Hello and welcome to “Al Right Questions”, a hopefully ongoing series where I will interview people who I find interesting and worth knowing. These people will have shared interest in all things movies in the styles that we feature here on Up All Night Movies but at absolute minimum, have an appreciation for the films in general.
Our first interviewee is someone that I came to know through the Netflix show “The Lost Pirate Kingdom“. I am a long time fan of pirates and their history and find them fascinating. She was a correspondent on the show helping cover the not always “politically correct” portions of the daily life of the times.
Her name is Jessica Cale. She is a historical fiction author, TV historian, and host of @DrtySexyHistory podcast accompanying the original blog website of the same topic.
With that said, let’s dive into the interview.
UANM: I first learned about your work through Netflix’s “The Lost Pirate Kingdom”. Seeing a byline that said “DirtySexyHistory” is definitely one way to catch my attention. and here we are with what I consider a strong acquaintanceship turning online friendship. Has your appearance on the docuseries show bolstered your social media presence and has it helped create other connections with people?
JC: A little bit! After the show came out, I definitely started getting some…interesting messages. I did make a few genuine friends out of it, like yourself and a couple of other history enthusiasts from different parts of the world, so at least there was something good between all the real people fic and odd genealogy requests. As for social media, I already had a pretty established presence within the Romance community and because of DirtySexyHistory, but the show definitely helped me to reach a broader audience, which I very much appreciate.
UANM: What’s a movie that you think everyone should see but most seem to have never heard of?
Author’s Note: Absolutely agree on Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Check it out if you have the chance.
UANM: If you could catch a movie with any figure from your historical backgrounds, who would you pick and what movie would you want to show them?
JC: That’s a hard question! Probably not the cleverest answer, but I’d watch Wuthering Heights with Emily Bronte, the version with Tom Hardy and Charlotte Reilly. I’d love to hear her take on it. Besides, she died young, and it might be gratifying for her to know her book was adapted into several movies and series. If that ever happened to my books, I’d want to know about it (and Tom Hardy can absolutely star in any of them)
UANM: Which classic horror movie character is your favorite?
JC: You can’t beat Bela Lugosi as Dracula. I love him because he weirdly reminds me of my grandpa, who looked a bit like him in his younger years. I also love Vincent Price in absolutely anything.
UANM: You’re a woman of many mediums, all focused around human history, from fiction author, TV historian, blogger turned podcaster. Did you think you would be covering so many areas early in your career or was this a grand plan of yours?
JC: It wasn’t a plan, but I’m not really surprised. I have ADHD, and over the years I’ve picked up a lot of skills, useful and otherwise, mainly around publishing, photography, broadcasting, costuming, etc. When I was growing up, all of this was still so hard to get into, so from a very early age, I was like, “Fuck it, I’ll figure it out myself.” I started out with a zine, a typewriter, and a tiny photocopying budget. Now it’s much easier to publish and build a platform, but in the meantime, I’ve learned to do all of these incredible things, mainly because I have no patience or respect for self-appointed gatekeepers. It worked out, though, and the fact it all focuses on history just reflects that obsession. It could have been music and almost was—I was a music journalist for a few years after I finished my history degree, and I play drums
UANM: If you could take one thing from your daily/weekly routine and never have to worry about it or do it again, what would you choose and why?
JC: Answering emails. It tends to take me all day, so if I want to get any work done, I can’t look at them. Not ideal, but people expect responses too quickly now anyway. I have to work at some point! :S
UANM: I’d be a lying to myself if I said you weren’t an early influence on Up All Night Movies becoming a thing. You mentioned that you as well loved these “bad” campy cult movies of yesteryear. Your encouragement has earned DirtySexyHistory a lifetime sponsorship slot. Congratulations. Anyone you would like to thank in relation to this bestowment?
JC: You, of course! And the Academy, etc.
UANM: What are some movie tropes that make you retch every time you see them coming? What are some that make you perk and sit up because you know things are going to get good soon?
JC: Speaking of retching, you ever notice how almost every time a woman vomits in a movie, she’s pregnant? I hate that. Women aren’t allowed to be gross unless it’s an unsubtle hint about things to come, and even then it only happens once.
For tropes I like, I like Chekhov’s Gun. People use it all the time, but it’s still not super common knowledge. I use it as a example for my author clients more often than you’d think!
UANM: Do you think there’s any correlation between your historical interests and the movie styles that brought us here? Or is it perhaps one of your own ways to escape life for a bit?
JC: Probably! Movies actually got me into history. I loved historical movies and fiction so much while I was growing up that I decided I had to study history in university. I love it when I can get really immersed in another period, and that’s what I try to recreate with my own fiction, and to a point, with the history—I want to give people something they can relate to.
UANM: What’s in the near future for Jessica? Any projects or work you can discuss?
JC: For the time being, I’m mainly focused on the Dirty Sexy History podcast, but I’m hoping to work on my next book over the holidays, which will be the fifth book of my series The Southwark Saga.
UANM: Any final thoughts?
JC: Starting a blog can be daunting at first, but it can also be hugely rewarding. Well done for starting yours, and best of luck at keeping it going! Thanks for having me!
I want to once again thank Jessica for participating in this inaugural interview on Up All Night Movies. I appreciate it and had a great time introducing you, my fine readers, to her. Go give her a follow on Twitter at either @jessicacale or @DrtySexyHistory.