Listen here: CW Lovatt
Tell us about yourself.
- Where do you live? Manitoba, Canada
- How long have you lived there? Twenty-seven years
- Are you married? No
- Kids? No
- Full time job? Currently on disability with an arthritic hip. Due to retire in November, 2019
- Education? Building Construction at Red River, and Assiniboine Community Colleges
- Who is your favorite author and book? George MacDonald Fraser – “Flashman and the Great Game”
- What is your preferred genre? Historical Fiction
- How did you start this journey to become a writer? I read a horrible book (can’t remember the title) that planted the seed in my mind that I could do better. Then I read Watership Down, which showed me an excellence that I could aspire to.
Tell us about your work.
10. What have you written so far? I’ve three Books in the best selling Charlie Smithers series – “The Adventures of Charlie Smithers,” “Adventures in India,” and “Adventures Downunder.” Then there are three more books in the Josiah Stubb trilogy: “The Siege of Louisbourg,” “Interim,” and “The Plains of Abraham.” Then there’s my eclectic anthology of novellas and short stories, entitled “And Then It Rained,” “Never Taken Road” is a stand alone dystopian novella, “The Little Mouse” is a children’s book that went to #1 in its category in Canada and the UK, and stayed there for the entire weekend. And finally, two of my stories are included in Wild Wolf’s Twisted Tails – an anthology of short stories written by my publisher’s stable of authors.
11. Tell us about your current book. “Dolly Pleasance,” while not, strictly speaking, part of the Charlie Smithers collection, will be affiliated to it. It will be written in the first person, as the other books are, but instead of Charlie Smithers, the protagonist will be one Dolly Pleasance, an actress in 19th Century London. The reader will get to follow her career over thirty odd years, as well as learn about her involvement with Charlie Smithers whenever he is home from his adventures around the world, in the old British Empire.
12. What is the inspiration for your current book? The passing of a very close, and very dear friend.
13. Who was your favorite character to write and why? Oh wow, there’ve been so many. I’ll go with Benjamin Stockingsdale, the company pervert, from the Josiah Stubb trilogy. He was so incorrigible, and so base, that my imagination was free to … well, not exactly soar, but perhaps to delve into the darker side of my own imagination in a tongue-in-cheek way. Reprehensible as he was, the reader was free to abhor his conduct, as well as indulge in a guilty chuckle at the same time.
14. Is there anything of you in that character? Benjamin Stockingsdale is my invention, so I suppose there must be. However, you won’t find me copying his antics anywhere in this lifetime.
15. What sets your book apart? I would say that it’s the style of writing, the eloquence, perhaps, if I may be so bold. By and large, my books have the ability to take readers through the entire gambit of emotions, leaving them exhausted, and wrung out by the time they reach the end. These aren’t my words, but a unifying theme of the vast majority of readers who were kind enough to leave reviews.
16. What’s your favorite part in the book? As “Dolly Pleasance” is still only in the research stage, I’ll take the liberty of choosing a passage from the second Charlie Smithers book, “Adventures in India.” First a brief summary: for those who aren’t aware, Charlie Smithers in his capacity as manservant to the dunderhead, Lord Brampton, is forced to accompany his master on various excursions throughout the late British Empire of the 19th Century, in this case, India. Lord Brampton has become enthralled with one Amrita Pirãli, a beautiful native lady who was about to suffer the horrible fate of suttee, by being burned alive on her late husband’s funeral pyre. Placing her under his protection, Lord Brampton returns with her to Calcutta, supplying her with her own servant and a suite of rooms. The evening prior to the event in question, Lord Brampton’s presence is requested at Government House the following day. However, unbeknownst to Charlie, Lord Brampton presents himself at Madam Pirãli’s rooms for tea the next morning, where the good dame attempts to seduce him, using her feminine wiles and tea made from cannabis. The passage picks up from the moment he leaves her:
I accompanied Lord Brampton to Government House later the next morning. I can’t imagine why, as it was no great distance, and a household run under the stern eye of Ram Singh put my own poor service to shame. But at the appointed hour my master emerged from his rooms with his walking stick in one hand and his hat in the other saying, “Come along, Smithers, don’t dawdle!” and sailed out the door, with myself, caught unaware, racing far behind. He was already out on the street when I reached him, gazing at massive thunderclouds gathering directly overhead.
“Damn fine weather,” he declared, “Shan’t need a cab!” and then we were off. Minutes later we were caught in a monsoon.
My lord gave no indication that he was aware. Indeed, he had this strange cherubic smile upon his face when he turned to me and asked, “See here, Smithers, what do you make of this Pirãli woman?”
