Tag: love

MURDER BY THE ORIENT EMPRESS

COLIN FALCONER, FACEBOOK, BEST SELLING AUTHOR, ROMANCE, ADVENTURE, HISTORICAL FICTION

Come and join me at the Falconer Club, for selected excerpts and to get free Exclusive Review Copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE FACEBOOK LOGO AT TOP RIGHT!

When people think of bad, bad queens they perhaps – rightly or wrongly – think of Isabella ‘the She-Wolf of England’ (who may not have been bad at all).

Or they might think of Bloody Queen Mary, or Isabella the First, or even – left field – Elizabeth Bathory, the so-called Queen of Serial Killers.

How many people would suggest Hürrem Haseki Sultan – or Roxelana, as she is sometimes better known?

I might, but then I would probably be in the minority.

Who was she? Hürrem was a concubine in the harem of Suleiman the Magnificent in the sixteenth century.

She was born in the Ukraine, which was then part of Poland. Captured in a Tatar raid, she was probably sold as a slave and traders brought her to Istanbul – then Stamboul – and the harem of the Sultan, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, Possessor of Men’s Necks.

What was a harem like?

Most men fondly imagine half-naked young women soaping each other in an Asiatic day spa.

In reality, the harem of Suleiman’s time was a grim and twilight maze of dark-paneled rooms where the sun seldom penetrated. Day to day life was a like a reality survival game – but with enormous stakes.

Imagine, if you will, a Miss World contest where the winner becomes an Empress and the other three finalists are drowned in a sack.

Oh, and all the runners-up only get to leave the stage when they die.

Our Russian slave girl thrived in this snake pit. She not only rose to become the Sultan’s favourite, she then – to the astonishment of the entire court, if not the whole Ottoman empire – persuaded him to break with two centuries of tradition and marry her. No Sultan had taken a queen since the Ottomans lived as nomads on the plains.

But there was more. To everyone’s amazement, he subsequently resigned his entire harem; three hundred of the most beautiful women in the whole empire. He granted his new queen concession after concession.

Scholars have asked why. So I did, too.

You see, many strange things happened during Suleiman’s reign. Before his marriage, his harem mysteriously – some might say, conveniently – burned down. Suleiman had his best friend and two of his sons murdered. He allowed the most abject of his progeny, Selim the Sot, to inherit the throne.

In my novel, “Harem”, I took all the facts that were known about Suleiman and Hürrem and imagined a rationale. Inspector Falconer then gathered all the known suspects in the drawing room for the denouement and pointed a trembling finger at the Sultan’s queen, charging her with adultery, treason and conspiracy to murder.

Unjustly accused? Perhaps. Of course, she denies everything.

But that is the point of speculative historical fiction. The author speculates about what is unknown and hopefully does it in a way that will keep the reader up until two in the morning.

The evidence against her is, admittedly, circumstantial. I’d never be able to take this to the Crown Prosecutor. Perhaps, in my novel, I have wronged an innocent woman. As has been pointed out to me, she was responsible for many charitable works.

But then so was Pablo Escobar, and every Christmas the Hell’s Angels give toys to children’s homes.

All I can say is this: I never fiddled with the dates, or the events. Right or wrong, it all hangs together.

And when those DNA results come back from the crime lab, she’d better watch out …

colin falconer, kitty o'kane, historical romance

COLIN FALCONER

Colin Falconer, romance, adventure, bestseller, historical fiction

Come meet me at the Falconer Club, for exclusive excerpts and to get Advanced Review copies. JUST CLICK THE PICTURE ABOVE!

WHAT IS STRONGER – LOVE OR HATE?

Colin Falconer, romance, adventure, bestseller, historical fiction

Come meet me at the Falconer Club, for exclusive excerpts and to get Advanced Review copies. JUST CLICK THE PICTURE ABOVE!

What is stronger – love or hate?

Not everyone will have the same answer, depending on their life’s experience so far, their view of the world and life itself.

But it’s a question that intrigues me, and led to the writing of SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY.

Because who are we really? We have an identity imposed upon us; we don’t choose whether we are born black or white, rich or poor, Muslim or Christian. It’s just an accident of birth.

