I’m delighted to share my interview with historical fiction author, Philip Duke, to talk about the inspiration behind his latest book The Village.
Over to Philip…
Phil Duke was born in a working-class district of Liverpool, England. He left Liverpool in 1973 to pursue a degree in archaeology at Cambridge University. In 1976 he began graduate studies at the University of Calgary, later moving to Colorado where he taught anthropology at Fort Lewis College, a liberal arts institution, for almost thirty years. He holds a doctorate in archaeology and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.
After five years on the island of Crete, Phil and his wife, Donna returned to the USA, and with their two rescue dogs, Missy P. and Lexi, now live in Durango, Colorado. When not writing, Phil enjoys puttering around his garden and fly fishing nearby mountain streams. He also devotedly follows his beloved Everton Football Club. Phil has two sons and three grandsons.
He is the author of two historical fiction novels, A Terrible Unrest and The Village, A Novel of Wartime Crete. He is currently putting the finishing touches to his third novel in The Cretan Trilogy, I am Maria.
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
I was born and raised in Liverpool, England. After university (Cambridge) I went to Canada for my Ph.D. (in archaeology at the University of Calgary) and then taught at a liberal arts college (Fort Lewis) in Colorado before retiring in 2009. I think I’ve always wanted to write. As an academic you do an awful lot of writing, though mostly for a small audience! When I’m not writing? Puttering around the garden and fly fishing in the local streams. The fishing is always good, catching not so much.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
I wrote many academic articles, books and government reports prior to retirement. I also continue to be a member of a team who write archaeology books for the general public, some of which have won prestigious awards (the general editor is Paul Bahn, Ph.D.) My first novel is called A Terrible Unrest (it follows an immigrant family from Crete to the USA where they become embroiled in the Colorado Coalfield Wars at the turn of the twentieth century. The novel culminates in the infamous Ludlow Massacre of 1914). This novel was a logical extension of the work I’d done as a member of the Colorado Coalfield Wars Archaeological Project. The Village. A novel of wartime Crete is my second novel.
What genre is it, and what is it about?
The Village is a work of historical fiction. A Cretan village confronts the Nazi juggernaut sweeping across Europe. A village matriarch tries to hold her family together…Her grieving son finds a new life in the Cretan Resistance…A naive English soldier unwillingly finds the warrior in himself…And a fanatical German paratrooper is forced to question everything he thought he believed in. The lives of four ordinary people are irrevocably entwined and their destinies changed forever as each of them confronts the horrors of war and its echoes down the decades.
What or who inspired you to write this book?
As an archaeologist my passion has been the study of the past, so historical fiction was a natural extension of this passion. After retirement, my wife and I lived on Crete for five years. I had always been impressed with how the islanders had resisted a brutal invasion and occupation. The book is a homage to their courage. I also wanted to view the occupation through the lens of different participants, Cretan, German and English. This part of the war is not well known to outsiders and it deserves a wider audience. Its memories still live in the spirit of Cretans to this today.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Just start writing, whether it’s on your computer, or with paper and pencil. It doesn’t matter, just start writing and get your story down. Grammar and punctuation, etc., can come later. And remember the English novelist, Somerset Maugham’s axiom. There are only three rules to writing a great novel. Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are.
What do you enjoy most about writing and why?
Watching my characters develop in ways I did not anticipate. Just when I think I understand them they often go off in a totally unexpected direction! The characters start telling their stories to me – I simply write them down. Plus, it’s an enormous satisfaction to watch my literary baby grow to adulthood.
List three interesting facts about yourself.
1. I was the first in my family to go to university.
2. I’ve always loved travelling (I’ve lived in four different countries.)
3. I continue to be a devoted supporter of Everton Football Club, against all logic and good sense.
What is your least favourite part of the publishing/writing process?
The long wait time between final acceptance of the manuscript and the actual publication.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Obviously, buy it and please do not pass your copy onto friends. Tell them to buy their own. Seriously, please bring my novel to the attention of local book clubs and bookstores, write about it on your own social media. Reviews on Amazon are really helpful.
What is your next project?
This is the third of what I’m calling The Cretan Trilogy. It is called I Am Maria. It follows the life of a young Cretan woman who becomes involved in the German invasion AND the ensuing Greek Civil War. It is a character study of how war changeseverything and everybody. And it acknowledges and highlights the vital role women played in the Greek resistance in both the Second World War and the Greek Civil War.
Connect with Philip:
A Cretan village confronts the Nazi juggernaut sweeping across Europe.
A village matriarch tries to hold her family together…Her grieving son finds a new life in the Cretan Resistance…A naive English soldier unwillingly finds the warrior in himself…And a fanatical German paratrooper is forced to question everything he thought he believed in.
The lives of four ordinary people are irrevocably entwined and their destinies changed forever as each of them confronts the horrors of war and its echoes down the decades.
BUY your copy of The Village here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Philip-Duke/e/B00NJS6A54/