Friday, August 26, 2022

7 Questions With Colin Falconer, Historical Fiction Author


Born in London, Colin Falconer started his career in advertising, then became a journalist and columnist, and then became a script writer for radio and television.  He has written humor books and prize-winning YA fiction. Now a full-time novelist, he has published over 30 novels, including his popular Epic Adventure series and present-day series featuring Detective Inspector Charlie George of the North London Murder Squad. Besides reading and writing, his passions are travel, guitar, and his two spaniels, Charlie and George. Follow Colin on Facebook or his webpage 

1. How and when did you get hooked on history?

When I was young, my Aunt Ivy used to visit us from London and she always brought a collection of comics that she bought for me at the Chingford markets. The ones I treasured were Classics Illustrated. By the time I got to high school I’d gone through Jules Verne’s Michael Strogoff, The Count of Monte Cristo, King Solomon’s Mines and all of H Rider Haggard, as well as about fifty other classic adventures. My dad bought me all of CS Forester’s books. 

By the time I got to high school, I was hooked on historical broad canvas adventure. I wanted to travel, and I wanted to write.  


2. What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?

I weave a lot of my personal family history into my work. My mother was a great storyteller and from a child she had vivid descriptions of her life growing up in a very poor part of London, surviving the blitz, surviving an alcoholic and abusive father. 

Growing up in a very safe suburban setting, this fired my imagination of a world quite unlike my own. The family history shaped the way my family saw the world and our place in it, and it shaped my own views.

3. How does history play a part of your professional life/career?

I've been writing historical fiction for thirty years. My niche is historical action adventure. My Epic Adventure series comprises stand-alone tales that draw inspiration from many periods of history. I have written for example about Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Cortes, Suleiman the Magnificent and the Cathars, and about many places such as the Silk Road, Atlas Mountains, the fabled city of Xanadu, and the Aztec temples of ancient Mexico, even Auschwitz. 

I travel a lot for research and am fascinated by the history of every place I visit. 

4. Why is studying/knowing history important?

When I was at school, history was taught alongside Maths as an absolute: Two and two make four, and Merry England won the war.

For much of my life since my schooldays, I’ve made my living writing stories based in the past. What it has taught me is that there is no such thing as ‘history’. Infact, read ten different authors writing about the same event and you’ll find ten different versions of history and none of them will be right. None of them will be wrong either.

When I wrote a book about Cortes, it caused something of a furor in Mexico because it challenged the conventional history of the conquest. My critics didn’t dispute the facts, they just didn’t like how I interpreted them. Was I wrong? Was I right? No one can ever know, because history is like smoke. It’s there, but you can’t hold it, and anyway it keeps changing its shape. History is a point of view. We all have differing views on current events so how can we all possibly agree on what happened in the past?

5. What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?

I don’t have a favorite period,  I write across many periods and places because it all interests me.

6. What inspired you to write historical fiction?

Full disclosure: I am myself not a historian, I am a storyteller. Primarily, I write to entertain. My epics of the Ottoman empire, the Silk Road and the ancient Aztecs aim to sweep people up in the tide of romance and great adventure.

But whenever I sit down to write a novel, I always remind myself that the people in the past didn’t go around thinking: Isn’t this rubbish, living in the thirteenth century? Wow! I wish I lived in 2020, when things get a lot better! They thought of their society as the finished product, that their values were solid and timeless and irrefutable.

Which is how it is, isn’t it? How else could decent Bible-reading people in nineteenth century America have thought owning slaves was okay? There’s an equally good chance that future generations will look back at us and think: How could they have burned down the Amazon? Why did they destroy their own climate?

History is the lens through which we see the past. It is not a constant. As societies change, so history changes. I find this fascinating to write about.

7. Please tell us about your latest book?

Fury is two books. It tells the story of the formation of Israel. In writing the story I wasn’t about to write a history lesson; most of all I didn’t want to take sides. I wanted to know what it was like for the Jews and for the Arabs in the thirties and forties who were standing in the way of this human tragedy. 

So I wrote one book from the point of view of a holocaust survivor and the other through the eyes of three Arab brothers, who called Palestine their home until it became Israel. It was instructive, writing about the same historical events from two entirely opposed points of view.  

It confirmed for me one of the things that continues to draw me to writing historical fiction; the bias of the source. History is not objective or a fact. Historical ‘truth’ depends on whose eyes you see it through. 

Friday, August 19, 2022

7 Questions with Chris Hasler, History of the World Podcast


Chris Hasler was born in Essex, England, where he has lived his entire life. He did not study history during his education, but he has developed a major passion for history which has led him to travel the world in search of history. He decided to write this podcast due to there being a lack of chronological material about “popular history” in the podcast marketplace, although there are many outstanding works which tell the chronological story of a particular era in history. Website


1.          How and when did you get  hooked on history?

I always had an underlying interest in history, but didn't really pursue it to any great degree until after my academic years when I started developing a desire to understand today's world and how it has come to be what it is.

