Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hi, my name is TJ London, I will admit to being over 40 and under 50 but nothing more. Age is just a number. LOL. And I try not to over associate myself with a number. Plus, I think we put too much stress on age and numbers, especially as women.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I am from the Detroit area, a native Michigander through and through, and a proud Detroiter. We get way too much negative press, and honestly, it’s a beautiful old city with a lot of history. So, I say it loud and proud.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Humm… where to start. Ok. Let’s go with the basics. I have doctorate and a bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from University of Toledo, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Sports Medicine from Central Michigan University. I also did two pharmacy residencies that allow me to practice as a critical care pharmacy clinician in a hospital. I actually work for a drug company currently and my focus is on research in neurological diseases. But I always wanted to write, and I am a lover of all things historic, so now I’m living my dream. I have an amazing husband who puts up with my adventurous spirit and my obsession with traveling to historic places, and very old kitty named Mickey who is my writing partner.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Man of War Book #4 in the Rebels in Redcoats Saga just went to edits, so it should be coming out in early 2020. I absolutely love this book and I am so excited about it. Also, I will be signing at Romancing Williamsburg in March 2020, which is super exciting for me, especially because I write American Revolutionary War fiction.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Truthfully, I co-wrote my first book with a friend when I was 15. So, a looooooong time ago. LOL. Then I wrote throughout my life. I actually wrote the first draft of Man of War back in 2000. Technically, I’ve always been a writer, but I didn’t know if I could make a real career of it, so I went into medicine.
I got serious about 5 years ago when I wrote The Tory as part of a grief counseling tool. I had some personal tragedy befall my life, and I started seeing a counselor. She suggested I journal to help me deal with my personal pain, but that just didn’t work for me, so instead I started writing. The American Revolutionary War was always my favorite time period and I’d done the most research in this arena, so I used it as the back drop for my story. I still go to counseling today, and I use it to help me dig into my emotions and create my stories. Each book I write comes from a place of personal pain and experience. For real.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The day my cover artist called me and asked for my pen name. LOL. I am a bit self-deprecating, I confess.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I am going to go with my published work, because I feel that’s the most relevant. I have 3 other books, but none of them are published.
The Tory came from counselling as I said above. I was trying to work through devastating events that befell my life. And if you read the book and the rest of the saga, you see that both the hero and the heroine are also trying to overcome personal tragedy in the face of war. The back drop of the story is the political wrangling that was going on between the Six Nations of the Iroquois as they were being dragged into the war by both the British and the Americans. I read a book about this conflict and was so fascinated. I wondered why I didn’t know this story. Our history books neglect to talk about what the Revolutionary War did to the Native Americans, and how that rippled down through history and is still evident today.
The Oneida, in specifics, were our first allies, even before the French, yet why is this not celebrated? And why did we not keep our treaty with their people?
I am not Oneida, but I was so moved by this story I wanted to draw attention to it.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The Tory is really play on words. John is actually a spy for the British, and he’s undercover as a privateer. The phrase “Tory” in the colonies was used to reference loyalists to the crown, and it could be used as an insult.
Dellis, the heroine, believes he’s a loyalist privateer, when in fact he’s really a British spy using her to gain information about the Oneida.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I always write in third person. I like the reader to always be a little distant from my characters and keep the reader on their toes. Also, I don’t like spending too much time in one character’s head. I like a variety of perspectives.
I like to have everything in my book: action, adventure, violence, sex, danger. My historical fictions always have romantic elements, and a sexy dangerous edge. I’m a lover of John Jakes and the Outlander series so I want high drama in a book and constant forward momentum. That’s what I try to give to my readers, the total experience: love, desire, fear, pain, loss.
I want my books to read like a cable television show, and I want the reader to have had an emotional journey when they finish my stories. If you’ve left my saga wanting more but you’re also emotionally and physicallyfatigued, then I did my job. I write about war, so we’re going to do battle together.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I have intertwined facts with my fictional story, so there are real people who appear in my books and the war and the backdrop story of the Battle of Oriskany is all real, the rest is mine. John and Dellis are both part me, after all, the book came out of counselling, and their journey is steeped with events that were happening in my life at the time I was writing the book. Many of the characters are loosely based off people I know, some flattering, and some not, but I like my art to imitate real life. I like my characters to be flawed and real, not caricatures who act in ways that make no sense. I want the reader to walk away and be frustrated with the characters just as we are with people in our lives. There is no black and white in my hero, only shades of grey. He’s a solider at a time of war, and he does what he must do. Just because a man is on the opposite side of an argument, doesn’t make him bad. We often forget that when we reflect on war. Not every British soldier was evil because he served his King and not the colonies. I blame Hollywood for this fallacy.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Yes, for this saga, I went to Fort Stanwix, Fort Niagara, Fort Ticonderoga, Colonial Williamsburg, New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and London UK. To write Man of War, I travelled to Portsmouth UK and researched on the HMS Victory. I travel when I can during the process, as I’ve said above, I have a job and that must take priority.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I do, and I have an amazing artist who helps me execute my vision. For the first three books of the saga my dear friend, Steven Miller, did the photos and the preparation. I call him Picasso. He always sees my vision. He’s a true artist, and I adore him.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, each book has a message. My most recent one, Man of War, the message is: the man who wants everything ends up with nothing.