Yet 7 billion of us cling to these identities as if they describe who we are.

But who we love – well, that can be a choice.

romeo and juliet, romance, love storyLasting love often happens when two people find the best version of themselves.

But what happens when the person who is most like you in the world is unlike you in every other way? When they are born to someone you have been taught to hate?

Where then, does the heart lead?

Shakespeare first posed the question in Romeo and Juliet. (Though I still have a problem with two horny teenagers actually challenging the status quo over a period of three days.)

Still, that story, as metaphor, has imprinted itself on the western psyche.

But four hundred years later the question remains; if we are brought to the edge, as my two lovers are in SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY, do we follow the tribe – or do we follow our hearts?

Palestine 1933 — Jews flood into the country fleeing persecution in Europe, settling the land that has for centuries belonged to the local Arab muktars.

Sarah Landauer and Rishou Hass’an are divided by the barbed wire of the kibbutz and by their religion yet still fall in love. But as tensions rise in the country, the two are torn apart.

A decade later, Sarah works for the Haganah, the outlawed Jewish intelligence service; Rishou is in Jerusalem, trying to stay out of a war he does not believe in. But as the whole country descends into chaos, they find each other again, and cannot stay apart.

Then the British leave for good, and the Jews and Arabs prepare for the final battle of Jerusalem. Sarah and Rishou meet in secret, keeping their affair hidden even from those that they love. But finally, they must face their final agonizing destiny, forced to choose between their love for each other and their loyalty and duty to their own people.

What is the right choice?

romeo and juliet, romance, love story

 

colin falconer, sleeping with the enemy, fury, jerusalem, freedom

Colin Falconer, romance, adventure, bestseller, historical fiction

Come meet me at the Falconer Club, for exclusive excerpts and to get Advanced Review copies. JUST CLICK THE PICTURE ABOVE!

 

THE MAN WHO CONQUERED MEXICO WAS A WOMAN

COLIN FALCONER, FACEBOOK, BEST SELLING AUTHOR, ROMANCE, ADVENTURE, HISTORICAL FICTION

Come and join me at the Falconer Club, for selected excerpts and to get free Exclusive Review Copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE FACEBOOK LOGO AT TOP RIGHT!

History will say that Hernan Cortes conquered Mexico.

Yet he couldn’t have done it without a woman named … Malinali.

Aztec, Cortes, MalincheHernan Cortes  was probably one of the greatest of the conquistadores – which is in itself a back-handed compliment, like being the best of the Nazis or Suicide Bomber of the Year.

He was a man of ruthless genius, a Christian crusader possessed of unparalleled greed, even for those times – but his achievements were breath-taking.

He conquered what is now Mexico with an army of less than 500 Spaniards, not all of them soldiers and not all of them loyal, while ostensibly on a simple scouting mission from Cuba.

He did not defeat the Aztecs with Spanish force of arms – they were a nation of a million people – but with an astonishing bluff. 

http://colinfalconer.wordpress.com/2012/12/28/el-promo-or-how-to-sell-your-book-in-latin-america-and-have-a-blonde-in-a-black-bikini-pin-you-to-a-psychiatrists-couch-on-national-television-2/Through astonishing good fortune, steely determination, and the help of a Mexican slave girl he achieved the impossible.

The story of the invasion is one of the great epics of history, a triumph of human endurance and determination.

It was also an unmitigated disaster for the indigenous population and resulted in unimaginable misery for hundreds of thousands of people.

The story of Hernan Cortes and Mexico is also the story of a woman named Malinali.

Guillermo Marín

source: Wolfgang Sauber

Her exact origins are unclear –she was thought to have been a Mayan princess by some – but her place in Mexican history is unparalleled.

Without her, Cortes would have got no further than a Yucatan beach.

Her name was corrupted by history to Malinche; and five hundred years later her name is still reviled. Even today the word malinchista is shouted across the floor of the Mexican parliament as a deadly insult – it means a traitor to the Mexican people.

Yet was she the monster that history make her out to be? 

