Friday, October 30, 2020

#GuestPost: Norse Longships and West Highland Galleys by Regan Walker

Biographic Fiction 

The Clan Donald Saga #1

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“Walker weaves a spellbinding tale of heroism and adventure coupled with a touching love story.” ~ A Reader’s Review

Somerled’s parentage was noble, of the Kings of Dublin, the royal house of Argyll and the great Ard Ri, the High Kings of Ireland. But when the Norse invaded Argyll and the Isles, his family’s fortunes fell with those of his people. All hope seemed lost when he rose from the mists of Morvern to rally the Gaels, the Scots and the Irish.

Sweeping across Argyll and the Isles like a fast-moving storm, brilliant in strategy and fearless in battle, Somerled began retaking his ancestral lands, driving away the invaders and freeing the people from the Norse stranglehold. In doing so, he would win the title Somerle Mor, Somerled the Mighty, Lord of Argyll, Kintyre and Lorne and, eventually, Lord of the Isles.

This is the unforgettable story of the Norse-Gael who forged the Kingdom of the Isles and won the heart of a Norse princess.
The Norse Longships

Longships were ships primarily used by the Scandinavian Vikings and the Saxons to raid coastal and inland settlements during the Middle Ages. The design evolved over several centuries and was fully developed by about the 9th century. But they were still being used in the 12th and 13th centuries by the Norse who had settled in the Orkneys and the Hebrides, the setting for Summer Warrior. The larger ships were also used for long-distance trade and commerce, and for exploratory voyages to Iceland, Greenland, and beyond.

They were long, narrow and light with a shallow draft hull designed for speed. This shallow draft allowed navigation in waters only three feet deep and permitted beach landings, while the ship’s lightweight enabled it to be carried over portages. Longships were also double-ended, the symmetrical bow and stern allowing the ship to reverse direction quickly without having to turn around.

Dragonships are known from historical sources, such as the 13th century Göngu-Hrólfs Saga (the Saga of Rollo). These longships were elegant and ornately decorated and were used by those who went í Viking (raiding and plundering). According to the historical sources the ships’ stem posts carried carvings of menacing beasts, such as dragons and snakes, allegedly to protect the ship and crew and to ward off the terrible sea monsters of Norse mythology. This may be the reason why the dragon is found so widely on everyday objects, and why it persisted to be used even in the early Christian period in Scandinavia, as in the carvings on Norway’s stave churches at Urnes and Borgund.

The size of the ships varied as seen in the number of oars/benches and the number of crew. For example, the Skuldelev 5 is one of the smallest longships and was likely used as part of a war fleet. It had 26 oars and a crew of 30. Its average speed was 6-7 knots and its top speed was 15 knots.

The earliest Viking raiders had ships averaging between 32 and 38 oars. Crews of 25 to 60 men would sit on benches on open decks. Over time, the size increased so that ships from Orkney or Norway might average 40 oars. Larger longships carried as many as 100 or more. Earl Hakon of Orkney’s flagship was said to have 54 to 74 oars and carry 300 crew.

Somerled’s West Highland Galleys

The West Highland galleys, like those in Somerled’s fleet in my story, most likely would have had 26 oars or less with a crew of about 30-40 men. Somerled, the Norse-Gael who forged the Kingdom of the Isles, is credited with developing the fixed rudder in the stern whereas the Norse longships had a “steer board” on the right side of the ship. The galleys were thus faster and more maneuverable than the Norse longships.

The galley, sometimes called a birlinn, was a clinker-built wooden ship, which meant the external planks overlapped the upper edge of the lower plank as did the Norse longships. Initially, they were made of oak with a leather sail. These Celtic sailing ships, used as early as 1 B.C. in Ireland, had been plying the seas near Scandinavia since the time of Caesar. Archaeological digs have determined early Viking longships did not have a mast or sail. The Viking mast was a later innovation probably taken from their seafaring Celtic neighbors.

