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An Interview with J.M. Aucoin
by fellow swashbuckling author Ted Anthony Roberts
It's good to know that there are other swash-authors out there, who are hard at work to keep the adventure alive! That's why I'm excited to present this interview with a fellow swash-author, who was kind enough to let me interview him . . . So, let's get started:
1. Can you tell me, in your own words, what 'swashbuckling' means to you?
Totally! To me swashbuckling is adventure. It’s action. Its men and women wielding a sword against all odds to right wrongs and make the world a better place – even if it’s a minor improvement. It should be fun and make the audience want to leap out of their feet in excitement.
True! It's the age old story - good versus evil - but, in a very adventurous and exciting way! I guess this is why the swoosh of adventure stories of the early 1900's were so popular - which were serialized in magazines (like Argosy, etc), and included topics like swashbuckling, crime-drama, sci-fi, westerns, and jungle adventures; which, in turn, culminated into early comic book stories; and then into the early Republic picture cliffhanger serials at the movies ... It's a formula that still works today, and is much needed!
2. What do you love the most about being a published author?
I love the idea of someone sitting at home, reading one of my stories and finding a little joy in their day. It’s a remarkable thing to write down your own thoughts and imagination, and to have that translated into someone else’s imagination. The idea that someone can live through my own imagination but in their own way is pretty surreal – and cool.
It’s also really cool to be able to hold a physical copy of all that hard work and dreaming.
Oh, how I can relate to that!
3. I know that "Honor Among Thieves" is your latest novel, please describe what that story is about. And I see that it is, or will be, a part of a series of books.
It’s a historical adventure/swashbuckling novel that takes place in early 17th Century France – during King Henri IV’s reign. So about a decade before The Three Musketeers.
The story follows Darion Delerue – former soldier turned highwaymen – and Jacquelyna Brocquart (a lady-in-waiting for the queen) as they’re thrown into a conspiracy to undermine the crown and throw France back into civil war. There’s plenty of sword play, political intrigue and adventure but without sacrificing the historical details and elements of the book.
This is book one of what I hope to be a long-running series. I’m in the middle of writing book two as we speak, so stay tuned!
That sounds exciting! And, right down the line of what a true swashbuckler should be all about!
4. How many books have you written thus far? And which is your personal favorite?
Honor Among Thieves is my first full-length novel that I’ve written and published. I also have a collection of piratical short-stories and poems published entitled "Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters".
It’s really hard to choose which is my favorite as I love them for different reasons. Jake Hawking was my first introduction into publishing and you always remember your first, right? But at the same time, Honor Among Thieves is the start of a series I’ve always wanted to write – my homage to the Musketeers but with my own personal twist.
Ah, yes! The first book is an author's first literary love!
5. Which subjects within the massive genre of swashbuckling do you mostly cover in your books? In other words, do you write about Musketeers? Pirates? Knights? And which do you see yourself covering in the future?
Honor Among Thieves deals with swordsmen and soldiers mostly. Men of fortune who live and die by the sword. I can see it evolving into becoming stories about Musketeers in the future – or at least having Musketeers involved in the plots in some way.
I also love to write about pirates, too, as I do in Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters. That story collection is heavily influence by Rafael Sabatini’s Captain Blood novels.
So I really love writing about the grey characters. People who aren’t fully bad or good, but are just trying to make their way through an unjust world as best they can. It just happens that their trade is exchanging lead shots and steel blades.
It's funny that you say that Captain Blood inspired your first published book, because my first novel about Pirates was inspired by that story as well! . . . Also, the mention that you focus on 'grey' characters, who are kind of stuck in the midst of what is good, while perhaps focusing also on their own problems - which may keep them from being that great shining and inspirational light for all to witness - sure sounds as if you are focusing on complicated character studies. And that is good!
6. Who were your favorite authors who inspired you to become a swashbuckling author? And which of their books are your favorites?
Easily Rafael Sabatini and Alexandre Dumas. Sabatini had an amazing way with words. He knew how to turn a phrase like no one else. I swear he took all the good lines and left none for the rest of us! And Dumas is obvious for my huge love for The Three Musketeers. From Dumas, I love the Musketeers; from Sabatini, it’s Captain Blood and Scaramouche.
But I think the author that really got me into writing and swashbuckling was Richard Connell and his novella The Most Dangerous Game. I’m not sure it’s really a swashbuckler, but it had a sense of excitement, adventure and danger that I fell in love with as a young teenager.
I also loooove the Captain Alatriste series by Arturo Perez-Reverte. Amazing 17th C Spanish swashbucklers.
Your two main inspirations are also my two main inspirations, as well! I'm telling you, it's kind of spooky hearing your answers to this interview, for it sure seems that we both have the same interests and inspirations that led us both down the road of swashbuckling stories! And, as far as Sabatini stealing the best phrases, I think that I can relate to that, also. The most simple line that I read from him is also the one that rings the loudest in my head to this day (from which line I read way back in the 1980's!). It's from "Trampling of the Lilies," and it's when the main character (a lowly citizen) admitted the love that he had in his heart to his own self toward an aristocratic, untouchable lady of distinction. And, the line? "He loved her, loved her, loved her!" Simple; dramatic; and directly to the point!
7. What's your favorite Swashbuckling film?
So hard to choose just one, so here are my “Always in DVD Rotation”:
- Man in the Iron Mask with Leonardo DiCaprio
- The Three Musketeers with Kiefer Sutherland
- Brotherhood of the Wolf
- Any swashbuckler starring Errol Flynn
Ok, yeah! Errol Flynn, as long as he holds a sword, is always a true winner! I don't think you even have to be a swashbuckling film fan to enjoy his flicks!
8. Like me, you're a huge 'Three Musketeers' fan; so, let's get into that a bit! Which of the four men is your favorite character? Which one of them do you feel is closest to your personality? Which film version was the best in your estimation? And, lastly, who was the best villain − Rochefort?
When I first read the book, I was very much a d’Artagnan guy. I really connected with his ambition and self-starter attitude. As I get older I tend to lean more to Athos. As awful as a human being he is in the book, I like how real he is. I feel his pain and torment (much of which is self-inflicted) and enjoy how different he is than everyone else in the book.
If I had to choose which personality I’m closest to, it’d probably be d’Artagnan. I’m not much of a drunk to be Athos, not nearly large enough to be Porthos and not religious enough to be Aramis. But I do tend to have that ambitious nature that d’Artagnan displays.
As my fav villain, I’ll go with
Ha! When you said, concerning Athos: "As awful as a human being he is...," I couldn't help but remember when, in TTM book, when d'Artagnan was relating a very dramatic story to him (and even though Athos listened to the desperate words of the younger man intently), his expression at the end was simply: "That's nothing but a trifle!"
9. Who is "J.M. Aucoin?" And what can readers expect to find in his novels?
J.M. Aucoin is the product of when a 10-year-old boy who fell in love with reruns of Guy William’s Zorro grows into a mostly functional adult. When I’m not writing, I’m studying and "practicing historical swordsmanship," and create my own historically-accurate clothing.
Readers can expect to find well-research historical novels that doesn’t hold back in the action & adventure department. Political/court intrigue. Horse chases. Sword fights and shoot outs. Shady characters lurking in the shadows, and characters who aren’t all what they seem.
By the end of the books, I want my readers reaching for their sword and fighting for glory!
I salute a fellow pen-swashbuckler; and say, adamantly, to keep up the good work - and, please, produce many more adventurous stories! We need more out there!
To read the interview that Mr. J.M. Aucoin did of me, please click HERE!