Monday, January 7, 2013

Author Interview: By Blood or By Bond (By Blood or By Bond) by Hazel B. West

Genres: historical fiction
Format: ebook
452 pages
Published by Createspace
Published December 12th 2012
ISBN: 148111042X
ISBN13: 9781481110426
Where to Buy: Amazon
View on Goodreads
I am grateful to be part of the author’s blog tour, for more stops please visit the author’s blog here.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Which ties are stronger—those of Blood or those of Bond.

Caolán, the son of a Celtic chieftain, awaits his first pitched battle against the Roman invaders, knowing that this is the moment in which he will truly become a warrior, of the tribe.

Viggo Callias is a seasoned centurion in the Roman army on his first deployment to Britain with his newly enlisted son, Aulus. Serving under an incompetent commander, he wonders whether victory will be theirs.

But fate takes a hand in both Caolán and Viggo’s lives when Viggo’s son is killed by a spear meant for him. Enraged at the loss of his son, Viggo seeks vengeance on the man responsible: Caolán’s father. As the chieftain breathes his last, Viggo vows to take Caolán as a slave to avenge Aulus’ untimely death.

Torn from his country and people, Caolán’s only comfort is the hope that one day he will be able to avenge his father. But can the greatest wrongs be righted? Brotherly bonds, gladiators, old enemies, corrupt politicians and a young woman who captures Caolán’s heart, take a role in the physical and emotional journey that binds Caolán’s and Viggo’s fates together. Can the two wounded parties work past their hatred of each other and find what they have lost: a father and a son?

This new novel by Hazel West, explores the familial ties that bind us all, whether by blood or by bond.
Hazel West lives in Florida where she spend a good bit of time writing historical fiction about brave men and women who have graced the pages of history, trying to bring more light to their legacies so readers of all ages will enjoy them.
Author Interview
Where did you get the idea to write this book or what inspired you?

Funny enough, the original idea came to me several years ago when I was watching my little brother play a gladiator game on the Playmobile website. I’ve gotten ideas from strange things before, but I think this one was the most. Ever since then, I wanted to write a story about a gladiator character, preferably a Celtic one since I love the Celtic culture and know a lot about it. Thus Caolán was born, though I didn’t know who he was, or even his name until much mater.
The idea for the actual novel By Blood or By Bond came after I read Rosemary Sutcliff’s amazing book Outcast. Such a lovely story, and the main character, Beric, gave me ideas of the kind of character I wanted Caolán to be. So Rosemary Sutcliff really inspired me to write the book over all.

As a historical fiction writer, what tricks have you found to help keep modern day ideas, and modern day dialogue from sneaking into your work?

Well, I can’t say I don’t always, haha. Some characters refuse to talk in the laguange of the time period. One of my gladiator characters, Fionn, an Irishman, is like that. I think the trick is to mainly just keep modern slang out. Very few people are going to want to actually sit and read a novel with all the ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ and ‘methinks’in the dialogue but that doesn’t mean your Roman centurion can get away with saying ‘Yo, dude” either. I usually write in a ‘common language’ that every reader will be able to understand but yet is not modern either. I personally think that people talked to each other back in the Roman times, much the same as we speak today. In fact, reading letters and even graphiti from the Roman era gives spedid insight into that. Of course it’s translated, but still, it’s the same idea.
Modern ideas are sometimes harder to keep from a historical story. Stuff we take for granted might not have even been considered back then. Keeping authentic mind sets is the product of much research, but even then, an author must sometimes take liberties. I might have taken a few liberties with my character Viggo. He’s definitely not a ‘perfect Roman’ but I believe he had ideals and morals that were upheld by men back then, despite common conception. I don’t think the Romans were all blood thirsty murderers and I do think that some soldiers had morals. Sometimes, you just have to give or take to make a likable character.

Of your characters, which one would you say is most like you and why?

Viggo, definitely. In fact, he’s probably the most like me out of all the characters I have ever written. He has a –sometimes overbearing—sense of justice, and lamentably tries to fix all the world’s wrongs despite the fact that he knows he can never accomplish that. He will always fight for the lesser man and despises bullies above all else.

Who was your favorite character to write, and your least favorite?

I rarely have a least favorite character to write. If I didn’t like them, I would get rid of them, or whip them into shape if they were giving me trouble, haha. I truly loved all the characters in By Blood or By Bond. Viggo was easy to write because he’s so much like myself I knew what he would do in any situation. Caolán was also a character I felt for and was easy to write. And though Amatus was terribly nasty, I loved writing him because I just couldn’t believe how disgusting he could be on occasion. He sickened me, but I was proud to have made such a detestable character. If anyone could have given me any problems, it would have been Viggo’s niece, Lorena, but thankfully she didn’t. Sometimes I have problems with female characters, but I ended up liking her a lot and she turned into just the kind of character I needed for her role.

Plans for a next book?

Always! I’m hoping to get the sequel to one of my other books, Ballad of the Highwayman (newly on ebook, by the way) out by spring. It’s a classic swashbuckling adventure, so check it out, if that’s your thing. I also have a Victorian steampunk mystery in the works with my awesome private detective, Anthony Maxwell, and a prequel to By Blood or By Bond planned about the time when Viggo and his foster brother, Hector, were in the Roman legions. It’s going to be an awesome military adventure, and I’m excited to get back to writing them.

Advice for other authors?

Write what you love! Don’t worry about what other people say. Listen to good advice and constructive criticism, but ignore people who are just being mean. Research well into your topic, no matter what kind of book you’re writing. You don’t have to write what you know, but you should know what you write!

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