Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Book Tour: Anvil of God by J. Boyce Gleason @JboyceGleason @RABTBookTours

Historical Fiction

Date Published: 1/18/2024

Narrator: Deborah Balm

Run Time: 15h 30 min



It is 741. Only one thing stands between Charles the Hammer and the throne—he's dying. Despite his best efforts, the only thing to reign after Charles's death is chaos. Son battles son, Christianity battles paganism, and Charles's daughter flees his court for an enemy's love.

Based on a true story, Anvil of God is a whirlwind of love, honor, sacrifice, and betrayal that follows a bereaved family's relentless quest for power and destiny.


Interview with J. Boyce Gleason

    Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

    Fiction can take you to places you’ve never been, put you in someone else’s shoes, and force you to consider a different perspective than your own. Sometimes, that is just for entertainment purposes; sometimes, an author just wants to unburden themselves of a difficult experience, and sometimes, it’s meant to push you to think.

    Albert Camus once said, “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” There’s a lot of fiction out there that fits that bill. The first book that did that for me was Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It was both wildly entertaining and pushed me to view my world through a very different lens. The same is true for The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, and Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.

    How do you select the names of your characters?

    Since I write historical fiction, most of the character names are based on real people. To the extent I need to create a character as a catalyst or for comic relief, I try to pick a name that is consistent with that time period and place. Sometimes, I’ll throw in the name of someone I know just so my friends will get a kick out of it.

    Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

    On occasion, I’ll write a scene as an homage to another writer or a history professor who had a significant impact on my worldview. Every once in a while, someone will catch the reference. I’m always glad when they do.

    What was your hardest scene to write?

    Hands down, it was my first sex scene. I was busy writing Anvil of God, and I came to a place where Pippin and Bertrada were becoming intimate.

    I stopped writing for a few days debating whether to show the couple having sex or fade to black. I went back and forth about it, debating the pros and cons. I was pretty confident that most readers could imagine it on their own, and I was worried about what my friends and family might think once they read it (believe me, that is no small thing).

    In the end, I chose to write the scene for several reasons. Fiction is one of the few places where you get to be inside someone else’s head (albeit a character’s head) so I felt fading to black was cheating the reader.

    I also feel like our sexuality is an incredibly important part of who we are, so deleting that part of a character would make them less than complete. Finally, I thought about some of my favorite writers, like Pat Conroy and John Irving; they never let the reader look away.

    Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

    I try to do both. Each of the three books in my trilogy on the rise of the Carolingian Kings is a stand-alone book, but together, they tell a much broader story. I think of it this way: I write historical fiction, and the odd thing about history is that it never begins or ends. Any story I could write about a historical event had preceding events that are relevant to the story And, the same is true for events that follow. So, all of my books have to be able to stand on their own.

    What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

    First, I wanted to tell the history of this period because it’s fascinating. Like Camelot, it was a “brief and shining moment.” But I also wanted the books to be entertaining. I wanted my readers to say, “Wow, that’s a great story. I want more.” I think I achieved that much.

    What inspired you to write Anvil of God?

    When I was in college, I studied the epic poem The Song of Roland. I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t as well known as The Iliad or The Odyssey. I swore that if I ever wrote a book, it would be about Roland.

    Unfortunately, when I sat down to write the story, I couldn’t find a good place to start. I kept moving backward in time, looking for that hook to hang onto for the opening, but it kept eluding me. Finally, I stumbled on a story about the daughter of Charles Martel who flees his court in the middle of the night for an enemy’s love. Many historians considered it the “scandal of the eighth century.” I had found the start.

    After three books, I still haven’t gotten to Roland, but I’m getting a whole lot closer.

    Can you tell us a little bit about the next book Errata, The Temptation of Ben Franklin or what you have planned for the future?

    I decided to leave the eighth century for a spell and write about Ben Franklin.

    Most of us think about Ben Franklin as an eighty-year-old founding father. But there was a time when he was young and green and trying to make his way in the world. I wanted to write about that. What choices and events made him the man he was destined to become? Where did he go right? Where did he go wrong? What were the things that he most regretted?

    The book is thoroughly researched and provides a vivid account of the time, place, culture, and politics of colonial Philadelphia. It also portrays Franklin’s early life in a more nuanced and entertaining way.

    If I were to describe it in a sentence, it would be, “Political and romantic intrigue beset young Ben Franklin as he is torn between his ambition and his sense of morality.

    Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Errata?

    When Ben Franklin is 17 years old, he flees Puritan Boston, his family, and an abusive brother two years before his indenture is complete. He’s a frustrated, underappreciated, ambitious young man who wants to make his way in the world.

    On his voyage, he meets and becomes infatuated with a mysterious older woman named Tace Bradford, who is somehow involved with a British intelligence officer.

    Landing in Philadelphia, Ben secures a job as a printer’s assistant, meets a charismatic and mischievous new friend named James Ralph, and begins to court Deborah Reed, his landlord’s daughter.

    When Tace suddenly appears among Philadelphia’s elite society, Ben’s infatuation propels him into her inner circle, where he meets Philadelphia’s Governor, Sir William Keith. Keith recruits Ben to start a newspaper to assist his efforts to take control of the colony from the Widow Penn. Everything goes downhill from there.

    What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

    Getting to know Ben Franklin.

About the Author

After a 25-year career working as a press secretary on Capitol Hill, writing a weekly column for a daily newspaper, and managing crisis and public affairs for many of the largest American corporations and institutions, J. Boyce Gleason began writing historical fiction to satisfy his passion for storytelling.

His first novel ANVIL OF GOD, Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, was named Historical Fiction Book of the Year by the Independent Publishers Awards and Mainstream/Literary e-Book of the Year by Writers Digest Magazine.  The sequels (Wheel of the Fates & Crown of a King) both received 4.5 ratings or better on Amazon.

With an AB in history from Dartmouth College, Gleason brings a strong understanding of the events that shaped history. He says he writes historical fiction to discover “why.” He and his wife live in Virginia.


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