Ho there, me hearties!
Here’s luck and a fair wind to guide us into port for our Author Spotlight featuring the prolific teller of tales, RIc Wasley. Yo ho ho to our guest and we are elated to welcome him to the captain's table! Ric has a long and illustrious pedigree and a fourty-year professional career in advertising, publishing and marketing.
We will drop anchor in New England to pick his creative brain and get the scoop on his latest release for Tell-Tale Publishing!
DANGER ON ALL SIDES, BUT HER HEART WON’T BE DENIED
“Stand where you are or a full load of buckshot will be your breakfast ration boyo!”
Fiona prayed that her voice did not quiver and that her arms would hold the weight of the heavy fowling piece to her shoulder steady.
The figure whirled around and took a step toward her just as the moon peeked from behind clouds once again.
Fiona drew in her breath in a terrified whoosh at seeing the dappled moonlight passing over the figure of a man with a pry bar in his hand. His mouth was twisted in a snarl…
…Suddenly he whirled at her and threw the pry bar straight at her head.
Fiona screamed and fired.
Welcome aboard, Author Ric Wasley!
The year is 1863. After two years of battles, the Civil War has evolved into a bloody slaughter with scarcely a town or home on both sides untouched by the tragic loss of its young men. President Abraham Lincoln has just announced the first order of "Draft" in the history of the American Republic.
After Jeptha enlists, Fiona Dawes finds herself working their farm with her five-year-old daughter Bridget on a thin spit of sandy peninsula stretching out into the Atlantic from the rocky coast of Massachusetts.
Like so many women of her time, she struggles to keep the farm running. When her husband is reported missing--presumed dead, Fiona knows in her heart he is still alive. She decides to take her daughter and leave the farm to look for her beloved husband, but something sinister is brewing. Someone means to not only take their land, but see them dead.
From Massachusetts to New York to Gettysburg and through the war torn South, Fiona searches for her husband, making friends and enemies along the way.
Fans of history, mystery, and romance are certain to enjoy, "Candle in the Wind."
1.What was it about this historical period that enticed you to choose it for the setting of “Candle In The Wind’? What kind of research did you find yourself doing as you wrote it?
I’ve always been a fan of the Civil War as I believe that it was the major event that defined the United States - one that has reverberated over the past century and a half right down to the present day, effecting everything from regionalism to civil rights.
However, what really motivated me to tell this particular story were the principle characters of Jeptha and Fiona Dawes. I had first introduced the pair as part of the 1858 backstory in my McCarthy Mystery series in the novel, The Scrimshaw. When the reviews came back many said that they would like to see more of the pair and thats when I decided to more completely tell their story, and what better setting to drive actions and emotions than the countries greatest conflict.
However, I didn’t want to do just ‘another Civil War novel’ with battles and generals. Although I’ve always been a military historian I also alway wondered about the people who fought those wars - those on the battlefield but especially those who stayed at home and had to try to live and survive with the affects of war. Finally, I wanted this book to open in a setting that no other Civil War novel has ever used, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It made sense from the standpoint that it was where my mystery,The Scrimshaw had left them on their wedding night in 1858. Thus, Candle in the Wind opens in the same location 5 years later, which neatly lands them smack dab in the middle of the Civil War and on the eve of the enactment of the first draft in American history.
2.Did you know a lot about the Civil War before writing this book?
Yes. I have degrees in history and have made extensive studies of military history. In fact in college my roommates were also military history buffs who went on to military careers and we had many beers over dissecting famous campaigns - especially those of the Civil War. We also get together and tour old battlefields and I went to Gettysburg especially for this book, so each scene in that battle that I describe in the book, I have personally stood in the spots and researched the exact conditions and dispositions of that day.
3.Was it hard to keep your own modern day experiences from influencing “Candle In The Wind’ as you were writing it?
No, not at all. In fact as a historian and a romantic for other era’s it is quite often harder to keep my historical visions from spilling over into the modern world.
In addition, one of the main goals in writing Candle was to give an accurate picture of what life was really like in 1863. Not only what they did and how they lived but what they thought and felt and said - especially the way they said it. I am really bothered by many ‘historical’ novels or romances that seem to assume that the characters behave, speak, think and hold the same world-views as modern day soap opera or reality show stars. They did not. Many of the views popular throughout history are abhorrent to today’s sensibilities. But to deny or sanitize them to fit modern times is to cheat the reader out of what should be the real experience of a historical novel - to act as a time machine to another era and allow one to see what life was like back then. That’s why I read literally hundreds of of dairies and letters from the Civil War and actually used them as guidelines to reproduce correspondence between Jeptha and Fiona - utilizing the same style, syntax and vocabulary as those actual ones from the mid-nineteenth century.
4.Why do you think historical fiction is so popular with readers?
This really fits perfectly with the previous question. Historical fiction, when done well, transports the reader to a time and place that they could otherwise never visit, and allows them a glimpse of lives and events that went into the making of the world and times in which they now live.
It is also a marvelous and painless way to learn history, and although as a historian I’ve plowed through many dry textbooks, I learned more about making history come alive from historical novels.