Aztec, Malinche, CortesThere is only one person who ever knew the truth and that was Malinali Tenepal herself – La Malinche. She was Cortes’ concubine, but that was not why she is important.

She was also his translator, the only one who ever knew what was being said by both sides, the only one who spoke both Spanish and nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs.

Her motives, what she said, how she said it; these things will always be a matter of debate – it is what makes hers such a gripping and intriguing story.

What is certain is that in almost every contemporary drawing and painting of Cortes’ entrada, she is at his side, whispering in his ear.

Aztec, Malinche, Cortes

And every night she shared the conquistadore’s bed.

Did she love him? No one can say.

Did he use her for his own purposes and then cast her aside? Of course he did.

He was only ever interested in gold and glory. 

Aztec, Malinche, CortesFittingly perhaps, Cortes’ life after the conquest was one of frustration and humiliation. History has not been kind .

These days his ancient bones molder in a walled-up in a casket by the altar in the Church of Jesus Navareno close to the place where he first met the Aztec emperor Motecuhzoma.

Aztec, Malinche, Colin Falconer

And Malinali?

No one knows what became of her. It is believed she died an old woman in Spain. Cortes showed his gratitude by marrying her off to someone else.

Her story, and that of the conquistadores, remains one of the most intriguing and tragic sagas in history.

His work takes the reader through a never-ending labyrinth of twists and turns. Get this book. It is a magnificent piece of work!’
– History and Women

History tells us that Cortes conquered the millions of the Aztec nation with an army of just 500 men – but what about the woman at his side?

Malinali was his translator, the only one who could speak to the Spanish and the Aztecs, the only one who really knew what was being negotiated, promised or whispered.

She was also Cortes’ lover.

Did she love him? And if she did, did she betray her own nation, condemn millions to death, for the man she loved?

COLIN FALCONER

Colin Falconer, romance, adventure, bestseller, historical fiction

Come meet me at the Falconer Club, for exclusive excerpts and the chance to win copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE PICTURE ABOVE!

WAS THERE REALLY A JACK AND ROSE ON THE TITANIC?

COLIN FALCONER, FACEBOOK, BEST SELLING AUTHOR, ROMANCE, ADVENTURE, HISTORICAL FICTION

Come and meet me at the Falconer Club, for exclusive excerpts and to get free review copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE FACEBOOK LOGO ON THE TOP RIGHT!

And did they have gorgeous sweaty sex in the backseat of a 1912 Renault?

The answers to these questions are: yes, yes and probably not.

titanic, jack and rose, renault, jack dawson, James Cameron, the writer and director of ‘Titanic’ actually based Kate Winslet’s character, Rose du Witt Bukater, on American artist Beatrice Wood.

Like Rose, Beatrice was the daughter of wealthy socialites and defied her parents to pursue a career as an artist. She lived an extraordinary life, earning accolades as an actress as well as pioneering the Dada art movement (she was called the ‘Mama of Dada’).

She also gained a great reputation as a sculptor and potter and her private affairs – she was reputed to have had a love triangle with artist Henry Duchamp and his friend Henri-Pierre Roché – scandalised America.

Then, when she was 90, she took up writing. Her 1985 autobiography was called ‘I Shock Myself.’

She was 105 when she died – when asked the secret of her longevity she said:

‘I owe it all to chocolate and young men.’

But Beatrice was never on the Titanic.

titanic, jack and rose, renault, jack dawson,

Beatrice Wood photo: Sheryl Reiter

There were two Roses who were and who survived the sinking: one was Rosa Abbott, a third class passenger, who jumped into the water with her two sons. She the only woman and the only passenger to be pulled from the water and survive – the rest were crew.

Sadly, her two sons died in the water.

The other Rose was Miss Rose Amélie Icard, who was a maid to Mrs George Nelson Stone. She and Mrs Stone were rescued by the Carpathia in lifeboat 6.

But what about Jack Dawson?

There was a J Dawson on the Titanic, but the ‘J’ stood for Joseph, not Jack and he was a member of the Titanic crew.

