Interview with James Mace, author of 'I Stood with Wellington' and 'Forlorn Hope'



James MaceABOUT JAMES MACE

James Mace was born in Edmonds, Washington, and grew up in Meridian, Idaho. He joined the U.S. Air Force out of high school, and three years later changed over to the U.S. Army. He spent a career as a soldier, including service in the Iraq War.
In 2011, he left his full-time position with Army Guard and devoted himself completely to writing. His series, “Soldier of Rome – The Artorian Chronicles”, has been a perennial best-seller in ancient history on Amazon. In 2012 he branched into the Napoleonic Era with the short novella, “Forlorn Hope: The Storming of Badajoz”. This was soon followed by the full-length novel, “I Stood With Wellington”.
He also co-wrote the critically acclaimed screenplay, The Evil That Men Do.
Visit him at www.legionarybooks.net.
Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, James.  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A: According to my Mum and Dad, I’ve been telling stories since I was about six. They even recently found a two-page short story about Indiana Jones that I wrote for school when I was about ten. My first actual start as a professional writer began around 2002, when I started writing bodybuilding and fitness articles for Bodybuilding.com as well as a magazine called HardCore Muscle. The magazine was the first time I actually got paid for writing. I wrote my first book, Soldier of Rome: The Legionary, as a cathartic means of passing the time when I was in Iraq with the Army Guard in 2005.

Q: Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A: This is actually a pair of books that tell one larger story. Though all my previous works has been set in Rome, I always had a fascination for the Napoleonic Era of the early 1800s. The Duke of Wellington was always one of my heroes, and so it was only a matter of time before I branched out into this time period. I also noticed that while history textbooks from this era are common, novels are extremely rare; the only exceptions being Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series, as well as the more recent Napoleonic Wars trilogy by Adrian Goldsworthy.

The first book I wrote, Forlorn Hope: The Storming of Badajoz, is a very short novella, and was a way of testing the waters to see if I could write about something other than Imperial Rome. I knew I wanted to eventually write a novel about the Battle of Waterloo, but since that would be a very large undertaking; I elected to scale it down to an earlier engagement, the Siege of Badajoz in southern Spain in 1812. The very term Forlorn Hope comes from this time period; during a siege, cannon would blast large breaches into the outer walls, and the Forlorn Hope were the first hundred or so volunteers whose task was to gain a foothold long enough for the first wave to exploit during the main assault. As one can imagine, chances of being killed or maimed were extremely high. In this story, the main character, Lieutenant James Henry Webster, receives news that his wife died in childbirth back in England. Thinking he has nothing left to live for, he impulsively volunteers to lead the Forlorn Hope. He only comes to regret this decision when it is too late, as he realizes he now has a daughter, and it is for her that he should live. The crux of the story is the actual assault, with Webster leading his men, bound by duty to see his mission through. I spared no details, and like my other works, the battles are written with extremely graphic detail.

I was relieved when I saw how well Forlorn Hope was received, as it garnered strong accolades in both the U.S. and Britain, quickly becoming my best-seller. It was then that I decided to go ahead with my novel on the Waterloo Campaign of 1815.

I Stood With Wellington begins with Napoleon’s first abdication in 1814, follows his escape from exile, return to power, and the climactic battle between he and Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815. James Henry Webster returns as a captain in the elite British 1st Regiment of Foot Guards. His colour sergeant is an Irishman named Patrick Shanahan, who is also a survivor of the Forlorn Hope at Badajoz. There are three main story arcs, the primary one focusing on Webster, Shanahan, as well as a number of the enlisted men in their company. Another arc gives the French perspective from that of Napoleon, the extreme difficulties he faces in reconstituting his once grand army, while battling his own failing health. The final arc is that of Wellington himself. Though previously unbeaten in battle, he had never faced Napoleon, who he viewed as the master of war. He also knows that the fragile European coalition will collapse if he and his Prussian allies, under Marshal Gebhard von Blucher, cannot hold in face of Napoleon’s juggernaut.

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

A: Research was a bit of a challenge; not due to lack of material, but rather because there was so much of it. As in all my books, I refuse to change known historical fact, so I had to make certain I kept as much integrity as possible. In Cornwell’s Sharpe series, he has a bit more leeway, as not only are his main characters fictitious, but so is their entire regiment. In my story, I am inserting fictional characters into an actual British regiment.

