Saturday, June 22, 2013

Author C.C. Humphreys Talks Jack Absolute

What do you get when you take the roguish leading man in Richard Sheridan’s comedy The Rivals and throw in a stirring of Bond, a dash of Hawkeye, a pinch of Aubrey?

The intriguing Jack Absolute – re-imagined as the title character in author C.C. Humphreys’ first novel of a three-book series set during the American Revolution. I’m delighted to welcome C.C. here today to talk about this daring new series and his writing.

First let me share a few interesting facts about C.C. and Jack Absolute:
    * C.C. portrayed Jack Absolute, the leading character of Richard Sheridan’s play The Rivals, on the London stage and loved it so much, he dedicated a three-book series to the character when he began writing.
    * The cover image of JACK ABSOLUTE is actually a photo of C.C.!
    * C.C. is a former actor whose roles have included Hamlet and the voice of Salem the Cat in “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch”.
    * C.C. is a fight choreographer and an accomplished swordsman.

Here’s a brief synopsis of JACK ABSOLUTE:
   It’s 1777 when Captain Jack Absolute becomes a sensation throughout London. This news comes as a shock to the real Jack Absolute when he arrives in England after four months at sea. But there’s little time for outrage before he finds himself dueling for his life. Right when he thinks he’s finally won, he is forced to flee London by the quickest means possible, becoming a spy in the American Revolution.
    From the streets of London, to the pivotal battle of Saratoga, to a hunt for a double agent in Philadelphia, Jack Absolute marks the exhilarating beginning of an epic historical series and a character you won’t soon forget.

Now C.C. has graciously answered some questions for me about this adventurous new protagonist and series.

Mason - As readers, we always wonder where book ideas come from. What inspired you to write this book?

It was the desire to ‘be’ Jack again. When I played the role (in Sheridan’s 18th century comedy, The Rivals) it was one of the parts I played in my life that I felt I truly got. I loved being Jack – the rogue, the conspirator, the swordsman. So I thought I could live him again and expand on all that in novels.

Mason - What makes the American Revolution so intriguing to write about?

It’s just such a fascinating period, with such conflicting characters and motivations. Though it all seems much more clear cut now, there are shades of opinion within the conflict. I like looking at it from the English/Loyalist point of view, not as often considered. Also from an Iroquois perspective. Jack is adopted Mohawk because I am intrigued by First Nations stories. I believe the Iroquois were one of the big losers in the war – not much written about that.

Mason - Tell us some things about Jack Absolute that aren’t included in the book.

Well, there’s two prequels coming out within the next year, in which you learn much more. THE BLOODING OF JACK ABSOLUTE’ where, as 16-year-old soldier, he fights at the battle of Quebec and gets enslaved by the Abenaki. And in ‘ABSOLUTE HONOR I tell the story of ‘The Rivals’ from Jack’s POV.  So though all that is hinted at in ‘JACK ABSOLUTE – The Novel’ its much expanded upon. But other back story not mentioned? He talks about his time in India, books I have yet to write. But I know he will have got involved in the Opium Trade, not sure how yet. And will fall I love with an Indian princess.

Mason - How did it come to be a three book series? How is Jack’s story divided among the books?

These three are only the beginning of the story. So much more tocover write! But I wanted to start in 1777 and do the Revolution because I then set up the fact that the playwright stole Jack’s identity and put his youthful follies into a comedy. Then we go back to his early days, see what forces shaped the later Jack.

Mason - I understand you are actually the model for the book’s cover. Please tell us what that experience was like and will you be modeling for the other covers as well?

I was! My publisher wanted a Jack model and knew I would do it for free! My wonderful designer was Henry Steadman, son of the great artist Ralph Steadman (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). We actually shot the cover in Ralph’s 18th century house in Kent, UK. It was a little strange, donning the redcoat as Jack again after 15 years. Gives me a kick though whenever I see it! No more covers though – in the others he is much younger. Maybe I can play him again when he’s quite old!

Mason - What can readers look forward to next from you?

My great publishers in the US, Sourcebooks, are bringing out my whole backlist, twice a year, which seems almost like too much Humphreys! So you’ll see the next two Jacks, then they will do my very first novel, ‘THE FRENCH EXECUTIONER’ about the man who killed Anne Boleyn. (Recently optioned for a movie, cross fingers!)

C.C., thanks so much for giving us a behind-the-scenes look at Jack. You did great as a cover model. We’ll definitely be keeping our fingers crossed for the movie option.

We’ve covered some of the highlights of C.C.’s background, but they bear repeating. C.C. is a novelist, fight choreographer, and actor who played Jack Absolute in The Rivals for a six-month run in London in the mid-1980s. When he became a full-time writer a decade ago, he decided to transform his leading man into a title character.

C.C. has written seven historical fiction novels including The French Executioner, which was runner-up for the CWA Steel Dagger for Thrillers 2002. The Jack Absolute series will feature three books: Jack Absolute, The Blooding of Jack Absolute, and Absolute Honour

Here’s what others are saying about JACK ABSOLUTE:
    “An absolute delight! Swashbuckling adventure, eighteenth-century wit, hugely entertaining plots, and one of the most appealing military gentlemen ever to wear a sword.” - Diana Gabaldon – Author of the Outlander and Lord John Grey series 

    “The author’s affectionate, theatrical tale sets up his dashing hero and faithful sidekick for a long series. Much derring-do, told with panache.” - Kirkus 

    "Humphreys combines historical detail, a larger-than-life hero, clever plotting and fast pacing to craft a thoroughly entertaining historical adventure."- Publishers Weekly 

    "Although full of intrigue and accurate historical detail, the novel is ultimately a straightforward adventure story that sends readers racing through the pages of Absolute's improbable but exciting captures, escapes, and fight scenes." - School Library Journal

    “A great introduction to what will surely become a long-lasting series.”Library Journal

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. Does the American Revolution intrigue you? Are you drawn to books because of their covers?


  1. C.C., thanks again for sharing with us how Jack Absolute: The Novel came about. Wishing you much success.

  2. I do find the American Revolution to be an interesting time period. This looks like a fun story!



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