Q & A
Interesting to meet you, namesake!
Thanks for inviting me, Nik.
I’ve got several books by other Mortons; coincidentally one of them, Babs Morton comes from the north-east, my neck of the woods! Where do you hail from, Robin?
It’s a small world. Hampshire, England. I think my forebears come from the north of England, but it’s a long time ago since they moved south – I think it was just after the Jarrow marches…
Erotic fiction is almost respectable these days. As this is your first foray into fiction, having previously settled on writing history books, why were you drawn to erotic fiction?
Well, it’s partial fiction, in my view, since I’m rather the official narrator for Tilda Cuve-Banks. Tilda’s record of her exploits – or that may even be sexploits! – were acquired by my agent. She’s mysterious regarding the provenance of ‘the packages’, as she calls them. Anyway, my agent knew of my interest in the period, which is also the time that Tilda operated, and felt I could perhaps put a modern spin on the yarns. Tilda was certainly ahead of her time in many respects. It’s a myth that the Victorians and Edwardians were afraid of sex. In fact, many revelled in it, and particularly enjoyed writing and reading about it.
Tilda was a spy for the British. How many missions did she go on?
The current batch of papers give details of three – East Africa, the Balkans, and Turkey. My agent is being close-lipped regarding the possibility of any more ‘packages’…
So Kilimanjaro might not be a one-off?
That depends on the readers. If enough clamoured for more, I’d be happy to sift through those papers again and write a sequel. I have plenty of non-fiction projects to occupy me until that time arrives.
The story seems to show a strong affinity for Africa. Is this something you picked up from Tilda?
Partly. She has a wonderful turn of phrase, but some of her pages are merely notes and observations. I was already in love with Africa, actually. I was fortunate enough to visit the continent on several occasions. This fulfilled a long held ambition of mine, as I’d been brought up on a diet of the books by H Rider Haggard and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Me, too! Sorry, go on…
Well, I visited Mombasa, where some of Assignment Kilimanjaro is set, as well as Bahrain and South Africa. The continent does tend to get in your blood, in your heart. History fascinates me, naturally, and that’s why writing about it is my first love.
Even so, I’d always wanted to write a sexy adventure about a strong woman. You know, there were many brave and intrepid women explorers who defied convention in the 1800s and travelled the ‘dark continent’. These Tilda papers seemed like a dream come true. I was doubly pleased to be able to go back to the time of the First World War in east Africa, a neglected period.
Assignment Kilimanjaro is a heady mix of fact and fiction, it seems to me. How much is fact?
Often, I found that I had to extrapolate from Tilda’s notes at certain points. Yes, she definitely did meet the real historical characters that keep cropping up. Winston Churchill, the heroic Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck, and spymaster Mansfield Smith-Cumming, for example. In that respect it’s a variation on the Flashman books, though Tilda is no coward – quite the opposite.
I like the realism you’ve injected. I must admit I tend to think of Tilda as reminiscent of Modesty Blaise.
Yes, only with much more sex. In some ways she resembles the wartime comic strip Jane, who always seemed to lose her clothes yet raise the morale of the troops…
Yes, I recall that some commentators said that the more clothes Jane lost, the more morale rose in the troops! What else have you written?
I’ve also written a non-Tilda erotic short story set in the American Civil War – ‘The Corporal’s Punishment’, published by Xcite Books. It's a play on words and is featured in a collection of erotic stories here by four other Xcite authors. My other works are academic, non-fiction, and written under a different penname.
Why use a penname?
While I’m not fazed by the nature of this type of book, it’s quite possible that in the academic field my reputation, such as it is, could unwittingly be affected. That’s why I haven’t provided you with an author photograph!
I would certainly caution any potential reader, that if you’re offended by graphic sex descriptions, then sorry, but this book isn’t for you. Not the best of sales pitches, I know, but I want to be up-front about that. Bad choice of words there, perhaps?
Not at all…
My publisher, Accent Press – under the imprint Xcite Books – is offering Assignment Kilimanjaro in a free iTunes offer for October, ending on the 31st . Amazon may also Price Match this offer. If you could promote this offer that would be great! All this week it has been in the top 20 on Amazon. Here is the iTunes link:
Thank you, Robin!
PART ONE – TILDA GOES DOWN IN THE JUNGLE
Chapter 1: A memorable flight
Lake Amboseli, British East Africa – February, 1915
‘You seem pleased to see me,’ she said. Good heavens, she thought, he certainly fills his khaki shorts! So the gentleman dresses on the right. ‘My name’s Tilda Cuve-Banks. What is yours?’
‘Hal Denby,’ he replied, the slight warm breeze ruffling his dark-brown hair and the short sleeves of his sweat-patched shirt. A careworn brown leather belt supported a sheathed knife, a belt of .45 ACP cartridges and a holstered pistol – it looked like a Colt M1911. His shorts came to a couple of inches above his knees. Nice, sturdy knees, too; his legs were deeply tanned and very muscular and covered in quite a few old scars. Socks round his ankles and tough worn boots ensured he could travel in any terrain.
Denby’s dark left eyebrow arched and his steel-grey eyes roved over her. ‘Is that Mrs Cuve-Banks, then?’ His quick darting eyes had noted her wedding ring.
She nodded her head. ‘Yes,’ she said but had no intention of explaining that Lord Quentin Banks, her young husband of four weeks, had died in the trenches. Even in these war-torn times, it usually felt safer if travelling as a married woman.
He smiled, the mouth thin and a little on the cruel side, she thought. Judging by the tumescence in the right leg of his shorts, he seemed to like what he saw.
Tilda was as tall as he was, though high-heeled lace-up white kid boots aided her in this. She wore a long-sleeved white chiffon dress with a high collar, the bodice decorated with white beads. As she stood there, her bulging leather briefcase in one hand, her other hand clamping the white pith hat on her head, he could just distinguish the tanned flesh contours of her legs and arms as the light wind blew off the lake against her. Tilda’s dark auburn hair was tied in a chignon but already wisps had broken free and fluttered around her elegant neck and high cheekbones.
He took her hand and shook it. His grip was firm, as was hers. He let go and turned to look at the biplane that bounced on the water of the rippling lake; its fuselage was tethered alongside a long thin jetty made up of wooden planks on sturdy thick piles of tree trunks. A man – probably the pilot – was tinkering in the front cockpit.
Denby frowned dubiously at the patched canvas and repaired struts and dangling rigging wires and gestured at the seaplane. ‘We seem to be fellow passengers,’ he said in an ominous tone.
Ignoring his statement of the obvious, Tilda checked out her immediate surroundings.
Tied to the other side of the jetty was a small fishing boat. Four Africans were unloading wooden boxes of fish; she could smell them from here – men and fish. Behind her was a mud-spattered Ford box-truck, already half full with fish and other produce. Four mules were tethered beside the vehicle; the rich smell of manure and the perpetual buzz of flies also carried to her on the breeze.
The fishermen and farmers would get a fair price for the food, she knew. All to help the war effort against the Prussian Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck.
As she hadn’t responded to Denby, he tried again: ‘Are you going all the way?’
‘I always do,’ she replied, her light blue eyes flashing suggestively as he jerked round and studied her.
Assignment Kilimanjaro (Xcite Books, an imprint of Accent Press)
from Amazon UK here
from Amazon COM here
Note: Apparently, Robin started a blog for Tilda but hasn't had time to add to it; for what it's worth, it is here