Thursday, September 13, 2012

Marching With Caesar – Conquest of Gaul by R.W. Peake Blog Tour Interview

Marching With Caesar-Conquest of Gaul is a first-person narrative, written in the form of a memoir as dictated to a scribe of Titus Pullus, Legionary, Optio, First Spear Centurion of Caesar’s 6th and 10th Legion. The memoir is written three years after his retirement as Camp Prefect, when Titus is 61 years old.

Titus, along with his boyhood friend Vibius Domitius, joins the 10th Legion in the draft of 61 BC, when Gaius Julius Caesar is the governor of Spain. Titus and Vibius are assigned to a tent group, with seven other men who will become their closest friends during their times in the legion. Titus, Vibius and their comrades endure the harsh training regimen that made the legions the most feared military force in the ancient world. The 10th Legion is blooded in a series of actions in Spain, led by Caesar in a campaign that was the true beginning of one of the most brilliant military careers in history.

Three years after joining the legions, the 10th is called on again, this time to be part of the subjugation of Gaul, one of the greatest feats of arms in any period of history. During the subsequent campaigns, the 10th cements its reputation as Caesar’s most favored and trusted legion, and is involved in most of the major actions during this period.

This first book of a completed trilogy closes with Caesar crossing the Rubicon, and the 10th preparing to march to war, this time against fellow Romans.
Guest Post:
What are the mistakes you see in beginner writers?
by RW Peake

I’m involved in a group of young writers, and the one common thing I see that I would characterize as a mistake is that none of them have actually completed a project before moving on. It was a problem that I had; I was a great “starter”, and I have more than enough just-started or half-finished great ideas to last the rest of the time I write.

But it wasn’t until I actually started and finished what is essentially my first novel (and is NOT Marching With Caesar-Conquest of Gaul) that I felt like I could call myself a writer. Until then, I was a dabbler, and I see a whole lot of dabbling going on. I’ve challenged the members of my group to actually start and finish something, so we’ll see if they do so.

If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
Ooooh. Tough one right off the bat. I would go back into the past. I am increasingly feeling like an anachronism in our society today, because the values I cherish most; Honor, Courage and Commitment, the core values of my beloved Marine Corps, are considered useless by so many people. We live, to steal from Jerry Maguire, in a cynical age, where such finer feelings are a luxury that in fact may hinder someone in their pursuit of what they define as “excellence”, which all too often is tied directly the number of zeroes in their checking account.

So I just don’t fit in much, and the truth is I never did. Even when I was much younger I felt as if I belonged to another age. Back then, I would have loved to be living in the Old West, but that had more to do with loving Louis L’Amour than anything else.

Now, for probably obvious reasons, I would love to drop in on Rome, say around March 14th, 44 BC. Just to warn Caesar and see what happened as a result. Then I would have even more fodder for my blog, Caesar Triumphant!

If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?
Easier. Caesar, first and foremost. But he would be the only Roman in all likelihood; I have a feeling if I invited Marcus Antonius we would end up in a brawl after he threw up on me. And Octavian frankly I find a little creepy.

So, after Caesar who would it be? Augustine would be another guest; his writing had a profound effect on my life at one point. Plutarch, for another, for similar reasons. Now that leaves two. Hmmmmm. Lance Armstrong, so we could talk cycling, and I could ask him a couple questions from some of the races we did together back in the late 80′s and early 90′s, when he was a brash 17 year old just starting out. I got to witness firsthand the things he is capable of on the bike, and since that is such a huge part of my life, I would love to discuss cycling with him. Which I know would bore the shit out of everyone else at the table, but as an old bike racer I’m used to that.

That leaves one. Okay, this probably will expose the pig in me, but for the final guest I would choose Salma Hayek, simply because I have long considered her the most beautiful woman on the planet. And I really think if she got to know me, I would have a chance!

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
Okay, now I have to admit that I have a very wide streak of smartass in me, so my immediate answer would be something like a satellite phone, a water desalinization device, and a yacht so I could get off the island whenever I wanted.

But I know that’s not what you’re looking for. So, first I would say I would want my current best friend Sadie with me, my Yellow Lab who’s been with me almost a year now. She came into my life after Luke, my best friend of 9 years died of cancer last year. He’s the guy on the back cover of my book, because he was there with me throughout the whole process, but he didn’t live long enough to see me published.

After Sadie, I would choose a copy of Plutarch’s Lives, which I consider the best work of its type of any age.

Finally, I guess I would want to take a survival kit of some sort, with fish hooks etc. I can’t completely escape the practical side of me.

If you were a superhero what would your name be?
Hardass. That comes from the first “adult” conversation I had with my daughter, who’s now 33. I asked her if she had to sum me up in one word, what would it be? I was looking for something……well, I’m not sure what I was looking for, but I do know that wasn’t it.

Still, as far as a descriptive name, I think it probably fits. That, or Accident Prone or something.

If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
Given my past, and how angry I’ve made people, I think probably being bulletproof would be the most valuable. When someone tells you, “You could make Jesus Christ cuss” you know you have a rare talent for trouble.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Uh-oh. I’m about to betray my Texan heritage here, because up until I moved up here to Washington, I would have said Blue Bell Pralines n’ Cream. But now, I have to say Tillamook Chocolate Peanut Butter has supplanted Blue Bell. I have been known to down a whole half gallon container in one sitting.

