Friday, March 15, 2013

Interview with Clifford Beal, author of Gideon's Angel, and Giveaway - March 15, 2013

Please welcome Clifford Beal to The Qwillery as part of the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Gideon's Angel was published on February 26th in the US/Canada and February 28th in the UK.  You may read Clifford's Guest Blog - Historical Fantasy: the pitfalls and pleasures of writing crossover fiction - here.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery.

Clifford:  Hello and thanks for inviting me to talk with you.

TQ:  When and why did you start writing?

Clifford:  I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I used to write short stories from about the time I was 13 after first reading Edgar Allen Poe. The desire to create with words just came naturally to me and I enjoyed sharing my stories with my family. Wrote some short stories while in university but then there was a long hiatus from creative writing. I suppose it was unsurprising that I eventually became a journalist.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Clifford:  I’d probably have to say one of them is that I use film score music to unleash my imagination as I write. I wrote my first novel manuscript listening to John Williams scores and Gideon’s Angel was fuelled by Howard Shore’s incredible Lord of the Rings soundtracks.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Clifford:  I definitely straddle the fence on that one. Mostly I’m a pantser but when I find certain plotlines getting intricate it’s a great help to get those random ideas and sequences down on paper and start fleshing them out before tackling the prose. This always got me through when I was starting to feel stuck.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Clifford:  Apart from finding the time to begin with, it’s finding the right balance between putting in the long hours on the keyboard and not alienating family and friends. There’s no way around it: writing books is a solitary pastime. When I’m particularly engaged in writing and deep into a scene, I sometimes don’t even hear someone calling for me!

TQ:  Describe Gideon's Angel in 140 characters or less.

Clifford:  1653: a bitter Royalist exile returns in secret to kill Oliver Cromwell but finds Puritans have a plot of their own led by a demon in guise of an angel. It’s now save Cromwell or see England fall to Lucifer.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Gideon's Angel?

Clifford:  I’d already been writing about the central character, Colonel Richard Treadwell, but in a straight historical fiction format. I’d also been toying around with crafting a fantasy novel as well but couldn’t seem to get anything to gel. So I decided I could spice things up by adding a fantasy supernatural element to what was essentially a swashbuckling thriller.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Gideon's Angel?

Clifford:  It’s important to readers to get the history right—no matter what the period. Although I had a good knowledge of the 17th century to begin with, I had to do some deep dives into London of the 1650s as well as the political turmoil. I also had to make sure I understood the real life people who I was turning into fictional characters.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Clifford:  I think that the lead protagonist was the easiest. Because he is the focal point (and in this book the narrator) you invest a lot of yourself in him as he develops. He’s a middle-aged, world-weary cavalier on the losing side of history. Being over 50 myself gives me some understanding of the mid-life crisis! The most difficult character was probably the gypsy seeress Anya. Apart from the challenge of writing a female character from a man’s perspective, it was more difficult uncovering her motives and what makes her tick. She’s still an enigma to me in some ways.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Gideon's Angel?

Clifford:  I’ve got a few favorites. Early on, there is a scene where Treadwell meets his wife in Devon, she believing him long dead. But it’s no joyful reunion. Another is the climactic battle against the minions of Hell—in the corridors of Whitehall palace itself.

TQ:  What's next?

Clifford:  There is a prequel written. It’s set mainly in Germany more than 20 years before the action of Gideon’s and gives some answers as to why Treadwell has become the man he is. I suppose you could sum it up as The Wicker Man meets Platoon. Think desperate battles fought and lost, witches in the Harz Mountains, and some unlikely star-crossed lovers. If there’s demand, there could be a third Treadwell adventure set in the New World in the 1650s.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Clifford:  Much obliged for the opportunity.

About Gideon's Angel

Gideon's Angel
Solaris Books, February 26, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

He came back to kill a tyrant. He found the Devil instead. An amazing historical novel with a supernatural twist set after the English Civil War. This is the stunning debut from Clifford Beal.

