What can you tell us about your new book The Assassin's Honor, without spoiling the plot for readers?
In December 1892, a foreign assassination team in the Caribbean targeted one of the most famous men in the world. What happened with those assassins is little-known, but ended up changing how a significant part of history evolved into the world we know today. The storyline in The Assassin’s Honor is woven around those amazing events. A spy thriller, right out of history!
In The Assassin’s Honor, U.S. Navy Captain Peter Wake is finally out of the naval espionage work he excelled at but despised. Now, after 29 years in the Navy, he has the dream assignment of every naval officer ~ command of a newly commissioned ship, U.S.S. Bennington, on independent patrol duty. After being a lonely widower for 11 years, his personal life has also changed, for he has found true love again, this time with a beautiful lady of foreign descent.
But everything changes when he is summoned to his squadron commander at Key West. Wake’s old skills are needed to decipher a cryptic chart fragment and a coded message. It doesn’t take him long to uncover that in eight days an important man will be killed. But who? And where? Plunged back in the sordid life he thought he left behind, Wake takes his ship and crew on a journey involving the Imperial German Navy in Mexico, Cuban revolutionaries in Key West, and Spanish secret operatives in Tampa.
Nothing is as it seems, war hangs in the balance, and time is running out.
What do you have planned for the future of the Honor Series?
The Assassin’s Honor is the 12th novel in the Honor Series, which covers the personal life and naval career of Peter Wake, from the Civil War in Florida and the Caribbean, to the 1908 Great White Fleet. So far, the novels have been set in Europe, Africa, Florida, the Caribbean, South America, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, Washington D.C., and New York City - places where significant events influenced world history.
The next several novels in the Honor Series include a trilogy about the Spanish-American War in Cuba and Puerto Rico, the U.S.-German war confrontation at Venezuela, a trilogy about the Russo-Japanese War, and some fascinating espionage in South America and Europe in the prelude years to World War One. There’s lots of historical grist for the mill in that period! The entire series is planned out at 22 novels.
Where did your interest in the sea originate?
I was fortunate to grow up as a sailor among the islands of the lower Gulf Coast of Florida. I loved history and the sea, and studied political science and history at Edison College and the University Of South Florida, subsequently teaching it for a short time. Later in life, I returned to that wonderful avocation, lecturing on maritime matters, both contemporary and historical. The writing sprang from there. I lecture on 48 different topics, many related to the sea. The list is on my website www.RobertMacomber.com.
What intrigues you about the period in which your books are set?
The Victorian Age set the stage for who we are now. In the period spanning from the American Civil War to World War I, the United States evolved from a continental country into a global power. The U.S. Navy was instrumental in creating and maintaining much of our expansion. At the same time, the social, geo-political, industrial, and technological changes around the globe were astounding. In those same years, the primary world powers of our present time emerged. My readers get to see all of this unfold, through the fictional eyes of one of the participants, Peter Wake.
What drew you to write your first novel?
Twenty years ago, I was doing some lecturing and also writing for periodicals. Many people told me I should write historical novels, usually mentioning Hornblower. I heard it often enough and decided to try. But the Napoleonic period already had been covered well, and I didn’t want to be one more author in the same period. Instead, I wanted to cover a period of time equally as exciting, but not as well known.
So I started out writing about Florida and the Caribbean in the Civil War. Oddly enough, people often don’t associate the Civil War with Florida. The series was originally envisioned for seven books. But when the first two novels in the series won the literary awards for Best Historical Novel of Florida and Best Work in Southern Fiction, the series took off, and we decided to make it eleven books. When my sixth novel won the national literary award for the genre, the American Library Association’s Boyd Award for Excellence in Military Fiction, the readership expanded across North America and into Europe. The Honor Series is presently planned for 22 books, but there can be more if readers demand it.
How important is history to your stories?
It’s the foundation of the novels. People ask me, “How do you come up with these stories?” My answer: from real places, people, and events in history!
Historical detail is a key feature of period novels. I am well known for the comprehensive historical and geographical accuracy in my books. In order to achieve this vividly, I actually make the voyages, immerse myself in the cultures, and experience many of the events described in my writing. I also include charts and maps in the storyline; endnotes by chapter about the places, people, and events in the story; and a bibliography of research sources.
I do this because I want the reader to be able to delve further into what I write whether it is a broad detail or an obscure nuance. Many of my readers (some enthusiasts named themselves “Wakians” years ago and it’s caught on) even go so far as to travel to the places I write about, book in hand. They send me photos which are included within my quarterly newsletter, when space permits, in a section entitled “Wakian Sightings around the World!”
This is the twelfth book in the series. If you could go back in time, is there anything you’d change?
If I’d known I’d have this much fun, I would have started writing the Honor Series sooner in my life.
Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
My goal is to intrigue and educate while entertaining the reader. I want them to have an “Ah, so that’s why!” moment when they understand how the actual history in the story connects with them today.
I especially enjoy interacting with readers via Facebook or email and at my book parties, which are NEVER boring! I compile a trivia excerpt on my Facebook page each month and receive great feedback. I invite everyone to check out my 30-event book tour for The Assassin’s Honor and come on out to one of the events.
Thousands of folks around the world receive my quarterly newsletter via email to learn about my research treks, lecture tours, book events, and travel info from the locales of my novels. Find the newsletter on my website or sign up for it from there [www.RobertMacomber.com].