About Regan Walker: 
A lawyer turned writer, Regan Walker is an award-winning, bestselling author of Regency, Georgian and Medieval romances. Her novels weave history and historical figures into fictional stories with political intrigue, a bit of mystery and love. She lives in San Diego and loves to walk along the seashore with her dog "Cody".

Thursday, October 29, 2020

#AuthorInterview: Historical Fiction Interview with Dionne Haynes, author of Running With the Wind

Christan Historical

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Welcome to Historical Fiction Reader Dionne. It’s a pleasure to have you with us. To start things off, please tell us a bit about Running With the Wind.
Hi Erin. I’m thrilled to be a guest on your blog today. Thank you for having me!

Running With The Wind is a love story and adventure set aboard the famous Mayflower voyage of 1620.

Jedediah Trelawney is on the run. After performing a good deed, he is rewarded with a passage to America on the Mayflower but is ill-prepared for the dreadful conditions aboard and the violent storms that ravage the ship.

Struggling to adapt to life at sea, Jed undertakes arduous tasks alongside members of the crew and studies the healing arts with the ship’s doctor. With courage, determination and hard work, he earns the respect of his fellow passengers, and dares to dream of marriage to Desire Minter and a future as a respected physician in the colony.

But Jed has a dark secret. A hostile passenger, John Billington, claims to know the details and bullies and bribes Jed in return for saying nothing. Jed must silence Billington forever, or risk losing everything – including his life.

With fiction woven around the few known facts of the actual voyage, this is a tale of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. 

Where did the idea for this story originate? 
Plymouth, England, is my home and the Mayflower story is an important part of the city’s history. It’s something I’ve been aware of since childhood and has always fascinated me. Whilst we know a lot about what happened to the passengers before and after they arrived in America, details of the actual voyage are rather sparse. So, I took the brief account written by William Bradford and used my imagination to fill in the gaps. 

Jed is a fictional character, and I invented a few crewmember names, but I based all the other characters on some of those known to have made the voyage. 

My first career was as a doctor, and I have a long-standing fascination with the history of medicine. I wanted my lead character to share my interest in significant discoveries of the time. As a result, Jed becomes intent on challenging archaic treatment methods, such as blood-letting to cool a fever, and finding kinder ways to care for his patients.

What historical resources helped you bring the voyage of the Mayflower to life on the page?
Well, first, there are no documents that describe exactly how the Mayflower looked. Most models and images are best guesses based on maritime architectural history. Most people envisage the Mayflower 2 when thinking about the famous Mayflower (there were several ships that went by the same name), and that magnificent replica influenced the Mayflower of my story with a hefty dose of artistic license regarding animal pens, the cargo hold and the forecastle. 

Non-fiction books were essential as a source of information about the people aboard the ship. My favourites are “Mayflower” by Nathaniel Philbrick, “The Mayflower And Her Passengers” by Caleb H. Johnson, and “The Pilgrim Chronicles” by Rod Gragg. 

National Geographic produced a wonderful book called “Mayflower 1620” which has some magnificent pictures taken aboard Mayflower 2. I highly recommend that book for adults and children alike. 

Knowing that a barber-surgeon, Giles Heale, was on the Mayflower opened up a variety of potential scenes for my novel. His tools would have been very basic and his methods barbaric compared to what we are used to these days. The ocean is a dangerous place, so no doubt the surgeon would have attended to several injuries, not just pulling rotten teeth and cutting hair! There are many excellent reference books about medicine and surgery through the ages, but my favourite is a book I’ve had since my teens – “Medicine, An Illustrated History” has graced my bookshelf for over 30 years!
Which character in Running With the Wind do you feel you have the most in common with?Ooh, that’s a tough one. I’ll go with Jed, even though he’s a man. He’s a caring individual with a curious mind, loves learning and is ambitious with his goals. I like to think I’m caring. I’m definitely ambitious with my goals.

