Friday, December 21, 2012

Both Sides of the Author Interview

Despite my technological challenges, I did succeed in re-recording (and not mucking up) my interview with Karen Engelmann about her novel The Stockholm Octavo, its origins, its themes, the importance of folding fans and cartomancy, the French and (stillborn) Swedish revolutions, and much more. You can find the results at New Books in Historical Fiction. You already know that I think her book is spectacular, but you should also know that she speaks very well. She’s informative and focused, and it was a joy to interview her.

Here is the short description of The Stockholm Octavo that I wrote for NBHF:

The Stockholm Octavo
by C. P. LESLEY on DECEMBER 20, 2012

It’s 1789, and despite the troubles in France, Emil Larsson, a sekretaire in the Customs Office in Stockholm, has life pretty much where he wants it. His job brings him lucrative under-the-table deals with pirates, smugglers, and innkeepers—not to mention a dashing red cape that appeals to the ladies—and he has managed to parlay his skill as a gambler into a partnership with the mysterious Mrs. Sparrow, owner of a prestigious private club dedicated to games of chance.

But when the head of the Customs Office announces that every sekretaire must marry if he wishes to keep his post, Emil sees his carefree existence slipping away. Mrs. Sparrow offers to help by casting an octavo—a set of eight predictive cards representing key figures whom Emil must identify and manipulate to achieve his predicted future of love and connection. As Emil moves about the Town (Stockholm), every encounter assumes new meaning. Is this his Prisoner? His Key? His Courier?

We don’t know, and neither does he. But as Emil’s quest continues, the stakes rise. The situation in France deteriorates; and the future of the Swedish monarchy and its king, Gustav III, increasingly hinges on Emil’s ability to decipher his octavo and influence the contest between Mrs. Sparrow and the fascinating Uzanne—mistress of the fan, foe of the king, and the person most likely to prevent Emil from attaining his goals.

Fans of historical mystery and political intrigue will love Karen Engelmann’s “irresistible cipher between two covers—an atmospheric tale of many rogues and a few innocents gambling on politics and romance in the cold, cruel north”—as Susann Cokal characterizes The Stockholm Octavo (ecco Books, 2012) in the New York Times Book Review (December 9, 2012).

The link to subscribe to this and future podcasts in New Books in Historical Fiction via iTunes now works, as does the RSS feed subscription. And like us on Facebook to get updates there, too. We don’t yet have an independent presence on Twitter, but following the New Books Network will pick up our posts.

Interviewing Karen was a lot of fun, but I also participated in an author interview as the author this week. Diane Vanaskie Mulligan, the talented YA author of Watch Me Disappear, has been interviewing indie authors on her blog. These are written interviews, not podcasts. You can find mine at this address, but also check out the other entries and Diane’s own book. I can vouch for its being very well written!

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season as I get ready to celebrate Christmas with my family (and make as much progress as possible on The Winged Horse during my lovely eleven days off). I’m not going away; I will probably post next Friday, but family comes first.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Season's Greetings to all, whatever celebration you choose!

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