Today is a big day for me, I’m launching my new book on Kindle and Paperback formats! 101 Most Horrible Tortures In History takes a wry look at history, torture and bizarre punishments of times past and just a bit of the present so that we can thank our lucky stars that none of this is ever likely happen to us. Given that torture is not the usual thing I write about on my blog or in books I’m sure you’re wondering about the why’s and how’s!
I’ve always been interested in some of the scarier things in life. I was just 6 years old when with my father working away from home, I sneaked down the stairs and was allowed by my probably slightly lonely mother to sit down with her at 10pm and watch the first Halloween movie. Yes it was scary and I’m sure seeing people strangled, stabbed and impaled isn’t what all 6 year olds are into. It may have instilled a slight unease in going down to the kitchen in the middle of the night for a midnight snack but that is probably better for my health too, besides which telephones no longer have cables and if a mass-murdered can find a pair of sharp scissors or knives in our house then he is doing better than I am.
Ever since then I have been into horror, I like the dramatic suspense of a good thriller but also the actual blood and gore too. My friends and I as young teenagers would often swap videos and pop round to each others houses to see the latest Halloween/Nightmare on Elm Street/Friday 13th and many many others and to the best of my knowledge none of us have ever killed or even hit anyone. Yes our cupboard door on our landing sometimes comes open on its own but usually it is from the ironing board rather the arm of that wretched body that won’t stay hidden!
Lots of people don’t like horror or even books or visual media that are even just mildly scary, but I think in it’s own way it is as good to be scared as to laugh especially when it is just a film or just a book. I think I have enjoyed horror from my early years because I’m always able to differentiate between what I see on-screen and what I’d like to happen in real life.
It seems that I’m not alone as even children have TV shows such as Horrible Histories which place great emphasis on the more disgusting parts of history as many children like many adults like to experience the shock and gore through television or books without in anyway wanting to experience it in real life. The Darwin Awards are another popular quirky area that gets people excited about are often tragedies.
The idea behind writing a new book on torture methods goes back to my days at university when taking degrees in history is always liable for some reason to be peppered with horrible, freakish tales that just happened to be true. When you’re studying the European Middle-Ages, Mongols, Afghans and many other notorious groups you come across more than most. I remember noting down dozens and dozens of such stories as my lecturers reeled off their favourites as a way to keep hold of our attention and though my notes are stored away, I always thought I wanted to make use of these bizarre and slightly freakish stories I had learned.
Recently whilst working on a novel I had to look up some information and as usual I got waylaid and ended up reading about tortures. I thought to myself that I needed a break from writing fiction and that I could rustle up a good little history book in a comparatively short time but the main problem I faced was whether there were enough torture methods. I might be a “fan” of them but not really a walking encyclopaedia of them, well not ones I can put into print anyway.
I wrote the first 25 or so off the top of my head and a further 15 after a cup of tea. For a few days I played with the idea of stopping at 50 tortures but then inspiration hit me and I began to move towards 60 and by that stage I knew I could make it to 100. In fact I got on a roll and ended up with quite a lot more than 100 and probably could have come up with more if I had needed.
Of course it would be very easy to just have a book with very similar tortures and punishments but I really didn’t want this to be all about dungeons or the Middle-Ages, I wanted a wide variety of times and techniques to make it interesting so I have everything from the Ancient Greeks and Persians through The Mongols, British Middle-Ages, Spanish Inquisition and right up to the CIA, North Korea and ISIS. Of course most tortures are from times past as I wanted to take an almost light-hearted look at torture and it didn’t feel appropriate doing that with most modern day events.
And so 101 Most Horrible Tortures in History came into being. It isn’t a long, dry, drawn-out history book but instead focuses on the best bits and the highlights. If you’re the type of person who used to feel disgusted at school when learning about the horrible demises that certain people would meet but then somehow feel a twisted interest in remembering it and telling your friends then this book is for you.
As well as having a broad dash of humour, I wanted to produce some actual examples so that maybe people might just learn a little bit about certain events and individuals in history but also make it clear just how many people today are still liable to suffer from torture. However it is definitely more a book for entertainment and easy to read history than anything else. History needn’t be torture!
I’d like to thank Jo Robinson for her fabulous book cover as shown above. I’m sure you’ll agree that she did an excellent job and her depiction of an Iron Maiden accurately gets over the tone of the book. Thanks Jo!
101 Most Horrible Tortures In History is out now and available on Kindle formats (and Apple Kindle App) from Amazon sites worldwide. The book is also available as a Paperback from Amazon and all good book stores and will in the coming weeks also be out on iBooks. I will publish some extracts and write a post on modern torture in the coming days but for now you can check out more of 101 Most Horrible Tortures In History on its page in the ‘My Books’ section.
101 Most Horrible Tortures is available from the UK in Kindle format from Amazon here and paperback format here. American Amazon readers can squirm their way through the book in Kindle format here and in paperback format here. I will post links to the Ibooks store and Kobo, Barnes and Noble and other outlets soon.
Please note that for the next 2 weeks, my Kindle books The Promise and The Messenger (the first two books in my Timeless Trilogy) are on sale at a reduced price of $2.99 in the USA and £1.99 in the UK. Be sure to check them out 🙂