Thirty-two years ago, I published my first novel. It was called Back Bay. It "starred" a young graduate student in history named Peter Fallon, who meets a girl named Evangeline Carrington and together, they go hunting for a Paul Revere tea set buried beneath the streets of Boston. So... a literal buried treasure yarn, with plenty of buried family secrets, too. But I knew that to sell my novel to the publishers and excite the readers who had never heard of me, it would have to be something more.
So I decided to add another dimension. I would follow the passage of the treasure through time. I would bring its history to life.In parallel chapters, the story of Peter and Evangeline would alternate with historical chapters, so that we would see the way in which past and present affected one another.
It must have worked, because Back Bay became an instant bestseller and people are still reading it. They are stll reading the Peter and Evangeline adventures, too, including the latest, The Lincoln Letter, about the search for Lincoln's diary. In the novel, Washington DC comes to life as both the shiny, sleek city of today and the muddy, intrigue-filled Civil War capital. Two stories reverberate , and we are reminded, yet again, that in American politics and history, in human nature itself, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
I suppose you could say that's the biggest theme in all my books. We are the products of history... of our own personal decisions... of the seemingly insignificant choice of some ancestor who took the train to Boston rather than the bus, thereby changing lives of generations yet unborn... and of course, of the grand movements of history that affect us all.
I have loved working in this historical fiction/modern mystery-thriller genre. It gives me so much great storytelling material and such a wide latitude for commentary. And now that I have started a blog again after a two or three year hiatus, I think the title is appropriate, because I will allow myself wide latitude here to comment on history and historical fiction, on writing, and on the modern impacts of subjects I write about.
I'll try to offer something - long or short, profound or trifling - at least twice a week, So check back often, leave a comment, tell your friends.
A Place in the Present Where History Meets Fiction
October 14, 2012
October 15, 2012 10:02 AM EDTHaving a politically famous ancestor has had me reflect on my own constructs and choices. I love that you bring history to life through your characters, connecting our past with the present. Thank you, William, for reminding us from whence we come...
October 15, 2012 10:33 AM EDTThank you for doing this. I look forward to your comments.
October 15, 2012 12:41 PM EDTI write narrative history and biography i.e. I am trying hard to make it fun and interesting to read for those who don't necessarily like their history straight up. I have no characters, storyline or dialogue that spring from my imagination. I have learned so much about bringing context to life from you and Diana Gabaldon that I buy your hardbacks like textbooks! I look forward to following your blog. Please put up occasional reminders on your FB page for us.
October 15, 2012 1:32 PM EDTYour new blog is added to my Favorites! I love novels that go back through time with parallel plots--readers can enjoy a great story and learn something, too. Perhaps your blog audience will hear about what period and setting you're researching next...?
October 15, 2012 2:22 PM EDTThanks, everyone, for your comments You will be the first to know when I'm ready to let the world know what's next. And it will be historical in nature, with parallel plots, and Candace Wellman, while you may read the books as textbooks (which flatters me) I'll try to entertain you, too.
June 4, 2013 5:01 PM EDTI just wanted youto know I totally enjoy your books especially the Peter Fallon Series. I can hardly wait until you have written another which I am hoping you might do in the not too distant future. I was a history major and so enjoy reading and living history through your writings. Thank you.