I am delighted to welcome wonderful author, Ian Smith, to my blog today, to chat to me all about his new book, The King’s Captain, Book 2 of the Merely Players series.
So, before you tell me all about The King’s Captain, give me the lowdown on your series so far, Ian. For those who haven’t read any of it yet, what’s it about? How do you envisage it progressing?
The “Merely Players” series will feature three main characters, Paul, Becky and Hayley, who develop a three-way relationship. The stories will all be romantic erotica with lively plots including incidents, (mis)adventures and drama experienced while working on various TV shows. I don’t like cliff-hanger endings, so I’ll try to make each story as stand-alone as possible.
My idea about Paul is that he’s intelligent, fairly perceptive, but a bit too much of a gentleman at times. He doesn’t always quite understand the relationship dynamics. I guess a six foot five guy with his own suit of armour would be an obvious alpha male, but it seemed more fun to have the three characters far more equal in their relationship, each being dominant at times. And Paul’s twin sister Claire keeps his feet firmly on the ground, too.
In the first story, Knights Errant, the three characters met and Paul was asked to be Hayley’s leading man in a TV show, despite his complete lack of training or experience in acting. Both women made it clear they very keen on him, but didn’t compete and made it very difficult for him to choose between them.
The storyline is continued in The King’s Captain. Paul finds himself way out of his depth with acting the classic storybook hero, and the dynamics between him and the two women keep him off-balance. He suddenly finds out what being a real-life hero is like when he and two friends are attacked, and eventually finds out what Becky and Hayley have in mind.
Oooh, I’m completely intrigued. Right, I can’t wait any longer – you’ll have to tell me more about your newest release now! What happens in the new book? And can we see the cover?
If you insist! In The King’s Captain, Paul is Hayley’s lover and now her leading man. But he quickly realises that acting and portraying a hero on a period TV show takes far more than a suit of armour. He’s totally out of his depth, personally and professionally.
Help arrives with dramatic lessons and examples of real-life leadership and courage, when a couple of strange events put him and his friends in harm’s way.
Hayley’s perfectly happy that her best friend Becky keeps booking hotel rooms with a bed big enough for three, which confuses Paul. He’s a typical guy, so the thought of sorting out their relationships is even scarier than acting, jousting, and stunt fighting in front of the camera.
In Paul’s acting debut, life doesn’t so much imitate art as shoulder it out of the way! Discovering a secret threatens to totally destroy his trust in Hayley and Becky, and this forces him to face his doubts and fears. He must decide if it’s braver to walk away, or take a deep breath and ask for honest answers. Even if they might be ones which break his heart.
Sounds brilliant! The secret, and the “break his heart” thing – yeah, you’ve got me! Tell me, are you enjoying writing the series?
Absolutely! I was delighted that nine readers reviewed Knights Errant and gave it four or five stars. That was so encouraging and gave me a real confidence boost. Fingers crossed that The King’s Captain goes down as well.
I’m positive that it will, Ian! But how about you show us – do you have an extract from the book that we could read?
Certainly. Here’s a short extract from The King’s Captain. Just to give it a bit of context, this part occurs during the second spell of filming, on what looks like a castle tower at dawn. The show is intended for a family audience, including younger children. The cast improvise the dialogue in a sort of Shakespearean English, following an outline script. Hayley is the princess, Paul is the captain of the king’s guard.
Paul has just seen something which rattled him to the core, and he now seriously doubts if there is any future in his relationships with either Hayley or Becky:
I pretended to survey the distance for attacking Viking hordes, flying dragons, or whatever. I heard a door creak behind me, then Hayley’s footsteps on the wooden boards as she walked around the edge of the tower. It suddenly struck me that the scenes I’d actually dreaded most might not be too difficult. I didn’t have to act feeling hurt and confused, just show what I felt. My problem might be not showing too much. Not really knowing what I’d say, I let my mind empty.
“Captain, hast thou stood watch this long night?” Hayley asked. She sounded hesitant and uncertain.
I didn’t turn towards her. “I have, my lady.”
She walked closer and stopped a few feet away. “You took no rest?”
I shook my head. “Sleep would not come to me. Better the guard slumber since I could not.”
She turned towards the sunrise and waited a few seconds. “A fair morning.”
“That it is.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her bite her lip. “Captain, have I done you some hurt?”
“Highness, your protection is my duty and my honour. When you wed, I will protect the king, your father.”
She turned to me and glared. “Why dost thou speak in riddles? Have I wronged you or no?”