Which character do you feel you have the least in common with?
John Billington. While a vile human being! I hope I’ve never been that mean to anyone.

Did any scene in Running With the Wind challenge you as a writer?
Lots of them! It was my debut novel and came with a steep learning curve. The hardest scene to write was the death of a passenger. I won’t say who as it would be a spoiler, but it was one of my favourite characters. When I’m writing, I see the scenes clearly in my mind, and I confess to shedding a tear or two over that one.

Authors are often forced to make sacrifices when composing their stories and I always wonder what ended up on the cutting room floor. Is there a character, scene, or concept you wish you could have spent more time on while writing Running With the Wind?
I cut the first two chapters of my original draft as I wanted the adventure to start right away, but I did like those chapters. They described how Jed earned his reward by rescuing a child and captured some of his fear of being a wanted man. It was right to cut them, but it was my first experience of removing many hours of work. I’m used to it now.

The Mayflower Steps, built to commemorate the departure from Plymouth.
Photo used with permission of Dionne Haynes.
If you could pick a fantasy cast – anyone at all, living or dead, at any point in their careers- to play your characters in a big-screen adaptation of Running With the Wind, who would you cast?
Please let me have Eddie Redmayne to play Jed! I’d also like to see Emma Watson play Desire. Aside from that, I’d welcome anyone if it meant seeing my story on the big screen!

What do you hope readers take from their experience of Running With the Wind?
Can you imagine being one of 102 passengers crammed together in a dark space on a cramped, stinking ship? To do so for as long as they did, the Mayflower passengers had no choice but to tolerate one another and show kindness and forgiveness. There were no quiet cabins to retreat to for a comfortable bed or few minutes alone, and no bathrooms for daily ablutions. With no toilets on the ship, the passengers had to make do with chamber pots which were emptied over the side of the ship. The voyage must have tested them in countless ways. They weren’t all from the same background either. One group of passengers travelled in search of religious freedom but many others were merchant adventurers who sailed intending to make money once settled in America. Several passengers had no choice but to go as they were children or servants at the time of the voyage. Not only did these brave souls support each other during a terrifying voyage, but they nursed one another while sick and established a new colony.

We live in a diverse society today, and I want my story to inspire readers to show tolerance (if they don’t already!), forgiveness and to have courage in the face of adversity.

What’s next for you? Any new writing projects in the wings?
I’m excited to say I’m writing a sequel to “Running With The Wind”. The working title is “The Winter Years” and it continues the story of Jed and Desire after they reach America. It will also be the first book from a series I’m planning and I’ve already outlined books 2 and 3. “The Winter Years” is with an editor at the moment, and I intend to release it in February 2021. My cover designer is ready to start work on the cover at the end of November, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for this story.

I also have another series of books in the pipeline and hope to release the first of those next year. They’re about a young female servant in the Tudor era and inspired by my childhood summer holidays in Cornwall.

If readers would like to receive notification about future releases, they are welcome to join my Readers Club and collect an e-novella about Desire as a welcome gift by clicking this link.
About Dionne Haynes: 
I'd like to tell you I've been a storyteller since childhood — but that would be untrue. My interest in telling stories really started when my son was a toddler, but I didn't have the time or commitment to scribble them down. As the years passed, the yearning to write books intensified, and so when my husband suggested I leave my medical career to concentrate on writing, I didn't need much persuasion.

Now I spend most of my working day weaving fiction around facts. Although I no longer work as a doctor, medical themes sometimes creep into my storylines.  My tales are inspired by less well-known people from the past or events that were not well documented. For example,  Running With The Wind  is set almost entirely aboard theMayflower during the famous crossing of 1620, a voyage about which few details are known. I use my imagination to fill the gaps and produce what I hope is a credible and entertaining story.

