Do you find the time to read?
Absolutely! While engaged in writing fiction, however, I never read fiction, only fact. I just finished Things That Matter by Charles Krauthammer and Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson. Just starting A Synopsis of American History by Charles Sellers and Henry May. So it goes. Until I finish the book I am working on – probably another 12 months – I will read no fiction.
Last book you purchased? Tell us about it.
I received Things That Matter for Christmas. It is a compilation of articles written over the last thirty years by Pulitzer Prize author Charles Krauthammer. His writings for newspapers and magazines during that period covered major issues from his unique perspective. It is a very insightful look at history and politics.
Who do you admire?
There are many people that I respect but none that I admire. I know so very little about individuals and their inner most thoughts and feelings, that I am suspicious that most lead different lives at different times or under different circumstances. So, while I might admire their actions or their actions’ results, and respect their efforts for good, I hold my admiration in abeyance.
When and why did you begin writing?
When very young, trapped by poverty and winter snows, and without escape as provided by Tom Swift or Sherlock Holmes, I would try to put feelings to paper, mostly in the form of poetry. I came to realize, without fully understanding, that what I did was somehow special and could take me away, if only for a little while, to other worlds and let me breathe freer because it that.
How long have you been a writer?
I have been writing for about 15 years. Writing as defined by doing so with any commercial aspirations; though, until this past year, I never took the effort seriously enough to be considered dedicated to it. I did it early on as a spare-time hobby for mostly personal satisfaction. The more I did it, however, the more I felt there was the possibility that I could achieve more than just the personal satisfaction, and might be able to actually do it for a commercial reason, also.
When did you first know you could be a writer?
I must distinguish here between writer and author. I always suspected, quite naively and perhaps even childishly, that I had it within me to write. But anyone can write, dependant of course on how extensively or successfully. A writer that gets published is an author. That part of the effort adds much more challenge. I still do not know if I can be a successful author. That is a work in progress.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
Historical fiction is my bent, I feel. I do best writing about what I know and/or instinctively understand. I can draw from my life experiences, innate intelligence, and vivid imagination and pull together very captivating yet plausible scenarios set in the past. Whether I chose distant or recent past is a matter of preference and the result of research.
Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?
Yes, it did. It taught me that releasing inhibitions, especially those most intense or personal, is sometimes necessary to be true to the storyline, time period and characters involved in your work. You are, after all, unless you are writing an autobiography, engaged in telling a story of other people. You cannot be true to the character or the action unless you leave yourself out of it and proceed through another’s mind, emotions and will. Where appropriate, you can deliver words of wisdom or philosophical insights with which you agree, as long as it is not alien to the character.
How did you come up with the title?
Holderby’s Landing is the true first name of that area now known as Huntington, WV. Since my book is set in that area and peopled with real and imaginary inhabitants, I felt it was not only apropos to use the name but actually necessary.
Can you tell us about your main character?
Justin Thorne is a young man of privilege in pre-Civil War Virginia. He has grown up so insulated that his naiveté is a primary part of his personality. Through circumstances beyond his control he is thrown into the frontier life along the western edge of Virginia, at that time the Ohio River, and through a series of adventures is forced to grow up, and quickly. He is aided along the way by his Father’s good friend Osman Treat, a secondary but fundamental part of the story.
How did you develop your plot and characters?
The characters came naturally enough, once I understood the story I wanted to tell. They are part and parcel of people I have known or experienced through personal contact, study, and imagination. Initially, I directed their actions through the necessary plot twists to get the story going, but after I became comfortable with them the action developed on its own accord because of the characters and their individual traits. I just followed the logic.
When Justin Thorne, coddled student and heir apparent to Sylvan Springs Plantation, is forced to find his heritage, his manhood, and his destiny, in the space of one brief spring, all hell breaks loose on the banks of the Ohio River. His Virginia of 1836 is a time of transition and enormous growth. Northern industrial might and southern aristocracy, abolitionist movements and slave cultures, collide in turmoil and lay bare the raw needs and desires of those intrepid spirits confronting the frontiers of the antebellum South. Coming of age is an expected result of time and circumstance. It happens to all who live so long, but to each within the dictates of their own lives. The process is on-going and ever dynamic. Every person is a precious product resulting from the effects of nature and nurture.
One's ancestry, culture, and environment collude in myriad ways to make us; all as different as each life's story, and as singular as snowflakes. This theme is played out over-and-over throughout the world and throughout history, in millions of places like Holderby's Landing; as similar and as different as each human is to the other. Holderby's Landing is a single glimpse in time at the coming of age of a land, a community, and a few determined souls thrown together in love, strife and chance. What they make of the time, the opportunities and themselves is the story told and the living breath of this book.
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Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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