I turned to look at her and let my self-control go enough to really feel some of my pain and confusion. “If you have, my lady, it was my weakness.”
She looked puzzled. “Weakness?”
I shrugged. “If I am wronged, I allowed it.”
I was stunned to see tears in her eyes. “You allowed it? Rowan, thou art a good and brave man, but your life holds much more than your duty and sword. Surely you know your own heart? There are times when you must hear it.”
“My duty calls on my sword, not my heart.”
She reached out and put her hand on mine on the wall. “Why can you not let down the guard around your heart? Pray, tell me what ails you?”
I sighed. “It is not my place, lady.”
Hayley’s expression changed from concern to frustration. “You good, foolish man. Who else might you tell? You spend all your days at your duties and see no other woman more than you do me. I entrust you with my life. Rowan, pray, why not entrust me with your concerns?”
As I heard her last sentence, I suddenly knew we weren’t talking purely as our characters. At least that explained why my throat suddenly hurt. “Lady, please hold that I am not a man who opens his heart. To do so would leave me disarmed.”
She looked at me, her face immobile for a few seconds. “It is the prospect of my betrothal, is it not? Captain, I am of age, and have no other offers.” She looked down at her fingers, and traced them across a stone block in the wall. “All know it would be wise for me to accept. Count Roland is strong and wealthy, and his lands adjoin our realm. You must know of him, as your fellow countryman. This small kingdom needs such men as friends, not foes.”
I looked at her and saw tears run down her cheeks. I pulled a plain, linen handkerchief from a pocket and pressed the fabric into her hand. “Lady,” I said quietly, “I am your servant. Your choices are yours to make and I am sure you will choose well.”
She wiped her face. “You have the king’s high regard.” She took a deep breath, collected herself, passed my handkerchief back, and gripped my forearm with her hand. “Talk to the king,” she whispered. “He is my loving father as well as your liege lord.”
I looked down for a second, then turned towards Hayley. “Lady, I am but the man you see. No great titles, no land, no treasures. Naught but my honour and foolish pride.”
Her lower lip trembled until she bit it. “Sir, you have a noble’s bearing, manners, and education. You would wear high title as easily if born. You would be a fair and just lord and a wise treasurer if the chance fell to you. Your honour counts for far more than what you might now own.”
I swallowed hard. “A wise man knows his place, lady,” I said quietly. My throat burned, as if I was on the verge of tears. “Such chances do not fall to a man like me. The dice have fallen and I must accept my loss.”
We stared at each other for a couple of seconds. I thought Hayley really struggled to keep her face under control. Then she turned away and walked over to the door, moving slowly, as if wearing heavy weights on her feet.
“I will tell my father to expect you,” she said, without turning to look at me. “Not the king, but my father. Please do this for me.” She paused. “He trusts and respects you as he would a friend. He will know my mind and my heart, should you seek his blessing. Hold that he would be generous to ensure my happiness.” She stepped through the door and pulled it closed. The click of the latch was incredibly loud in the cool, quiet morning air.
I looked at the closed door for a few seconds, folded the handkerchief carefully and looked at it. I wiped my own eyes, then put it away. Then I leaned on the wall and looked away into the distance again, surprised to see the camera drone hovering a few yards away. I’d honestly forgotten all about the cameras, lights, microphones, and the small production team a few yards away. The drone slowly drifted further away, while I stared at it, without seeing anything.
Mmmmmm, well, the whole notion of medieval chivalry has won me over! Where can we get hold of the book, Ian? Have you made it easy to get hold of? Bet you have!
Oh, yes! Here’s all the links you’ll ever need to get hold of a copy!
Universal Amazon link – myBook.to/KingsCaptain
Fireborn – http://bit.ly/2bULeWN
Smashwords – http://bit.ly/2bJtBgv
Kobo – http://bit.ly/2c0rT6c
AllRomanceeBook – http://bit.ly/2c6nZw4
B&N Nook – http://bit.ly/2bY4X99
Bookstrand – http://bit.ly/2c6nGRR
iTunes store – http://apple.co/2bK3sJQ
That’s brilliant, Ian, thank you – everyone should be able to find it with ease! So, where else can readers find out more about your book, or indeed you as an author?
There’s a couple of other ways to reach me, too. There’s Twitter – @ians2005, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much, Ian, for joining me on my blog today. It’s been great fun, chatting about The King’s Captain. I wish you a lot of luck with it!