The over-arching theme of the Rebels and Redcoats saga is: Karma and Justice. We all eventually reap what we sow.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I love Kerrigan Byrne. Her writing is amazing, and I love her historical romances. Edgy and so fun. And she’s absolutely a lovely person. I’m a huge fan of Nicole Strycharz, she writes edgy contemporary and fun historicals. I’m a huge fan of her personally and professionally.
My favorite writers would have to be: John Jakes, Kathleen Woodwiss, Judith McNaught and Alexander Dumas. It was John Jakes’s The Bastard that made me fall in love with the American Revolutionary War when I was just a child. I love that he gives you everything in a story: a long saga, a sweeping love story, action, adventure and danger. Kathleen Woodwiss and Judith McNaught made me love romance because they wrote in a controversial way, which was the norm for them back in the day. I loved that we consider their books edgy now, and I love to push my romance towards that edge.
Alexander Dumas is a personal love affair for me: The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, The Lady of the Camelias. All favorites of mine.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
The Romantic Times writing community, which is sadly no more. I am still friends with all those writers.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I would love it to be for me, but since I write very nitch fiction, it’s hard to do. I keep hoping.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not a damn thing. I pour my heart, soul and blood into every book. They’re all flawed to perfection in my eyes. I write for me, and how the story is given to me by the muses and I sacrifice nothing. That is the beauty of being independent. The reader gets the book as I intended it to be, and no one else gets a say. That being said, my editors and I do negotiate on some things that strengthen the story or make it work better.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes, that I can write, even through migraines. It’s tough but I can do it. I have chronic migraine so it can be a daily affair for me. But my desire to write can even overcome my personal pain. My muses are that powerful, and I am grateful for that. Thank you, John Carlisle and Dellis McKesson, wherever you are!!! LOL.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Oh, that’s easy. JJ Field would be my John Carlisle. I’ve been a fan of his since Northanger Abbey, and I actually hadn’t seen him in Turn until after I wrote The Tory, so it’s a total coincidence that he played a British spy in real life. That being said, my John Carlisle is very, very different than the character John Andre in the show.
Lee Pace would be my Alexei. He has such an amazing voice and his eyes are so intense. Yes, he is my Alexei.
Dellis is harder. I don’t really have a vision for her, only what I see in my mind.
Roger DeLancie would be Colin Ferrell. Only he could play such an intense, powerful villain. He’s an acting genius in my eyes.
For Merrick in Man of War, I see Toby Stephens, and that was my idea for him long before he did Black Sails.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Yeah, just do it. It all starts with you. Sit down and write and don’t stop until its done. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough. There’s room for all of us out there in the writing world. Too many times I was told I was too violent, too edgy, too sexy. Yet there are readers out there who love that stuff. I was told no one would read American Revolutionary War fiction, but yes, there are readers out there who want variety and not just another story about George Washington and Alexander Hamilton.
Also, this is a hard business, toughen up, or it can be painful on your self-esteem. You must be courageous and believe in yourself. Everyone has an opinion and they will not hesitate to impart it on you, good or bad.
I have also found authors are very giving. Find one you can work with who will help you along the way. I’m blessed to have had so many mentors and friends who’ve pushed me to work harder and be better. I am forever grateful to all of them.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Enjoy the ride. I hope you fall in love, have an adventure and feel lots of emotions when you read my books.
And I love to hear from readers, please feel free to reach out to me.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Stolen Beauty about the Klimt painting of Adele Bloch-Bauer. And I am reading a historic book about the Battle of Saratoga, research for my next book.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Yes, Sister of the Bride by Beverly Cleary. I loved her books as a kid. Is that book even in print anymore?
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Commercials about animal abuse make me cry and want to hurt someone. I’m a huge animal advocate. What makes me laugh? LOL. Saturday Night Live, it’s my favorite show. And I confess to a personal love affair with Simon Pegg. He just makes me laugh so hard. I based one of my characters on him because I think he’s so great.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Alexander Hamilton. I have been a fan of his long before we had the Hamilton craze. He was flawed, brilliant, and a prolific writer. Also, he seemed like he was a rather interesting character. I bet he could be fun and seriously annoying at the same time. Of course, I was going to pick a Revolutionary War figure!
I was a huge fan of David Bowie. Would love to have met him. He was my favorite musician.
Currently, I would love to meet RBG. I think she is a quiet but powerful hero for women.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
LOL. Writing. And I love to cycle.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love Poldark, as one would expect. I also love to watch historical documentaries. I faithfully watch SNL.
I go in streaks. Sometimes I watch drama, sometimes comedy, depends on my mood.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Color: navy blue.
Food: hum…anything Italian or Greek.
Music: David Bowie, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Hamilton. I am totally into 80’s new wave and punk music. Also, I grew up in the rap and grunge era of the 90’s so all that stuff is my cat nip. I do also listen to the radio. I just love all music.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I don’t see that. Ever.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
With my husband…. the rest I will leave to your imagination. LOL. I’m a lover not a fighter.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I don’t want to be buried, I hate the dark. I get it, I’ll be dead, but…
For my eulogy I’d want it to say: She was a rebel, liberal, lover, sometimes fighter and damn good friend. Also, she wrote a few books that inspired other writers and made readers love hard and think differently.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
My website: https://www.revolutionaryauthor.com/
My FB page: TJLondonauthor
Amazon authors page USA https://www.amazon.com/T-J-London/e/B07CZ239PP/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1