Posted on 06/15/2018 at 08:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

He’s an author. He’s an actor. He’s a ... swordsman?

Yes, it seems only fitting that C.C. Humphreys, author of ten historical novels, should also indulge in a somewhat old-fashioned hobby.

It’s also appropriate that the first of those novels — The French Executioner — should involve swords, specifically, the one that ended Anne Boleyn’s life.

The French Executioner was a runner-up for a Crime Writers Association (UK) award, the first of many accolades for Humphreys.

And if you haven’t read him yet, you might have seen or heard him on-screen.

His acting credits include Ashe the Immortal in Highlander and Representative Penny in Elysium, in addition to his work voicing Salem the Cat on Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

We spoke with the third-generation actor recently as he prepared for the launch of his latest novel, Chasing The Wind (for which Outlander author Diana Gabaldon has high praise).

SADYE: How did you come to write so much fiction?

C.C.: I always had a mad passion for history, especially of the swashbuckling kind.

My mum said I was born with a sword in my hand — which must have been a bit painful for her!

So from improvising stories of derring-do as a kid, to fencing competitively as a teen, to leaping about with bladed weaponry as an actor, I loved adventure stories.

I had made up or been in thousands by the time I realized: no, I really have to start writing them down.

SADYE: What’s your favorite era of history to learn about, and is it the same as your favorite to write about?

C.C.: I think my favorite era is the one where my new story happens. I pick an image, an idea or a character, rather than a period, to write about.

Now, with Chasing the Wind, that’s the 1930s and 1940s. The world and exploits of those women flyers was extraordinary!

I am also thinking of writing my parents’ story soon — my dad was a fighter pilot and my mum was a spy, so yep, right now the years around World War II are my favorite.

SADYE: What are the best and toughest parts about writing historical fiction?

C.C.: The toughest? Trying to find the historical facts that center the book.

The best? Finding the historical facts that act as springboards for the imagination that then launch the book into wonderful, unforeseen directions.

SADYE: How did you get Diana Gabaldon to read and review Jack Absolute as well as Chasing the Wind?

C.C.: Bribery and begging.

No, Diana and I have known each other a long time, teaching at conferences, sometimes together.

She and I have been an hysterical double act, with our Writing the Sex Scene workshop. We’ve always admired the other’s writing.

We are also both obsessed by the 18th century and have been known to go through two bottles of wine while analyzing fan signaling during the quadrille and the use of the Scottish broadsword.

She’s also one of the funniest, kindest people on the planet, always willing to lend a hand.

SADYE: Do you have any memorable stories from your swordsmanship practice?

C.C.: Just one? Gosh.

I was playing Jack Absolute in the play The Rivals on tour in England (the character I later stole and wrote three novels about).

One evening I lunged and totally split my breeches with a loud rippppp!

Instead of ignoring it, I looked down and went, “Oops!”

Brought the house down, but for the rest of the evening I was very conscious of the bright red boxers under my 18th-century costume!

SADYE: The French Executioner was optioned for the screen; what’s its status?

C.C.: The sad fact is many are optioned and few are made. The French Executioner was optioned twice but didn’t make it.

Vlad – The Last Confession was optioned a few years ago, and Plague also. But nothing has reached the screen… yet.

So many people tell me that when they read my novels that “they can see the film.” I always answer that I wish they would!

* * *

Learn more about C.C. Humphreys on his website, where his books can also be purchased; like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter

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Categories: Author Interview

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