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
My dad. I never knew him because he died 3 weeks before I was born. And because of other circumstances, I not only didn’t see a picture of him until I was a (young) adult, I didn’t know anything about him or his family until then. In fact, while it’s his name that I am using as my pen name, it’s not the name under which I grew up and have used my entire life. So I would really love to meet him for the first time.

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Pancakes. And I in fact eat that almost every morning, now that I have resumed eating breakfast. And I’ve been eating breakfast for 4 years now, and I would say that I have eaten pancakes at least 90% of the time since then.

Yeah, I’m one of those people. When I was a bike racer, my dinner every night of the week was two chicken breasts and a package of pasta. Every. Single. Night. It was so bad that when my daughter would come to stay with me EVERY OTHER weekend, she would beg me not to make her eat chicken and pasta.

To no avail. Hence the “Hardass” moniker.

Night owl, or early bird?
Night owl for as long as I can remember. In fact, it was the one thing I HATED about the Marine Corps; they’re not big on lolling around in the rack until noon. Nor are they big on allowing you to ease into the morning by hitting the snooze button for an hour or so. Nope, when you’re up, you’re up. I hated that.

If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world.. which would it be?
I would like to jump into (strangely enough) the world of The Stand, by Stephen King.

Second would be the Old West, particularly the Four Corners are of Colorado, as brought to you by Louis L’Amour.

If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why?
I would say Rome of course, but only if I could jump in with the knowledge I have now, so I would boil my water and really cook all my food, and know how to make aspirin and penicillin and that stuff.

If you could be one of the Greek Gods, which would it be and why?
Hmm. Apollo I guess. Wasn’t he the ladies’ man of all the gods?

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
I would go back to Paris. I lived there for a year in the mid-90′s when I was working at my software company. It still ranks as my favorite place.

Houston, Texas would be second I guess, but only as long as my daughter and son-in-law are there. They’re dual citizens with plans to move back to London, where they lived for 7 years. So then it would be London.

What is your favorite Quote?
Veni, vidi, vici.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
Oh wow. I pretty much did what I wanted to be, and that was a career in the military. At the time, however, I wanted to be in the Army, because one of the only things I knew about my dad was that he was in the Army. Fortunately I grew out of that.

It was in my teen years and early adulthood I planned on being a cop, and in fact I was accepted to the Houston Police Academy, but when I was accepted, I was a construction worker, an ironworker to be exact, the guy who rides the beams up buildings like the WTC and bolts them up, and I was making a lot more money than a cop would make.

Then I joined the Marines, and I grew out of the cop thing.

If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why?
Well, when I was about 12 or 13, a couple of counselors at my summer camp said I was the spitting image of Peter Ustinov, but since he’s dead, I have to come up with someone else. Jeeze, I don’t know. Russell Crowe I suppose? Not conventionally handsome, but has the square jaw needed to play me. Not to brag (much) but I was considered for a recruiting poster, although I didn’t make the final cut, and I was always the media representative when the local TV stations came along when I was a recruiter. Mainly it was because of the jaw, or so I was told.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
Sure. I put a lot of me in Titus, particularly as it pertains to the military stuff. And my first novel is kind of based on my life, although in my novel the character who plays me is on Death Row, and is executed. So far, that hasn’t happened.

Hidden talent?
I can tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue. I learned that from a friend of my mom’s when I was about 10 who was undergoing therapy for a stroke and trying to recover from a stroke. I thought it was fun. It turned out to be pretty useful. Who knew?
Oh, and I’m actually a really good singer, or at least so I’ve been told. But I never do.

Favorite Food?
Hmmmm. Fried shrimp has to be at the top of that list. I’m a boy from the Gulf Coast of Texas after all.

But I do love me some pot roast and potatoes.

Favorite Candy?
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
It’s already written, and the title is Damning Secrets. Aside from the Death Row thing, it’s pretty much an autobiography. As I mentioned, it got some serious attention from agents, but I made the decision that having it published would cause people I care about a lot of pain.

Give us a glimpse into a typical day in your day starting when you wake up till you lie down again.
Being a night owl, my day starts between 10:00 and 11:00 and ends at 2:00 A.M.

The weird thing is that right now I have less free time than I had before because of the book. Being self-published means that it’s all DIY; hence, this interview that I’m doing that’s not arranged for me. I spend most of my day answering fan mail, which right now only takes about an hour; then I scan the blogosphere looking for places where I might be able to plug the book. I’m helping another writer with his own book, so I spend some time with that.

Then I ride my bike, play with Sadie, watch TV, play video games. I have to say that it’s good being me right now.

What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you’d be embarrassed to admit?
Hands down, the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise. In fact I am trying to get over the fact that Emily Maynard opted to wear sacred underpants over hanging out in the pit lane of an Indy Car race. And I’m watching Bachelor Pad right now, which is a new low.

Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is…
The Stand. Epic, simply epic.

Favorite places to travel?
France. Provence in particular, although I’m finally going to Italy for the first time in my life, which is ironic considering that it’s the proceeds of a book about Rome that is paying for me to go see what I wrote about for the first time.

Favorite music?
Everything. If one were to look at my collection, they would insist that it belonged to more than one person. I can go country, and I’m talking REAL country; Merle, Willie, Garth et. al., or I can go Ice Cube. Or Brahms. Or Aerosmith. Or…………you get the idea.

In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?
Either Simon Scarrow, or Stephen King, although I don’t know what Steve (you know, us authors call him Steve) and I would write about.

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Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG
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