Monday, October 6, 2014

Guy Cote - What If?

Every good story begins with a “What if?” For St. Petersburg writer Guy Cote, this question was the beginning of a journey that took him from the misty legends of history to the outer limits of science and technology.

Cote’s interest in writing stemmed from his lifelong love of cinema. “I liked to emulate fictional movie characters,” he explains. “Eventually I got tired of living vicariously through other people’s characters, so I decided to write my own screenplays.” He completed his first script before graduating from the University of Maine, and in 1991, he headed to Florida to see if he could sell it. In the interim, he completed six more screenplays, studied film production at California State University, took an intensive screenwriting course at the International Film and Television Workshop, and earned a Master’s degree in history from the University of South Florida. “I’m a huge history buff,” he says. “If ever there was a person in need of a time machine, it would be me.”

Cote took a job as a history teacher, but in the back of his mind, he knew that someday he would write a novel. Six years ago, he decided to give it a try. “I’ve always wondered how famous historical figures would view and interact in today’s world,” he says. He had long been a fan of Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor who once ruled all of Europe, so he asked himself, “What if Charlemagne was around today?” He began to do research and unearthed some puzzling details that drove his story. Cote spent one year plotting the story’s timeline and three years doing the actual writing. The end result: Long Live the King, the first installment in what Cote hopes to be a series called “The Charlemagne Saga.”

Long Live the King is the story of Josie Ersman, a young woman who leaves her highly dysfunctional life in America to go to Germany to meet a grandfather she never knew. Once in Germany, she accepts a job working for her grandfather’s employer: an organization that has been trying since Nazi times to reunify Europe as the great medieval emperor Charlemagne (aka Charles the Great) once had. According to Cote, “The organization our heroine works for is actually a real-life society founded by a former Nazi with the stated goal of reunifying all the countries of Europe into one super nation.” But in Long Live the King, Cote goes one step further. As the nemesis of the story tells Josie, “We cannot truly enjoy the peace, unity and prosperity of Charles the Great’s empire without the Emperor himself. That is why we are going to clone Charlemagne, and we want you to give birth to his clone.”

From there, the story takes off on a multi-national, cross-continental adventure that is more than Josie could imagine and almost more than she can handle. Cote wanted his heroine to be unconventional. “I was tired of the standard adventure characters,” he says.  “I wanted to throw someone with no sense of adventure into a situation that was completely foreign to her.” Cote also enjoyed the challenge of creating a female protagonist. “The story dictated that the main character had to be a woman since it involves a pregnancy,” he says, “but it wasn’t easy knowing how a woman would feel.” So he bought books on pregnancy, watched online videos, asked for help from female friends, and after his marriage, enlisted advice from his wife.  The result, according to Cote, is “a book that weaves together all my passions: history, suspense, action, adventure, travel, politics and religion” and views them all from a female perspective.

The sequel to Long Live the King is currently in the “plotting stage,” but Cote had to put the Charlemagne Saga on hold to novelize a screenplay he wrote entitled “Tried and True” and complete another thriller entitled The Hottest Place in Hell. Cote’s filmmaking partners are currently raising the financing for the “Tried and True” film and The Hottest Place in Hell is making the publishing rounds with industry professionals in New York. Cote intends to begin writing the second installment in the Charlemagne Saga by the beginning of 2015. While his writing requires a substantial commitment, Cote wouldn’t have it any other way. “The most difficult thing about writing is that it’s such a solitary endeavor,” he says, “but that’s also what I enjoy the most. It’s a form of escapism that allows me to create a world and run around in it. And when I’m finished, I hope readers will wonder, ‘What if that really happened?’”

For more information, visit the author’s website at

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