Interview & Giveaway: The Coronation by Justin Newland

Hello, dear readers! Today on the blog I am very excited to be hosting Author Justin Newland who is currently touring the blogosphere for The Coronation! Justin stopped by today to talk about his novel, his writing, and more! Plus we have a giveaway so be sure to enter!

Hello Justin and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Coronation!

My pleasure, thanks for having me along, Amy.

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I have a research degree. I get on with research, it’s what I do, it’s what I’ve always done. I enjoy discovery, especially of history and people whose works shed a light on the human condition i.e. how and why we have inherited the society we live in today.

I write secret histories, that’s history with a supernatural twist. I take historical events and real historical personages, especially those that were seminal in shaping the human condition, and I examine them through a supernatural lens. This yields a different explanation for why those events happened, and why those people did what they did.

What inspired you to write The Coronation?

Today, it seems we are dominated by technology, and live in a technological post-industrial society. But why? How did we end up like this? Is this how it was meant to be? These were the questions I wanted to explore in my novel, and which inspired me to write The Coronation.

What research did you undertake when writing The Coronation?

The main character of The Coronation is Marion, Countess von Adler. She is based on a real-life personage, Marion, Countess von Dönhoff who lived at a Junker family estate at Castle Friedrichstein near Löwenhagen, East Prussia (see photograph). For reasons of discretion, I changed the name to Castle Ludwigshain.

Much of the inner detail in the novel is derived from the real Countess’ autobiography, Before the Storm: Memories of My Youth in Old Prussia (tr. by Jean Steinberg. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990).

Although she lived during the 20th Century, I was able to add a rare touch of authenticity to my novel.

It allowed me to enter her pre-Second World War world and imagine what it might have been like to live on the Friedrichstein estate during the 18th Century. That’s her photograph.

What would you like readers to take away from reading The Coronation?

To ask themselves questions such as…

We are Homo Sapiens Sapiens, which is Latin for man-the-doubly-wise. If that’s the case, then how came we are not displaying that wisdom in our society today?

If the Great Enlightenment was when we were meant to begin that spiritual journey, what happened to it? Where did the promise of that enlightenment go? Where did it end up?

And why are we so fascinated by and dependent on technology?

What was your favorite scene to write?

One scene I enjoyed writing was based around and inspired by the famous Hieronymus Bosch painting, Cutting the Stone. It’s also called The Extraction of the Stone of Madness or The Cure of Folly.

This painting aptly summarised one of the novel’s main themes, notably the blurred line between sanity and madness in human affairs. The painting was also a launch pad to explore the meaning and significance of the Medieval medical practice of trepanning.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

The ending. I think I must have written three or four versions before I was content that it tied up the threads of the plot in a satisfactory way, and which brought the main character arcs to a successful completion.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I wrote a novel and some short stories when I was a young man, a student in my 20’s. Then in my middle years, I wrote up a lot of my historical researches. Then, 15 years ago, I decided to return to writing fiction.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

Edit the previous day’s work, which helps clue me into the plot and the characters. Then find a space in which to write for as long as I can before the next interruption.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

I grew up reading classic novels, like Crime and Punishment, Metamorphosis and The Plague, all of which were written from an omniscient point of view. Then I spent a lot of time writing up my non-fiction historical researches. Most modern historical novels are written in the third person point of view. These two features became engrained habits. My greatest challenges for me as a writer were to overcome these habits.

Who are your writing inspirations?

A mix of two influences.

First, the Greek tragedians – Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus – who taught me that there is only one thing worth writing about – and that’s the human condition.

And second, the existentialists – Kafka, Camus, Dostoyevsky – who taught me that the only real way to examine the human condition is by removing your characters from their comfort zone, and by jettisoning them into situations that are far bigger than they are, and about which they have no prior experience.

What was the first historical novel you read?

I can’t remember, but Frank Herbert’s Dune (which is more historical fantasy) had a huge influence on me when I was a young man. Its evocative descriptions of the desert inspired me to go to the Sahara to experience one for myself.

What is the last historical novel you read?

I’m currently reading Tim Powers’ On Stranger Tides.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

Because I write secret histories, in a sense it gives me the opportunity to re-write history, not what happened, but why it happened, what unseen forces were at play that motivated and influenced the decisions of the men and women of the time, and how those events and people fitted into the zeitgeist – the spirit of the times. A wise person once said, ‘It’s not history that’s important, it’s the interpretation of history that’s important’.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

It varies. I tend to read the historical period about which I’m writing. But I’d say that the most revealing, enigmatic, obscure and misunderstood historical period is – by far – Ancient Egypt.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

Reading. Walking. Good conversation.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

A novel set in England in 1588, the year of the Spanish Armada. Like my other novels, it’s a weave of history, fiction and supernatural. Its working title should give a good sense of its curious nature: The Shoes That Don’t Wear Out.

The Coronation by Justin Newland

Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Paperback & eBook; 299 pages

Genre: Historical Fantasy

It is 1761. Prussia is at war with Russia and Austria. As the Russian army occupies East Prussia, King Frederick the Great and his men fight hard to win back their homeland.

In Ludwigshain, a Junker estate in East Prussia, Countess Marion von Adler celebrates an exceptional harvest. But this is soon requisitioned by Russian troops. When Marion tries to stop them, a Russian Captain strikes her. His Lieutenant, Ian Fermor, defends Marion's honour, but is stabbed for his insubordination. Abandoned by the Russians, Fermor becomes a divisive figure on the estate.

Close to death, Fermor dreams of the Adler, a numinous eagle entity, whose territory extends across the lands of Northern Europe and which is mysteriously connected to the Enlightenment. What happens next will change the course of human history...

"The author is an excellent storyteller." – British Fantasy Society

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble

About the Author

Justin Newland was born in Essex, England, three days before the end of 1953.

His love of literature began with swashbuckling sea stories, pirates and tales of adventure. Undeterred by the award of a Doctorate in Mathematics from Imperial College, London, he worked in I.T. and later ran a hotel.

His taste in literature is eclectic: from literary fiction and fantasy, to science fiction, with a special mention for the magical realists and the existentialists. Along the way, he was wooed by the muses of history, both ancient and modern, and then got happily lost in the labyrinths of mythology, religion and philosophy. Justin writes secret histories in which real events and historical personages are guided and motivated by numinous and supernatural forces.

His debut novel, The Genes of Isis, is a tale of love, destruction, and ephemeral power set under the skies of Ancient Egypt, and which tells the secret history of the human race, Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

His second is The Old Dragon’s Head, a historical fantasy and supernatural thriller set during the Ming Dynasty and played out in the shadows the Great Wall of China. It explores the secret history of the influences that shaped the beginnings of modern times.

Set during the Enlightenment, his third novel, The Coronation reveals the secret history of perhaps the single most important event of the modern world – The Industrial Revolution.

He lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 26
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Tuesday, April 27
Review at Vincent Triola

Thursday, April 29
Interview at Jathan & Heather

Friday, April 30
Excerpt at CelticLady's Reviews

Monday, May 3
Review at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, May 5
Excerpt at Books, Ramblings, and Tea

Friday, May 7
Review at Bookworlder

Tuesday, May 11
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink

Friday, May 14
Review at Nurse Bookie

Monday, May 17
Review at Libri Draconis

Friday, May 21
Guest Post Historical Fiction Reviews

Tuesday, May 25
Interview at Passages to the Past

Monday, May 31
Review at The Enchanted Shelf


Enter to win a paperback copy of The Coronation! Two paperbacks are up for grabs.

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on May 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Coronation

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