Interview with Peachill founder, Jeff Hortman

Today is a bit
of a different interview. It’s with Peachill
founder, Jeff Hortman about the historical fiction, Hannibal Barca: The Lion of Carthage.
Bio:
Peachill is a
new publishing company that brings together a collaborative team of creative
professionals to build books in full view of a community of supporters. We
believe that authors, and those with a great idea, deserve the opportunity to
receive all of the resources, support, and coaching that their story needs to
find its voice in the world today. Every untold story has the right to be
heard.
My name is
Jeff Hortman and I am the founder of Peachill, as well as the creator of this
book. Although six creatives came together from all over the globe, in various
roles, to bring this book to life, we consider “Peachill” to be the author. We will
also publish books under an individual author’s name, if that author both is
the creator of the project and the main writer. If you have an idea for a book,
please submit on our website.
Please tell us about your current
release.
Hannibal Barca is the story of history’s greatest
African general. A genius tactician, Hannibal crossed the Mediterranean Sea to
pose the last serious threat to the city of Rome, before it grew to become the
sprawling Roman Empire. But Hannibal was much more than a footnote in military
strategy. He came from the most proud and storied clan of ancient Carthage and
was motivated by a deep sense of duty to his family and his city. Inheriting a
mistrust of Romans due to their role in his father’s death, Hannibal was quick
to action when the standing treaty was broken. He left his mother and wife to
represent the family in the Carthaginian Council and marched his army of men
and elephants through modern Spain, France, and down through the Alps to
surprise Rome on its doorstep. This true story of the Second Punic War pits
Hannibal against a legendary and worthy adversary, Scipio Africanus, and tests
the strength of the Barca women at home, as they fend off the political vipers
from the shadows of the council chamber. Friends become enemies. Prisoners rise
to command. And sacrifices are made on altars across the known world. Hannibal
is the fire that seals the fate of the Mediterranean.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’m
fascinated by history, by the lessons that seem to apply time and time again
with different contexts but the same results. I’m particularly intrigued by
historical perspectives that flip-the-script on the traditional western
narrative. What better script to flip than the classic tale of Greco-Romans as
the brave heroes of the ancient world. In Hannibal’s story, Rome is the
aggressor. The betrayer of their word. They are also the proud and the dumb, as
Hannibal spends the initial stage of the war wiping the field with any army the
Latins march his way. But human nature is a tricky beast to master. Hannibal’s
success across the sea tempts jealous rivals at home and certain victory turns
into a self-destructive tailspin for the city of Carthage. Despite the hatred
of his enemy, Hannibal finds common ground with the young general, who finally
rounds the Roman forces into form, and fights to preserve his family and
civilization.
Excerpt from Hannibal Barca:
241 BCE,
Battlefield Outside of Carthage
            Carthage, the prize of the Sahara,
was blanketed by a smoky haze. The watchtowers that still stood gazed through
the cloud and over the smoldering bones of the fallen city. The skeletons of
the shops, baths, amphitheater, temples, and villas gasped their final smoky
breaths, and the streets lay desolate, teeming only with blood and the last
hungry wisps of fire.
            The carnage of the city pointed north
to a great battlefield, where the city’s purple-clad protectors had fallen.
Only a few were alive enough to crawl away, struggling on shaky arms and legs
past the bodies of their comrades and enemies alike.
            Spears stood on end, buried in
skulls and hearts. A legionnaire’s head rested several feet from his corpse.
Another man gasped under the weight of his dead horse, moments from death.
Whether clad in Carthaginian purple or Roman red, they had met the same end.
Every breath of wind seemed to carry another plea to Eshmun or Apollo, another
soldier’s final breath. A moan leaked into the air and floated away.
A boy walked
methodically through the battlefield, weaving his way through the armored
mayhem surrounding him. His younger brother followed a few paces behind him.
            A lion fed on a corpse nearby,
unnoticed by the boys.
            “Close their eyes,” the boy said.
“Take any metal you can carry.” He lifted the bronze armor from the dead man at
his feet, pulling until the body rolled over and gave up its breastplate. He
stumbled under the weight of the heavy armor, but he didn’t drop it. He was
stocky and strong. He placed the armor over his own shoulders and straightened
the breastplate.
His eyes
carried an expression of grim determination as he folded the purple-cloaked
soldier’s arms over his chest and closed the eyelids. He worked with keen
focus, surveying his surroundings with every movement he made.
            His brother pulled a knife from a
fallen soldier’s belt with thin, shaking hands. His handsome features wore a
mask of bravery, but his eyes flickered with fear as he looked down on a
pale-skinned Roman whose face had frozen mid-contortion.
            Spying the younger brother, the lion
began to creep near. When the boy finally looked up, panic flashed across his
face.
The lion
crouched low to lunge at him.
            “Hannibal!” the boy shouted for
help, closing his eyes.
            The lion sprang forward.
[End excerpt]
What exciting story are you working on
next?
The next
story is also historical fiction. Our collaborative team is nearing completion
of a tale about the fall of Constantinople in 1453, as told from the
perspective of an Italian mercenary paid to help defend the city from the
Ottoman Turks. The mercenary’s past comes back to haunt him as rival factions
in the city jockey for power and riches ahead of the inevitable defeat at the
hands of the superior Turkish force.
When did you first consider yourself a
writer?
I’ve always
enjoyed writing in various formats, so, in that sense, I’ve identified with
being a writer as long as I’ve identified with being much of anything. The
first time I felt validated as a writer was when I was signed by an agent in
Los Angeles for a screenplay I’d written. The screenplay never sold, so there’s
a lesson in putting too much stock in validation. I find myself most motivated
by the possibility of the blank page, a new world to jump into and help create
– and find myself taxed to exhaustion during the final edits. Like something
has been pulled out from the inside, bone by bone. That being said, I would
describe ‘story’ as my true passion. Story includes writing, but I’m just as
fascinated with structure and process and analysis. Story is also much larger
than the written word and I follow that passion for story in other elements of
my life as well.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
I do not
write full-time and that is by choice. At various times, I have tried that
lifestyle and I find myself less productive. I continue with my day-to-day and
let the story brew in the subconscious, down in the back of the mind, and then
when I get an hour in front of the computer…it just pours out. I find it very
helpful for both initial drafts and for getting the proper space to execute
honest editing. You have to be able to step away to gain a reader’s perspective
for the edit.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
Sometimes
when I’m a bit stuck, or want to feel the rhythm of footfall, I’ll walk around the
house and dictate a few pages.
As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?
I never had a
single dream career in mind, but
rather several interests that I dreamed of pursuing. I was always a bit jealous
of those who had a one-track mind, but I guess we all have our way.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
Are you
looking for a publishing partner? I hope you’ll reach out at jeff@peachill.com
We build communities around stories, help authors navigate the complex and
over-crowded world of self-publishing, and dedicate ourselves to being a true
publishing partner.
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