My hobbies are many and varied. I live in Devon and love exploring the coast and countryside with my husband. We’re members of the National Trust and English Heritage, so we’re never short of a venue to visit. I also enjoy taking photographs, visiting other countries, watching theatre shows, and attending live sports events. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

#AuthorInterview: Historical Fiction Interview with Peter Crawley, author of Constant Tides

Family Saga

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Welcome to Historical Fiction Reader Peter. It’s a pleasure to have you with us. To start things off, please tell us a bit about Constant Tides.
First of all, it is a pleasure to be asked to talk about writing a novel that caused me to fall in love, for falling in love is one of the motivations that drive us to write.

Where did the idea for this story originate?  
The ideas for Constant Tides stemmed from the 2015 launch of my third novel Ontreto in Lipari, the largest of the Aeolian Islands just north of Sicily. One morning, while taking breakfast on the terrace of the hotel, I saw a strange-looking boat glide by and asked a Sicilian friend to tell me about it. The feluca, as they call it, measures around twenty metres in length, a long passerelle stems from the bow, from where the funcitta harpoons the swordfish, and a tall mast with a small platform soars skyward from midship, on top of which sits the capo barco, the captain or driver, and the spotter, the avvistatore. There are only fourteen left now, five on the Calabrian shore of the Strait of Messina and nine on the Sicilian, and they are a modern version of the fulua and the luntro that have fished for swordfish in the waters of the Strait for thousands of years. A year on, I was invited to spend the day on one such boat, after which I was treated to an evening in Messina, a city that has over centuries been destroyed by earthquakes and ravaged by war. What struck me particularly was the courage of the local people; they have endured such appalling hardships and yet every time their city has been razed to the ground, they have risen again to rebuild it. I was also amazed to learn that during the great earthquake of 1908 more people lost their lives than through the Hiroshima bombing 37 years later and yet many people have no idea this cataclysmic event took place. From the tales of fishermen and the stories related by the local Messinese, so was the novel born.

What historical resources helped you bring the backdrop of Constant Tides to life on the page?
A year after that first day on the fishing boat, I was invited back to spend a few days working on the feluca. I grew to know and admire the fishermen, their culture and traditions, and witnessed at first-hand just how challenging and often dangerous their work can be. A friend lent me her apartment in the heart of the city and others took me to the churches, museums and festivals; they introduced me to local historians and journalists, and permitted me time to stroll the streets, where I immersed myself in the sights and sounds, the cafés and the restaurants. Then there was a long list of historical records, newspaper archives and text books to read, including my uncle’s memoir; he had served on Motor Torpedo Boats in the Strait of Messina through the liberation of Sicily in 1943. Before my trip, I had learned a little Italian, which was of no help on the feluca as the fishermen spoke only dialect, but which meant I was able to talk to the people, many of whom were only too ready to invite me into their homes to educate me about life in Messina: this was the gold dust of my prospecting.

Which character in Constant Tides do you feel you have the most in common with?
If I hold a special affinity with one character in Constant Tides, it is Aldo, who is in love with Mira. Tenente Aldo de la Grascia is the officer in charge of the bunch of misfits at the anti-aircraft battery at Capo Peloro in Book 2. He is a noble, thoughtful and well-intentioned soul; in his youth a torch-bearer for fascism and now, in the last days of the war, a young man old before his time and only too willing to admit to the foolishness of his ambitions. Aldo knows Italy will pay a high price for its sins and he will risk all to keep Mira and her family safe. I admire him for his humility and his dignity. 

Which character do you feel you have the least in common with? 
Each of the three books that go to make up the novel has its own undesirable character. In the first part, he is the escaped prisoner who robs both the living and the dead of their possessions; in the second part, he is the old Sansepolcrista, the ignorant, die-hard fascist who would shoot his own men if he thought by doing so he would please Mussolini; and in the last, it is the opportunist who, thinking Caterina alone, tries his luck with her. In some ways they are all one person, vile and malevolent, yet individually written each is a product of his time.

