Ahoy me Hearties! All hand, hoy!
It is against a blustery North wind we sail to make port for one of our most exhilarating Author Spotlights to date: Literary Award winning author Robert Tucker, author of ‘THE REVOLUTIONIST’ will be our guest at the captain’s table! Robert Tucker will regale us with a historically based tale of tenacity, tragedy, love and betrayal in early America.
In the 1890’s two families escape from their oppressive homelands to the Industrial Revolution in America, tracked by a bounty hunter assassin. Expect high tension and heart pounding twists in this tale of immigrants on the run catapulted into a new century.
IN AN ATMOSPHERE OF ETHNIC HATRED THEY WERE MARKED AND HUNTED
“Guten morgan, Fraulein Rose, planning a little trip?”
He barred her way.
“Guten morgan. Excuse me please, I must buy my ticket.
“Why are you leaving Vienna?”
Her haughty imperious glare did not intimidate him.
“You are being impertinent. It is no business of yours. I am performing in an opera in Budapest.”
Two different families escape from the political tyranny of their respective homelands, the Josephsons from Sweden and Matias and Kurt Bauman, brothers from Germany and Austria Hungary, with the aid of a Viennese opera diva, Sophie Augusta Rose, and Jean Guenoc, a former Jesuit priest, family friend and protector and partisan of the French underground.
Their journey brings them to America in the throes of the industrial revolution during the 1890s and early 1900s. Ingrid and Olaf Josephson settle on a small wheat farm in North Central Minnesota to raise their children, Newt and Julie.
Among the Jewish entrepreneurs forced to leave Germany and Austria-Hungary, Matias and Kurt Bauman re-establish their transportation company in Chicago, Illinois.
In search of a secret list of insurgent social democrats, the bounty hunter assassin, Luther Baggot, tracks his victims to the American heartland. Following the murder of their mother and father, Newt, Julie, and their friends, Aaron and Beth Peet, hide from the killer in a Northern Minnesota logging camp. Believing the children have taken possession of the list, Luther tracks them down.
Fleeing to a central Minnesota town, the four young people come across a remote business location of Bauman Enterprises and meet Matias Bauman, who had been a friend and former political collaborator with Newt’s and Julie’s parents. He takes them all to Chicago where a different world opens up to them as they are thrust into the turmoil and violence of an urban society and economy careening into the new century.
1. What drew you to writing historical fiction?
As the grandson of immigrants who fled persecution in Germany and Austria-Hungary and came to America during the early 1900’s, the early history of our country and the rise of the middle-class have always held a fascination for me. The dramatic depiction of fictional characters placed in actual events sharply and realistically bring alive the harsh times and adversity of the multitude of people who sought freedom and a better way of life and demonstrate that only a little over one-hundred years have passed to bring us to where we are as a struggling society today.
The chronology and events of history have captured and held my interest for many reasons, among them being stories that entertain, educate, and inform. Learning about the lives of my immigrant grandparents coming to America from Czechoslovakia during the early 1900s and the lives of my parents during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s provided the initial motivation. Researching and writing historical fiction is a way to learn more about myself and my origins and the social, political, and economic influences related to my generation.
Whether writing historical fiction or non-fiction or fantasy, I’m drawn into the societies and cultures of a particular period that inspire the creation of characters who bring that era to life. Not only do I experience this dynamic in books, but in films, plays, dance, music, and other art forms.
Researching history takes me into the exploration of new territory perhaps outside of my own life experience through reading other sources, interviews, travel, and films. Although a number of fine books are written from personal experience by authors who lived through those times, much of the historical writing by contemporary authors is dependent on secondary sources. Forays into the past for story material is a rewarding part of the creative process.
2. What kind of research was involved in the preparation of The Revolutionist?
The bibliography at the end of the novel lists a number of secondary resources that provided in depth details about the period and social and political milieu of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Minnesota, and Chicago during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Among the most vivid and engaging research was the entertaining stories my grandparents and parents told me as a child about their lives.
In addition, I have either visited or lived in some of the locations described in the novel. For example, I was born and raised in the Middle-Western heartland of Illinois and assimilated rural and urban values and traditions of that region of the country. I lived near Chicago for my first sixteen years and in Minnesota. As a teenager and Explorer Boy Scout, I also traveled through Wisconsin and in Ontario, Canada on camping and canoe trips and gained a love and appreciation for lakes, rivers, forests, and fields.
In the spirit of research, my inspiration for writing The Revolutionist is relevant and might be of interest to readers.
My inspiration for the novel originated with the characters of Julie Josephson and her brother, Newt, and their friend, Aaron Peet, whose images were captured in a wood-framed photograph I saw of them while on a business trip in Ontario, Canada.
