I am thrilled to be welcoming the blog tour for R.N. Morris’ The Red Hand of Fury to A Knight’s Reads today. The author himself has written a rather interesting guest post for you all. And once you’ve read that piece, there is a little treat at the end of my post…so keep scrolling!
Big thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for having me on the blog tour….so without further ado!
London, June 1914. A young man is mauled to death at London Zoo after deliberately climbing into the bear pit. Shortly afterwards, another young man leaps to his death from the notorious Suicide Bridge. Two seemingly unconnected deaths – and yet there are similarities.
Following a third attempted suicide, Detective Inspector Silas Quinn knows he must uncover the link between the three men if he is to discover what caused them to take their own lives. The one tangible piece of evidence is a card found in each of the victims’ possession, depicting a crudely-drawn red hand. What does it signify? To find the answers, Quinn must revisit his own dark past. But can he keep his sanity in the process …?
Guest Post – An introduction to a momentous year.
The Red Hand of Fury is set in London in the summer of 1914, just as the First World War breaks out.
For me, it’s an extremely poignant moment in history. Obviously, the reader knows everything that is waiting just around the corner. All the horrors of the twentieth century that are about to come crashing down upon the world. First, a four-year war of attrition in which millions will either die or suffer horrific injuries, not to mention psychological trauma. That would be followed by a second world war, in which even greater horrors would be perpetrated. And so on, wars and atrocities repeated throughout the century, with mankind’s ability to inflict death and destruction increasing as technology advances.
An age of innocence
The characters in the book are of course blissfully unaware of all of this. Superficially at least, they are living in a moment of seeming innocence. I wanted to play with this discrepancy to create a tension, a sense of foreboding, charged with dramatic irony.
My idea when I started writing the Silas Quinn books was to concentrate a series of violent and bizarre crimes into a very short space of time on the eve of the First World War. These crimes would seem appalling and incomprehensible at the time. But they shrink into insignificance when compared to the industrial-scale slaughter that is to come. The reader’s hindsight plays an important part in creating the book’s effect.
A turbulent time
The beginning of the twentieth century was a turbulent time in many ways. The Russian revolution isn’t far off. And in Britain, the nation was poised on the brink of civil war in Ireland. In fact, at the time, this was seen as a more pressing danger than a potential war with Germany.
In politics, art, literature, culture, society, it was a time of great upheaval and revolution. Modernism was bursting into vibrant, shocking life with artistic movements like Dadaism, cubism and vorticism. Writers such as James Joyce were breaking down the very way language was used.
Anxiety and alienation
The old Victorian morality was being challenged. For many it must have been a heady time to be alive. Equally, there must have been others who felt their sense of identity and community slipping away.
For them, it was an age of anxiety. Alienation – brought on by increased urban living – was the mood of the time. It’s no wonder that surrealism grew out of this over-fertilised soil.
The war that breaks out is like a florid psychotic episode that wracks the world. In the book, this is mirrored by similar episodes that take place on the human scale – the psychic wars that go on inside the minds of the characters.
Research, research, research
One of the reasons I write historical fiction is because it’s an opportunity to immerse myself in research. I love this phase. I read as many general histories of the time as I can, as well as memoirs and diaries and biographies. And there’s a lot of material available online. For example, the British Newspaper Archive is a treasure trove for historical novelists.
It’s tempting to let the research phase go on forever, but if you’re writing to a deadline, you can’t afford to. What I generally do is give myself a cut-off point – ideally around three months. Then I put the research to one side and trust that it’s soaked into me and that it will percolate out in the writing. I do most of my reading on Kindle, so I’ll highlight passages and add notes as I go along, so if I need to check something as I go, I can.
But I never forget that I’m writing a story, and not a history. Maybe there will be mistakes that slip through, but the important thing is to create a world that the reader believes in. The research is a tool to help you achieve that.
Many thanks to Mr Morris for that, food for thought! Don’t forget folks to catch up on the rest of the blog tour!!
Win a hardback copy of The Red Hand of Fury (Open Internationally)
You can be in with a chance of winning a hardback copy of The Red Hand of Fury. All you have to do is click on the Rafflecopter link below and following the instructions!
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Who Is R.N. Morris?
R. N. Morris is the author of eight historical crime novels. His first, A Gentle Axe, was published by Faber and Faber in 2007. Set in St Petersburg in the nineteenth century, it features Porfiry Petrovich, the investigating magistrate from Dostoevsky’s great novel, Crime and Punishment. The book was published in many countries, including Russia. He followed that up with A Vengeful Longing, which was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. A Razor Wrapped in Silk came next, followed by The Cleansing Flames, which was nominated for the Ellis Peters Historical Novel Dagger. The Silas Quinn series of novels, set in London in 1914, began with Summon Up The Blood, followed by The Mannequin House, The Dark Palace and now The Red Hand of Fury, published on 31 March, 2018.
Social Media Links –
Facebook page for Red Hand of Fury: https://www.facebook.com/The-Red-Hand-of-Fury-217617635460794/