In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree takes place in the 1860s and follows the lives of three people trying to find their way in post-Civil War America. What was the inspiration for your characters; the Henry the ex-slave, Clara and lieutenant Elliot?
I have always been an omnivorous reader. From horror to historical and most genres in-between. The American western is genre that seems to have sort of faded into obscurity over the last thirty years or so. I suppose I can understand why. A lot (not all) of it had become dusty, formulaic, trope-worn, overly-romanticized, and historically inaccurate. I set out to write a story set somewhere between the gold rush and the turn-of-the-century. Something with a different kind of hero from the gunfighter or bank robber. Something that would dust off the genre, add some real humanity, and hopefully spark some renewed interest in this fascinating and sometimes troubling time period.
Henry as the main protagonist was an easy choice. I read a short once, about a man who was freed after the civil war and went on to become a well-known cowboy in Texas. The man had a remarkable way with horses. He was the inspiration for Henry. The challenges African Americans faced even after they were freed from slavery were monumental, and so many extraordinary men and women overcame this adversity and went on to live noteworthy lives.
With Clara I wanted to highlight challenges that women of the period faced. Their oppression can’t be compared equally to African American’s enslavement, but neither can it be marginalized. I also used her character to showcase the disconnect between wealthy easterners and the reality of what was going on in the rest of the country.
John Elliot’s inner conflict wasn’t that uncommon for soldiers both during the civil war and the years following. I have read truly heartbreaking letters sent home disillusioned soldiers from the period, particularly ones from soldier’s involved in what could arguably be called the Native American genocide.
This novel gave a good view of life in 1860s America for slaves and Native Americans. What were some themes you tried to highlight throughout this novel?
Henry and Clara’s relationship is touching but anchored with fear and a desire to find their way to the right side of things. What served as the basis for their relationship while you were writing?
Henry and Clara’s relationship is one of self-discovery for both of them. Henry begins to forgive himself, and finds that he is still capable of love. Clara discovers that her prejudices were misinformed. Her interactions with Henry, and his honesty, later affects how she later handles John’s disturbing revelations.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I have two novels in the works. One is a contemporary drama about a twelve-year-old whose parents both die tragically less than two years apart. He’s subsequently injected into the foster care system and eventually runs away hoping to find an estranged grandparent who lives off-the-grid in Montana. The second is about a man searching for his daughter years after a global catastrophe. Both novels should be released in 2019.
In 1865 a shadow hovers over the nation: the shadow lingers still…
Born into slavery, Henry’s young life is spent working in tobacco drying sheds on Missouri plantations. Freed at the onset of the Civil War, he’s alone, starving, and on the run from Confederate militiamen.
Five years later, Clara Hanfield, the daughter of a powerful New York shipping magnate, escapes her tyrannical father and travels west in pursuit of John Elliot, the man she loves. John, a U.S. Army lieutenant, was sent to the Dakota Territory where he discovers a government conspiracy to incite an all-out war with the Indians; a war meant to finally eliminate them as an obstacle to the westward expansion.
Henry finds himself caught in the middle.
Aided by Clara, John, and his native ally, Standing Elk, Henry must battle hatred, greed, and the ghosts of his past during this turbulent and troubling time in American history.
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In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, by Michael A. McLellan, takes place in the 1860s and revolves around the lives of three people trying desperately to find their way in post-Civil War America. Henry, a man freed from slavery but never free from the horrors he endured, finds himself assisting Clara Hanfield in her quest to reunite with Lieutenant John Elliott, the man she loves and her father loathes. All three are caught up in the government’s plot to push the Native Americans from their land once and for all. Fate has dealt quite the hand to Henry, and his introduction to Clara and her mission to find John poses yet another obstacle to Henry’s quest to find the freedom and peace he deserves.
McLellan’s writing is simply breathtaking. The richness of the language he gives his characters immediately reels in the reader. The exchanges between Henry and Eliza are tender, and her early attempts to refine his speaking habits are affectionate and determined. The trials the two endure to survive as slaves in the South and their attempt to escape the lynch mobs running rampant tore at my heart. McLellan’s words ring all too true. Henry and Eliza’s story is painful, tragic, and well-crafted to convey the horrific circumstances of the era.
Clara’s rescue by Henry is one of those moments in the book worth rereading. Henry, for all intents and purposes, is making amends in any way he can for the loss he has suffered and the guilt he feels for that loss. Sweeping in and pulling Clara from the hands of the enemy, Henry begins a friendship he never could have seen coming. Theirs is a touching relationship punctuated with fleeting moments of light-hearted banter and anchored with fear and a fierce desire on both their parts to find their way to the right side of things. Clara, described as being much like her father, uses it to her advantage as she faces insurmountable challenges on her journey with Henry. Hers is a character refreshingly unlike any other I have read in the genre of historical fiction.
Randall breaks my heart. He is one of those characters the reader will root for from his first appearance. Without giving away too much of Randall’s subplot, I will say that from those first moments of indecision with Clara at West Point. I wanted to see Randall come out on top. The backstory involving his own child and his love for Clara makes for a unique connection and offers the reader all the more reason to admire Randall.
I am giving In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 stars. McLellan has written a piece of historical fiction incorporating elements for every reader. His plotlines involving a family divided and the tragedy surrounding Henry’s life as a slave intertwine to create a beautiful story of friendship, trust, and stand as a testament to the strength of the human spirit. I highly recommend this book to any fan of novels from the Civil War era. McLellan’s characters are truly unforgettable.
Pages: 268 | ASIN: B071YMXDQL
Posted in Five Stars
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Panther Across the Stars is a stirring historical novel depicting the detailed life of a Shawnee Indian warrior who is fighting for his people’s freedom. What was the inspiration for this fantastic novel?
Bear with me, as the answer to this question has several layers. I know there are some among us who find history to be dry, boring, and just written text in schoolbooks; but to me it has always been so much more. History is fascinating when you understand it is made up of living and breathing people who are just as flawed as we are. And for but one step this way or that, all the many things that come after can be altered for good or ill for all of time. I think there is also a smugness in that us here today kind of take things for granted that the world is as it is, as if it was somehow preordained or something. But I think the truth is that the past history, and the one unfolding before our eyes, is fragile in that one act, this way or that, and it can all be rewritten.
And as you walk through the pages of history there are those that rise up from time to time to do extraordinary things. Tecumseh is one of those few. Though I think many of the living do not know his name or who he really was – they should take the time to find out, for he was truly remarkable for the way he carried himself, how he inspired others, and what he tried to accomplish and came oh so close to doing. He was an exceptional human being and certainly one of the very best among us, and that was according to the people who were trying to kill him . . . think about that for a moment. You will find no better patriot for freedom in history’s pages, regardless of the race, creed, country, or age of mankind. Even now, some two hundred years since his passing from the world, his words and deeds are an inspiration to find the highest form of ourselves. Every day that we arise with breath, we should seek the strength to do what is right, even if it is not the easy path to follow. If we could all endeavor to such a thing, the world would truly be a better place.
And also, the core theme of the book is that there is nothing more precious to a living thing than freedom. The book is trying to explore the notion that freedom is more than just the physical and on the outside of the world, but that there is just as great a struggle for freedom on the inside, within the mind. In fact, the story proposes that being free within from all your masters (i.e. anger, fear, doubt, and hate, etc.) may just be the most important of all. It is my humble opinion that as Tecumseh fought for his freedom on the battlefield against musket and bayonet, he also waged this fight within against his fear, doubt, anger, and hatred; for who among us would not be filled with those masters when faced with such pain, hurt, and loss, and the tremendous burden of trying to find a way out for his people.
And lastly, as I read about Tecumseh’s life story there was a mention of a strange red comet in the sky of March 1811, as Tecumseh was trying to gather the many tribes together into one pan-Indian confederation to fight back against America’s invasion. And the thought occurred to me that what if that streaking comet had been a crash landing of a few survivors of some alien race, which fate had steered to his world to help his people find their freedom. What if. . . .
Panther Across the Stars is an intelligent and spiritual person. Was there a historical person that you modeled his character after?
None other than Tecumseh himself. I first learned of him several years back and he was simply a remarkable human being who faced an impossible situation. I tried to write the novel to make the reader feel like you were with Tecumseh two hundred years ago . . . and what would you do when faced with such trials, tribulations, and impossibilities.
