Today I am very happy to get to know S J A Turney and a little more about his Knights Templar novels.
Tell us a little about your current novel, what readers can expect from it..
Ooh, well March saw the release of Caligula, which is a novelised re-examination of that most infamous of emperors, trying to portray a more realistic view, and then April has seen the release of Templar: Daughter of War, which is a tale of a young Spanish noblewoman and her faithful man-at-arms fleeing trouble at the hands of an unscrupulous lord and finding sanctuary in the arms of the Knights Templar, only to bring that trouble to the monastery’s door. Think of it as perhaps a cross between El Cid and Zulu, but with monks. Heh heh heh. And I’m now working on the eleventh volume of the Marius’ Mules series, set during the campaigns of Julius Caesar.
Where did you grow up and what was family life like?
I am a North Yorkshireman, through and through. I grew up in Ripon and a small village north of there, where I now live again. And, idyllic, I’d say. I am not a city person. I’ve lived and worked in cities, but it’s the country life for me. From my office window at the back of the house I can see trees and fields and hear sheep bleating.
Academic or creative at school?
A little of both, I’d say. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. If I had to have two sides of education that defined me better I’s say Science or Art, in which case I am thoroughly art. Once scored 32% in a physics exam, but history, English art and so on were definitely my thing.
First job you *really* wanted to do?
Ha. I wanted to be a Roman! Barring the kiddy stuff, I zig-zagged in my education, changing goals like the beating of a butterfly’s wings. In rapid succession and all before I was 19 I wanted to be a computer programmer, a lawyer, a teacher, an Egyptologist and many, many more.
Do you remember the first moment you wanted to write?
Not as a youth, writing stories, I think. I do remember being proud of a James Bond spoof I wrote when I was about 9. And I wrote a Star Trek short story about Klingons when I was 19 that I remember thinking was pretty good. The first moment I decided I really would have a proper go of it was while I was in a dull job with little to do, and I was reading Caesar’s Gallic War diaries. I decided to try and turn them into an exciting read. That’s where Marius’ Mules came from.
Who are your real life heroes?
First and foremost my grandfather, who was responsible for my love of history and the countryside in the first place. He was a man loved and respected by everyone who met him, and who could hold forth on just about any subject with confidence. After him, my history teacher at school, Dr. Petchey, who remains the best teacher I have ever known. After that: The emperors Julian and Justinian, the authors Guy Gavriel Kay and Christian Cameron and various other luminaries.
Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?
Lord, take your pick. Stumbling on a coastal walk upon a German nudist beach? Falling asleep drunken comatose in a hotel lift with people walking on me? Singing My Way and dancing along in a park to a group of pensioners, along with my dad during a wedding? Running down a Welsh hillside in torrential rain with a friend holding a duvet above us and looking like a bizarre Chinese dragon? I am prone to such things sadly.
DIY expert or phone a friend?
Most definitely phone a friend. In my entire adult like my only successful DIY projects are a log shed and two planters. Everything else fell down or apart or exploded. I am ambisinistrous (equally useless with both hands). My goal for years has been to reach a position where when asked anything at all, I can answer ‘I have a man for that’.
Sun worshipper or night owl?
Again, both? I am most definitely a night owl and always have been, though the advancing years are robbing me of some of the ability to stay up too long. I get much of my best work done in the wee hours. But then during the day, I hate dull weather and winter. I love hot sunshine and would be more comfortable somewhere Mediterranean than anywhere else. Shortly, I’m off to Majorca to do some research for the second Templar novel, and I can’t wait to be in Spanish sunshine.
A book that had you in tears.
I don’t cry easily at books. They have to be exceptional to drag that kind of emotion out of me. That being said, most of Guy Gavriel Kay’s works achieve it. In particular I remember A Song for Arbonne tearing at the heartstrings.
A book that made you laugh out loud.
Anything by Douglas Adams. Particularly the Dirk Gently books. No one has ever tickled my funny bone like Adams.
One piece of life advice you give everyone
I don’t. I’m not confident yet that I’ve mastered my own, so it would be idiotic to try and foist my notions onto someone else. I do have Buddhist leanings, though. I do not kill anything or willingly inflict harm if I can avoid it. I believe in karma and that what goes around comes around, so to speak. So if I were going to try and nudge anyone in a direction it would be that one.
About the Book:
Available Now from Canelo
An extraordinary story of the Knights Templar, seen from the bloody inside
Europe is aflame. On the Iberian Peninsula the wars of the Reconquista rage across Aragon and Castile. Once again, the Moors are gaining the upper hand. Christendom is divided.
Amidst the chaos comes a young knight: Arnau of Valbona. After his Lord is killed in an act of treachery, Arnau pledges to look after his daughter, whose life is now at risk. But in protecting her Arnau will face terrible challenges, and enter a world of Templars, steely knights and visceral combat he could never have imagined.
She in turn will find a new destiny with the Knights as a daughter of war… Can she survive? And can Arnau find his destiny?
An explosive novel of greed and lust, God and blood, Daughter of War marks the beginning of an epic new series from bestseller S.J.A. Turney. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden and Matt Harffy.
About the author:
S.J.A. Turney is an author of Roman and medieval historical fiction, gritty historical fantasy and rollicking Roman children’s books. He lives with his family and extended menagerie of pets in rural North Yorkshire.