Welcome . . .
to my gloriously unhinged sixteenth century.
A kick-ass cat, a renowned scientist/mathematician, assorted goofball nobilities, and abundant smart-mouths of a variety of species populate an Early Modern Europe that you won’t find in the history books.
A feudal culture was crumbling.
Unprecedented upheaval gave rise to heroes, welcoming wider opportunity for all, and to scoundrels, clinging to their traditional prerogatives. The Age of Discovery, a period of astounding change, had plenty of both.
You had your all-powerful despots; entitled toffs, living high on inherited money; cunning climbers, eager to exploit the new liquidity; a small, vulnerable middle class; and the outcasts – dregs and grifters from cream-of-the-crop slicks to run-of-the-mill drunk-and-disorderlies – these last a legion, for on the bottom rung of the ladder strong drink was an affordable indulgence, offering a brief escape from disheartening circumstances.
Into the muck and the murk, I’ve flung
Sly (Sylvester) Boots.
I drag him through a cascade of adventures,
all related to an attempt on the life of Elizabeth I.
This is screwball fantasy, goosed . . .
with what appears to be a wealth of factual detail. Take the history with a grain of salt. I’ve fudged facts. I’ve embellished. I’ve pinched zany material from history books and deliciously maudlin Victorian novels and innumerable other sources. I’ve leaned particularly heavily on sea adventures. (I’ve never put to sea on a square-rigger and, while I’m ancient, I sure wasn’t around in 1583.) I’m a light-fingered opportunist, like Sly. Where do you think he gets it from, eh?
Twenty years of poking around has made me moderately well versed on the sixteenth century in matters large and small, able to regale you with, for instance, the curious circumstances surrounding the invention of the pencil. (Priceless, for my purposes.)
In a nutshell:
From a faux visitation by the Virgin Mary (to lure religious tourism to a dirt-poor backwater kingdom) . . . to a joint effort with Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Astrologer to eradicate the tenacious rodent population in a North German town . . . to companionable bickering with a delusional frog who believes himself to be an enchanted prince, a wily wiseacre offers semi-astute advice to creeps, cranks, and kings.
is a rowdy, full of beans. He’s a wit, quick with a quip. He’s the ultimate operator in a smirk-filled chronicle of misery and mayhem, one fine mess after another. He’s a bully, a con artist, a sweetheart and a snot, and I’ve furnished him with a series of hapless sidekicks to bounce ideas off and to push around.
He’s Puss-in-Boots reimagined from the boots up in a merry mash-up: tongue-in-cheek fairytale meets twisted history.
The umbrella title of the tale is Sly: A Rogue, Reconsidered.
In The Rogue Cavorts (book two), Sly and the noted scientist-astrologer John Dee disrupt an assassination plot against the Queen of England. They frolic at her court until unacceptable behaviors get them booted. Dee has annoyed his monarch with his endless pleas for money. (The post of Royal Astrologer paid mostly in prestige.) Sly has made unwelcome advances on her beloved capuchin monkey, a saucy, stylish female just his size.
The Rogue Regrets is the third book in a series.
Dismissed from royal service, Dee accepts a post in Krakow, but before he takes up the new position he will make a stop in Germany. Sly has agreed to accompany one for whom he has a strong affection.
Saxony, 1583: Sly and Dee, bound for the town of Hameln, are given a lift from Bremen by Friefrau Annette von Droste-Deckenbrock, a big fan of the celebrated Doctor Dee’s Nostradamus-style predictions.1
- Dee made no such predictions. They were written by Sly (under Dee’s name) to make his financially-strapped friend some dough.
I’ve been writing this thing for thirty years. A short story has grown into four books. Why so long at it? I worked two jobs for decades. Semi-retired, I am on it with new energy.
I’m putting up book three first because I’m finally writing the episode I never got a handle on. Most of Rogue Regrets is done. I’ll follow with book one (The Rogue Decamps), also fairly in the can. Book two was well along, until I discovered John Dee. Dee is too good a goofball to pass on. Everything I’ve written about him is very close to the truth.
My goal is to get it all done before I keel over. I’m seventy-two.
This is a work in progress.
If you have comments/suggestions, respond below.