Did any scene in Constant Tides challenge you as a writer?
Did any scenes in Constant Tides challenge me as a writer? Oh, for sure and most of the novel; and because each book is set in a different period, 1908, 1943 and 2019, I tried to modify the language of the narrative to suit that period setting. In terms of scenes: bringing the reader into the moment of the earthquake – the falling buildings, the trembling ground, the fires, the dust, the panic and the terror – was not easy to write without resorting to hyperbole or garish over-description. The love scene in Book 2 was also challenging because as a writer you want the reader to feel the love, feel it intimately and honestly, and yet you don’t want your reader to assume the role of voyeur; employing the right language is key and putting that language together is a little like playing Jenga; one badly placed word can bring the entire scene down. In the final book, conveying Catherine’s sense of loss was emotionally demanding and the closer I grew to her, the more I shared her loss and often found myself in tears, which is an odd feeling when you’re sitting alone at your desk.

Authors are often forced to make sacrifices when composing their stories and I always wonder what ended up on the cutting room floor. Is there a character, scene, or concept you wish you could have spent more time on while writing Constant Tides?
Talking of sadness, I think it is both inevitable and painful that you discard some of your ideas. Sometimes this happens early on, when you need to steer your narrative in a certain direction, and sometimes it happens at the end, as a natural part of editing. In this case, my desire to introduce readers to two particular locations in greater depth incurred casualties: I simply didn’t have the room to accommodate them without clunky exposition. The first, Casa Cuseni – apart from hosting celebrated writers Tennessee Williams, Earnest Hemingway, DH Lawrence and Bertrand Russel, artists Pablo Picasso and Henry Faulkner, and the screen goddess Greta Garbo – holds a secret in a room kept locked for over one hundred years. The villa, now a national monument in Sicily, overlooks the beautiful village of Taormina and is one of the most culturally significant houses in southern Europe; for me, the house is an addiction: I cannot get enough of it. The second, Isola Bella, is a small island below the village and was at one time home to a young English woman exiled from the court of Queen Victoria. Though I draw both locations into the narrative, I would like to have explained their contemporary relevance in greater detail.

If you could pick a fantasy cast – anyone at all, living or dead, at any point in their careers- to play your characters in a big screen adaptation of Constant Tides, who would you cast? 
Most writers would like to see their novels brought to life on the screen. Surely, if your words bring joy to your readers, why not cook up a broader sensory feast? Choosing actors for characters, though, is thought-provoking. Perhaps Nicole Grimaudo would fit for Lilla; she played the young Sarina in Giuseppe Tornatore’s Baaria, one of my favourite films, that and the fact that she is Sicilian. And for Enzo, probably a young Marcello Mastroianni. In Book 2, Mila Kunis for Mira, Robert Pattinson for Nicholas and Sergio Fantoni for Aldo. In the final book, Franco Nero for Antonio and Kate Winslet for Catherine/Caterina: if I have the choice, I’d like to cast myself as old Beppe – though I’d like to think I might require some ageing in make-up, of course.

What do you hope readers take from their experience of Constant Tides?
The message I would like readers to take from the novel is that the people of the Strait are to be admired as much for their will to survive, as for their desire to keep alive their traditions. Early one morning on my way to meet the crew of the feluca Antonio Padre, I stopped by the pasticceria for a brioche and strolled along the promenade around the Lago di Ganzirri, a lake famous for its clams. I paused to watch a grandfather rake the lake bed, tip the clams into a bucket and then carefully explain to his grandson which were big enough to keep and which they had to throw back. This sense of family is a rich seam that runs clean through the bedrock of Sicilian society; one feels it as one does a warm blanket on a winter’s day. Also, and as I hope I show in the novel, the Messinese have been brought to their knees not once but several times, yet always they get back to their feet and carry on without complaint. At times, I felt very humbled when listening to their stories: they are remarkable people.

What’s next for you? Any new writing projects in the wings?
As to what’s next: Constant Tides took me two years and a lot of travelling to write, and with current restrictions as they are, I can’t get down to Sicily. However… A close friend, one who came to the UK as a young boy to live with his uncle, an agricultural worker, has stirred my imagination with tales of his father and his home village Sutera, in the province of Caltanissetta. Without Pasquale’s help, neither of my Sicilian novels would have seen the light of day, and now he is rapidly filling my notebook once more. In the immediate future, I’m working on a novel, the title of which is ‘What you don’t know about me’. The novel isn’t about me, naturally, but the idea for it stemmed from a TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie titled ‘The Danger of a Single Story’ and the theme centres on how we see people without really knowing their backstory.
About Peter Crawley: 
Peter Crawley was born in London in 1956. He was educated at Cranleigh School in England and at the Goethe Institut Freiburg-im-Breisgau in Germany, and spent much of his youth in Germany, Austria, France and Corsica.

Upon leaving full-time education and after a short period in the army, he worked in Stuttgart, Germany, as a translator and on luxury motor-yachts around the Côte d’Azur and the Northern Mediterranean.

In the late 1970s he sailed a fifty foot ketch from Spain to St Vincent and the Grenadines and lived on the island of Bequia for six months.

In the early 80s, after further travels, he started his own business dealing in contemporary and classic Mercedes-Benz in London’s West End.

Through the 1990s he raced historic sports cars and formula single-seaters at home and abroad.

Peter Crawley is a former transatlantic yachtsman and historic motor racing pilot. His interests include his family, his research, writing and skiing. He lives in Chertsey, Surrey, with his wife, Carol. They have three daughters.

Monday, October 26, 2020

#AuthorInterview: Historical Fiction Interview with Lars D. H. Hedbor, author of the Tales From a Revolution series

War Era Historical

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Tales From a Revolution

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Welcome to Historical Fiction Reader Lars. It’s a pleasure to have you with us. To start things off, please tell us a bit about the Tales From a Revolution series.
Thank you so much for having me!  Each of the standalone novels in the Tales From a Revolution series is set in a different colony or future state, and tells the story of events that took place there.  There are many great books out there that tell the story of the Revolution as it was experienced by the names we all know – Washington, Jefferson, and now, Hamilton – but very few that focus on the experiences of ordinary people like you and I.  

Those folks may not have made it into the pages of our history books, but they were impacted by the extraordinary events of the time, and – more importantly – helped shape those events.  I’ve made it my mission to tell their stories.

As someone who is never likely to make an appearance in a history book, I love this idea. 

Where did the idea for these stories originate?  
When it came time to look at events in Virginia, I quickly realized that there was a wealth of material to draw from around the famous Battle of Yorktown – the final major military action of the American War of Independence – and that relatively little fiction had been written about the experience of that siege and battle. 

Around the same time that I was mulling this, I visited the wonderful Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia for the first time.  Though I am a founding member of that institution, living on the opposite side of the country complicated the process of getting there in person.  There, I found a wonderful exhibit on the siege at Yorktown, and it really fired up my imagination, giving me the impetus to tell that story from the inside, as it were.

I was also aware of how tragically often combatants during the Revolutionary War were grievously wounded, and had read accounts of the treatment of those wounds, but again, relatively little fiction that dealt with the recovery process for those who were maimed in battle.  I decided that having a wounded soldier return home to his quiet port town in Virginia was a marvelous way to place a witness to the history that was about to unfold in that little town, and from there, the story in The Siege unfolded pretty naturally.

What historical resources helped you bring Revolution-era America to life on the page?
I’ve been very fortunate in the opportunities I’ve had – from cooking on Ethan Allen’s own hearth, to walking through the cells in Edinburgh where captured Americans were imprisoned, I’ve gotten to personally build a sense of what the lives of the people of that time were like.  

