Today’s guest on What Cathy Read Next is Timothy Ashby, author of In Shadowland. This exciting historical thriller is the second outing for Special Agent Seth Armitage, a follow-up to Devil’s Den. I’m delighted that Timothy has agreed to answer some questions about his book, its inspiration and his approach to writing.
About the Book
Teddy Roosevelt’s son Quentin was killed in WWI. So why is another man’s corpse in his grave? J. Edgar Hoover summons reluctant Special Agent Seth Armitage back to the Bureau to investigate the shocking revelation. Armitage must travel the world to probe the mystery, and quickly becomes targeted himself by powerful and ruthless forces on both sides of the Atlantic who are committed to keeping the scandal secret-at any cost. The line between enemy and ally blurs perilously as Seth becomes enmeshed with a WWI vet turned assassin with whom he shares a strange bond, a beautiful double agent with a personal agenda, and the political madmen building the Nazi party. The complex web reaches ever deeper, until Seth finds himself forced to make the terrifying choice to protect or destroy the soon-to-be Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler.
In his second book featuring Armitage, Ashby once again brings to life the emotionally-charged period between WWI and WWII, showing us that psychological wounds of war do not heal quickly, and the thirst for power and revenge runs very deep.
Praise for In Shadowland
“Suspenseful…Provocative…A riveting work of political intrigue [that]…weaves real-world history into a deft, dynamic historical thriller.” (Kirkus Reviews)
- Format: ebook
- Publisher: Author Planet Press
- Publication date: 15th November 2016
- Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller
Find In Shadowland on Goodreads
Interview: Timothy Ashby, author of In Shadowland
You had an exciting career before you started writing. How much of that experience do you bring to your books?
Quite a lot. I learned about the “shadowy” world of international diplomacy and intelligence operations, and worked with a number of military veterans who couldn’t shake the past.
How did you approach the research for In Shadowland? Do you enjoy the process of research?
I immersed myself in the culture of the 1920s, using original sources such as magazines, music, and biographies. I delved deeply into the history of the period, learning much about US politics of the era and the rise of Nazism in Germany. I loved the research and was so saturated with the time period that I began dreaming about it!
What was the biggest challenge you encountered when writing In Shadowland?
There were two primary challenges: making all the “moving parts” of the plot work chronologically so the fast pace necessary for a thriller could be maintained, and achieving a balance for the historical setting so that just the right amount of detail would authentically convey the atmosphere.
In Shadowland is the second book featuring the character Special Agent Seth Armitage. What made you decide to give Seth another case to investigate?
I like Seth and wanted him to grow as a character. Physically, he’s an amalgam of my two grandfathers (appearance, dress etc.), one of whom died long before I was born (like Seth’s grandpa killed at the Battle of Gettysburg), and the other who was an old Virginia gentleman.
It seems to me that both In Shadowland and its predecessor, Devil’s Den, explore the psychological effects of war. What is it about this subject that interests you?
My mother worked as an Occupational Therapist for Veterans Administration hospitals during and after World War II, and when I was a child she often talked about the experience of treating psychologically damaged veterans of not only World War II but from the First World War. Subsequently I met many Vietnam veterans who were dealing with similar problems. I feel great pity and empathy for them all, and wanted to sympathetically portray them in the context of a thriller.
Your website describes you as ‘Novelist’ and ‘Provocateur’. How does the latter manifest itself in your writing?
I enjoy upending conventional wisdom about history and provoking readers by blurring the line between fact and fiction. For example, few people today know that Henry Ford was an outrageous anti-Semite and racist who funded the rise of Hitler and the Nazis, and was the only American mentioned with almost fawning admiration in Mein Kampf!
Do you have a special place to write or any writing rituals?
I wrote most of In Shadowland in the South of France, looking out over the Mediterranean. I tend to write in the morning, starting early and finishing by noon. I set myself a quota of 500 words per day, even if I don’t end up using the daily output.
What other writers do you admire?
Frederick Forsyth, Wilbur Smith, Deon Meyer, Stephen Hunter and Don Winslow are my favourites.
What are you working on next?
A non-fiction historical work, a biography of my distant ancestor William Ashby of Loseby, who was Queen Elizabeth I’s ambassador to Scotland during the Spanish Armada (1588) and had a fascinating prior career as an English secret agent.
Thank you, Timothy, for sharing those insights with us. I look forward to reading In Shadowland.
About the Author
Timothy Ashby, author of the best-selling thriller Time Fall, worked in Washington, D.C. as a counter-terrorism consultant to the U.S. State Department, and a senior official at the U.S. Commerce Department. He held two Top Secret security clearances and worked with a number of colourful characters, including members of the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command. Before and after his career in Washington, Ashby led a peripatetic life. Born in the USA, he spent his teenage years in Grenada, where he learned to surf, sail and dive, and where his lifelong passion for history and archaeology was inspired. It was also in Grenada that he became passionate about writing, having the good fortune to be mentored by authors Martin Woodhouse and Dudley Pope. Mr. Pope named one of the characters in his Lord Ramage series “Captain Ashby,” in honour of the teenage Tim Ashby.
Ashby received his PhD in International Relations from the University of Southern California, an MBA degree at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and a law degree from Seattle University. A licensed attorney, he worked in Cuba and Eastern Europe on a variety economic development projects and has served as CEO of several global companies that he founded.
He is the author of the novels Time Fall, Devil’s Den and In Shadowland, and numerous articles.
Connect with Timothy