An Author (Male) Speculates on his Readership (Mostly Female)
Though the initials ‘CC’ could conceal a member of either sex (like JK or, indeed, EL) I am, in fact, a man. Yet judging from my mailbag, most of my readers appear to be women. Despite various publishers trying to market me with gung ho covers featuring action heroes, it is the women who write, who seem most enthralled by my characters and their journeys.
I am very happy about that – women buy most books after all. But I don’t deliberately slant my books to one or other gender. I am interested in many aspects of life - and that encompasses both swordplay and love making, along with politics of church and state. Most of all, though, I am interested in people – striving, often failing, some eventually triumphing – though the triumph may not be the one they originally sought.
It may have something to do with the fact that I both love and admire women and so create strong female characters. Historical times, with a few notable exceptions, are dominated by men – other men wrote those histories after all. But despite the restrictions placed on them over the ages, women overcame them to pursue their quests, to have wonderful adventures. Many were forced by adversity to struggle and win. Many believed in causes as powerfully as did the men of their times.
Most of my male characters exist in relationship to a woman - perhaps more than on, and often that is the dilemma. In any of my novels, entwined in the ‘active’ plot of searching and battle, is a relationship question that is often as important as any political or military ones, and needs as strong a resolution. In ‘A Place Called Armageddon’ I explore a question that has always interested me: is it possible to love two people, fully, passionately, at the same time? Gregoras, the ‘wounded hero’ at the novel’s heart, is torn between his first love, the passionate and devout Sofia and the new thrill of the wild sorceress Leilah. How he resolves that is completely tied up with the fall of the city and of equal importance by the end.
Perhaps that’s why so many of my readers are female –and why this book operates on many different levels. Spoiler alert: Constantinople falls. But the relationship questions remain unanswered till the very end. And the battles that all my characters take part in are not just fights for their own sake. They are events that put people we know in great peril – and may prevent them, or aid them, in resolving the greatest desires of their hearts.
You know how the siege of Constantinople ends. It’s written in the history books.
But what was the human toll? What are the stories of the people involved? How did they experience this epic battle that tore apart cultures, religions, and families?
That is what you will discover in author C.C. Humphreys’ new novel A Place Called Armageddon: Constantinople 1453 (ISBN 9781402272493; SEPTEMBER 2012; $25.99; Fiction; Hardcover).
The year is 1453. The city of Constantinople is at the center of a clash of civilizations. For the Greeks, it’s their home that has withstood attacks for centuries behind mighty walls. For the Turks, it’s the prize they have spent centuries trying to win.
Humphreys features a wide cast of characters from both sides of the rampart in A Place Called Armageddon. At the center are Gregoras and Theon. Twin brothers from Constantinople. One an exiled mercenary who has vowed never to return. The other a rising diplomatic star hiding a secret of betrayal. A woman who has captured one’s heart, but is married to the other as a trophy. Two brothers fighting for glory and redemption.
A Place Called Armageddon also imagines what the battle meant for two real-life historical figures—Emperor Constantine and Mehmet, sultan of the Turks. Both men fighting for the gods they believe in. Both sides tasting victory and defeat before the final showdown. Among those fighting is engineer John Grant, a Scotsman brought to Constantinople to recover the formula for Greek fire, and Achmed, a Turkish farmer lured into service by the promise of the spoils of war. Lurking in the shadows is Leilah, a sorceress who plays a dangerous game with both sides.
From sword fights with pirates to explosions in tunnels and towers, secret rendezvous in the enemy camp, and the religious and moral dilemmas of war, Humphreys once again uses his dramatic flair and meticulous research to weave fiction into fact.
About the Author—Chris (C.C.) Humphreys is an actor, playwright, fight choreographer, and novelist. He has acted all over the world and appeared on stages ranging from London’s West End to Hollywood’s Twentieth Century Fox. As C.C. Humphreys, Chris has written six historical fiction novels. The first, The French Executioner, told the tale of the man who killed Anne Boleyn and was runner up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers 2002. Its sequel, Blood Ties, was a bestseller in Canada. Having played Jack Absolute, he stole the character and has written three books on this “007 of the 1770s”—Jack Absolute, The Blooding of Jack Absolute, and Absolute Honour—short listed for the 2007 Evergreen Prize by the Ontario Library Association. He is also the author of Vlad: The Last Confession (Sourcebooks, 2011). For more information, visit www.cchumphreys.com.