Today I’m delighted to welcome Tom Durwood to the blog with a post about his new book, The Pact.
As a historian first and foremost, and then a writer, I’m always interested in how people research their historical stories.
Can you explain your research process to me, and give an idea of the resources that you rely on the most (other than your imagination, of course) to bring your historical landscape to life?
A central question! The answer is this:
a) read and understand everything I can find on the era, following tributaries wherever they lead
b) take notes
c) put all sources and notes in a drawer and write a character-based story where the research finds its own way in.
Readers can tell in an instant when you don’t know what you’re talking about. If I don’t go the extra distance to understand how a seven-lock canal is built, or how to fix a broken wagon wheel, then my story has no value.
My heavy-handed initial plotting and attention to detail tend to weigh the stories down. The best parts are the discovered or unexpected parts – where the characters respond to situations which neither they, nor I, nor the reader saw coming.
Do you have a ‘go’ to book/resource that you couldn’t write without having to hand, and if so, what is it (if you don’t mind sharing)?
Yes, I certainly do have two authors whose work always gets me back on the right track – Louis L’Amour and Robert E. Howard. I re-read the ‘Solomon Kane” stories and Westerns like “Kilkenny” whenever I can, and listen to them on audio as well. Both of these authors are natural storytellers, which I am not. Their works have that page-turning quality that my work rarely does, so living in their worlds does me good.
As to historians, I love Barbara Tuchman and Gibbons for their strong voices. I am very happy when I can find opportunities in my own stories to echo their seeming mastery of the material.
Here’s the blurb:
Six international teens join the American Revolution.
Coming of age and making history.
They went into 1776 looking for a fight. Little did they know how much it would cost them…
Six rich kids from around the globe join the Bostonian cause, finding love and treachery along the path to liberty.
A new perspective on one of history’s most fascinating moments.
Amply illustrated edition of a young-adult historical fiction novel.
This novel is available on #KindleUnlimited
Meet the author
Tom Durwood is a teacher, writer and editor with an interest in history. Tom most recently taught English Composition and Empire and Literature at Valley Forge Military College, where he won the Teacher of the Year Award five times. Tom has taught Public Speaking and Basic Communications as guest lecturer for the Naval Special Warfare Development Group at the Dam’s Neck Annex of the Naval War College.
Tom’s ebook Empire and Literature matches global works of film and fiction to specific quadrants of empire, finding surprising parallels. Literature, film, art and architecture are viewed against the rise and fall of empire. In a foreword to Empire and Literature, postcolonial scholar Dipesh Chakrabarty of the University of Chicago calls it “imaginative and innovative.” Prof. Chakrabarty writes that “Durwood has given us a thought-provoking introduction to the humanities.” His subsequent book “Kid Lit: An Introduction to Literary Criticism” has been well-reviewed. “My favorite nonfiction book of the year,” writes The Literary Apothecary (Goodreads).
Early reader response to Tom’s historical fiction adventures has been promising. “A true pleasure … the richness of the layers of Tom’s novel is compelling,” writes Fatima Sharrafedine in her foreword to “The Illustrated Boatman’s Daughter.” The Midwest Book Review calls that same adventure “uniformly gripping and educational … pairing action and adventure with social issues.” Adds Prairie Review, “A deeply intriguing, ambitious historical fiction series.”
Tom briefly ran his own children’s book imprint, Calico Books (Contemporary Books, Chicago). Tom’s newspaper column “Shelter” appeared in the North County Times for seven years. Tom earned a Masters in English Literature in San Diego, where he also served as Executive Director of San Diego Habitat for Humanity.
Connect with Tom