A Conversation with Historical Fiction author, Richard Foreman
Please give a warm Coffee Pot welcome to Richard Foreman.
MA: Richard, it is lovely that you could join us today. Before we begin, could you please introduce yourself to my lovely readers.
RF: I have worked in publishing, in one form or another, for the past twenty years or so. After working as an events manager for a bookshop I then set-up a publicity and consultancy agency for authors. The era was, in some ways, a golden age for publishing. Life was a series of launch parties and author dinners. Sales were as high as my cholesterol levels. I also had the privilege of working with a number of talented and inspirational writers, including Simon Sebag- Montefiore, Conn Iggulden and Alison Weir. Although their writing and careers differ, most successful authors all share a love of reading and hard work. I then went from publicist to publisher. I enjoy both championing backlist titles from established authors – and also discovering new voices, particularly in historical fiction. Should you read Siege and have written something similar, or wish to do so, I would be happy to hear from you and can be reached via Sharpe Books. No book should be left in the drawer. Being a judge for the HWA Gold Crown and setting up the London History Festival have also been rewarding. Writing my own books was – and is – secondary to my career as a publisher. Originally, I set out to write literally fiction - although A Hero of Our Time and Warsaw are set in WWII and contain thriller-esque elements.
I then decided to write something more commercial. Augustus:Son of Rome was a breakthrough book, both in terms of it being a bestseller and I found a formula and my voice writing within the Roman period. Several Roman books followed – Sword of Rome, Sword of Empire, Spies of Rome – and although I sometimes feel Romed out, so to speak, I’ll always return to the era and genre.
MA: Your career is undoubtedly inspirational. May I ask, what inspired you to write Siege: The First Crusade?
RF: Several years ago, I moved into the medieval period with Band of Brothers, telling the story of Henry V and the Agincourt campaign. The book was a hit and I promised myself – and some fans who contacted me – that I would write another series set in the medieval era. I fell in love with the story of the First Crusade after reading Thomas Asbridge’s book on the subject. I rekindled my interest after reading Steven Runciman. The First Crusade is a story involving conquest, religion, knights, clergymen, triumph and tragedy. It’s relevant – and resonates. The story of the siege of Antioch – and then the Army of God being besieged – interested me on a military and human level. The crusaders were dedicated warriors, as well as being devout Christians. One of the aims of the book, along with other novels I have written, is to pique a reader’s interest enough to go back and read the likes of Asbridge and Runciman. The task of a book is to inspire someone to read another book.
MA: The First Crusades is an incredibly interesting time in history. With that in mind, how did you come up with your setting and your characters?
RF: Such is the natural drama and narrative structure of the Siege of Antioch, I was able to remain largely faithful to the real history behind the story. The sacking of Antioch is a fitting climax to the first book in the series, as the sacking of Jerusalem will be a suitable climax to the third and final instalment. As with many of my Roman novels, which revolve around the lives and careers of great figures from history (including Augustus, Julius Caesar, Cicero and Marcus Aurelius), Siege includes portraits of the leading protagonists of the First Crusade. Bishop Adhemar, Bohemond of Taranto and Godfrey of Bouillon feature in the book – and will feature in subsequent titles in the series. Although the First Crusade was predominantly made-up of Normans and Franks, I decided to create two Englishmen to serve as the leading characters in the story. The first is a cynical knight, Edward Kemp. The second is Thomas Devin, an idealistic Christian scribe. The arc of the story involves the former finding some faith during the course of the siege – and the latter losing a part of his devotion and belief. There are plenty of other characters, both fictional and based on real life figures, who populate the story and provide both colour and humour. I’m especially keen to develop the relationship between Edward and Emma. Love as well as war sells.
|Detail of a medieval miniature of the Siege of Antioch from Sébastien Mamerot's Les Passages d'Outremer: Wikipedia.|
RF: Although I grew up devouring Bernard Cornwell and George Macdonald Fraser - and have always been conscious of writing within the demands of a genre - authors naturally put their own spin on things. There’s a black and dry sense of humour to Siege that modern-day soldiers will probably appreciate. There is also a slight religious/philosophical element to the story and characters which blends satire with seriousness. But historical fiction should predominantly be entertaining, as opposed to informative. Having written thrillers and crime fiction in the past, Siege has a healthy dose of pace and twists too.