I enjoyed all the history woven into this story. What kind of research did you undertake to ensure the books accuracy?
The book is loosely based on the accountings here and there of things that are said to have occurred in Tecumseh’s life. I read several books, watched documentaries, and spent many long hours of internet research to gather up as much background information as I could. This helped to provide the bones to the story, before the layering of the fictional elements. And of course, all good tales deserve some embellishment.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
Well, the intention has been all along to write a sequel to Panther Across the Stars, regarding what happens in the here and now; to see what happens when fate calls again and through their undying spirit of freedom, the scattered Shawnee descendants find the lost Ithreal stone at last some two hundred years later. And what happens when the Jhagir find their way back to this world. In fact, they may already have arrived as we conduct this interview.
As far as the planned timetable, presently there is not one. Being a first-time self-published author, and all that is entailed to try and create a high quality novel, in addition to my day job, time is at a premium and I am still in the early stages of writing the first draft.
Author Links: GoodReads
A larger-than-life tale of one man’s courage, sacrifice, and unyielding defiance to fight for his peoples’ freedom against those that would take it, and in this great struggle he finds friendship with three alien beings fallen to Earth that stand with him.
He is Panther Across the Sky and his world is fading. He takes all the hurt and pain a lifetime gives him and stares into his soul to face the greatest master he will ever know. Just a man among a dying people, he inspires his kin beyond all limit of mind and body in their outstretched and desperate grasp for freedom against overwhelming odds and the mighty nation arisen to the east in the early 1800s – America.
And along the way, he forges a bond with three alien beings fallen to Earth from a distant star, the Jhagir. Together they must find the courage to rise up against the swirling dark sea of blue jackets, muskets, and cannon fire that comes for them. It will take all their strength and spirit, and cost them more than they know, to break back the angry waves of a young nation that would devour a people and wash them away forever. And just maybe, Panther Across the Sky and the Jhagir can give rise to a peoples’ real hope for today . . . and what is to come.
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Lon Brett Coon’s Panther across the Stars is a stirring historical novel depicting the detailed life of a Shawnee Indian warrior called Tecumseh otherwise known as panther across the stars that was a brave and intelligent warrior who is able to inspire loyalty, devotion and admiration from all that knew him. He battles the palefaces who are his sworn enemies even though he is curious about their strange way, and even befriends the few he could respect. This is a visceral tale of power, passion and one man’s destiny to unite his people in the struggles to save their land and way of life from the white settlers.
Tecumseh, being a proud man, is relentless in his efforts and travels for many months trying to gather support and warriors from other chiefs. Unfortunately the other chiefs do not join the alliance because many of them end up being short sighted. Tecumseh is driven by myth and hope as he battles again and again even though he is not sure whether peace is possible.
This book is a fantastic read. Lon Brett Coon writes in a way that puts the reader in the scene. I felt like I was walking alongside the triumphs and trials of the members. The attention given to the customs of the Shawnee and other tribal nations was enjoyable and detailed. The writing style was both engaging and entertaining. The author excellently paints a portrait of these people’s lives. It is interesting to read about the Shawnee and how they coped with the intrusion of white settlers. Their bravery and courage was outstanding though it leaves one wishing they had had been treated better.
It was heartbreaking to learn about the lies and deceit from the Americans and seeing the Shawnee native land disappearing slowly. We get to watch as they are constantly being moved west as treaties are broken constantly by the white people who are driven by their hunger for more land and ownership of it. This is a novel that deftly portrays the injustices brought upon Native Americans.
I would definitely recommend it for anyone who wants to know more about the history, culture, and battles of American Indians. The author has clearly done his research and kept it as accurate as possible. Tecumseh’s passion for his people is clear and earns him extraordinary friends. Although this novel sheds light on some dark historical times, there’s an undercurrent of optimism that inspires hope in the reader that maybe the Native Americans will win, and save their land.
Pages: 315 | ASIN: B076Y8BTF2
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Sentinels of the Night is an action-packed novel that follows tracker Cat Morgan who uses forces beyond her understanding to find murder victims. What was the inspiration behind this story and how did you turn that into a novel?
