Brookes.’

Harry held out his hand and she tentatively took it for a second before slipping her hands behind her slender back. She wore a huge white apron over a simple black dress. Her hair, the colour of deep chestnut mixed with copper was wound in a tight bun at the back of her head, but a few stray tendrils had escaped and hung over her small ears. Her eyes were a blend of green and dark gold. Colour heightened the unblemished skin on her cheeks. It took him but a moment to notice all these things and wonder at his own astonishment to her appearance. She was attractive, certainly, but he’d seen beautiful women before. So why did this one, a shop girl, rob him of both breath and sensible thought?

‘Charlotte and her younger sister, Hannah, are staying with us, you see. They are now without family.’ Wheeler gave her a pat on the shoulder in sympathy before regaining his sunny nature once more. ‘But they have settled in so well here. Bessie and myself can’t think of how it once was without them. Such help they are to us.’

Harry watched Miss Brookes as she smiled softly at Wheeler, the affection between them was mutual it seemed. He wanted to speak to her but didn’t know what to say. A first for him.

Wheeler continued to fill up the small brown paper bags of sweets. ‘See here now, Charlotte. Master Harry comes in every now and then and buys sweets for the children of the pit rows belonging to his mine. They are the children of the men he employs.’ He opened a new jar of humbugs. ‘A quarter of each kind from the boiled sweets and a dozen strips of liquorice cut again into smaller pieces. It goes on the Belmont Hall’s account.’

‘I see, yes.’ She watched him intently as he used tongs to separate the black liquorice lengths.

‘Are you staying in the village long, Miss Brookes?’ Harry finally managed to say, absorbing the way she absently tucked her hair behind her ear.
She looked up at him, startled, her eyes wide as though speaking to him was alarming. ‘I hope so, sir.’

He cringed at the ‘sir’. He didn’t want her to cower before him like a servant. For some reason he sensed she wasn’t made that way. He didn’t know why he thought so, or what proof he had, but he instinctively believed she was strong, determined and in no way ordinary. The manner in how she stood straight-backed and watched Wheeler; the pert thrust of her chin as she helped him to weigh and bag the sweets. Her movements were neat and precise and Harry knew at that instant that he could watch her for the rest of his life.

AnneMarie Brear

  AnneMarie was born a small town in N.S.W. Australia, to English parents from Yorkshire. She is the youngest of five children. Her love of reading fiction started at an early age with Enid Blyton’s novels, before moving on into more adult stories such as Catherine Cookson’s novels as a teenager. Living in England, during the 1980s she discovered a love of history by visiting the many and varied places of historical interest.

The road to publication was long and winding with a few false starts, but she finally became published in 2006. Since that time, many novels and several short stories have been published. She writes historical novels set in Yorkshire and/or Australia in the eras covering from Victorian to WWII. Her books are available in ebook and paperback from bookstores, especially online bookstores such as Amazon. 

AnneMarie enjoys reading and gardening. Spending time visiting old country house estates and castles helps her find ideas for her books. She’s interested in genealogy and researched her family trees. She loves chocolate (who doesn't?) and enjoys travelling, cooking and surfing the web (research purposes, obviously, not wasting time on Facebook!)

AnneMarie loves to hear from readers, you can find her: WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreads.