Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Five Influences: Curse of the Pharaoh's Manicurists

This week's Five Influences blog should be fun. Because Curse of the Pharaoh's Manicurists is just a fun book. I'm trying to keep some of the fun as I finish up the sequel. But Terror of the Frozen North is a lot darker.

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In the roaring '20s, Charlie Doyle, the ink still wet on his Dartmouth journalism degree, answers an ad for a job as secretary to Edward Kilsby, Lord Withycombe and renowned flying ace of the Great War. The ad leads him to expect excitement, but Charlie never expects quite so much.

When Edward is hired to find missing archaeologist Sir Alexander Spencer, Charlie is about to go for the ride of his life. A whirlwind tour of London, the Paris nightlife, a kidnapping by Edward's jilted fiancée and rival, Cairo, the Valley of the Kings, even the Orient Express all pale compared to what awaits Charlie and Edward in the tomb of Ni-ankh-khnum and Khnum-ho-tep, Overseers of the Manicurists in the Palace of the King.

But not mummies nor jilted lovers, not malaria nor Anubis himself can stop their quest...or their growing love for each other...

Five Influences:

1) Errol Flynn.

Naomi was rocking a Flynn muse at this time. We'd been binge-watching his movies, and had both read My Wicked Wicked Ways and a few other autobiographical things. As Jack Warner had before us, we found he looked dashing atop a horse or in a plane, but also had a fine hand with quieter pieces. (Four's a Crowd and Cry Wolf are very underrated movies)

You'll find him in a variety of books, Heart of a Forest, obviously, but also Alive on the InsideShowdown at Yellowstone RiverMan Huntand Long term

But most of all, he is Edward Kilsby, Lord Withycombe. WWI flying ace, with a voracious appetite for anything that comes his way, be it food, alcohol, tobacco, men, women or cars. (he's also one of the few characters in m/m fiction who smokes) In keeping with the muse, Edward is promiscuous and precocious. He's sent off to school at barely 13, after a scandal with a village girl.

(Bad photoshop is my middle name)

In my head, Charlie is a Nick, and hence an Aaron Stanford muse. But if we were to cast the movie, with entirely period actors, he would be James Mason. Nigel would be David Niven (Flynn's good friend and long-time roommate at Cirrhosis by the Sea). Sarah Brown would be Joan Crawford or Barbara Stanwyck. This works in my head.

2) Young Sherlock Holmes. 

This 1985 movie was a grand adventure. (and I understand Nicholas Rowe, Sherlock, will be returning to acting for the forthcoming Mr. Holmes, which stars Sir Ian McKellan) It shaped how I view London, and it informs the structure of the books. 

In Terror, Charlie even makes up a dream that sounds suspiciously like Watson's pastry shop one. (also Edward smokes a brand of tobacco called Sherlock Holmes.)


3) Edgar Rice Burroughs.
I have been reading Burroughs since I was 9. He gives me my feel for swashbuckling. The original title was Lord Withycombe and the Curse of the Pharaoh's Manicurists, which my publisher found unwieldy. The prologue, in which I, myself, find my great-uncle Charlie's journal and decide to publish his adventures, is lifted wholesale from the Martian books.

4) The tomb of Ni-ankh-khnum and Khnum-ho-tep. 

Yes, the men on the cover are real. is a virtual tour of their tomb.

"On the eastern wall of the offering chamber, the identical pair are shown in the most intimate embrace possible within the canons of ancient Egyptian art. Niankhkhnum is on the right grasping his companion's right forearm; Khnumhotep, on the left, has his left arm across the other man's back, tightly clasping his shoulder. Again the tips of the men's noses are touching and this time their torsos are so close together that the knots on the belts of their kilts appear to be touching, perhaps even tied together. Here, in the innermost private part of their joint-tomb, the two men stand in an embrace meant to last for eternity."

I found this in some long-forgotten web search and KNEW I had to write about them.

5) Young Lady Chatterly

(yes, that's the whole movie)

A soft core 1970s porn might seem an odd influence. But I was watching it last night and facepalming over how much of it made its way in. The adorable maids, who are fighting for attention. The competent housekeeper. The fancy car and wickedly beautiful stable boy.

So there are your five influences.
If you want a sample of what the music of the time sounds like, including Charlie's favorite, "Roses of Picardy," here's the playlist: 

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