I’ve always been intrigued with characters who have an extra edge, that ability to overcome adversity and danger. Add to that my infatuation with Native American myths and legends and Scottish and Irish folklore, and you have the backdrop for my characters.
In Sentinels of the Night, I created an elite FBI unit—Trackers. Each has a secret, that extra edge that defies reason and logic. Tracker Cat Morgan’s paranormal element was pulled from a Native American myth.
As for the plot, I have twenty-seven years of law enforcement experience. I served in patrol, undercover narcotics, advanced accident investigation and the SWAT team. I was a unit sniper. Several incidents in the book were based on those experiences. Early in my career, I crossed paths with a serial killer who was convicted on eleven counts of homicide. I have never forgotten the dead look in his eyes. That memory was the basis for the serial killer.
Cat Morgan is a mysterious and alluring character. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the character’s development?
The character had to deal with issues she couldn’t ignore. While her extraordinary gift added to her investigative ability, it made her different and there was the ever-present fear of rejection if her fellow agents found out.
I enjoyed the tension that builds between Cat and Kevin. Was their relationship something that was mapped out or did it grow organically?
It developed as I began to add depth to the characters. Kevin questioning his sanity as the plot progressed added another dimension of trust.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
I published the second of the Tracker novels, Going Gone! about two months ago, and a third is on the way. I hope to have it completed by the end of the year.
FBI Tracker Cat Morgan has an unusual talent, one she has successfully concealed, even from her fellow agents. That is–until she finds a body with a strange symbol carved on the forehead during a stop in Clinton, Mississippi and crosses paths with the town’s rugged police chief, Kevin Hunter.
Despite his instant attraction to the sexy agent, Kevin is suspicious of her presence at the crime scene and isn’t buying her dubious explanations. He wants her out of the investigation and out of his town.
The discovery of another mutilated body with the same symbol sends Cat back to Clinton, and this time she isn’t leaving. To stop the killer, Cat must find a way to overcome Kevin’s distrust and will face an impossible impasse–truth or lies.
But will either one matter, when the killer fixates on her for his next sacrifice?
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The Prophet and The Witch by James W. George is a historical fiction book, continuing on from the first book, My Father’s Kingdom. The year is 1675, and four years have passed since readers joined popular characters such as Brewster and Linto in New England. The signs of war have been steadily brewing since, with so many individuals struggling to hold the peace. Inevitably, all efforts have proved futile, and the battle now begins between the English and the Indians. This is one of the most gruesome wars many will be privy to, but one which numerous people are determined to end, preventing further bloodshed and restoring peace to both sides.
The Prophet and The Witch is divided into three parts, covering the summer of 1675 to the summer of 1676. Within each section, the chapters are short and focused on some wonderfully developed individual characters as they contend with the implications of this war.
I was genuinely shocked at the obvious association between war and religion in this account. A huge proportion of the story focuses on the beliefs of the men fighting, highlighting how their personal religious understandings act as an explanation of why war is a necessity. The English see things, such as the turbulent weather, as the wrath of God’s displeasure, but then condemn what they see as mere pagan superstitions of the Indian tribes. However, if they were to reflect, they would soon see more similarities than differences in that both sides look for signs, albeit just of a different type!
As a reader, it is difficult to pick a side of this battle. The English Christians rely on the word of God, trusting they are doing his work in ridding a blasphemous tribe who butcher innocent civilians. Yet, to the Indians, the English and their own actions are similarly threatening! The reader never fully feels they can condemn either side, for each are doing what they see as their duty to survive. The question of religion therefore lingers throughout the book, quietly encouraging you to question whether man or God is responsible for this creation of war…
Israel Brewster and Linto are firm favourites throughout the story. Their portrayal is refreshing and their actions commendable, in an otherwise fraught and harrowing period. These two are both the savours of the story for me personally as they question man’s motives and speak out when they feel an injustice is occurring.
For those who haven’t read the first book, there is an extensive summary at the beginning of book two, instantly bringing readers up-to-date with the action so far. You never feel like you are at a disadvantage because of this.
