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Good morning Mel and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?
Interesting question because my first response is to define myself by what I have (five cats, a husband and a small boy) or where I live (West Cornwall)
I’m 44, I love Jacobean revenge tragedy, I’m a partially trained archivist and I used to read tarot cards for a living.
I’m presently between hair colours, I like bees – medieval symbol for bravery – and I’m old enough to remember the Sisters of Mercy the first time round….
When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer and how did you begin that journey?
I think I always was one, even before I was able to do the writing bit. I remember making up little playlets with my best friend, hours of fun making paper scenery.
The actual writing part – I wrote at school, and until I was about seventeen, and then I sort of stopped, I started expressing my creativity in other ways. (I was a dressmaker and a goth – well, I still am, actually, but when you’re 17 you have some very grandiose ideas about bustles and cleavage.) And quite a lot later on, when I was in my twenties, I moved next door to a ruined manor house, and I started thinking about writing again.
A friend and I were talking about doing bigger and better things (interestingly, Snow Patrol’s “Run” is on the radio as I speak, which was pretty much the theme song for the year I ran away. Light up, light up, as if you have a choice…) and we pretty much got told no. No you can’t be different. Be quiet. Be still. Be like us. He wanted to run a coffee shop, and I wanted to start a small-press magazine- but we weren’t supposed to do that, it wasn’t in the script.
I’m not good at being told that – you’ll never amount to anything, who do you think you are, know your place. So I moved to Cornwall, three cats and a transit van and I forgot to bring a coat, and I’ve been writing like a thing possessed ever since.
You write about seventeenth century England and the Civil War. How did you become interested in this particular period of history?
It all began with a copy of Jean Hunnisett’s “Costumes For Stage and Screen”… so I made this extraordinary cantilevered 1660s frock to go clubbing in. And then I moved next door to the manor house, which was just that, a ruin, and then I started getting interested in the local history around it, and it was a slippery slope from there.
It actually makes me very sad and – yeah, it makes me angry, too, because I’m sad like that – how much misinformation and sheer ignorance there is about the period.
So much passion and honour and principle and fire on both sides, dumbed down to the popular level of libertine flouncy poets versus dull, dour devouts…
Are you involved with any of the re-enactment groups?
Wardour Garrison, and Sir Nicholas Devereux’s Regiment of the Roundhead Association. Me, I concentrate on the living history, civilian end of things: extreme embroidery, for the most part.
Can you tell us something about your current WIP?
There are actually three!
One’s a non-fiction book, a biography of John Arundell of Trerice in Cornwall. Very minor character, very niche interest historically, but he was the man who held Pendennis Castle for the King: the last castle in England to hold out for the Royalist cause. And he was 70 years old at the time: 70 years old, written off by most of his peers as old and past it, and the rest of the country had pretty much surrendered…and Arundell held out for six months at Pendennis against pretty much everything the Army of Parliament could throw at him. I think it’s a wonderful human interest story, as well as historically interesting.
And then there’s the second Russell book, An Abiding Fire, which is the usual Russell shenanigans: a disfigured middle-aged ex-intelligencer and his much younger wife at the Restoration, investigating all kinds of things that on the whole he would rather not be dragged into…. This one’s a lot of fun. Hunting down Aphra Behn’s missing fiancé in Bruges, with Thomazine six months pregnant and her husband sulking mightily about having to get involved in intelligence work again after his retirement…I can’t say any more than that without giving the plot away, except that Aphra’s man is not quite what he seems – but then again, neither is Aphra.
And the sixth Uncivil Wars book is out next spring. “Babylon’s Downfall” – Marston Moor, 1644. Possibly the best thing I’ve ever written, and easily the most brutal. I’ve had to kill some of my darlings, and that was really hard. I cried a lot, writing that.
If money was no object, where in the world would you choose for a special holiday?
Bruges – in the name of research, you understand.
The money being no object bit would come into it in pursuit of lace and chocolate!
And lastly, if you were able to invite four celebrities to dinner, who would they be and why?
Lots of celebrities I admire, but I’m not sure I’d want to talk to!
Dita von Teese, just to look at, I think – to see how much of that porcelain loveliness is a fierce construct.
Julian Sands, to persuade him that he really, really does want to play Thankful Russell in the Hollywood version of the Russell books. (Which there isn’t. But there should be.) After all, can you imagine anyone better to play a weirdly-sexy, disfigured, oddly-wired-up, Puritan intelligencer with PTSD?
And Christopher Eccleston, who’s always been my Hollie Babbitt of choice, to talk about revenge tragedy and Hamlet and being Northern.
S J Haxton, Patricia Finney or Francine Howarth, depending on who was available, to hold up the literary end of the table…
ABOUT RED HORSE
As the simmering feud between Charles I and his Parliament erupts into war, Captain Hollie Babbitt sets foot on English soil for the first time in twenty years…
An erratically-brilliant mercenary career in Europe lost him everything, and now he fights because it’s the only thing he still knows how to do – and in the hope of one day finding peace on the point of another man’s sword.
He needs an idealistic young subaltern who wants to save the world, and a cobbled-together troop of every rebel and horse thief the Army of Parliament doesn’t have a use for, slightly less than he wants a hole in the head.
But as England plunges into the chaos of a war without an enemy, he finds himself cast as unwilling hero to a company of men as damaged and rebellious as he is himself.
And as battle rages around him, Hollie must face and defeat his oldest enemy – his own past.
Red Horse: 1642 has just been re-released through Rosemary Tree Press (today, actually!) myBook.to/RedHorse1642
ABOUT M J LOGUE
Writer, mad cake lady, re-enactor, historian.
Been slightly potty about the clankier side of Ironside for around 20 years, and lists amongst my heroes in this unworthy world Sir Thomas Fairfax, Elizabeth Cromwell and John Webster (for his sense of humour.)
When not purveying historically-accurate cake to various re-enactment groups across the country, M.J. Logue can usually be discovered practising in her garden with a cavalry backsword.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
Amazon links: Author.to/MJLogue