The downpour was drumming on my bowler, and I was cursing silently that I had not thought to bring an umbrella, but Lord Brampton’s departure had been so sudden that there hadn’t been time to consider. I ventured a sidelong glance, and fancied that the whites of my eyes must be showing. Very correctly, I said that she seemed rather nice, if he didn’t mind my saying so.
“Don’t mind a bit!” he exclaimed, suddenly stopping with his arms outstretched, inhaling – roughly speaking – about a pint of water. “What a lovely day!” he declared in a voice that was positively happy, and squelched on, seemingly unaware of the deluge running from the brim of his topper.
Left with no other recourse, I had one hand on my hat and the other clasping the lapels of my coat to my chin, blinking at the rain, and doing my utmost not to lose my way as it cascaded down, obliterating everything from sight.
“Fetching gel!” he said, flicking his stick with a fair bit of swagger. “Fine figure of a woman, what?”
With a care (and with water runnelling down my spine), I allowed that la Pirãli did strike me as rather handsome, now that he’d mentioned it.
“Oh posh!” he exclaimed, “She’s a stunner, ain’t she?”
Completely sodden, I admitted that she was above average, appearance-wise, in a manner of speaking.
“Did you know that she thinks my monocle makes me look distinguished?”
I would not have been human if I had not been curious about my master’s complete disregard for our situation, but for the moment, managed to keep such curiosity to myself, as it was not my place to enquire. Instead, I splashed unhappily along, dutifully claiming ignorance of the regard that madam had for milord’s eyepiece.
He replied, “Well she did,” then with pride, “ she said ‘quite distinguished’, actually. What d’you think of that, hey?”
I said that the lady had a very discerning eye.
“Yes,” he agreed, well pleased, “yes she does, by Jove!”
We continued on, with the rain coming down in sheets, and my lord steeped in his own private thoughts, for which I was grateful, hoping that privacy might be maintained. What my own thoughts were you might well imagine. Why, just forget about being soaked to the skin. In all my days I could never remember my master speaking to me with such familiarity. What’s more, I wasn’t at all sure that it was proper. Well you see what I mean, don’t you? A master speaking to a servant like they were the best of chums was quite bad enough, but to be speaking about a lady, and with such intimacy, too…well it beggared belief, that’s all. It really did.
“Popped around to call on her this morning,” he said, which explained his absence when I had returned from tidying up his room. “Quite a proper thing to do, of course. She is under my care, after all.” He explained in such a manner that, had it been a commoner, I would have harboured doubt as to whether observing the proprieties had ever been his intention.
“Late riser,” he said.
“My lord?” I enquired.
“Amrit – that is to say, Madam Pirãli. Damn late it was, almost nine.”
“Nine o’clock, man!”
“Oh, I see, sir.”
“Or perhaps it was eight-thirty…or after eight…hard to say, really.”
While I was absorbing this information (and doing my utmost not to,) as well as generous amounts of rainwater, he continued:
“I say, fetching attire!” He said it with such relish that it quite alarmed me.
“For the boudoir!” he explained, which, of course, did little to quiet my unease. “Damn fetching togs some of these Indian ladies wear!” and his face grew more trance-like than ever. “Can’t see how it would be comfortable to sleep in, though…” – pause – “must keep crawling up the…” he gestured anatomically, and I quickly looked away.
“She invited me in. Quite gracious of her, I must say!”
By now even my thoughts had become drenched, so I continued on at his side, voicing my disapproval in silence, as it were. Fat lot of good it did me, too.
“For tea,” he said, his face crinkling in a most unsettling fashion. “Dear little thing, I hadn’t the heart to tell her that I’d already dined, and that Elevenses wouldn’t be for hours. Small oversight, really. How was she to know?”
By now we were both thoroughly soaked, through-and-through, or I was at least. My lord, on the other hand…
“Charming conversation. Most charming. Beyond doubt a lady of quality. Good tea, as well!”
I replied, “I’m sure, sir,” no longer able to keep the misery from every facet of my bearing. But as bad as things were, they suddenly got worse.
Out of nowhere Lord Brampton’s character suddenly changed, in a way that quite drove the notion that we were standing, virtually naked, in the middle of a monsoon, clear from my mind. It was decidedly more – for lack of a better word, I shall say lascivious.
In a low, husky voice he said, “Lovely perfume, too!” Then, “I say Smithers,” and he actually leered, “there’s precious little that the Frogs could teach this bunch about scent, what?” Bless me! He even went so far as to dig a conspiratorial elbow into my ribs! “It got me going, if you know what I mean, hey!”
Astonished, I could only gasp, “Really, sir, I don’t think…”
But my lord was on a tangent and would not be denied.
