My grandmother, in middle age, worked as a cook for a British public school (i.e., a private academy) in the 1940s, after her husband died. During World War II, she traded petrol and cigarette rations for things her family needed, including - at one point - a children's encyclopedia set. One of the volumes, entitled "Our Indian Empire," was my favorite book as a child. I became fascinated by India and its history, and eventually I trained in South Asian Studies and earned a Ph.D. in South Asian History. I now teach Indian, Islamic, and World History at a public university. Madras - or Chennai, as it is laid down on the maps now - is my home-away-from-home in India, and a place featured frequently in The Adventures of Henry Innes.
Many academics frown upon colleagues who indulge in fiction writing. Personally, I don't care. I, for one, do not share my colleagues' illogical fascination with televised sporting events. I grew up in California, and I like to think I still have a Californian sense of individuality, a need to do my own thing, and a knack for thinking creatively. I write works of fiction about the past because I enjoy it, and because I have a good story to tell that other people will enjoy, too.
Since my fictional works closely parallel my research interests, the two activities cross-pollinate. Information and ideas I encounter while researching my novels become academic papers; academic research, meanwhile, may be distilled into fiction, at some point. Once I realized what was happening, and became comfortable with it, I allowed the two activities - career and hobby - to form a symbiotic and (so far) very productive relationship.
The Adventures of Henry Innes is a series of novels, so settle in for a long journey. However, I can promise you a fantastic tale, which took six years to conceive and more revisions than I can count to craft into the novels that I now am writing. Hopefully, the first of the novels will become available soon.
P.S. - I ought to note that at least a few of the illustrations you will see in this blog are hand-drawn by myself - on whatever surface and in whatever medium happens to be handy, as the spirit moves me.
© William Lailey, 2014.