It still seems more than a bit odd, or incongruous, perhaps, to see my name and author in the same title block. Writing, authoring, if you like, was never in my career plans — to the extent there ever were such plans — although my wife says she told everyone fifty years ago I would someday write a book (I’m reminded of a cartoon):
So, when I found myself with some unexpected time on my hands in 2011 — having spent almost three years helping my wife recover from a debilitating episode of transverse myelitis (not recommended; fortunately she’s recovered nearly fully, but still can’t drive) — I cast about for a new pastime. I’ve always been an amateur historian, serious about the stuff to read widely, insufficiently serious to become an academic type. And in my newfound semi-leisure, I began reading and re-reading my way through our library.
Alongside Tuchman and Keegan, I read Clancy and Fitzgerald, Grisham and Faulkner and seemingly everyone in between. At some point I had one of those ‘I can do this’ epiphanies, the same that have led many astray. I latched onto a notion – historical fiction, World War One era – and consumed with a desire to create my own fictional world, populated with characters of my creation, I was off.
I had no idea.
Well, I did have an idea, namely how the war could have been ended earlier and in less costly sums of blood and treasure and without the twin curses of Versailles’ bitterness and Bolshevik depravity. And I decided to keep as close to the real record and timeline as I could — not an alternative history flight of fancy a la Harry Turtledove, but what the historian Niall Ferguson terms a counterfactual — a what if based on plausible departures from actual events. My premise was simple: in January of 1918, the war in the West had subsided for the winter with Germany still in a commanding position, the war in the East had ended with Russia’s capitulation to Germany and her commanders facing a decision: how to crush the British and French before the Americans arrived in force with the most precious of resources: manpower.
That premise boiled down to a simple, yet plausible departure from the real outcome, namely a German declaration of victory and withdrawal to impregnable defensive lines, daring Lloyd George and Clemenceau to justify more senseless bloodshed to their war-weary populaces.
Of course, it wasn’t that simple. Never is. That was my challenge, to create characters and actions to carry that premise through, realistically, to that end.
More to come…
July 8, 2019 at 3:28 pm
Jimmy Loyd, Teresa T Carter here. Ive often thought about you and Susan knowing shed been ill. Glad she appears to be over the worst of it. Respond if you’d like to keep in touch, would love to read your book!
July 8, 2019 at 10:13 pm
Turista, wonderful to hear from you! I don’t use my WordPress account often, so it’s very much out of date. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, a better option. That post was about the first of my three WWI historical novels, all available on Amazon (hint, hint), but only if you’re a real history nerd like me. The series was nominated as one of the best indie novels of 2016 by the Historical Novel Society, a pretty serious group, so I did something right. Then I thought about doing a memoir of growing up in Alamo Heights in the 50’s and 60’s but nothing ever happened here – too boring. So, I turned it into a drugs/crime novel, set here, co-written with David Matheson, who was a cop for 15 years after AHHS — I needed to collaborate with someone who knew the “cop stuff.” The result was STARTER, inspired by the sad Eddie Burke story – you’ll see him as Ricky Young in the book. I followed that with a sequel, Rachel’s Wish, centered on one of the characters in the first book – also Amazon, search James Emerson (not Boozer) Loyd. These are pretty good, lots of late ’90’s AH locations, a few characters you WILL recognize. Good reviews, just need to sell some.
Suze still has issues, but we’re working on them. I think it’s been since Marty died that we last corresponded – I assume your son went to Rhodes? We talked about that 20 years ago. Time do fly. Email me, girl, and copy Susan – email@example.com. Lovely surprise hearing from you.