I chanced to stop in what had once been a small lumber mill town in a north-central region within the province. Coming off the narrow highway winding through dense fir and spruce forests, I noticed the sign of a museum converted from a late 1800s Victorian house and pulled into the small parking lot. From a high embankment, the house overlooked a rushing whitewater river that a century ago had been the channel for moving hundreds of thousands of fresh cut logs to downstream sawmills to be converted to boards.
When I entered the museum through a squeaky screen door, I said hello to a bearded old timer seated at a small wooden desk and graciously received a few pages of literature about the museum. My gaze roamed over the tools and artifacts of the timber trade and came to rest on the photograph, which I studied in detail, as described in the following excerpt below from the novel.
A framed photograph taken of them in the summer of 1898 hangs in the historical museum at St. Cloud, Minnesota. It shows Newt Josephson’s sister, Julie, his boyhood friend, Aaron Peet, and Newt standing among a posed group of loggers in front of the Frazier River Mill. The green tinged copper title plate at the bottom of the picture elicits a bemused smile --- Rivermen.
Because of the coveralls and wool shirts and work boots and caps they wore, an observer could not detect that Julie was a girl. They didn’t hire girls or women, not even to cook in the lumber camps. Logging was considered a man’s job. Julie pretending to be a boy presented more of a problem than keeping her hair cut short, her voice pitched low, walking square and never screaming when she was afraid or crying when she got hurt.
Newt supposed they had the honor of being included in the photograph, because they were the three youngest members of the crew. He was the oldest, sixteen. Aaron was fifteen. At the time, they had no better means to make a living and they were on the run from a man who wanted to kill them.
Recreating the lives of these main characters became the foundation of their story that expanded to myriad others in the context of historical events at the turn of the twentieth century.
3. Have you ever visited or lived in the countries you write about?
I have visited France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Korea, Japan, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Scotland, and Canada, as well as living and working on an island in the Caribbean.
4. What is the title of your first published literary work and who encouraged you to write it?
Set in the turbulent ‘60’s, BYRON is a young woman’s story of growing up in a southern mill town. This poignant dramatically intense novel is rich in colorful characters brought to life in lovingly narrated detail and cultural texture and resonates with current issues of gender, racial and religious intolerance.
There isn’t one individual or group who encouraged me, but impressions from traveling and working as a consultant in the South. Also an appreciation for Cajun life and culture.
5. Integrity is a powerful recurring theme in your novels. Which of the characters in The Revolutionist do you feel demonstrates this quality the best?
The protagonist, Julie Josephson, influenced by her parents, Olaf and Ingrid Josephson, her brother, Newt, Matias and Kurt Bauman, industrialists, Sophie Augusta Rose, an opera diva, Horst Holtzman, a political organizer and his son, Conrad, Jean Guenoc, a family friend and protector, Bernard Hutchins, an African American lawyer,
6. Which of the many ‘hats’ that you’ve worn during your professional career did you enjoy wearing the most?
Business and management consultant, which provided opportunities to meet and work with many different people in a wide range of industries to the extent I felt more like a social anthropologist than a consultant.
7. The reader is drawn into The Revolutionist from the first page because of the high tension and sense of immediacy of the situation. Did you plan this? Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’ when you write?
I’m a combination of both. The lives of characters tend to influence the direction of the plot rather than imposing the plot on them. I place the characters into situations, conflicts, and events and see and experience their world from their eyes.
Establishing dramatic conflict at the opening of the book was planned. I do that with all my books.
8. Do you think this compelling story could take place in the context of modern times? Why or why not?
I think this story is manifested in different societies and cultures every day. Throughout the world and locally all around us, people are struggling against tyranny and injustice to have good meaningful lives in ways that matter to them.
9. What did you know about this historical period before you began writing The Revolutionist?
What I studied in college history courses, especially about the relationship and counter influence of the arts, literature, music, and society.
10. Have any other writers of historical fiction influenced you?
E. L. Doctorow and Amor Towles
11. What novels are you planning for the future for readers to devour?
Tell-Tale Publishing and its affiliate, Wise Words Publishing will be bringing out a sequel to The Revolutionist entitled The Saga of Burton Blake. In addition, two more literary novels are under contract for publication, Sidewalk and A Seed of Grain. Two additional literary novels have been submitted, Eye of The Sparrow and The Discontent of Mary Wenger. I’m currently writing a companion novel to The Discontent of Mary Wenger entitled Paper Dolls.
On the urban fantasy side, four novels of the Black Spiral series are contracted for publication. The Funnies, an allegorical fantasy satire is also contracted for publication.
It is with deep regret we watch our distinguished literary guest Robert Tucker depart our fair vessel The Whimsical Herald, but we must make haste to the tropics in search of fair weather, booty to fill our coffers, and more amazing tales from Tell-Tale Publishing!
I bid you smooth sailing and remain your humble servant,
Patricia Mattern, Mistress of Madnes, The Whimsical Herald
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!)