In your career as a physician you wrote medical textbooks and general non-fiction. How did you end up writing Civil War novels?
I am originally from Savannah, and several years ago, at a high school reunion, I toured many of the Civil War sites there, including the mansion where General Sherman stayed during the Union occupation, Dec 1864-Jan 1865. I was just then beginning writing fiction, and thought of a novel centered around the period. I decided to give the general – who was married but distant from his family due to the war – a mistress while in Savannah. The resulting book, Sherman’s Mistress in Savannah, required a prodigious amount of research into the period. The backdrop is historically accurate but the mistress is fictional.
So General Sherman had no mistress in Savannah?
There is no evidence I could find of any love affair outside of his marriage.
And you’ve since written two other novels about Civil War Savannah? Yes, the 2nd one is a time-travel alternate history work. Surprisingly, there are many alternate history novels about the Civil War, and several use time machines to change the outcome. I decide to out-do them all in terms of what was sent back to the period.
WW1 German submarines. The book is Out of Time: An alternative outcome to the Civil War. Germany has developed a time machine, and Kaiser Wilhelm II wants to use it to change the Civil War’s outcome so the United States will not be strong in 1917 and not enter the war in Europe.
Sounds pretty far-fetched.
All time travel if far-fetched. But it’s a popular genre. The general rule is, you’re allowed one “conceit” in these novels, and then everything else better be accurate. This goes for the descriptions of the Kaiser, of General Robert E. Lee, of President Lincoln, etc., plus the history of the war up to the time the Germans arrive. The time travel machine is a “conceit,” but what happens after the subs arrive off the coast of Georgia is entirely plausible, given the players involved. I’ve received many five-star Amazon reviews for that book.
And Liberty Street is your third CW novel?
Yes, and although the story has a different protagonist than the first two, the background and military maneuvers are again historically accurate. The novel opens with a young woman, Abigale Tate, learning her husband has been killed in the Battle of Atlanta. She has already lost her father in the war, and a brother is still off fighting somewhere with the Confederates. Abigale becomes lonely, despondent, cynical. She ends up in affairs with the most unlikely of characters. There is also a younger sister, looking for physical love. The tagline for the novel is: “Can women find love during the Civil War.” (All three books are summarized and compared at www.lakesidepress.com/CivilWarNovels.html.)
I take it there were no eligible men in Savannah at the time?
Before Sherman arrived with his 60,000 troops, all the eligible men were dead or injured, or still away fighting. Men still in Savannah included many Negroes, the old and the very young. One of my characters, who has his eyes on Abigale, is Gustav, a rather repulsive middle-age German immigrant who runs a “boarding house.” (He’s also a character in the other two novels).
When the Union forces arrived in late 1864, Savannah was suddenly filled with young men, though most southern women – which included many widows – might not consider them “eligible.” Just what a woman will do to find love in such a situation is a theme of the book.
It is available on Kindle and in print?
Yes. It’s on KDP Select, which means you can read it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited. And it’s in paperback.
Any chance of a movie? Sounds like a good story.
It could make an excellent movie. All the big themes are there: love, war, courage, retribution, revenge.