Tag Archives: historical fiction

FIVE GUNS BLAZING: a rip-roaring page-turner

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Click here to purchase

Five Guns Blazing by Emma Rose Millar is an unforgettable historical adventure whose main character gets caught up in poverty, crime, slavery and piracy. It was justly awarded first place in the Legend category at the Chaucer Awards.

What the reviewers are saying:

“Hoist sail without delay and get your copy of Five Guns Blazing today, as it launches to the wide world. You’ll not regret it!”

“Disconnect your phone. Don’t answer your door. This book, a pot or two of coffee, and a comfortable chair, and you’re set for the day with this rollicking, seat-edged adventure.”

“You won’t want to put it down.”

“A gripping account … well researched and written with great sensitivity.”

“A dark, compelling tale, which captures the imagination, wonderfully written, rich, treacherous and jaw-dropping.”

“Rich in historical detail and vibrant characters the story pulls you in and keeps you turning the pages.”

“A fast paced, rip-roaring adventure from the filthy backstreets of London to the pirate seas, which kept me guessing right until the very end.”

“What a fabulous book; had me completely hooked from the beginning. Would recommend without reservation.”

“This is a real page turner with a central character you will connect with from the very start.”

“Kept me up several nights to continue reading and pulled me into the story right from page one.”


Amazon US

Amazon UK

Author’s website: https://emmarosemillar.wordpress.com/


Emma Rose Millar

Publisher’s Website: https://crookedcatbooks.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/new-release-five-guns-blazing-by-emma-rose-millar-kevin-allen/

Image result for crooked cat


Emma Rose Millar – Five Guns Blazing

Sarah CI’m delighted to welcome the wonderful author Emma Rose Millar to my blog. Her second novel, Five Guns Blazing is out now from Crooked Cat Publishing. It’s a thrilling adventure that takes the reader from London to the Caribbean, exploring life as a slave and as a pirate. It’s a work of fiction that weaves some historical characters and situations into its action-packed narrative. Five Guns Blazing was topping kindle charts just from its pre-release sales, so don’t miss out on this treasure (luckily not buried). Click on the book cover to purchase it or the links below.

  1. Why did you decide to write Five Guns Blazing?

Hello, Jeff. Thanks for inviting me over. My first novel was extremely dark and for some time I’d wanted to write something more up-beat. I love historical fiction and I wanted to write an historical adventure, something that I could completely lose  myself in. Then one day I was at a barbeque and I had a chance conversation about an old Adam and the Ants song called Five Guns West, which contained the lyrics, Ladies can be captains and ladies can be chiefs, just like glorious Amazons, Anne Bonny, Mary Read. During that conversation I learned that Bonny and Read were both pirates. Not only were they pirates, some sources suggest they were lovers, and although John Rackham captained the ship, it was the women who were the most vicious members of the crew, wielding pistols and machetes, lighting fuses, cursing and swearing and ordering the men to kill their captives. Anne in particular was slippery as an eel and managed to escape execution on numerous occasions.

How does a woman become a pirate? I was intrigued. The more I read about the pair, the more fascinated I became.


  1. Tell us more about the main character and her dilemma.

Laetitia Beedham is a pauper from the backstreets of London, the bastard child of two thieves, who in 1710 is transported to Barbados along with her conniving mother, Molly. Laetitia is a vulnerable but surprisingly resilient character who survives two years in the workhouse, seventy gruelling days on the open sea and a punishing regime on a Caribbean sugar plantation. On her eighteenth birthday, Laetitia is sold to pirate captain John ‘Calico Jack’ Rackham but soon finds herself torn between her admiration for the captain and her feelings for his beautiful but treacherous wife, Anne Bonny. As the King’s men close in on the pirates, Anne hatches a devious plan, set to speed Laetitia straight to the noose.

  1. How did you go about researching the sections about slavery and pirates?

Before I even got to that point I immersed myself in eighteenth century literature. I wanted an authentic feel to the book and for the narrative voice to be credible. I then carried out extensive research on conditions in eighteenth century London and in British workhouses. My grandfather was orphaned at age three and spent his childhood in a poor law school, so I’d grown up hearing stories of that type of communal living with its own doctrines and rules. I also read a lot about conditions at sea, especially for transported convicts. Luckily a friend of mine did his degree in Naval History and had a wealth of eighteenth-century maritime articles ranging from the treatment of scurvy to the fight against piracy and conditions on-board slave ships. I soon realised that slavery and piracy were intertwined. It was at that point I enlisted the help of Jamaican born author Kevin Allen, who had spent many years researching his own genealogy and the slave trade.

  1. What are the pros and cons of the ‘co-authoring’ process?

Co-authoring is great; it opens up all kinds of possibilities for a novel when two people from different cultural backgrounds work together. Five Guns Blazing is a story of a white woman from England who finds herself working among black slaves in the Caribbean. The story demanded co-authorship and I truly believe that without Kevin, the manuscript would still be sitting somewhere on my laptop, never to be read again. However, the writing has to be seamless, so once Kevin had finished his part of the story, I had to then weave that into the narrative. We have very different writing styles so it took a lot of adapting. You also have to put equal effort into writing and marketing, and you have to trust each other one hundred percent, which I think we do, and to be able to give, (and take) constructive criticism.

  1. How do you go about writing a novel?

I usually start a novel as a set of bullet points which I use as a basis for a short story of about five to ten thousand words. Then everything seems to mushroom out from there with me adding imagery and dialogue and incorporating bits of my research. It’s probably not a very methodical way of doing things, but I do seem to live in chaos most of the time, and this is probably reflected in my writing style.


