Needing Napoleon by Gareth Williams

by | Feb 23, 2023 | Author | 0 comments : needing napoleon

What is Needing Napoleon all about?

Richard thinks he has nothing to lose. He’s an orphan, a loner, an outsider. A history teacher who takes refuge in the past. A chance encounter in Paris offers a thrilling alternative to his humdrum existence. But he has always played it safe. Can he break the habit of a lifetime and seize his chance? He has always believed Napoleon could have defeated Wellington at Waterloo. Now he has the chance to prove it. The chance to live a life he could only dream about. The opportunity to put his mark on the past. He just has to be willing to live the rest of his life more than 150 years before he was born.

What inspired me to write Needing Napoleon?

I suppose I am a bit like my main character, Richard, in always wondering why Bonaparte didn’t perform better at Waterloo. Hindsight is, of course, a wonderful thing. But what if? I have been fascinated by Napoleon’s rise to power and ultimate demise since I was a young schoolchild. As I grew older, I never shook off that interest. I studied the period at school and university and when I became a history teacher – well, you can guess what was my pet topic!

Perhaps it was inevitable that I would eventually get around to writing a novel with Napoleon as a major character. The coincidence of retirement and covid-19 provided the opportunity and I went for it, ultimately writing a trilogy by accident!

Who is my target audience?

Anyone who loves history and enjoys a dash of time travel should enjoy Needing Napoleon. I pride myself on the accuracy of the detail without letting research get in the way of a good adventure story. There are some characters to enjoy too, including an eccentric former hippy who runs a high-end antique store, and a career soldier whose dedication sees him wash up thousands of miles from home. That is quite apart from an anti-hero teacher, an orphan whose career has flat-lined and who recklessly seizes the chance of a lifetime. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget a brooding French emperor not quite ready to be consigned to history!

What do I hope readers will get out of Needing Napoleon?

I hope anyone who visits the Authors’ Lounge and decides to give Needing Napoleon a go will learn a few fun factual details as well as getting immersed in the intersecting lives of a cast of characters trying to make their way through the death throes of an empire. They will go on a journey that starts in modern Britain but that takes them two hundred years into the past, from a Belgian battlefield to isolated St Helena and on to the tip of the African continent. To sum up, I hope any reader will get to escape into a different era, swept along by major events that shaped the modern era, but always with a sense that the characters are somehow swimming against the tide!

Future goals and plans for Needing Napoleon?

I have a number of reading and speaking engagements booked where I read excerpts from the book and talk a bit about both my research and the story. These include libraries, lunch clubs, the University of the Third Age (U3A), writers’ groups and schools. I am also very keen to visit book clubs, in person or virtually, to answer questions about my book.

I am also keen to spread the word about the sequel, Serving Shaka, which is also out now. This book features another major historical figure, but one who is much less well known. Shaka, founder of the Zulu nation, whose rise was meteoric enough to worry the mighty British Empire.

The third instalment, Rescuing Richard, should be published in spring 2023. This book sees my main character once again at the heart of major events as he travels from Africa to London where he finds himself the only person able to save a former acquaintance from her tyrannical husband. Somewhere along the way, Richard, my main character, works out how to live in the past.

A bit about the author.

I am an historical novelist based on the Isle of Skye in the north-west of Scotland. I live with my wife, Helen, and our Pyrenean Mountain dog, Sophie. I am climbing all the mountains in Scotland over 3,000 feet – 152 of 282 so far. I love skiing in winter and will walk into the backcountry for hours to slide for fifteen minutes. I play hockey for Skye Ravens, a very friendly mixed hockey club on the island. I am also training to be a community radio DJ. I really love my music.

Taken by Simon Riddell ( using the wet-plate collodion process invented in the 1850s


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