My most important resources, though, have been the ones that are accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.  Primary and close secondary sources abound in digital formats online.  For The Siege, I had journals and letters, as well as newspaper accounts and standard histories to draw upon.  I particularly like to read about events as set down by those who experienced them, as even the driest first-person account will inevitably have some nugget of emotion or a glimpse into the thoughts of the writer.

Which character in the Tales From a Revolution series do you feel you have the most in common with?  
That’s a really great question.  Many of the protagonists have elements of my own experiences in them – the attic in The Declaration is almost an exact account of the garage attic at my childhood home, for example – but most of my characters have reserves of strength that I had never yet had to draw upon in my own life.  As strange and difficult as our present time is, theirs was even more challenging in many ways.

Caleb Clark, the protagonist in The Prize, is probably the closest to my own experience, though.  Like me, he grew up on the shores of Lake Champlain in Vermont – and like me, he finds himself drawn into a relationship with a strong-willed and brilliant redhead.  True story: I wrote The Prize before my wife found me, and when we got married, I went back and consulted the advice that Caleb’s father gave him about how to make a happy marriage.  I guess it’s pretty good advice, as we’re eight years in, and more in love than ever.

Which character do you feel you have the least in common with? 
That’s an easier question to answer, as I’ve written a few pretty memorable bad guys into my books.  Roger Black in The Break turns into a madman before the end, which I hope is nothing like myself, and Rufus Porter in The Light is a pretty unsavory character, as well.  Jeremiah Harris, in The Declaration, is notable for his callous attitude toward the human beings he owns, and for those whose fate he controls.

Franklin Greene, from The Freedman, though, is probably the most coldly malicious character I’ve penned.  Another slaveholder, he casually splits up a family he comes to own in the opening pages of the book, and takes part in organized violence both as a Loyalist and as a white supremacist, long before the term was even in use.  Writing him convincingly so that the reader could both see how he was doing what he believed to be right, and that his belief system was anathema to the idea of liberty was a challenge, and I remain unsatisfied with his escape from accountability for his actions.

Did any scene in the Tales From a Revolution series challenge you as a writer? 
In writing The Tree, which centers around a very detailed account of an early rebellion against Crown authority, I was constrained by the historical record into writing a scene of a brutal attack against not only the representatives of the Royal Governor of New-Hampshire, but even their horses.

I managed to keep most of the actual violence “off-screen,” but the results of that violence needed to be addressed, and I definitely needed to take a brisk walk to get that scene out of my head when I was finished writing it.

There was also a scene in The Freedman which held echoes of the sorts of brutality we see against too many African-Americans in the present day, and as difficult as it was to write about it, I felt that it was deeply important to bear witness to the fact that racially-motivated brutality is not a recent development in American culture, but one that we have an immense amount of difficult work to do in order to overcome.

Authors are often forced to make sacrifices when composing their stories and I always wonder what ended up on the cutting room floor. Is there a character, scene, or concept you wish you could have spent more time on while writing the Tales From a Revolution series?
Because I’ve set for myself the relatively narrow focus of writing about the American Revolution, there are tons of earlier and subsequent events that I would love to explore in greater depth.  The early Republic is, in some ways, even more critical to our national character than is the Revolution itself.  

Similarly, there are historical figures whose lives have been little examined in fiction, and I want so much to know more about them, and to share what I know already.  Doctor Joseph Warren’s life and heroic death at Bunker Hill deserve a rich investigation.  On the other side of the conflict, the same is true of Major John André, hanged for his role in turning Benedict Arnold to treason.  

I've seen a few romanticized takes on Major John Andre, Peggy Shippen, and Benedict Arnold out there, but nothing on Joseph Warren. He seems to be one of the forgotten founders and I have to agree, his life is definitely novel worthy. 

If you could pick a fantasy cast – anyone at all, living or dead, at any point in their careers- to play three or four of your lead characters in a big-screen adaptation of the Tales From a Revolution series, who would you cast?
Oh, goodness, what a question.  The story in The Wind – of how the Spanish saved the American Revolution – is the one that I think lends itself most naturally to a film adaptation.  The underlying true events are almost beyond belief, and the real-life characters involved were huge personalities.