5.Please quote one of your favorite passages in ‘Candle In The Wind”.
Asking a writer to choose a favorite passage is like asking to choose a favorite of ones books - or children. However, as I really get “into the moment” when writing action scenes, here’s one. This is where Fiona is first exposed to what the tavern keeper really has in mind for her, beyond her waitressing duties.
“ She felt his hot breath on her face. It had the oder of rank corn whiskey and rotting meat. He grabbed the back of her hair and held her head while pressing his ruined lips on hers.
She gagged, and he pressed his body tighter, backing her into the table. She struggled, but his grip was like iron bands. As he slobbered onto the side of her face, her right hand desperately scrabbled over the tabletop until it came to a platter of half consumed venison. She was about to draw it away from the congealed fat and grease when she felt something long, with a worn wooden handle. Her hand closed around it. The carving knife!
With one frantic yank, she dragged the thick-bladed knife from the haunch of venison and pressed the tip under the the chin of the hideous face inches from her own.
“You will take your foul hands off of me or I will carve you another mouth alongside of that drooling abomination you have presses against me."
6.Has a novel ever made you tear up?
I don’t do much tearing up but will I will cop to a few throat-clearings when something happens, like the death of an innocent or child, in a novel. In fact there was one very emotional scene (the one the quote is from) in Candle when Fiona was given the horrible choice of becoming a barmaid/prostitute or seeing her young daughter abused. That was challenging to write.
7.How many projects do you have currently on the back burner? What is your latest inspiration for a novel?
Way to many! At least three books that I’m currently working one. One is the sequel to "Echoes Down a Dark Well.”
There is also the next McCarthy mystery but with a twist - it is set 50 years after the last one (in other words, today) and features the two former lovers finding each other after half a century has passed, but not without problems.
And finally, as a change of pace, I'm doing a non-fiction book as an expansion of the weekly column I write for a political commentary newsletter. This book will focus on the more humorous and satirical aspects of the often head-shaking nature of the daily news and social discourse and is appropriately titled… “You Can’t Make this Stuff Up!"
8. If you could go back in time and give yourself as a young writer advice, what would it consist of?
Keep writing! It doesn’t matter what you write - whether for school, business or personal - everything you write and often fail at, helps you become a better writer. Especially those rejection letters when you first start submitting your work. I know very few writers who didn’t receive enough to paper their walls with before their first success. Not only do they make you stronger, but they make you more productive and help to develope thicker skin for the inevitable bad reviews and lackluster book signings. Writing can be a lonely profession and great internal strength is probably a more useful asset than flashes of brilliance.
9. Who you find yourself socializing with more, writers or readers?
Probably 50/50, but I think I enjoy most getting feedback from readers about what they like and what kind of fiction they’re drawn to. My kind of unstated goal is to turn people who tell me they don’t like fiction (many even in my own family!) into not just readers but lovers of fiction. That’s why I always pay special attention when the topic of reading comes up in conversation. It is especially important in the today's digital age when the majority of the population has become used to doing their reading in tweets and social media snippets.
10. Who is the real life inspiration for Fiona, or is that a secret?
No, Fiona is a composite of many Irish archetypes from the 19th Century - especially the thousands of women and young girls who came to America in search of a better life and often took the most menial jobs and and raised families without complaint or assistance.
There also might have been a spunky little Irish colleen with dark hair and flashing eyes buried somewhere back in my past.
11. Which of your characters did you relate to the most?
Well, from my New England roots I suppose it would be Jeptha, but having gone to school down south and having many southern friends, I think I also feel a great affinity for the character of Clay, for whom the war was not really about slavery or even the founding of a new nation, but more about the old southern codes that he lived in his daily life; duty, chivalry and honor
12. Even though ‘Candle In The Wind’ is a fast paced tale, there seems to be a lot of humor. One of my favorite quotes was, ”The sound of 100 men trying to move quietly is too loud.” Are you a funny guy?
I certainly hope so!
My wife tells me that it is the one thing which has allowed me to aviod getting bopped on the head with a frying pan during the course of our many years of marriage.
On a personal basis I have always waged a private war against those in all walks of life; academia, business, politics and society, who mount the platforms of pomposity to pass judgement on the rest of us. And I have always found that the best way to pop those balloons is with humor.
Plus - it serves to beak a build-up of tension in a story and makes real life a whole lot more fun.
13. Tell us what you have planned for the rest of 2018.
Wrestling with my three new books, writing my column, doing some book signings, fairs, etc. and maybe even doing some more teaching.
Most of all, having as much fun with my life as I have with my writing!
Well it’s heads up as we boom about in search of our next literary adventure. The Whimsical Herald thanks Ric Wasley for joining us! We will weigh anchor to sail off in search of more booty and golden treasures that will entertain our ravenous readers!
All my honor to you,
Patricia Mattern, Mistress of Madness on The Whimsical Herald
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Mistress of Madness
Well, do you have any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?
Lewis Carroll, in 1897, proposed this answer, "Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is 'never' put with the wrong end in front!" (raven, spelled backward, is nevar aka never...or as we like to say here at TT...never more!)