2.          What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?

History plays an important part in my life now due to the intensity of the podcast, so I am now almost studying on a daily basis.

3.          How does history play  a part of your professional life/career?

It never has due to the fact that I have always worked in service sector, but with the blossoming of the podcast, I can now consider it to be a quaternary service and a contributing factor to my financial situation.

4.          Why is studying/knowing history important?

Studying history is vital for understanding the nature of things.  So whether you are a politician, a media representative or an international businessperson, having a knowledge of history will put you one step ahead.

5.          What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?

I always gravitate towards modern European and American history possibly because I individually feel culturally close to those topics.  When it comes to English history, my interest will be excited by material stretching back to the Dark Ages, quite simply because I am an Englishman.

6.       How did the History of the World Podcast get started?

I had been listening to various podcasts such as Graham Duke and Ali Hood's Rex Factor, Lilly Cunningham's Presidential and Kevin Stroud's History of English podcasts as they took me on a chronological journey through history subjects that interest me.  I looked for a chronological history of humankind and found very little that took such a wide perspective.  I realized that I had the material and the passion to fill that void in the marketplace myself.

7.       What do you hope followers of your podcast take away with them?

Learning about history has opened my mind to the world I live in, allowing me to relate more to those who have cultural differences.  I hope that my podcast educates people to be more open minded and be prepared to listen more to their human neighbors and realize that all of our natures are actually similar because we all come from the same origin.  Of course, I should add that I hope that my listeners are simply entertained.

Friday, August 12, 2022

7 Questions With Author D.A. Galloway

D.A. Galloway grew up in rural Pennsylvania near Gettysburg. After a long career in the paper industry and writing a bestselling nonfiction book, Safety WALK Safety TALK, I decided to follow a once-dormant dream of writing a novel. He enjoys reading about adventurers and explorers, traveling internationally, riding a recumbent tandem bike, and spending time with his grandsons.

Burning Ground was inspired by two memorable summers of his youth. As a teenager, he worked on a fruit farm in Pennsylvania. There, he met Redfield, a Crow Indian who lived a simple life but had a profound effect on the way he saw the world and people around me.

As a young man, he spent a summer in Yellowstone National Park in the late 1970's giving guided tours on Yellowstone Lake. When he was not working, his days were spent exploring all corners of that land, often in the backcountry. 


  1. How and when did you get hooked on history?

I was born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and grew up in that area. Frankly, I didn’t appreciate the history of that Civil War battle until later in life. The National Military Park was simply something that attracted lots of tourists to the area. I left the area after college and only then did I realize the importance of that seminal event in our nation’s history.

2. What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?

My grandfather worked in clay mines near Carlisle, PA. He died at a very early age from that strenuous and hazardous work. The stories of his generation living through the depression era and the hardships they overcame left a deep impression. I am grateful for the prosperous times and country in which we live. Although recent times may seem difficult, perhaps even bordering on apocalyptic to some, it is useful to have a comparator like the Great Depression to ground your thinking. It reminds me to always have “an attitude of gratitude.”

3. How does history play a part of your professional life/career?

I facilitate classes and workshops on safety leadership. One of the most effective ways to influence someone to think differently about risk is to cite examples of how an individual was severely injured when taking an unnecessary risk. I literally provide the person or group with a historical reference that anchors their perspective on risk-taking. “If this happened to someone else, imagine how it could happen to you.” The key takeaway is to learn from our mistakes and from others to avoid pain and suffering.

4. Why is studying/knowing history important?

Studying history is about getting to know who we are. People are people. It should not shock us there are corollaries to current events from ancient times. There will always be tyrants and despots. Thankfully, there will always be courageous leaders and activists who right the wrongs in the world. Just look at history for hundreds of examples. 

5. What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?

The expansion of the American West after The Civil War. Ultimately, this period was a clash of cultures. The European settlers and explorers were fulfilling (conscientiously or unknowingly) the notion of Manifest Destiny. The native peoples were trying to hold onto their lands and their way of life from the hordes of settlers, miners, and those dreaming of a better life. It was a tumultuous time that precipitated some of the darkest moments in our history in terms of how we treated the indigenous population.

6. What inspired you to write historical fiction?

The seeds for writing historical fiction were planted decades ago, during two memorable summers of my youth.

As a teenager, I worked on a fruit farm in Pennsylvania. It is here I met Redfield, a Crow Indian who lived a simple life but had a profound effect on the way I saw the world and people around me.

