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Friday, June 10, 2016

Guest Post with Michael Bolan

Dear Readers, Writers, and Precious Patrons,

Today on All Authors Blog, we're pleased to bring you a guest post from author Michael Bolan.

If you ask an author why they chose to start writing, you’ll get a different answer from each person you ask. There’s no one single underlying reason why people write – it’s always a blend of factors. For me, one of the stronger factors was arrogance. It’s easy to look back and see that; hindsight being what it is. I’m sure I can do a better job than that. As Neil Gaiman put it, “This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It's that easy, and that hard.” How hard could that be? A lot harder than it looks, certainly. So my ego took quite a dent when I realized that this dream of mine, this idyllic pastime, was going to be work. Hard work. But that wasn’t the only time that my once-mighty ego has taken a battering recently…

I live in Prague, but come from Ireland. I’ve learned to speak a whole bunch of foreign languages and can integrate into a new culture quickly. I’m oh so international, but I still hanker after treats from home, I still read my news in English (thank goodness for the internet), and I chat online with friends from all over the world. So when I was researching my books and discovered that in the 1640s, almost one quarter of all Scottish men were living and working on mainland Europe, I was surprised to say the least. Moreover, they didn’t just go there and exist: they thrived, many of them becoming army generals, some even being raised to the nobility. The same is said of the Irish, the Jews, the Armenians, the Moors, the Turks, and so on, ad nauseam.

It wasn’t just my ego that took a battering: it was our collective ego. From the passage graves of the Celts aligning perfectly with the stars, to the Aztecs using theoretical mathematics, to the Chinese making paper centuries before the common age – people are a lot clever than we tend to give them credit for. I mean, seriously, do you think you could come up with a gear system on your own? Or a pulley? Or a cam? On that point, do you even know what a cam is? I had to look it up. False teeth? Scissors? Lenses? Come to think of it, who came up with the idea that if you melted sand you would get glass? Yet these things have been done for thousands of years. 

I would often find myself checking facts to ensure that my books didn’t jar too much with the time period in which they are set. I knew that the 17th century was a time of discovery: the seeds of the Renaissance blossoming into art, science, invention and politic – so I reckoned I would enjoy some flexibility with who had done what, when. I just didn’t realize how much. It seems that everything was invented way before I thought it was.

In that way, book research is like all knowledge – the more you learn, the more you realize how much there is to learn, and how insignificant we all are in the greater scheme of things. And so as I learn, I find myself humbled by what mankind has done, and ever more curious about what the future holds. Whatever it is, I won’t be the one who changes the course of humanity, and I’m ok with that. At least my writing will remain as some form of legacy, something I can leave behind, something that is of me, and me alone. The last few years have shown me that I’m a very tiny piece of the cosmos, but I’ve also learned that even a very small piece can have its own voice.

Now if I could just get more people to listen to that voice…

Author Bio:

It took Michael Bolan over two decades of running in the corporate ratrace to realise that all he actually did was tell stories.

There was no Damascene revelation for Bolan which caused him to pen his first work of fiction, "The Sons of Brabant". An avid reader, he simply felt that he could do as good a job as many of the authors he read and decided to put his money where his mouth was. 

Living and working in many countries left him with smatterings of a dozen languages and their stories, and his love for history focused his ideas on the Thirty Years War, the most destructive conflict that the continent has ever seen. 

Now living in Prague (for the second time), Michael brings alive the twisted alleys of the 17th century and recreates the brooding darkness of a fractured Europe, where no-one was entirely sure who was fighting whom.

Michael writes while liberally soused in gin, a testament to Franz de le Boƫ, who invented the drink by mixing oil of juniper with neat spirit as the thirty Years War raged around him.