MA: If may ask one more question, can you tell us what you are currently working on?
RF: The day job is currently keeping me busy. Sharpe Books are currently seeking submissions and dealing with the HWA (Historical Writers’ Association) unpublished novel prize. We will also soon publish more collections of short stories by HWA authors. The first book, Rubicon, was a pleasing success. On the writing front however I’ve started to write the sequel to Siege. I still need to finish off the Augustus quartet of books and I am flirting with the idea of writing a series of books set during the Third Crusade. I have recently been approached about staging one of the stories from Raffles: The Complete Innings for a local theatre. The inbox is seldom empty, unfortunately or not.
MA: It certainly looks like you have one very busy and productive future ahead of you, I wish you all the best with it, and I am looking forward to reading the sequel to Siege. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to chat with us.
If you would like to learn more about Richard’s fabulous book, then you know what to do — Scroll Down!
By Richard Foreman
The crusader army still stands outside Antioch. Starving. Deserting.
An enemy force, led by Kerbogha of Mosul, is days away from relieving the walled city.
Bohemond of Taranto calls upon the English knight, Edward Kemp, to meet with an agent, who is willing to provide the Norman prince with access to Antioch.
But Bohemond is not alone in wishing to capture and lay claim to the prize. Edward must contend with enemies in his own camp.
Should the knight's mission fail, then so may the entire campaign.
Antioch must fall.
Recommended for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Michael Jecks and Conn Iggulden.
'The scenes of battle and clash of cultures are brilliantly depicted.' Jemahl Evans, author of Becket: Warrior
Siege is the first book in a new series, set during the First Crusade, by bestselling historical novelist Richard Foreman.
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Richard Foreman is a bestselling historical novelist. He is the author of multiple series set in Ancient Rome, including Sword of Rome, Sword of Empire, Spies of Rome and the Augustus saga. He has also written books set in the medieval period, Band of Brothers, and WW2 – Warsaw and A Hero of Our Time. His books have regularly broken through into the top 100 of Amazon and have been widely praised. His new book is Siege, the first in a series of novels set during the First Crusade.
For many years Richard worked as a publicist and literary consultant for numerous bestselling authors, including Simon Sebag-Montefiore, Kate Williams and William Dalrymple. During his time as a publicist Richard founded the London History Festival. He has also served as a judge for the HWA Crowns.
Richard is the CEO of Sharpe Books, one of the leading UK independent publishers. Sharpe Books specialises in publishing crime/thrillers, historical fiction and history books. Authors on their list include Michael Jecks, Sarah Gristwood, Saul David and Peter Tonkin. As well as publishing established writers, Sharpe Books accepts submissions from new authors too. Please see sharpebooks.com should you wish to get in touch and see their submission requirements.
Praise for Richard Foreman's Books
Spies of Rome
"A masterful and evocative depiction of a fledgling imperial Rome fraught with intrigue and at war with itself. The story and characters are as striking as the graffiti that adorns the violent city’s walls during Augustus' rise."
Steven Veerapen, author of The Abbey Close.
"An arresting opening that leads into a thoroughly gripping story. Impressive research and understanding of the period allows Richard Foreman to move so seamlessly and effectively from historical epic to historical detective thriller. A must read for fans of Steven Saylor."
Peter Tonkin, author of The Ides.
Augustus: Son of Rome
'Augustus: Son of Rome forges action and adventure with politics and philosophy. This superb story is drenched in both blood and wisdom - and puts Foreman on the map as the coming man of historical fiction’.
Saul David, Author of the Zulu Hart series.
The Complete Innings
‘Classy, humorous and surprisingly touching tales of cricket, friendship and crime.’
David Blackburn, The Spectator.
Band of Brothers:
The Complete Campaigns
'A rattling good yarn, requiring only the minimum of suspension of belief, and leaves one eagerly anticipating the next instalment of the adventures of the team as they accompany the King to Harfleur.'
Major Gordon Corrigan, author of A Great and Glorious Adventure: A Military History of the Hundred Years War.
"Warsaw is a work of power. It has the authentic feeling that pulses from an important book. The meticulous research and psychological insights light up one of the most ghastly episodes in the history of man's inhumanity to man."
Patrick Bishop, author of Fighter Boys and A Good War.