“All that flesh just oozing out of her bodice!” he shuddered dreadfully. “And those pouting lips of hers!” in a tone that left me dumbfounded. “And that fine, fat rump too, by Jove!” Then, as God’s my witness, he followed this shocking statement with a sound so lecherous that it is impossible to record on paper.
“My lord!” This had to be the bloody limit!
“And all the while her looking at me with those come-hither eyes!” he swore savagely. “Wicked, that’s what they were, quite delightfully wicked, I must say!”
I could take it no longer. With a great effort, I pulled myself together, and finally had the wit to ask, “Sir, are you well?”
“Never better, Smithers! Never better!” he laughed something shocking, “Delightful gel! Gad! Can’t remember ever feeling in such trim!”
If the truth be told, neither could I. I wondered if it might be the sun.
In some desperation, I pressed on. “Milord, you are not yourself.”
“Ain’t I though?” he bellowed laughter, a sound that can only be described as amazing. “I should like to know who is then!” and he evidently considered this so humorous that he had to stop for air, drinking in huge gasps with various scandalous expostulations regarding madam’s charms in between.
I was completely at a loss. Here we were on our way to meet the most important man in India (to discuss an affair of state, no less,) only to find that my master had suddenly gone barking mad. Why, it wouldn’t do at all! I glanced around for aid, but the street was empty in the pouring rain. Sensible of the city’s inhabitants though that might be, I was left with no recourse.
Gently as humanly possible, I said, “Come along, sir,” and taking him firmly by the arm, guided him to a nearby bench. To my relief he did not remonstrate, nor deride me for laying my hand upon his person, but allowed himself to be led as meekly as a child, with only the occasional titter to show for his previous behaviour. Reaching the bench, I sat him down as gentle as could be. And there we were: him sitting and me standing, in a torrential downpour.
I had to shout over the rain to be heard, “Sir, have you taken spirits?” I knew this to be unlikely as the sun (wherever it was) had yet to cross over the yardarm, an observance that my master seldom failed to follow. Indeed, this was confirmed only a moment later.
I bent over, putting my ear to his mouth.
“No spirits,” he sighed, still not himself, but at least several decibels further down the scale. “Just tea. Wonderful, wonderful tea!” His tone continued to subside, “Marvellous concoction, quite different from anything at home.”
I asked, “Was there anything in the tea, sir?”
He regarded me, all bleary-eyed. “You should know, Smithers. Milk and a squeeze of lemon, as always.” He thought that this was funny, too, but instead of laughter all that emerged from him was a rugged squeak.
“No sir! I meant was there anything else?”
“Anything else?” Peering carefully through the rain, I noticed that his pupils had become quite enlarged.
“Yes, sir! Did madam put anything else in your tea?”
“Madam?” His mouth had sagged open, a string of drool mingled with the rain.
“Yes sir! Madam Pirãli!”
“D’you mean Amrita?” he asked, as if at a name half-remembered, “Amrita Pirãli?”
“Indeed I do sir!”
As if by magic, the question disappeared from his face to be replaced by a smile that was almost gentle.
“Amrita,” he sighed, “Such a lovely child!” Then he looked at me, and the smile became complete blissful innocence.
“Did I mention that I popped by for tea?”
17. What was the most difficult part to write? I’m not going to answer this one directly, as it would be giving too much away. Suffice it to say that it comes from the first Charlie Smithers, and I managed to break my own heart, leaving me inconsolable for months.
Tell us about what’s next.
18. What was your favorite book to write? They’re all my favourites, each in their own way.
19. How do you write? Do you have a set time or place? How many hours a day? I do have a set time, and different places, but those times and places change with every book, as do the hours. Most, if not all, of the first Charlie Smithers was written in twelve hour (at least) days. My last book, “Josiah Stubb: The Plains of Abraham,” was more like six hours a day. I’ve yet to settle into a routine for “Dolly Pleasance.”
20. Why did you want to be a writer? I’m sure every author has the same answer: I didn’t choose to be a writer, it chose me.
21. How do you get your ideas? Again, every writer will give you the same answer: they just sort of pop into my head.
22. What do you have planned next? The fourth and fifth books of the Charlie Smithers collection – the fourth takes place in England, and the fifth in Canada.
23. What advice would you give new writers? Don’t make becoming published your initial goal. Just because you may feel compelled to write doesn’t by any stretch of the imagination mean that you’ll write well. Practice, practice, practice, and then edit, edit, edit, until you can no longer stand to look at your current project(s). If it’s going to mean anything at all, pay your dues, earn your way to respect, it’s a process that takes several years. But by the time that you finally do become published, you can proudly say, “I belong here.”
24. How can readers get in touch with you? Either via email : Clovatt@xplornet.ca or look for me on Facebook or Twitter under Chuck Lovatt.