Our guest today is J. Boyce Gleason, author of the historical fiction novel, Anvil of God, Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles. With an AB degree in history from Dartmouth College, J. Boyce Gleason brings a strong understanding of what events shaped the past and when, but writes historical-fiction to discover why. Gleason lives in Virginia with his wife Mary Margaret. They have three sons. Visit his website at www.jboycegleason.com.
What made you decide to become a published author?
I had always dreamed of writing a novel but, like most people, life got in the way. It was something I’d hoped to do “one day” but with a wife, three kids, a dog and a mortgage, “one day” became “some day down the road.”
Eventually I got to the point where I either made good on the promise to myself or let it go. I decided to give it a shot. But writing a novel is not something you can “try.” You have to commit to it. I told everyone I knew that I was writing a novel so that there could be no turning back (at least not without great embarrassment). After that, I just kept at it until it was done.
Would you consider your latest book, Anvil of God, Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles to be a one of a kind? How so?
I hope not. It’s the first of a series, so I hope there are several more coming down the pike. I do think Anvil is somewhat unique in that it explores a time period with which few people are familiar. It is also unique because the characters who drive much of the novel’s action are women. For historical fiction of this type, that is somewhat unusual.
Where is your writing sanctuary?
I like to write at the beach.
What do you believe a writer should not do as far as getting his or her book published?
Don’t rush. Get the story right. Get the writing right. Pay for an editor, get feedback, listen and rewrite. Make sure your book is ready for primetime before you try to sell it.
What inspires you?
To write? I’d have to say, great storytelling. I am always in awe of writers who can seduce you into their world and sweep you off your feet. People like Pat Conroy, John Irving, Herman Wouk and James Clavell are extraordinary storytellers. Sometimes I hesitate to read their work, because it is such an emotional ride.
What is one thing you learned about your book after it was published?
I learned that it was worth the wait.
Why do you love to write historical fiction?
I have always loved history. I’m fascinated by political ebb and flow of it. But while we know what happened in history, it’s much harder to ascertain why it happened. I write historical fiction to discover the “why.” To write a novel, the author must become an expert in each of the characters that people his or her book. In historical fiction, the characters are based on real people. You become experts in their lives, their motivations, their hopes, fears and dreams.
By writing their story, you see the history unfold through their eyes. You see the “why.”
You’re concocting a recipe for a best selling book. What’s the first ingredient?
Strong characters. A good character will drive the plot for you. Sometimes I have to wrestle with them to keep them under control.
What’s one fun fact about your book people should know?
I originally thought it would be a science fiction novel.
Did any real life experiences find their way into your book?
There are scenes that draw from experiences that move me. There is a scene in Anvil where Bishop Boniface tries to stop a battle from erupting during Charles the Hammer’s funeral. He drapes himself over the antagonist to keep Charles’s family from killing him. I drew that scene from Bishop Desmond Tutu’s effort to save a white South African from being killed by a black South African mob. He wore his ecclesiastical robes out into the crowd and draped his own body over the man being attacked to save his life.
Aside from writing, what’s your passion?
My family. No question.
What’s next for you?
I’m halfway through Book Two of the Carolingian Chronicles. It’s called Wheel of the Fates. I’m also working on a novel about young Ben Franklin called Sin of Omission.