Sunday, 9 October 2016

Diana talks to - John Cahill

John M. Cahill is author of The Boschloper Saga.

This series is set in late 17th-century New York and, through the eyes of a young, Irish fur trader, Sean O’Cathail, explores the turmoil between the Dutch fur traders, their Iroquois allies and their French and Indian adversaries. Primitive Passions, Book 1 of the saga, was released in Spring 2015. Book 2, Savage Wilderness, is available from 27th September 2016 from W & B Publishers


I was fortunate enough to be able to chat with John Cahill at HNS16, though by chat, I mainly mean 'burble incomprehensibly to a charming and exceptionally patient gentleman'...
Fortunately it did not put him off answering any off my questions ...

If your books were adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role?
I think Sam Heughan (Jamie Frasier of “Outlander”) would make a great Sean O’Cathail, even though he’s Scottish and not Irish.
If, as a one-off, you could write anything you wanted, is there another genre you would love to work with, and do you already have a budding plot in mind?
I would love to write a hard-boiled crime novel (a la Raymond Chandler), but have too much on my plate at the moment to seriously think about it.
Do you have any rituals and routines when writing?
No, not really. I do most of my writing in the late afternoon-early evening, between 3 and 8 pm, so I always take time for a tea and cookies break at about 5.
Marmite? Love it or hate it?
As an American, I had never even heard of Marmite until I was asked this question. Luckily(?), it was available at breakfast during the Historical Novel Society 2016 Conference in Oxford. When I opened the package and was assaulted by the smell, I almost didn’t try to taste it. Then I figured in for a penny…in for a pound, and spread it on a corner of my buttered toast. Now, I can expertly declare, “Hate it!”
(I am sorry I giggled at that, John. There is no happy medium with Marmite, it is an all or nothing thing! There are 'some' good things about England though!!)
Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?
I spent my entire career in and retired from my dream job. I was one of those really lucky people who finds the perfect job and stays with it. For 34 years, I did public health education and social marketing for New York State government.  I had a blast using public relations and advertising tools (ads, jingles, cartoons, comic books, computer games) to reach people with important health messages.
(What fun that sounds. I can tell how passionate you are about it from your response.)
Coffee or tea? Red or white?
Definitely coffee before noon and tea afterwards. I much prefer red over white, but will take a Riesling with seafood.
What font/fonts would you choose for your book?
Times Roman. It’s a nice, clean, serif face that is easy on the reader’s eyes. And, isn’t that what it’s all about?
 If you could get hold of any original source document, what would it be?
By this, I assume you mean an original copy of the document. If so, I would love to have the original of Governor Thomas Dongan’s City Charter for Albany, New York.
Are there any ‘real’ characters you have been tempted to prematurely kill off or ignore?
No. Luckily, I have been able to integrate the most important real characters into my stories, and to keep them busy.
Are you prepared to go away from the known facts for the sake of the story?
I am prepared to do so, but have not, as yet, found a need to. The major historical events around which my stories are built allow room for improvisation without impacting reality.
Do you find that the lines between fact and fiction sometime become blurred?
Of course. I fully believe that the job of the historical novelist is “to fill in the gaps.”
 Have you ever totally hated or fallen in love with one of your characters?
Not yet, although there are some governors of New France with whom I wouldn’t want to share a meal.
What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?
Anything by Bernard Cornwell. Other than that: Crime novels ( Ian Rankin, John Sandford, John Grisham, Philip Kerr); American Civil War history and fiction ( Shelby Foote, MacKinlay Kantor, Michael Shaara, Jeff Shaara); The International New York Times (although, lately, it hasn’t been all that relaxing); and, the “Peanuts” comic strip.
What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book?
Irish whiskey; Irish Stout; or a nice Dutch beer, such as Amstel or Grolsch.
Who is your favorite historical author?
Living: Bernard CornwellDead: Kenneth Roberts
Click on John's name to learn more about John and his work.
Thank you John. Very enjoyable answers.
© Diana Milne July 2016
© John Cahill September 2016






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