31 January 2022

Special Guest Interview with Justin Newland, Author of The Coronation


Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

It is 1761. Prussia is at war with Russia and Austria. As the Russian army occupies East Prus-sia, King Frederick the Great and his men fight hard to win back their homeland.

I'm pleased to welcome author Justin Newland to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your book, The Coronation.

The Coronation is my third novel. Like the first two, The Genes of Isis and The Old Dragon’s Head, it’s a historical fantasy. Since then, I’ve written a fourth, The Abdication, which is a supernatural thriller. 

All four books are stand-alone. The books explore the same themes, the individual’s spiritual quest, the journey of self-discovery, the human condition and how different societies in history have attempted to reconcile their religious beliefs with the way they structure their societies.

The Coronation is set during The Great Enlightenment in the 1760’s in Europe and it’s set in East Prussia, a now-defunct state on the Baltic Sea. Prussia was the template for an embryonic Germany and at the time was governed by an enlightened despot, King Frederick the Great.  

The plot of The Coronation unfolds against a backdrop of social and political upheaval i.e. the Seven Years’ War between the burgeoning power of Prussia, and its more powerful Imperial neighbours, Austria and Russia. This war was not only over territorial acquisition, it was also a continuation of the religious wars that had afflicted Northern Europe since the Great Reformation. Prussia was Lutheran (Protestant) while Austria and Russia were Catholic. 

During the Great Enlightenment, the previously-rigid shackles imposed by the Catholic Church were slowly being loosened, allowing the development of intellectual and philosophical ideas, resulting in the exploration of new scientific fields.

What is your preferred writing routine?

It usually takes me while to get myself ready to be able to write. Often, I’ll read over what I last wrote to clue myself into the story, the voice of the characters, and the settings. Then the writing I enjoy the most is when the plot or a character takes the story in a new, surprising way. Then I’ll explore that plot thread or character arc and see where it ends up. Ideally, if I can, I’d write all day until my fingers are tired from typing, but that only happens under special circumstances. 

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Do join writers’ groups – both face-to-face and online. They’re great for mutual support.  Read as much as you can and as widely as possible, and not just fiction and novels, plays, short stories, as well as non-fiction, biographies, histories and so on. 

Remember, writing is not just about plot, character and suspense. It’s about being a good manager of your work and a good editor. 

Use beta-readers, notably ones you don’t know, who are anonymous. You can learn from other writers. 

As much as they might want to help, don’t ask friends and relatives to review your work. They rarely tell you as it is. 

Take regular copies or back-ups of your work. 

Writing is both an art and a craft. It requires talent, good luck, and great timing. 

Think about it: even the great Ludwig van Beethoven had to write eight other symphonies before he wrote the famous ninth. 

And don’t give up. Ever.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

Locally, get out and about. I’ve done talks in libraries around the historical periods in which my books are set. To promote the talk, I’ll contact the local newspapers and radio stations to get interviews.

I also do book signings. Then I use the same method of promoting them via local media.

I also use blog tours to promote my work on the internet.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research.

There are many things – many facts - you learn when writing historical fiction – from the trivial to the grotesque. It’s part of the territory. But rather than specify one thing or one extraordinary fact, I’d say that research expands your field of reference, and at the same time, connects and links up parts of that field in a way that you might not have previously imagined. It’s a bit like learning a new route from A to B via your Satnav, that’s different to the route you had always taken. 

Then having broader reference fields allows greater comparative value, and that allows a thing, an event, or a personage to be seen in a better, perhaps less biased, and truer context.

It’s said that there are the facts, and there is the interpretation of those facts, but isn’t the interpretation dependent on the context in which those facts are considered? 

The importance of context is what I’ve discovered during my research.  

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

The ending. I think I must have written three or four versions before I was content that it wrapped up the plot threads and brought the main character arcs to a successful completion.

What are you planning to write next?

I’m working on a novel set in Elizabethan England. 

At the time, Spain was the richest and most powerful European nation by far with huge resources, a massive Empire and a colossal fleet of ships. 

So, how could its navy, the great Armada, be repulsed by a bunch of pirates and buccaneers? 

That’s my Work In Progress, a supernatural re-telling the story of the repulse of the Spanish Armada in 1588.  

Justin Newland

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About the Author

Justin Newland is an author of historical fantasy and secret history thrillers - that’s history with a supernatural twist. His stories feature known events and real people from history which are re-told and examined through the lens of the supernatural. He gives author talks and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio Bristol’s Thought for the Day. He lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England. Find out more from Justin's website https://www.justinnewland.com


1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for hosting the blog tour for The Coronation.

    All the best,
    Mary Anne
    The Coffee Pot Book Club

    ReplyDelete

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