Author of The Metacom Saga, the exciting true story of the little known and misunderstood King Philip’s War. Arguably, the bloodiest conflicts in American history!
What do I enjoy?
Anime, Avid Reader, Documentaries, History, Hiking, New England Sports, Movies, Museums, Music, Mysteries, Sci-fi, Theater, Thrillers
In one of my earliest memories as a child my mother brought home a book that was very different than other books that she had read to my brother and I. We would read a chapter every night. Yes! a chapter! At six years old, this was very different from Richard Scary and the Bernstein Bears. Riveted, this story transported my away to magical lands on a quest, I met dwarves and elves. There was a magic ring that made its barer become invisible. The main character was always finding himself in trouble, but always seems to be able to think his way out of the situation, or sometimes it was just dumb luck. The important thing he used his wits more than his strength. He was like me.
I am of course referring to J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic The Hobbit. This shoulder to shoulder time with my mother was all part of a bigger plan. That summer an animated adaption of the book was going to be released on television. She was giving me exposure to the story in anticipation to the film a month ahead a time. In fact, the edition of the book was a large picture book (it still had the full text) that images taken from the soon to be released film. The night of the movie’s debut finally came, and my mother allowed me to stay up past my bedtime and watch it. I had and extra treat of having a bowl of my favorite Fudge Swirl ice ream with whip cream and “Jimmies”. I was enthralled!
My mother was very supportive, and unwaveringly encouraged my reading. I was a very shy and introverted kid; and I enjoyed escaping to different places and times. I could easily imagine the stories and the characters in my mind.
I had an advanced vocabulary. Therefore, I was reading adult Fantasy and Sci-fi books on my own when I was ten years old; and I can read quickly. Another of my fond memories of my mother, she passed in 2000, was how we go to the bookstore and then split to browse into the areas of our interests. We would then meet up after awhile. My mother would ask to see the book that I selected in genuine interest and read the description on the back. She would then show me her book and I would read it’s description ( I would often end up read it too when I got older). If I handed her a Book One, and after reading the back cover, she would sometimes grab the sequel and buy it as well. There were one or two occasions that I walked out with the whole series that had been published up to date.
It was during these years that I was introduced to authors such as David Eddings, Isaac Asimov, Terry Brooks, Piers Anthony, Lloyd Alexander, and Frank Herbert. And of course I read Tolkien’s works.
I began writing my own stories, or scenes. I had so much in my head, but I didn’t know how to organize it to manageable manuscript. I began taking notes of story ideas, listed names of characters, relationships, even quotes that came to mind that a certain charter would say. I always planned to come back to those notebooks and write those stories. But, sadly, when my mother passed away a lot of boxes were thrown out, and my box that was in the attic was one of them.
Today, I am still an avid reader. I read books from many genre’s. Thrillers, Sci-fi, non-fiction history, biography, crime. My mind constantly needs to be fed.
I have always had an interest in history. I grew up in Wayland, Massachusetts. The town is eighteen (there is a stone marker in the town center) miles from Boston, and is also near both Lexington and Concord. Another way in which my mother encouraged my brother and I was to expose to the history of the area. When we had relatives visit from out of town, we would visit all of the Revolutionary battle sites, the Old North Bridge, Sturbridge Village, and drive up North to Salem where the the witch trials took place.
As a boy, I had a Children’s Edition Illustrated version of the Bible. The stories and the pictures interested me and my inquisitive mind wanted to learn about the history. So, I went to the library and signed out many books about Egypt and Rome.
I saw the movies Jason and the Argonauts and the original Clash of the Titans and I became interested in learning more about the Greek culture.
In college, I had a wonderful professor by the name James O’Donnell who taught U.S. History. This gentleman scholar also has the distinction of having taught me how to properly tie a tie (no joke!). He is one of those individuals that crosses your path and subtly leaves a mark on your life. I would say that it was my having met Professor O’Donnell heavily influenced me in desiring to read non-fiction books about historical figures and events.
The first thing that I learned is that are MANY books written about the same topic. The second thing that I learned is that not all of these books agree with each other. Some of these books are biased by opinion, belief systems, and impacted are by not having all of the facts. For this reason, during my research I read many books, articles, dissertations, and even contemporary writings from the time period to help me gain a perspective from which I could build my story accurately, and even dispel some myths that may exist.
The role of an historical novelist is a challenging one. It in a way it is fantasy, but it is not. an author can create stories and characters that take place during a certain time period, or around certain historical events. Or their stories may involve actual people who had lived and breathed. I have interacted with many authors who are writing about their relatives. They know the family history, but in order to make the story believable, it is vital that appropriate research is done.
Have you researched the setting? Have you researched the clothing? Have you researched the political climate that may involve the event(s) the involve the characters? Are you going to change the manner of speech to the time period, or at least make the language understandable to the reader, yet not use vocabulary that would not be used in a certain time period. This is a particular challenge for me because I would like to include the authenticity of the natives speaking in their own language. My challenge is that there are multiple tribes in my story with their own dialect, plus I have the additional challenge of finding a source that would help me to take my text and translate accurately into that dialect.
So, although an historical novelist can have some freedom, as long as it doesn’t change any actual facts about events or historical figures (accept in the case of the alternate history genre), the story must eliminate any anachronisms. As a new author, this weighs on me heavily. One does not wish to cause the story to fizzle out for the reader.
Here is an example. I forget the name of the film, but it was from the mid to late sixties. The movie was supposed to take place during ancient times, and both armies were doing battle with archers, chariots, and warriors. There was a dramatic closeup of one of the actors riding up on his horse to give his report. In the background, you could see a plane flying in the background! Anachronism! It wasn’t even tiny! Yes, the film was low budget, but how did they not catch it?!
An historical novelist is not only a creator of their work, but they must also must become a historian. Their knowledge benefits the believability of their story, and the enjoyability for the reader. The amount of research undertaken varies from author to author. There is no right or wrong way. For me, because my current project involves the true story of the King Philip’s War, I wanted to research both sides of the conflict. I wanted to dispel myths. I wanted to be authentic. I did not wish to have a reader say, “That didn’t happen!” Or, if they did, I would be able to verify my sources.
I continue to read sources because I truly reading about the subject, but my research as a whole has taken six years.
I still have other stories in my head that could eventually see the light day. But right now this is the genre where I find my passion. I enjoy the research. Hopefully, my hard work and authenticity comes out in my writing.