As a young man, I spent a summer in Yellowstone National Park in the late 1970's giving guided tours on Yellowstone Lake. I learned about the history of the park and the connections to the Indians who used this area as a hunting ground for thousands of years before the first fur trappers arrived. When I was not working, my days were spent exploring all corners of that magnificent land, often in the backcountry. My love for our nation’s first national park is rooted in that wonderful experience.

7. Please tell us about your latest book?

Burning Ground was published in July 2021. It is a saga about a young man who travels back in time and joins the expedition that explored the Yellowstone region before it was a national park. It is part autobiography, part historical, and part fiction.

Pennsylvania, 1971: Graham Davidson is a young man with survivor’s guilt after the death of three siblings. Seeking a direction in his life, Graham learns about vision quests from a Crow Indian. He secures seasonal employment in Yellowstone National Park and embarks on a spiritual journey.

Wyoming Territory, 1871: At a sacred thermal area under a full moon, Graham travels back in time to the Yellowstone wilderness. He joins a group exploring the region. His perilous  forty-day journey through the future park is marred by a horrific tragedy in a geyser basin, a grizzly bear attack, and an encounter with hostile Blackfeet Indians. Graham falls in love with Makawee, a beautiful Crow woman who serves as a guide. As the expedition nears its conclusion, he is faced with an agonizing decision. Does he stay in the previous century with the woman he loves or travel back to the future?

I had envisioned my historical fiction debut as a stand-alone novel. Unexpectedly, it garnered several book awards. Equally surprising, readers asked when the sequel would be released. I had not planned to write a series. But Graham will have more adventures! The second book in the series, Fatal Ground, will be published in September 2022. (I have committed to writing a third book, Bitter Ground, to be published in 2023).


Friday, August 5, 2022

7 Questions With Cathy Kaemmerlen, Actress, Interpreter, Storyteller

Cathy Kaemmerlen, author, actress, historical interpreter, playwright, and storyteller, is known for her variety of characters, one-woman shows, and for bringing history to life for over 10,000 school and community performances.  A performer and “creator of shows” since she can remember, she tours some 20 current shows, which she wrote,  curricular based, to tie in with social studies and language arts, through the Georgia and South Carolina Touring Arts Rosters, Fulton County Teaching Museums, and through her own production company, Tattlingtales Productions. She is the author of five books and many plays.

1. How did you get hooked on history?

 I got hooked on history about 30 years ago when I was commissioned to write my first in-school program based on Patricia Beatty's TURN HOMEWARD, HANNALEE, about the fate of Roswell mill workers (women and children) who were charged with treason for making cloth for the Confederate army uniforms:  the first effect of Sherman's all out warfare campaign on Georgia.  I learned that history consists of personal stories, fascinating stories at that, of people who worked to make a difference.

2.  What role does history play in your personal life?

As an actress/storyteller/playwright I have become obsessed with historical non-fiction, visiting historic places, learning, learning, learning, and filling the gaps I have in my knowledge of US History.

Eleanor Roosevelt

3. What role does history play in your professional life?

History is 90% of my professional career.  As a storyteller who develops curricular connections to each elementary grade level, 90% of my programs are tied in with the Social Studies standards.

4.  Why is studying/learning history important?

History is our story/stories--each and every one of us.  It helps us to understand how we got to where we are, what we need to do to continue on a forward path; it's the central connector to everything.

5.  What is your favorite period of history to learn about and why?

My favorite period usually is connected to what area I am currently researching and working on.  When I learn facts, details, stories of any period, it comes to life and my mind goes "crazy" creative, trying to think of ways to capture that period for the benefit of  young people as well as myself.  Currently I am working on a show on the history of Rivertown, Columbus, GA for all third graders in Muscogee County.  I recently premiered my homesteading pioneer show and will soon present my WW1 show that features service animals.

Susan B. Anthony

6.  How did you become a professional storyteller?

I was first a professional dancer and a dancer in the schools.  When I had my 3 children and my dancing days waned, I went back to children's literature with my children as we read classic books and started acting them out.  I put together my first shows as a dancing bookteller and then went on to be labelled a storyteller and then began to do history and herstory shows in first person.

7. Is there a common thread that runs through your works and characters?

My common thread is always to make history come to life through telling stories/creating plays that make history come off the page for students.  With STEAM and poor social studies knowledge as reflected in test scores, we are ignoring the humanities.  As a result, we are becoming a nation of technicians who have no sense of the big picture, our common history, our rules of law and what it is to be part of a democratic republic.  I find this very frightening and see the evidence in the news and in politics daily.  I hope people see through my stories, shows, books, that ordinary people can make a difference and it is important for us to fight for and respect the freedoms that we have.