About Simone's BooksQ: What is the genre of your novels?
A: My novels are classified as Literary Historical Fiction.
Q: What is ‘literary historical fiction’ and how does it differ from popular fiction?
A: A historical novel is so defined because it is set in the past. Its purpose is to faithfully re-enact a particular period in history as would transport the reader back in time. Historical fiction is not a genre. ‘Crime’, ‘Romance’, ‘Thriller’, ‘Fantasy’ and such – these are genres. Any one of them may also be defined as historical if it is set in the past. ‘Literary’ is also a genre. While popular (or genre) fiction aims primarily to entertain, literary fiction explores subtleties and complexities of language, theme and symbolism and tends to be character-driven rather than plot driven.
Q: How much research do you do?
A: Research for historical novels is vast as it involves practically everything – from language, to architecture, geography, social protocols, transport, fashion, food, art, equine disciplines and hunting, to actual historical figures and events, and so much more. And in the case of this trilogy, the entire history of the English aristocracy, whose lifestyle and mores are the basis of the story. I always do too much research, mainly because my genre demands it but also because I'm a stickler for accuracy. If I'm unsure about a source or if I find difficulty understanding some technical aspect, then I will zig-zag through a hundred other sources before I'm satisfied with my findings. This usually happens with such complex subject matters as legalities, for instance. Laws evolve and what was good in 1690 may have changed dramatically by 1820, not to mention that they are location-specific, so you have to keep track of the legal evolution in tandem with the story's timeline. Very tricky stuff if you're not extra vigilant. Legal jargon, always a chore to decipher, is even more complex in a historical context.
Q: What is the latest publishing news for Simone Z. Endrich books?
A: All three volumes of The Natural Son Trilogy are currently awaiting publication.
Q: Will your books be available in audio format?
A: I will post updates of any developments on this website as they occur, as well as on my Facebook fan page and Twitter page. I would suggest to interested parties to follow me on social media and to subscribe to my updates on this site.
Q: What is The Natural Son Trilogy about?
A: This is a human story which should appeal to all adults of any sex and age. Basically, it’s a father-and-son story after the Cinderella tradition, but it involves all manner of sub-plots to interest a wide variety of reader preferences – crime, legal matters, sibling rivalry, crossed lovers, revenge, some romance, social issues that are still relevant today, and even a minor mystical sub-plot hinting at reincarnation.
Q: Why did you choose the title ‘The Natural Son’?
A: A ‘natural issue’ was the legal term given to children born out of wedlock, usually the spawn of an illicit intercourse. It was also the polite form used by the bon Ton (high society) of the time to describe a bastard child. Such children were also referred to as ‘base-born’ or ‘misbegot’ or ‘side-slips’ or, less formally, as ‘by-blows'. Being that my cast of characters belonged to that refined strata of society, use of certain epithets was deemed unacceptable, so they often employed the legal term of natural offspring (or issue) in its stead. Hence, I thought it was a fitting title, as it encapsulates everything about my story in just three little words – illegitimacy as the main theme and a refined but hypocritical society as its central characters.
Q: Can you describe the hero of The Natural Son trilogy?
A: This is a story about two male heroes – a father and his illegitimate son. I myself had great difficulty deciding which of the two was the real hero of my story. In truth, both characters are heroic, but to my mind, Montague is the real hero and remains so until the very end of Book 3. They are two contrasting personalities who have much to learn from one another. In Book 1, The Rustic, Ethan starts out as an eight-year-old boy; retiring in many ways, taciturn, but possessed of an inner strength that enables him to meet any challenge. He is all about emotion and courage, both as a boy and, in later novels, as a man. I would define him as the strong, silent type. On the other hand, Montague, the father, is all about control and ambition; a no-nonsense sort of fellow, ruthless in his actions, hard of core, arrogant, and full of himself, even. He, too, is strong in many ways, but emotionally he is weak, unformed. He sets out as this colossal godlike figure, who gradually discovers that he needs to dig deep within himself to find out who he really is.
Q: Is there a message you wanted to convey in your story?
A: There are many, but the most important message is about personal growth. Montague's is an uphill struggle, as it is for all of us. The trilogy explores this central theme very intensely because it’s a life lesson that transcends time, age or gender, and we can all learn from it. Self-awareness is nearly always resisted at first. People tend to use all kinds of distractions to avoid changing themselves or their comfortable lives. They cling to the tried and tested, justify wrongs by denying their existence, invent excuses to pacify their conscience. And Montague is the epitome of each one of us in many ways. His metamorphosis comes gradually and with great difficulty. He is one of the lucky ones; most people resist that change all their lives. I loved working on Montague's complex personality.
Q: What period in history and country are the novels set?
A: The entire trilogy spans a period of well over two decades if one includes the prologue and the epilogue – from 1790 to 1826 – during the Georgian era, with the main focus on the Regency period. The first volume, The Rustic, runs from 1799 through early 1805; the second and third pick up in 1817 until 1821, during the peak of the Regency era up until a year after the Prince Regent's accession to the throne as King George IV. It is set, in the main, in the country seat of the Viscount Dunholme, in the fictional village of Dunholme in one of the old shires of England, Huntingdonshire (now forming part of Cambridgeshire), with forays to the Capital and other shires. The epilogue concludes the story in 1826.
Q: What is it about your chosen era that appealed to you the most?
A: The Regency period has always held a particular fascination for me. This might have been influenced to some extent by a few of my favourite authors, particularly Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen, as well as period drama of the epoch. But it goes deeper than that, even. It's the history of the aristocracy that I find so gripping – their way of life, their magnificent country seats, their social mores, the fox-hunt tradition, the streamlined carriages and horses. I find it all romantic in the extreme. That old chivalry attracts me in a nostalgic way, even if I do find many of their traditions abhorrent. The Regency period was like a swan song for the British aristocracy. Sadly, that was when their greatness made its last bow to the world and to history. Their decline had begun decades earlier, of course, but following the Regency period, it deteriorated rapidly. As an author you want to capture the essence of that old world and hope to preserve it in all its glory for posterity.
Q: Is there a sequel in the offing after your trilogy?
A: Yes, I’m currently working on my fourth novel, which in many ways will be an extension of The Natural Son story, though it will run along an entirely different theme.