One of the historical series that I’m currently enjoying watching develop is Paul Fraser Collard’s Jack Lark adventures. Jack has become a habitual imposter, popping up in some of the 19th-century’s most perilous hotspots as a redcoat officer in the British army. Far from being all bad, Jack is a likeable rogue, making the best of what fate has thrown at him and through him we are able to get glimpses into some of the most fascinating and exotic (not to mention lethal) reaches of the growing Empire. The Scarlet Thief threw us, and Jack, headlong into the battlefields of the Crimean War while its successor, the fabulous and rich The Maharajah’s General, takes us to the hot deserts of Bhundapur, India.
To celebrate the recent publication of The Maharajah’s General in paperback, I’m delighted to be part of the Blog Tour. In the author’s post below, Paul tells us about how he plans the development of the series, giving hints about Jack Lark’s future. Long may the adventures continue!
A Writer with a Plan
I am a writer with a plan. I don’t think there are many others who have the outline for half a dozen future novels sketched out in their mind but I have to confess that I do. I am proud to say that my Jack has an interesting future ahead.
As the main protagonist in an historical fiction series, it should not be a great spoiler to know that I plan for Jack to survive, at least for a while (please now insert a James Bond villanesque laugh here!) I have set out my stall to base each Jack Lark story in a new setting and so we are going to see Jack venture far and wide as he struggles to find a place where he belongs.
I decided on this course of action as soon as I sat down to plan The Scarlet Thief. This central idea to my series will allow me to create the extra drama of a reader never quite knowing where Jack will turn up next. As a rogue and an imposter, Jack is not tied to a regiment, to a military campaign or even to the notion of a typical career and this gives me free rein to move Jack all around the globe. The Maharajah’s General is the first example of Jack’s travels and sees him venture to the wild frontier of the British Empire where the political officers of the East India Company look to seize on every opportunity to push back the boundaries of the Empire.
However this does not mean that Jack will merely slide into a series of convenient identities that happen to be left lying around whenever he happens to need a new one. I suspect that would be a rather trite way of doing things and most certainly not something that could survive for long. Instead I have a few ideas stashed away that will see Jack thrive in his roguish existence, or at the very least, survive it, and I hope to take my readers on a merry dance from country to country and even from continent to continent as Jack does his level best to prove himself in a world that had denied him any sort of a future merely because he was born poor.
Happily for me, the middle of the nineteenth century is a vibrant period in world history and I have no shortage of options for where to send Jack next. The period is dotted with all sorts of small wars and minor skirmishes that are just ripe for a man of Jack’s talents to experience, many rather unknown and so worthy of coverage lest they be totally forgotten. Then there are the major events that defined the Empire, with the cataclysmic events of the India Mutiny looming large on the horizon. Jack is nothing if not a survivor. I like to think he will continue to win through and I can picture his return to the East End of London dressed in the full (stolen!) finery of British army officer. From there, the Victorian world is his proverbial oyster and I can picture Jack on the battlefields of Europe before he follows thousands of other folk to America and beyond.
Jack’s future will be nothing if not interesting.
The Scarlet Thief
The Maharajah’s General