The Prophet and The Witch is expertly written and instantly engaging from the first few pages. An exceptionally drawn historical fiction account. I was captivated by this very well-structured book, and would recommend as one of the more intellectual of reads.
Pages: 375 | ASIN: B0755QL6CR
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Fleeing the Shadows is a satisfying follow-up in the continuing Dangerous Loyalties series as our brave heroine flees with her family into the Kentucky frontier. What direction did you want to take this novel in that was different from the first book?
After the danger caused by Papa’s covert activities in book one, I wanted readers thrust headlong into survival mode with thirteen-year-old Mary and her family.
The family is always running from something and danger seems to lurk around every bend. Did you plan the plot twists before writing or did they develop organically?
I used a rough outline to keep the story moving but allowed surprises to happen naturally.
Mary continues to carry the bulk of the family’s worries as her Papa makes increasingly difficult decisions. What were some obstacles that you felt were important for her characters development?
Mary struggles with PTSD. She must deal with each fear and keep going. Mary rises to the task of taking charge of her siblings when Papa must care for Momma. When Mary shuts down in fear, she allows her family to care for her. Her ultimate challenge leads her to face real and imagined shadows to save her family.
Where will book three in the series take readers?
Mary hopes life at Fort Boonesborough will fulfill her dreams of a peaceful life with friends and suitors. She has her heart set on a certain someone and is determined to win him for her future husband, but Papa and the American Revolution say otherwise.
She blames herself for the bounty onPapa’s head.
Book Two in the Dangerous Loyalties series–a historical novel for teens–continues the riveting story of Daughters of the American Revolution patriot Mary Shirley McGuire.
It’s late summer in the Alleghany Highlands, 1775. Colonial Virginia has resolved to support the American Revolutionary cause for liberty. The British are determined to retain control of the fur trade and keep frontiersmen fighting Indians instead of joining the Continentals.
Thirteen-year-old Mary Shirley is still recovering from emotional wounds inflicted when she risked her life delivering traitorous dispatches. She trusted the wrong men, and now the family must flee Indian Creek to stay ahead of British Loyalist who seek her papa’s life.
But they can’t risk being captured by taking the main road to Daniel Boone’s trail that leads into Kentucky territory. They must endure the more dangerous and grueling hunter’s path that leads to rough frontier forts along the Clinch River.
Passions are ignited, friendships are formed, and shocking lessons are learned.
Papa ignores the warnings to wait for other travelers, causing Mary’s anxieties to worsen. Once they cross the Cumberland Gap, they’re at the mercy of God and the Chickamauga Cherokee to make it to Fort Boonesborough alive. Frontiersmen tell them the settlement of Fort Boonesborough isn’t defendable, and Mary doesn’t want to continue. Papa is confident that the Indians are too busy preparing for winter to raid.
A few days from the fort, Mary is feeling hopeful for the future. Then disaster strikes, leaving the family devastated and heartbroken. There is no other choice. Mary must lay aside paralyzing fear and excruciating pain to save her family before time runs out.
Fleeing the Shadows (Dangerous Loyalties Book Two) invites readers to experience traveling the dangerous wilderness trails with Mary and her family through thick wild forests of Southwest Virginia and into Kentucky territory that leads straight into a Native American hornet’s nest. Mary just wants to make it Fort Boonesborough and live in peace.
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Fleeing the Shadows is a satisfying follow-up in the continuing Dangerous Loyalties series by Phyllis A. Still. Continuing only days after the events of the previous Defiance on Indian Creek, we are swept away as our brave, thirteen-year-old heroine, Mary Shirley, must flee with her family deeper into the Kentucky frontier. They seek to escape the British loyalists who dog their every step, but as they run farther from colonial territory proper, the family finds themselves in equal peril and at the mercy of Native American braves. Mary’s Papa relies on her to do what is right and help protect their family.
Having read the previous book in the series, this was a welcome return to the world of Dangerous Loyalties. Still has a great YA voice that carries the reader away with her pages. The novel has a faster pace to it, considering the family is always running from something and danger seems to lurk around every bend. For a historical YA novel, Still does not hold back on making sure that we feel the desperation of the family in every chapter. This anxiety is only enhanced as the family drives deeper into the wild unknown North American frontier.
