Before reading award winning author Geoff Nelder’s new book, Xaghra’s Revenge, I contacted him about the possibility of interviewing him. Having finished this historical fiction with romance, fantasy, action, and the paranormal, I wondered what would motivate a well-known writer of science fiction to make such a dramatic change in genre.
I invited Geoff to guest on my blog and share his inspiration, how he approached research on a historical event which is not common knowledge, and what his biggest challenges were in bringing the characters to life.
I’m delighted to share his responses in his own words!
My name should have been Geoff What-if Nelder for although some think my genre is science fiction, it really is my own surreal take on life. A few years ago my legs were busy pushing pedals to get me up Horseshoe Pass in Wales when the notion occurred: what if amnesia was infectious? Another few pedals and suppose there was no immunity and no cure? By the time I’d reached a large café, The Ponderosa, at the summit my what if had reached a supposed memory loss backwards at the rate of a year’s worth per week. Imagine the ramifications! Or, instead, read about it in ARIA: Left Luggage.
Some what-if ideas come not out of the blue but while on vacation on an island in the blue Mediterranean. I’m a sucker for history and had read all about the 1565 Great Siege of Malta when the Templar Knights defeated a mighty Ottoman attack, but not about a mass abduction in 1551. I attended a filmshow about Gozo’s history. Even then the film made no fuss, treating the abduction and enslavement as matter-of-fact rather than something to kick up about. Of course in the past, abductions were common place especially, as now, for ransom. In recent years those 200 Chibok girls were taken in Nigeria, but at least there was global condemnation. I’d not heard of a whole island’s population of 5,000 being taken. During my research I’d found many similar cases. Abductions by Turkish privateers up the Irish coast and even from Iceland. By the time I’d emerged from the history show my ire was up and my writer’s imagination was on fire. Those souls needed revenge and I was going to give it to them.
I had to spend many hours in the Melitensia library in Valetta and I must have trampled every inch of Gozo – not difficult as it is only 9 miles long and six wide. However, I explored under the surface too. Literally because being made of limestone, the island is riddled with caves and secret tunnels. What a life. Researching on a sunny Mediterranean isle and writing it into a novel in rainy England!
You ask about characters. I made many friends on Gozo and Malta, so I developed a feel for their mannerisms and attitudes. Literary characters are different from real ones. They need to be that touch larger than life, but real enough that you care what happens to them. Luckily, like most countries Britain is so multicultural it’s easy to find emigres from Libya (where amazingly many descendants of those 1551 Gozitans still live after enslavement) and Americans along with other nationalities in Xaghra’s Revenge. Just add spice, lust, and a few what ifs.
Revenge is sweet, but the plot has a few deeper threads. If the Ottoman army had won the war in 1565, it’s possible Christianity would have ended in Europe, possibly the world. What if a re-enactment changed that history? In the novel the sixteenth century abducted spirits had to wait until now for a couple thrown together by ancient gods, one descended from the pirates, to discover their unique mission to right the wrong, or make the wrong worse. See for yourself. Holiday on Gozo through the centuries of hate, love and amazement.
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Geoff-Nelder/e/B002BMB2XY
Elizabeth Horton-Newton’s Review of Xaghra’s Revenge