The Genesis For This Novel

John W. Bebout
John W. Bebout Author Interview

The Cause of Darkness follows a young man during the last year of the American Civil war as his actions to save his father bring about dire consequences. What were some sources that informed this novels development?

How many times have you heard someone say, ‘I would do anything for you/him/her/them’? I have often wondered if it is possible to do too much, to cross some moral or ethical boundary of the person or group you are trying to help. That was the genesis for this novel. As the title hints, one can question whether the fault lies with the sinner or with the person/events that caused the darkness in which the sins were committed. Clearly, Teddy takes full personal responsibility and the guilt nearly cripples him.

Teddy felt like an authentic character. How did you set about capturing the voice of a 19th century teen?

If you read enough Civil War letters and 19th Century literature, you develop a pretty good ear for what conversations sounded like in those days: a more formal cadence and the lack of use of contractions, among other things. As for a teen speaking, I can still remember much of my teenage angst. Except for the exacerbation by social media, I doubt that angst has changed much in millenia.

Your writing style in this novel was very engaging. Did you plan your story before writing or did things develop organically while writing?

Thank you! I know everyone has their own way of writing a novel. I have to admit that I find it hard work and I would be terribly bored if I had already worked out every detail before I began. I start by creating a character whom I like (bad or good) and place them in a situation. Then I ask, ‘What would my character do?’

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I left the ending of ‘The Cause of Darkness’ ambiguous because that is how life is. Things are rarely wrapped up in a neat little package. But people fell in love with Teddy and requested that I write a second book which answers the basic question, ‘What happens to Teddy?’ It is called, ‘The Light from Darkness’ and can be found on amazon. Both books are stand-alone and can be read in any order.

I am presently working on a darker novel set in the years following the Civil War. It is about revenge and retribution, with many of the characters people have met before. I hope to have it completed by the end of this summer.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

‘The Cause of Darkness’ is the story of a 16-year-old boy named Teddy Miller set during the last full-year of the American Civil War. Teddy lives with his father and brother in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. They lead more-or-less normal lives even while the War rages around them. But everything changes when their farm is burned, and Teddy’s father is arrested and sentenced to hang for espionage. Teddy’s single-minded quest to save his father reads like a grand adventure, full of gun fights, horse chases and 19th century justice. There is even a beautiful Pinkerton detective who plays a major role in Teddy’s exploits. But nearly all the adult characters act solely in their own self-interest and few have Teddy’s welfare at heart. Left without adult guidance, Teddy takes actions to save his father which have consequences that he cannot fully comprehend; and it is the consequences of these actions that drive the novel to its conclusion.

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Posted on May 22, 2021, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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