Still keeps the reader much more on the edge of our seat with this narrative, because the stakes or that much higher. If the first could be called a ‘slow burn’, this can be called a ‘flash fire’. The story rips right off the page. The setting of the summer of 1775 keeps the historical urgency matching the urgency of this very personal story, but the overarching nationwide feelings are much more muted in this second book of the series by virtue of the very present danger. At times the narrative leans on the setup of the previous too much to be a true standalone narrative, but as a second book it works perfectly well enough.
Mary continues to carry the bulk of the family’s worries as her Papa makes increasingly difficult and sometimes questionable decisions of what they should do, while running from the loyalists, even while Indians shadow their every step. Mary is still dealing with the emotional turmoil after delivering the dispatches and her Papa only makes this worse. Overall, Fleeing the Shadows is a stirring, nail-biter of a read and will be sure to please fans of the first book of the series.
Pages: 212 | ASIN: B072C23D6R
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Another Tribe follows Julii, a strong female Native American that is forced to confront racism in the southern states of America during the civil war. Why did you pick 1860’s America to set your story in?
Another Tribe is the second book in a three book series which explores Self Esteem, Racism and War. Another Tribe, the book which deals with racism, is set amid the turmoil of 1860’s America because there has rarely been a time and place where skin color has so dominated the psyche of a nation. Viewing the American Civil War through the thoughts of a beautiful; deeply intelligent, yet persecuted Native American woman exposes the despicable personal suffering of a victim of racism.
This time in America is filled with lofty ideals but also cruelty. What were some things you felt were important to highlight in this story?
Another Tribe highlights the contradiction of The Northern States who claimed to be fighting for ‘racial equality’ while continuing to persecute the Tribes of their native population. The story also explores the brutal reality of humans being owned as property by the Southern States. By compelling a Confederate officer of high birth to fall deeply in love with a Native American woman I am forcing him to confront his own marrow deep racism.
Julii comes across a wounded Confederate Captain and this chance meeting sets off a series of historical events. What was the inspiration for the relationship between Julii and Robert?
In the three book series entitled ‘Our Eternal Cures’, Julii and Robert are reincarnated as the catalyst for radical change in three very different periods of history. In ‘Another Self’ their struggle with Self-Esteem brings the Ancient Roman Republic to its knees. In Another Tribe hatred of racism leads to defeat of the Southern states. In ‘Another War’ their meddling provokes events which cause World War One.
Why do you think the quote ‘“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” is perfect for your novel?
There is an underlying story which passes as a continuous thread of mystery through all thee books. At the end of Another War that mystery is revealed. Without spoiling the final twist I can say both characters are being reincarnated because their actions in a past life have condemned them to return and repeat them time after time.
Another Tribe and the first book Another Self are both exceptional pieces of fiction. What is your writing process and/or experience as a writer?
Everything I write comes from deep within my troubled soul. All of the drama experienced by my characters is influenced by the unique and traumatic experiences of my own life. Far too many words to write here but clicking on this link will take you to a full explanation of who I am and why I must write as I do: GoodReads.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” Julii, a beautiful, insecure and victimized Tennessee Indian is caught up in the white man’s world after saving the life of a Confederate captain wounded at the battle of Shiloh. Overcoming great disadvantage, cruel prejudice and bitter persecution, Julii harnesses her intrinsic genius to become the Confederate States’ most aggressive blockade-runner. Using conspiracy, manipulation and bribery to punish those who wronged her, Julii sets off a chain of events that leads to General Sherman burning down Atlanta, his infamous “March to the sea”, and a total Union victory, while condemning her to suffer for even more sins of her past.
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My Father’s Kingdom is a historical fiction novel centered around the religious strife during the American settlement at Plymoth in the late 1600’s. Why did you want to write a novel about this event and time?
I’m a big fan of historical fiction and I wanted to choose a topic the casual reader was not familiar with. King Philip’s War was one of the most tragic and devastating conflicts in American history, and too many of us have never even heard of it.
We have plenty of novelists focusing on topics like the Viking invasions of England, the Tudors, and the American Civil War…and that’s wonderful. These are almost always fantastic works. In my opinion, however, there are approximately 150 years of colonial American history (1620-1770) that are woefully neglected in fiction. There are certainly some great novels about this era, mostly about Salem, but I think the era as a whole deserves a lot more attention.