He had grown up in the notorious Monto tenements slums of Dublin and when he was twenty he escaped by joining the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was posted to Netley, one of the largest military hospitals in England – just three miles from Southampton.

It was there that he met a man called John Priest, a coal trimmer on the White Star liner, Majestic.

Through him he met Priest’s sister, Nellie, and the two fell in love.

titanic, jack and rose, renault, jack dawson, After leaving the Army, Dawson joined Priest in the boiler room of the Majestic, before they both signed on for the maiden voyage of the Titanic.

When they hit the iceberg, Dawson had the foresight to put his National Sailors and Firemen’s Union card – his card number was 35638  – into his dungarees before going topside. The card was found on his body the next day.

His friend John Priest survived; but tragically his sister Nellie lost her sweetheart.

Did her heart go on? We will never know.

Dawson was buried in Nova Scotia where he rested in relative obscurity before finding world fame 85 years later after the release of the film.

His grave is number 227 in Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia and has since become a shrine to many of the movie’s fans, who leave photographs, cinema stubs and pictures of themselves on the grave.

graves from the Titanic at Fairview Lawn (Photo: Archer10 (Dennis)

those who died on the Titanic are buried here (Photo: Archer10 (Dennis)

Some even leave hotel keys – though I wonder what they’d do if they heard the key turning in the lock at night, as Jack has now been dead a hundred and four years?

Now the question you’ve all been dying to know

Would getting on the door have saved Jack?

the iceberg that sunk the Titanic - but its fame has since melted away

the iceberg that sunk the Titanic – but its fame has since melted away

On the night of the sinking, the sea temperature was around 28° F.

Our bodies lose heat about thirty times faster in water than in the air and when our core temperature falls under 89° F, we start to lose consciousness. Under 86° F and heart failure can occur, which is the most common cause of hypothermia-related deaths.

So Jack could have survived for up to an hour, as he was young and fit and not trying to swim – people who move around in the water lose heat much faster.

However several people died from cold that night even in the lifeboats, so even if Rose had helped him up onto the door – and I still think, after all he’d done for her, she could have had a better go – there were no guarantees.

Now, more importantly – could they have had sex in the back seat of Jackie’s car?

from Titanic (1997) - copyright 20th Century Fox/Paramount - claimed under fair use

from Titanic (1997) – copyright 20th Century Fox/Paramount – claimed under fair use

It is believed there were about thirty cars in the Titanic’s hold, all but five belonging to first class passengers returning from touring holidays in Europe – but only one is actually listed on the manifest.

It belonged to Titanic survivor William Earnest Carter, and it was a 1912 35 HP Renault Coupe de Ville.

Cameron looked for Carter’s original documents for the vehicle so that the car could be recreated almost exactly in the film. But what Cameron didn’t show us is that it was almost certainly packed in a wooden crate so unless Jack had a claw-hammer with him, the answer to the question above is – ‘probably not.’.

Besides, even if the car wasn’t in a box – I don’t believe our real Jack would ever have cheated on Nellie.

When fiery and idealistic Kitty O’Kane escapes the crushing poverty of Dublin’s tenements, she’s determined that no one should ever suffer like she did. As she sets out to save the world, she finds herself at the forefront of events that shaped the early twentieth century. While working as a maid, she survives the sinking of the Titanic. As a suffragette in New York’s Greenwich Village, she’s jailed for breaking storefront windows. And traveling war-torn Europe as a journalist, she’s at the Winter Palace when it’s stormed by the Bolsheviks. Ultimately she returns to her homeland to serve as a nurse in the Irish Civil War.

During Kitty’s remarkable journey, she reunites with her childhood sweetheart, Tom Doyle, but Tom doesn’t know everything about her past—a past that continues to haunt her. Will Kitty accept that before she can save everyone else, she needs to find a way to save herself? Or will the sins of her past stop her from pursuing her own happiness?

colin falconer, sleeping with the enemy, fury, jerusalem, freedom

COLIN FALCONER

Colin Falconer, romance, adventure, bestseller, historical fiction

Come meet me at the Falconer Club, for exclusive excerpts and the chance to win copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE PICTURE ABOVE!