He came back to kill a tyrant. He found the Devil instead.

1653: The long and bloody English Civil War is at an end. King Charles is dead and Oliver Cromwell rules the land as king in all but name. Richard Treadwell, an exiled royalist officer and soldier-for-hire to the King of France and his all-powerful advisor, the wily Cardinal Mazarin, burns with revenge for those who deprived him of his family and fortune. He decides upon a self-appointed mission to return to England in secret and assassinate the new Lord Protector. Once back on English soil however, he learns that his is not the only plot in motion.

A secret army run by a deluded Puritan is bent on the same quest, guided by the Devil’s hand. When demonic entities are summoned, Treadwell finds himself in a desperate turnaround: he must save Cromwell to save England from a literal descent into Hell. But first he has to contend with a wife he left in Devon who believes she’s a widow, and a furious Paris mistress who has trailed him to England, jeopardising everything. Treadwell needs allies fast. Can he convince the man sent to forcibly drag him back to Cardinal Mazarin? A young king’s musketeer named d’Artagnan.

Black dogs and demons; religion and magic; Freemasons and Ranters. It’s a dangerous new Republic for an old cavalier coming home again.

The very different UK Cover (out February 28th)

About Clifford

Clifford Beal, originally from Providence, Rhode Island, worked for 20 years as an international journalist and is the former editor-in-chief of Jane’s Defence Weekly in London. He is the author of Quelch’s Gold (Praeger Books 2007), the true story of a little-known but remarkable early 18th century Anglo-American pirate. But he’s also been scribbling fiction from an early age: his seventh grade English teacher nicknamed him “Edgar Allen” undoubtedly due to the gothic subject matter of his extremely short stories. His debut novel, Gideon’s Angel, is published by Solaris Books in February 2013.

For recreation, Clifford used to don plate armour and bash the tar out of people in the Society for Creative Anachronism before moving to more civilised pursuits such as 17th century rapier and dagger fighting and motorcycling (though not simultaneously). Today, he is more likely to be found at the seaside or the Savile Club in London, sharing good wine and conversation in a place where the sparring is usually only verbal.

Website : Twitter

The Giveaway

What:  One commenter will win a Mass Market Paperback copy (US Version) of Gideon's Angel  from The Qwillery.

How:   Log into and fill out the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 12:00AM US Eastern Time on Saturday, March 23, 2013. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I didn't hear about 'Gideon's Angel' before, but it sounds very interesting. I love alternate history/historical fantasy. Thanks for featuring it. :)
    And to answer the question: What is one of your favorite novels, short stories, comics, movies, TV shows, etc. that feature historical figures in a fictional setting? The Black Adder. :D

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Damn, I suppose I need to be reading more historical fiction to answer questions like this! But anyways, to pick a movie, would Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade count?

  4. I have lots of favorites when it comes to historical fiction characters - but at the top of the list would be Claire Fraser from the Outlander series. Then there would be Amelia Peabody by Elizabeth Peters, Adelia from Mistress of the Art of Death and Sister Fidelma from the Peter Tremayne mysteries of the same name. I love me some historical ladies!
    April V.

  5. my fave tv show right NOW that features a historical figure is spartacus war of the damned

  6. thanks for the great post and congrats to Clifford on the new release! I really liked the movie 300 even thought they probably took a lot of liberties with the history :)

  7. It sounds like a very good read. I really enjoy alternate history stories.

  8. Well, I quite enjoyed Gini Koch's treatment of historical figures in her Necropolis Enforcement Files book, The Night Beat. :)

  9. What an intriguing cover, I love the way it is set up and the imagery evoked.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  10. I enjoyed "Elysium" by Diane Scott Lewis. A fictional tale set during the Napoleonic era, featuring Napoleon.

  11. I actually really like the Jane Austin Mystery books.

  12. This looks very promising, will def check this out. To answer the question, I quite like the Merlin tv series.

    Thanks for the interview and giveaway!