I find the Puritans and Separatists to be some of the most fascinating people in history. Their piety, courage and diligence were truly remarkable, but history is well aware of how they treated anyone alien to their political and religious worldview. The history of New England is also the history of incredible Native American nations like the Wampanoag and Narragansett, and their stories need to be told.
The narrative of this story is told from the perspective of native Americans and the pilgrims. Each offers a different opinion and set of beliefs on the alliance between the people. What kind of research did you do to ensure the story was as accurate as possible?
I’m not a historian but fortunately there is a wealth of historical research about this era, much of which I mention in my Author’s Notes. “Mayflower” by Nathaniel Philbrick is probably the first thing that comes to mind regarding this era. Sarah Vowell’s “Wordy Shipmates” is a fantastic read. Jay Moore and the Charles River Editors wrote “King Philip’s War: The History and Legacy” and it is a treasure of information. The online “Plymouth Colony Archive Project” by Patricia Scott Deetz, Christopher Fennell and J. Eric Deetz is an incredible resource for understanding how 17th Century New Englanders lived and worked.
Obviously, it was also critical to understand the Native American perspective of these events. Nativeamericannetroots.com was a valuable asset in that regard, among other sources.
As you can imagine, much of the history is crystal clear, but much is very murky. For example, we seem to have a very good idea what Metacomet told Deputy Governor John Easton when Easton tried to mediate the conflict. Conversely, there are numerous conflicting accounts of Wamsutta’s final days.
I felt that a consistent theme in the story was the importance of peace. What were some themes you felt were important to develop the story?
I’d say in addition to peace, some themes are the paradox of Puritan values and how they lived their Christian faith. The corollary theme would be how awesome yet baffling the English Christians must have seemed to the natives in 17th Century New England. A third theme would be no matter which community the characters hailed from (Puritan or Quaker, English or Wampanoag), they all looked to the divine, spiritual world to help guide them through what must have been astoundingly fearful times.
I found the characters to be very well developed and in depth. What were your inspirations for the characters?
Thank you for the compliment. I’d say one inspiration for Israel Brewster is the Chaplain Corps in the Armed Forces. Although I am certainly not a chaplain, during a recent deployment I had the opportunity to help review and grade annual award packages for the chaplains. It really helped to bring home the remarkable dedication and service they provide to the men and women they serve with. Sometimes I think we as a society are too quick to glom onto the scandals and shortcomings of the clergy, and are far too oblivious to the impact they are making in the lives of others.
Israel Brewster in 1671 is a model of certainty, whereas Linto represents all that is uncertain. He is a young man trying to find the meaning of his life in a world of sickness, hatred, and turmoil.
What is the next book you are working on and when will it be published?
Certainly, there will be a book two for “My Father’s Kingdom” and I hope it will ultimately be a trilogy. I’d like to publish book two this year. I’m also mapping out a novel about professional sports, because as much as I love my current topic, it will also be nice to write something light-hearted.
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“In 1620 more than one hundred devout men and women crossed the treacherous Atlantic Ocean and established a colony in the New World where they could build a righteous and Godly society. Without the fortuitous friendship of the Wampanoag people and their charismatic leader Massasoit, however, it is doubtful the holy experiment would have survived.
Fifty years later Plimoth Colony has not only survived, it has prospered, and more and more Englishmen are immigrating to New England. The blessed alliance with the Wampanoag, however, is in severe jeopardy. Massasoit has passed away along with most of the original settlers of Plimoth Colony, and their children and grandchildren have very different ideas about their historic friendship.
Thrust into the center of events is Reverend Israel Brewster, an idealistic young minister with a famous grandfather and a tragic past. Meanwhile, Massasoit’s son, known as “King Philip” by the English, is tormented by both the present and the past. He is watching the resources and culture of the Wampanoag nation fade away at the hands of the English and desperately wishes to restore hope and security to his people.
In a world of religious fervor, devastating sickness, and incessant greed, can the alliance of their forefathers survive? Or will New England feel the wrath of tragic, bloody war?”
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