Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Simon Levack

Simon Levack is the author of the acclaimed Aztec Mystery series featuring Yaotl, Montezuma's chief minister's slave who becomes a sleuth.

There are now four volumes in the series that crime fiction expert J. Kingston Pierce calls "historically compelling" and which has earned numerous accolades, including winning a CWA Debut Dagger Award.

Last week I asked Levack what he was reading. His reply:
I'm currently reading the second volume of Shelby Foote's The Civil War - A Narrative -- a book that won't need any introduction for American readers. Foote's idea of writing out the history of the conflict as though it were a novel told from multiple points of view has to be admired for sheer ambition. I love its epic sweep although more of the common footsoldier's and the civilian's experience would have been welcome.

As a historical novelist, much of my reading is to support my writing, of course. For my Aztec stories I have been dipping once again into Sahagun's General History of the Things of New Spain - The Florentine Codex -- but I now know this work so well I'm unlikely to read it from cover to cover again.

I'm planning a series of books about Robert Clive, First Baron Plassey -- Clive of India -- and refreshing my memory by re-reading Mark Bence-Jones's biography of him -- still the best after a quarter of a century or more. Clive was a truly remarkable man -- self-important, overbearing and sometimes vindictive, but also loyal, generous to a fault, humane and courageous.

I recently read David Lindsay's extraordinary philosophical fantasy (or proto-science fiction) novel A Voyage to Arcturus -- an imaginative tour de force in which a man searches for the meaning of life in one fantastical landscape after another. Makes CS Lewis and even Tolkien look like amateurs. The fact that it only sold a few hundred copies when first published just underlines what a brave and original book it is.
Learn more about Simon Levack and his writing at his website and his blog.

Check out Jeri Westerton’s recent interview with Levack.

Read a sample chapter from Tribute of Death, the fourth volume in the Yaotl series.

--Marshal Zeringue