  1. What advice do you have for less experienced writers?

I wouldn’t class myself as being very experienced at all, but along the way I have learnt that even if you think your manuscript is finished and ready to submit, it probably isn’t. Finding a good editor is so important; they can make suggestions about character and plot, about weaker parts in the storyline and point out clunky phrases and grammatical errors along with many other things. Even after several drafts, I’m still seeing things that could be improved upon. Also, when the writing stops, the hard work really begins; marketing. There are millions of books on Amazon these days. It’s so difficult to make any book stand out.

  1. What are you currently working on?

I’m writing a novel called The Women Friends, which is based on a painting by Gustav Klimt of the same name. It’s set in Vienna between the wars; it too could do with a co-writer though. I also write children’s picture book texts for my five year old. I’d say children’s stories are my favourite things to write. I’ve completed a series called The Amazing Adventures of Nathan Molloy, which is based on the antics of a little boy who simply can’t stay out of trouble. I can’t think where I got the inspiration for that!

  1. What would your perfect day be?

I waited a very long time for my son to come along and now that I’ve got him really every day is perfect. But if I was going to have a day all to myself I would have a luxurious spa day followed by some Italian food and wine and then either some live comedy or live music – with more wine. I may have that day in about thirteen years’ time!

  1. Name a book or a film that means a lot to you.

I love Alice Walker’s The Color Purple – book and film. I saw the film when I was fifteen and I can’t even remember how many times I’ve read the book. The story has so many themes but Celie’s journey and the strong female relationships really resonate with me, even though the novel is set in a completely different time and place.


Five Guns Blazing is now available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Five-Guns-Blazing-Emma-Millar-ebook/dp/B014LPAQ76/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441922863&sr=8-1&keywords=five+guns+blazing



Guest Post by Author Tim Taylor

TT picI’m pleased to welcome Tim Taylor to my blog; author of the brilliant Zeus of Ithome. He’s here to give us some context and background to his historical novel.

Thank you very much for inviting me onto your blog, Jeff.  This is the third in a little series of blog posts I’m doing about my writing.  The first two (kindly hosted by Nancy Jardine and Alison Lock) covered the relationships between history and fiction and between fiction and poetry.  Today I’d like to talk about the ancient and the modern.

Every story occupies a time and a place. One of the things I love about historical fiction is the fact that this context is outside the ordinary experience of the reader. That is not unique to historical fiction, of course – it is also true of a novel like Igboland (at least for British readers). This other-ness of the setting is something I enjoy in itself – recreating it through a combination of research and imagination is very satisfying. But another thing I like about it is the opportunity to compare the place and time of the novel with the present; to draw parallels and understand differences.

My novel, Zeus of Ithome, set in ancient Greece, follows the struggle of the ancient Messenians to free themselves from three centuries of slavery under the Spartans. That story is in some ways unique, but it also has resonances with more recent events. An obvious parallel to draw is with the emancipation of slaves in the USA and other countries in the nineteenth century. The experience of African slaves would have had much in common with that of the Messenian helots – both were regarded as fundamentally inferior by their masters, though in the case of the Spartans their sense of superiority was more cultural than racial.  Both were forced to work the land and subjected to frequent brutality and sometimes rape and murder.

ZeusThe differences are also interesting.  The Messenians were very much a special case: they attracted sympathy and eventually support from elsewhere in Greece, not because they were slaves but because they were Greeks who were slaves.  There was none of the enlightenment revulsion against slavery itself that has gradually spread throughout the modern world.  All Greek states kept slaves, though for the most part they were better treated than the Messenian helots, and would continue to do so for many centuries to come.

Ancient Greece was the birthplace of our western civilisation. So much of what we see as central to our culture began with them, and indeed was far more highly developed in their era than for much of the intervening period.  Thus readers will find things in Zeus of Ithome that seem surprisingly similar to our modern society. The early democracy that began in Athens and had spread to Thebes and elsewhere by the fourth century BC, when the novel is set, was different in structure to modern democracies – it was a participative system, where every citizen could speak in the assembly, rather than a representative one.  Nevertheless, the debates that were held in those assemblies must surely have had a fair amount in common with those in modern parliaments.

Yet, at the same time, other aspects of Greek society are quite alien to us.  Though this period saw the beginnings of science and philosophy, the beliefs of most ordinary Greeks would strike us as quaint superstitions. The religion which pervaded every aspect of their lives was not the monotheism that dominates today, with its tightly controlled belief systems based upon holy books, but a chaotic paganism of numerous personal and capricious gods, who lived on the borders of the human world and were thought to intervene in it, demanding animal sacrifices in order to secure their favour.  And every quirk of the weather; even the behaviour of animals and the arrangement of their internal organs (as discovered on sacrificing them) – not to mention, of course, the ambiguous pronouncements of oracles – was thought to be a clear sign of divine will.  Those seemingly primitive beliefs have a strong hold on the characters of Zeus of Ithome, and thus influence the development of the story itself.

For me, these parallels and contrasts between the time and place in which a novel is set and those in which it is read provide an extra dimension to the enjoyment of fiction – both the reading and the writing.  I hope readers of Zeus of Ithome will share that enjoyment.

zeus of ithome cover

Tim’s website:  http://www.tetaylor.co.uk/

Tim’s blog:  http://www.tetaylor.co.uk/#!blog/c1pz

Author page on Crooked Cat website:  http://crookedcatpublishing.com/our-authors/authors-t-z/t-e-taylor/

Zeus of Ithome on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zeus-of-Ithome-ebook/dp/B00G7S04D2

Video trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-C2qR0x0mm4