Another surprising challenge came from conflicts within primary sources and firsthand accounts. An example of this is where I depict a certain French officer leading an assault through the gates of a British stronghold. Certain eyewitness accounts state he was not there at all, while others ascertain that he was. In any high-stress situation, you can have a hundred participants who will later give you a hundred different versions of the same story. In these instances, I simply had to use my best judgment and use that which I thought was most plausible.

Q: Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it?  Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?

A: I do not have a press kit.

Q: Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV?  What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

A: I have not at this time, though I am looking into pitching my book on Radio Boise.

Q: Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is?  If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

A: I’ve never had an agent. When I made ready to publish my first book, Soldier of Rome: The Legionary, back in 2006, I pitched it to hundreds of agents; those who responded all said there was no market for my works. I tend to now question their judgment, as my Soldier of Rome books went on to become best-sellers in Ancient History on Amazon and Amazon U.K. While I do feel agents still have their place, particularly if one is trying to get picked up by one of the big publishing houses, their necessity has been greatly diminished with the rise of eBooks and the ability of independent authors to publish their own works.

Q: Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

A: I did a press release as soon as I Stood With Wellington was released.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A: Historically, the British Empire was not involved in another major conflict until forty years after Waterloo, so there was really nowhere else to go with this story. That is why I wrap up the main story arcs with an epilogue, taking place twenty-one years later. It is really too bad that there was nowhere else to take this story, as readers have told me they were really drawn into the characters and wanted to read more about them.

I am continuing to write, and have returned to work on my fifth Soldier of Rome novel, which I intend to have out this spring. This will be followed by the sixth and final book of that series. I have numerous other projects on the backburner, so you will see new historical novels from me for many years to come.
  
Q: Thank you for your interview, James.  Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

A: Amazon and all of its affiliates, i.e. Amazon U.K., carry my works, and are available to order through any book retailer. They are available in eBook digital format through Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Kobo eReader.


I Stood With WellingtonABOUT I STOOD WITH WELLINGTON

In February, 1815, after nine months in exile, Napoleon Bonaparte, the deposed Emperor of the French, escaped from the Isle of Elba. Seizing the initiative while the European powers bicker amongst themselves at the Congress of Vienna, Napoleon advances towards Belgium with an enormous army, where the combined forces of Prussia and England are cantoned. The French Emperor knows that if he can achieve a decisive capture in Brussels, it will shatter the already fragile European alliance.
Leading the allies is Sir Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington; the venerable British field marshal who defeated Napoleon’s best generals in Spain, yet who the emperor had never personally met in battle. Napoleon knows that if he can draw away Wellington’s chief Prussian ally, Gebhard von Blucher, and destroy his army first, he can unleash his entire might against the British. A victory over the unbeaten Wellington will cripple the alliance even further, as it will then deprive them of both English soldiers and financing.
In Belgium, Captain James Henry Webster has finally returned to a line regiment after being terribly wounded at the Siege of Badajoz three years prior. He is given command of a line company within the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards, the elite of the British Infantry.
A series of indecisive clashes will lead to a collision between the two greatest military minds of the age and the bloodiest single day of the entire century, as Wellington and Napoleon lead their armies to either immortality or oblivion. For Captain Webster, he fights for both his nation and to protect his young daughter in Brussels. Along with the rest of the Guards Division, he finds himself at the apex of the battle, where the fate of the entire world will be decided; at a place called Waterloo.

Forlorn HopeABOUT FORLORN HOPE

In the spring of 1812, the British army under Sir Arthur Wellesley, Earl of Wellington, has driven the French from Portugal. With Napoleon obsessed by the invasion of Russia, Wellington turns toward Spain. The way is barred by two fortresses, Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz. When Ciudad Rodrigo collapses after a short siege, Wellington prepares to break the fortress of Badajoz, the most formidable stronghold in Europe.
Lieutenant James Webster is in mourning following the loss of his wife, and he volunteers to command the small group that will lead the assault. Second in command is Sergeant Thomas Davis; recently diagnosed with a fatal illness, he prefers a valiant death in battle. Breaches have been blown into the walls of the southern bastions, Trinidad and Santa Maria, and here Wellington will unleash the 4th and Light Divisions, while launching diversionary assaults on the northern San Vincente bastion, as well as the Badajoz castle. Together with one hundred volunteers, the Forlorn Hope, Webster and Davis will storm the breach.
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