11 May 2014

Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Piers Alexander on THE BITTER TRADE

This week, we're pleased to welcome author and the newest Unusual Historicals' contributor Piers Alexander with his debut novel,  THE BITTER TRADE. The author will offer a free copy of The Bitter Trade to a lucky blog visitor.  Be sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.

“I am Calumny Spinks. Between me and the satin blue sky hangs the hempen noose. It has swung there in the faintest of breezes, waiting for me, all my life.”

In 1688, torn by rebellions, England lives under the threat of a Dutch invasion. Redheaded Calumny Spinks is the lowliest man in an Essex backwater: half-French and still unapprenticed at seventeen, yet he dreams of wealth and title.

When his father’s violent past resurfaces, Calumny’s desperation leads him to flee to London and become a coffee racketeer. He has just three months to pay off a blackmailer and save his father’s life - but his ambition and talent for mimicry pull him into a conspiracy against the King himself.

**Q&A with Piers Alexander**

Please tell us how you came to be a writer.

I used to make up stories for my family when I was a kid, and I wrote story after story until creative writing was strangled by an English teacher.  I went and did a Proper Job after abandoning a spy novel at university, until I couldn’t bear it any more, started two new companies and began The Bitter Trade a few years ago.

Your style is somewhere between Flashman and Sarah Waters. What can readers expect?

A hero who is sometimes unappealingly selfish, greedy and lusty. Secondary characters who steal entire chapters. Actual female characters. The Civil War rearing its ugly head forty years on.

The protagonist in your latest novel is Calumny Spinks. What can we expect from him?

Red hair. Mimicry, mockery and mischief. Cal is half-French and furiously unapprenticed at seventeen – if he hadn’t been forced into action by a blackmailer, he would have probably created trouble and revolution on his own.

Can you remember where you saw your first book on the shelves?

It won’t hit them until June this year, but the moment when the manager of my local bookshop saw I’d written one and clasped it to her chest was absolutely priceless. “Of course we’ll take them,” she said, and I could have kissed her.

What are you working on now?

The sequel: Cimarron. It will involve a lengthy research trip to Jamaica, I’m pleased to say.

How does your home and its environment influence your writing?

I live with a singer-songwriter and author, so sometimes it is a happy humming hive of beautiful creativity. Sometimes it is a shattering cacophony of rage and unwashed dishes. Luckily, we have a hilarious and affectionate dog who makes us live in the moment and laugh at our own egos.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Lighting a candle. Drinking a coffee. Taking big risks. Trying new things. Hanging out in the London Library.

Learn more about Piers Alexander

The Bitter Trade is Piers' first novel. He is also a serial media entrepreneur, and lives in London with the singer-songwriter and author Rebecca Promitzer.

Twitter: @thebittertrade

Facebook: /thebittertrade