 

 

WHAT WAS THE REAL STORY BEHIND THE FRENCH PRINCESS IN BRAVEHEART?

COLIN FALCONER, FACEBOOK, BEST SELLING AUTHOR, ROMANCE, ADVENTURE, HISTORICAL FICTION

Come and join me at the Falconer Club, for selected excerpts and to get free Exclusive Review Copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE FACEBOOK LOGO AT TOP RIGHT!

GORGEOUS. DEFIANT. LOOKS GREAT IN A SKIRT.

But enough about Mel Gibson – let’s talk about Sophie’s Marceau’s character in Braveheart, the beautiful French princess who is also Edward Longshank’s daughter-in-law. In the film she has an affair with Mel and then gets pregnant to him, breaking the royal English line.

BRAVEHEART, ISABELLA, EDWARD II

Sophie Marceau in Braveheart (20th Century Fox)

It is a tale of adventure, romance and terrible butchery – with English and Scottish history being mutilated beyond recognition.

But who was the REAL Isabella of France?

She was born in 1295, so she was ten years old and still living in France when Mel Gibson – William Wallace – was executed, so she certainly never met him, or have an adulterous affair with him.

The facts of her life are far more spectacular.

Isabella in fact succeeded where Wallace didn’t; she raised an army, invaded England and deposed Longshank’s son, Edward II, and ruled as regent for four years.

So why doesn’t history remember her as Braveheart? 

BRAVEHEART, ISABELLA, EDWARD II Isabella’s father was Philip IV of France – Phillip the Fair.

Yes, she was beautiful, but she was royal, and raised to be more than Mel Gibson’s love interest.

She was highly intelligent and had great diplomatic skill.

At 12 she was married to Longshank’s son, Edward II, as part of a political alliance.

But Edward soon became notable for his lack of aptitude for kingship – as well as his lack of interest in women.

That doesn’t make him the bad guy in the story either – but for a bright and politically astute woman, it was a terrible match.

Roll the clock forward fifteen years …

Isabella is starved of affection and has been sidelined in the political arena by her husband’s “favourites”. Were men like Piers Gaveston and Hugh Despenser the Younger just his advisers – or were they more than that?

BRAVEHEART, ISABELLA, EDWARD II

Isabella condemning the producers of Braveheart to a grisly death

Whatever the truth, by the time she was thirty, she faced a stark choice; retire to the country and spend the rest of her life with her needlework – or rebel.

She chose: Freedom!

When I went to school in England, I was told the last person to invade England was William the Conqueror in 1066. This was actually not true.

In 1326 Isabella and her lover, Roger Mortimer, raised a mercenary army in the Low Countries – by marrying her oldest son off to a the daughter of the Count of Hainaut.

As invasions go, it wasn’t quite D-Day.

Braveheart, Isabella, Edward II

Castle Rising photo: William M Connolley

The fleet got lost and landed miles from where she and Mortimer had planned.

Not that it mattered; by then, her husband Edward was so deeply unpopular that the barons of England welcomed her and Mortimer with open arms and the invasion became more of a bloodless coup.

She named herself Queen Regent and she and Mortimer assumed the rule of England – and not once did she have to wear a kilt and paint herself blue.

But it didn’t last.

Four years later Mortimer was himself deposed by Isabella’s own son and she was retired to Castle Rising in Norfolk and lived on for many years in considerable style, until her death in 1358.

Isabella, Braveheart, Edward IIPoor Sophie Marceau. History has repeatedly painted her as a beautiful ‘femme fatale’  – cruel and manipulative, and calling her The She-Wolf of France.

The movie, “Braveheart”, was really the final insult.

And Edward II? Although he was an accomplished warrior – if not a very able tactician – he has similarly been portrayed as weak and effeminate.

Was that really how it was?

I have imagined the truth to be less simple, and far more intriguing …

Isabella, Braveheart, Edward II

COLIN FALCONER

Colin Falconer, romance, adventure, bestseller, historical fiction

Come meet me at the Falconer Club, for exclusive excerpts and the chance to win copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE PICTURE ABOVE!

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