“We are Historical Novelists, Fiction is our Game”: The Poem that opened the conference #HNSDenver2015

I got so many requests for this, I agreed to put it up. Again, apologies to all true poets. The spirit of Walter McGonagal lives on!

Opening Keynote speech, Historical Novelists North American Conference Denver 2015:

“We are historical novelists, fiction is our game,

We do not write for fortunes, we do not write for fame.

We write because we have to, the fires that burn inside

To stride across the centuries, and sail the oceans wide.

We write to right historic wrongs, of Richard the Third and Vlad,

Of women shunned in monk’s dull minds, the glad, the sad, the bad.

We stand upon the shoulders, of greats who blazed so hot;

Renault, Dumas, Sutcliff, O’Brian, Dickens, Scott.

We rub against great shoulders, a wondrous array of speakers

Gabaldon, Goertner, George, Cushman, Hollick, Peters.

So when you reach for implements, for goose quill, pen or keys,

Do not write for fortune, nor seek too much to please.

Write because you have to, the fires that burn inside,

To stride across the centuries and sail the ocean’s wide.”

It was such a fun conference. Bravo all involved!

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Talking Shakespeare’s Rebel, Hamlet and plaguey serial killers: A radio interview with C. C. Humphreys

This is fun! I did a radio interview with Peter Darbyshire, the Book Blogger at the Province newspaper in Vancouver. Talked about my play, the novels, research, swordfighting – I even declaim a little of my favourite Shakespeare.

So if you want to hear something of what goes on in my writing  – and how I set about adapting my novel ‘Shakespeare’s Rebel’ into the play that’s going on this summer at Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Festival, click HERE

And check out Book Rogues at theProvince.com Lots of great interviews!

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Vlad in Montenegro

To all my Montenegrin followers – and many Serbian ones perhaps – this article just came out in the literary magazine ‘Vijesti’. (And, no, I can’t read it. But I know what answers I gave in English!)

Great to know Vlad still has a life in the lands he knew well.


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Humphreys and the Hangman

I have won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel in Canada 2015!

IMG_2535Here I am at the gala last night in Toronto.

Such a thrill! Amazing authors have won this award before and I am honoured to be in their company.

The statue I am holding is of a man hanging on a gallows. You pull a string and his legs and arms move. Wonderfully macabre!

(Trivia fact: ‘Arthur Ellis’ was the pseudonym Canadian hangmen used when checking into hotels in towns were they were ‘about their business’)


So excited and grateful to my wonderful publishers at Doubleday, Canada – Amy Black, Kristin Cochrane, CEO Brad Martin, ace publicist Max Arambulo. My fab editor, Nita Pronovost. My team at Century in London – Selina Walker, Georgina Hawtrey-Woore. My great agent, Simon Trewin of WME. My lovely wife and son, Aletha and Reith. And my cat, Dickon, without whom…

Jeez, does that mean I am a crime writer now?


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Shakespeare’s Rebel – The Play!

Tis true! My novel has become a play of the same title.

ActualcoverSHAKESPEARE’S REBEL opens at the amazing Bard on the Beach theatre in Vancouver, British Columbia, on July 12th 2015.

So John Lawley – sometime actor, brilliant swordsman, occasional drunk and William Shakespeare’s oldest friend is taking to the stage. It’s a comedy of players, a drama of Elizabethan politics, a romance of queen and noble, of landlady and drunkard. And its going to have great swordfights!

You can read more HERE. Better still, come on down!

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The Play’s the thing – ‘Shakespeare’s Rebel’ takes to the stage

I’ve been holding off sharing this. Contract still to sign, and so forth. Haven’t even cracked the champagne. But since this I am going to the second read-through on Monday, and the play’s been announced on the theatre’s website…


… I suppose this thing is happening – my adaptation of my 2012 novel, ‘Shakespeare’s Rebel’ is having its world premiere at the very successful Vancouver Shakespeare Festival, Bard on the Beach, Summer 2015.

ActualcoverI am totally thrilled on so many levels. It’s my first play since ‘Touching Wood’ had a staged reading in London in 1999. I began my writing career as a playwright, with three productions of two plays: ‘A Cage Without Bars’ (Vancouver New Play Centre, 1993 Finborough Theatre, London, 1998) and ‘Glimpses of the Moon’ (Lunchbox Theatre, Calgary 1996)

Then there’s the special place that ‘Rebel’ holds in my heart. A play about actors, Shakespeare, Hamlet, London… swords! For those who’ve not read the novel, you can read more here:


Essentially it about Will’s fight choreographer and oldest friend, John Lawley, who only wants to get sober and reclaim his wife and son but gets drawn into the last tragic act of Elizabeth’s reign –  the rebellion of her last great love, the Earl of Essex.

It was hard work getting a novel compressed into a play – many of my darlings slain in the process! But I had the brilliant help of Martin Kinch, one of the top play development people in Canada. And the encouragement and support of my friend, Christopher Gaze, the artistic director at Bard. To be returning to that theatre is a thrill (I played Oberon in ‘Dream’ there in 1991, my first job in Canada). And having the play put on by people I know means that I can be involved in that vital first production – attending rehearsals,working with the players, honing the script up to and including its first contacts with the public. Hope you can all come. It promises to be fun!

And I will tell the story of how this all came about in my next post!




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Kind words on The French Executioner!

UScoverHad some rather nice reviews in the US for my first love, my first novel, The French Executioner, at last out there.

Publishers’ Weekly

Humphreys (Jack Absolute) breathes life into 16th century Europe with this fascinating tale of adventure and mystery as Anne Boleyn’s executioner must fulfill his promise to the queen who has been marked for death. Executioner Jean Rombaud didn’t expect Anne Boleyn to have ask for anything from him when he was summoned to England to execute her, but when Anne requests that he bury her six-fingered hand at a sacred crossroads in France, he agrees. There are others who believe in the magical powers of that hand and will do everything in their power to keep Rombaud from getting the hand. As he journeys to the destination, he becomes a prisoner on a ship, where he makes the acquaintance of two friends who assist him in his task. Humphreys has creatively combined historical fact with mystical fiction: the severed hand seems to have a life of its own and causes irrational behavior in those seeking it. Humphreys’s characters are well drawn and deeply empathetic, and Rombaud’s mission remains entertaining throughout. Agent: Jessica Purdue, Orion Publishing Group. (Oct.) http://publishersweekly.com/978-1-4022-7234-9

Two other trade reviews:

“Set against the backdrop of the Protestant Reformation, his superbloody Princess Bride-like adventure is, at its heart, a tale of redemption, well earned and hard-won.” – Library Journal

“This unusual tale conjures visions of an Errol Flynn-type Hollywood swashbuckler…the tale’s well-told, engagingly written, and includes a colorful immersion into a time when life was cheap and danger or death literally waited around every corner. A gory but fascinating…look at the world in the early 16th century.” – Kirkus

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