As for who should play my leading characters, Moises Arias might be a solid choice for Gabriel, although someone like Diego Tinoco might also be good in the role, which would require both grit and humor.  Someone like María Gabriela de Faría or Camila Mendes could bring Carlotta to life, with her inner strength of character.  I could see Mandy Patinkin having the necessary gravitas to play the small but crucial role of Salvador Dominguez.

Of course, if The Wind were ever to get a big-screen treatment, the artistic decisions of a casting director would be out of my hands, along with nearly every other aspect of the production.  My sense is that having a film made from our work is both the fondest wish and the worst nightmare for any author.  My experience in handing over most creative decisions to the narrators of my audiobooks, though, gives me some confidence that I could embrace a respectful film treatment of my stories with at least some degree of grace… and console myself with the greater reach such an event would grant to all of my work.

What do you hope readers take from their experience of the Tales From a Revolution series?
Two things: first of all, the story of the American Revolution is not solely the legacy of those of us who can trace our ancestry back to immigrants from Great Britain.  It was fought and won by people of nearly every race, creed, or national origin.  The Revolution is all of our stories, and, as the final exhibit at the Museum of the American Revolution points out, the work of the Revolution – bringing liberty and justice to every American – continues to this day.

More importantly, history is made not solely by the great figures astride their white horses, heroically directing great forces as they gallop across the pages of our schoolbooks.  It is just as much made by the quietly heroic actions of people like you and I, doing what we believe to be right.  It was true during the Revolution, and it is true today.

What’s next for you? Any new writing projects in the wings?  
I still have a second dozen or so stories to write about the American Revolution.  In addition to continuing to work through the original thirteen colonies we’re all familiar with, I’ve already written Vermont (which was an independent Republic during the Revolutionary era), West-Florida, Nova-Scotia, and Maine.  There are great stories of the Revolution to be told across North American and the Caribbean, and even as far afield as modern-day India.  So, although I am twelve books into the Tales From a Revolution, I still have a lot more left to write there.

After that?  I suspect that there will be more historical fiction, likely in different settings.  The Silk Road has long fascinated me, as have the prehistoric civilizations of Scandinavia, both of which are rich veins to mine.  Or perhaps I’ll feel compelled to double back and write more about incidents in the Revolution in places that I’d already visited in prior books, or to revisit characters whose fates after their first appearances in my pages are just too interesting to leave unexplored.

The vistas are broad, and the open road beckons.
About Lars D.H. Hedbor: 
What made the American Colonists turn their back on their King, and fight for independence? How were they different from us–and how were their hopes and fears familiar to our own hearts?

These are the sorts of questions that Hedbor thinks are important to ask in examining the American Revolution, and in the pages of his novels, he suggests some possible answers.

His first novel, The Prize, was published in 2011, followed by The Light in 2013, and The Smoke, The Declaration, and The Break in 2014; The Wind was published in 2015, The Darkness in 2016, The Path in 2017, The Freedman in 2018, The Tree in 2019, and The Mine and The Siege in 2020, making Hedbor one of the most prolific novelists of the American Revolution.

He’s also written extensively about this era for the Journal of the American Revolution, and has appeared as a featured guest on an Emmy-nominated Discovery Network program, The American Revolution, which premiered nationally on the American Heroes Channel in late 2014. He later appeared as a series expert on America: Fact vs. Fiction for Discovery Networks, and was a panelist at the Historical Novel Society’s 2017 North American Conference.

He is an amateur historian, linguist, brewer, cuckoo clock restorer, fiddler, astronomer and baker. Professionally, he is a technologist, high school foreign exchange coordinator, marketer, writer and father. His love of history drives him to share the excitement of understanding the events of long ago, and how those events touch us still today.