Please help us welcome author Alex Beecroft today on the tour for her newest release, Angels of Istanbul. She’s here to chat about the turn the series took as her research led her to some interesting historical bits, and she’s also offering a great giveaway, so be sure to check out those details below.
I may have mentioned elsewhere that the story that became Sons of Devils and Angels of Istanbul was once intended just to be a single novella. This was a time when I liked to just write and see where the story took me, rather than nowadays when I plot out the whole thing beforehand. At any rate, I intended it to be something of a homage to Dracula, where ‘homage’ means ‘I kept the bits I liked and threw out the rest.’
But then I started to find out things about Romania’s fascinating history. Did you know Vlad Tepes – the noble who is most often thought of as the inspiration for Dracula – had a brother called Radu the Beautiful? Vlad is best known in his own country for being a ruthless prince who attempted to stamp out the corruption of the boyars/nobility, and who fought for Romanian independence against their overlords, the Ottoman Empire. Radu, by contrast became a favourite male concubine of the Ottoman Emperor Mehmet II, converted to Islam, lead an Ottoman army against Vlad and defeated him.
I’d never heard of Radu before, but once I had I was all “oh yes, he’s cool! I’m so fed up with all of these people backstabbing each other in the name of patriotism, and there’s a lot to be said for the Ottoman Empire. Surely everyone would have benefited if they had got on better?”
One of the joys of writing is the ability to snatch up whatever things attract your magpie attention, take all the glittery stuff back to your own nest and re-arrange it to your own purpose. One of the direct results of my interest in Radu cel Frumos was that my own hero became a Radu too.
(My Radu’s parents are not very nice, and they chose that name to be a constant embarrassment to him, but by the end of the book he learns to think well of his distant name-sake and better of himself.)
But reading about Radu’s adventures in the Ottoman Empire widened my lens considerably. Very close to my hero’s country all the intricate and wonderful doings of the Ottoman court were going on. This meant there was a good reason to move at least some of the action to the beautiful and historical city of Istanbul. And as I’ve said elsewhere, a desire to explore settings that are new and wondrous to me is a big part of why I like to read and write.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed that a lot of fantasy is set in a sort of pseudo-medieval Europe, where everyone is white. Perhaps there are treacherous Eastern empires full of Muslim-coded pseudo-arabic enemies?
The historical reason for that is the Ottoman Empire – an immensely successful, long lived Muslim empire, against which the people of the Balkans were continually in rebellion. I didn’t want to alter that history, but I also didn’t want to write a book in which all our heroes were white and all our people of colour were bad guys.
The solution to that was of course to bring in Zayd ibn Rahman, whose function is… One of whose functions is to be the moral linchpin of the story. Zayd is not only the voice of conscience in the series, but he’s also a point of view character through whom I hoped to show Istanbul as a vibrant and yet also a homely city – a place that of course it’s residents would want to defend. Also a place where anyone of good heart, even its enemies, would learn to find something to value.
Without Zayd, his mum and his auntie, the harbourmaster and the Grand Mufti, and all the bit-part characters of Istanbul, our ‘heroes’ from Sons of Devils would have ended up dooming the whole world.
Because this is not really a story of good guys versus bad guys. It’s more a tale of complicated people doing their best, and the amount of forgiveness and cooperation it takes for that to work out okay.
About the Book
Wallachian nobleman Radu is recently arrived in Bucharest with his vampire parents. Welcomed as an eligible bachelor, he’s introduced to the enchantress Ecaterina, whose salon is Bucharest’s centre of magical expertise.
But when Ecaterina’s brother dies of a mysterious new plague, it’s clear to Radu that his parents have not been idle. Soon Bucharest is in the grip of an undead epidemic—a less than ideal time for Ottoman Sultan Mahmud, Wallachia’s overlord, to call Bucharest’s nobility to assemble their armies in Istanbul for a holy war against Britain.
The Wallachians have long resented their Ottoman overlords, so Radu seizes the chance to eliminate them while also ridding Bucharest of the undead: he leads an army of vampires to Istanbul and sets them to feed on the Turks.
As Radu’s demons gut the city of Istanbul, their plans become horribly clear. This is only the start. With the Ottoman armies under their control, the undead are poised to suck the life out of the whole world. Radu, his lover Frank, and Ecaterina are appalled at what they’ve unleashed. But they may be too late to stop it.
About the Author
Alex Beecroft is an English author best known for historical fiction, notably Age of Sail, featuring gay characters and romantic storylines. Her novels and shorter works include paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary fiction.
Beecroft won Linden Bay Romance’s (now Samhain Publishing) Starlight Writing Competition in 2007 with her first novel, Captain’s Surrender, making it her first published book. On the subject of writing gay romance, Beecroft has appeared in the Charleston City Paper, LA Weekly, the New Haven Advocate, the Baltimore City Paper, and The Other Paper. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association of the UK and an occasional reviewer for the blog Speak Its Name, which highlights historical gay fiction.
Alex was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.
Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800-year-old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.
She is represented by Louise Fury of the L. Perkins Literary Agency.
To celebrate the release of Angels of Istanbul, one lucky winner will receive $10 Riptide credit and their choice of ebook from Alex’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 1, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!