M.M. Bennetts is a specialist in the economic, social and military history of Napoleonic Europe, educated at Boston University and St Andrews. Mr. Bennetts is a keen cross-country and dressage rider, as well as an accomplished pianist, who regularly performs music of the era, as both a soloist and accompanist. In addition to writing, riding and performing music, M.M. Bennetts is also a long-standing book critic for The Christian Science Monitor.
Mr. Bennetts is currently at work promoting his newest book, Of Honest Fame. He resides in England with his spouse. Readers can learn more about him, as well as his work, by visiting his website at www.mmbennetts.com.
Please tell us a bit about your book: Of Honest Fame — characters, plot, etc.
It’s a spy thriller set against a backdrop of Napoleonic Europe during the disastrous French invasion of Russia in 1812, and it opens as a French assassin has been picking off several of the British agents in the Foreign Office’s network. This sets up a manhunt for the leak who’s betraying them, for the assassin and his operator.
There are three main characters: Thomas Jesuadon, a disgraced gentleman and a gambler who runs his own network of watchers and spies in London; Captain George Shuster, who is on secondment to the Foreign Office from the Peninsula; and a boy named Boy Tirrell, who spends his time out gathering information, anywhere from Paris to Berlin to Vienna.
Jesuadon’s muscle is in the form of an ex-farrier called Barnet. There’s also the Foreign Secretary, Lord Castlereagh, and a Scotsman called Dunphail who doesn’t want anything to do with any of them, but unfortunately was a witness to a rather important event.
If you could meet, in person, any of your characters, who would it be and why?
I imagine I would enjoy meeting Georgie Shuster, because I admire his cunning, his self-containment and intellect and his utter devotion to duty, but I also enjoy his wry sense of humor which, despite all he’s been through in Spain and France, he hasn’t lost.
If you could fictionalize yourself and put yourself in any situation, how would it play out? Could you give us a scene/scenario of such an occurrence?
I would have piano lessons from Herr Beethoven in Vienna in the early 19th century — preferably after 1815. Although this would undoubtedly end up with him beating my hands with a switch and throwing books and things because I’ve never practiced enough.
Do you have any particular habits that you do while writing? Places you write the best, foods, drinks, etc that help set your "writing mood"?