Though the initials ‘CC’ could conceal a member of either sex (like JK or, indeed, EL) I am, in fact, a man. Yet judging from my mailbag, most of my readers appear to be women. Despite various publishers trying to market me with gung ho covers featuring action heroes, it is the women who write, who seem most enthralled by my characters and their journeys.
I am very happy about that – women buy most books after all. But I don’t deliberately slant my books to one or other gender. I am interested in many aspects of life – and that encompasses both swordplay and love making, along with politics of church and state. Most of all, though, I am interested in people – striving, often failing, some eventually triumphing – though the triumph may not be the one they originally sought.
It may have something to do with the fact that I both love and admire women and so create strong female characters. Historical times, with a few notable exceptions, are dominated by men – other men wrote those histories after all. But despite the restrictions placed on them over the ages, women overcame them to pursue their quests, to have wonderful adventures. Many were forced by adversity to struggle and win. Many believed in causes as powerfully as did the men of their times.
Most of my male characters exist in relationship to a woman – perhaps more than one, and often that is the dilemma. In any of my novels, entwined in the ‘active’ plot of searching and battle, is a relationship question that is often as important as any political or military ones, and needs as strong a resolution. In ‘A Place Called Armageddon’ I explore a question that has always interested me: is it possible to love two people, fully, passionately, at the same time? Gregoras, the ‘wounded hero’ at the novel’s heart, is torn between his first love, the passionate and devout Sofia and the new thrill of the wild sorceress Leilah. How he resolves that is completely tied up with the fall of the city and of equal importance by the end.
Perhaps that’s why so many of my readers are female –and why this book operates on many different levels. Spoiler alert: Constantinople falls. But the relationship questions remain unanswered till the very end. And the battles that all my characters take part in are not just fights for their own sake. They are events that put people we know in great peril – and may prevent them, or aid them, in resolving the greatest desires of their hearts.