With an AB degree in history from Dartmouth College, J. Boyce Gleason brings a strong understanding of what events shaped the past and when, but writes historical-fiction to discover why. Gleason lives in Virginia with his wife Mary Margaret. They have three sons.
His latest book is the historical fiction, Anvil of God, Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles.
Visit his website at www.jboycegleason.com.
Would you call yourself a born writer?
I would say I was born a storyteller. I have always loved the power of a good story and the art of telling it well. Writing is a craft I have been working on my whole life. (Hopefully, I am getting better as I go). Having said that, there are times that words just pour onto the page for me and others where I can sit back and watch the characters steal away the story.
What was your inspiration for Anvil of God?
Originally, I planned to write about Charlemagne. I took a class in college with a history professor named Charles Wood, who was one of the foremost historians of his day. We studied Charlemagne and I became fascinated by the epic poem The Song of Roland. It reminded me of Homer’s Illiad and I always imagined that when I got around to it, I would write a novel about it.
When I started to do the research, however, I kept looking for a place to start the story. I kept moving further and further back in time to find where the story really begins. I ended up two generations earlier, riveted by the story of Charles the Hammer’s daughter, Trudi, fleeing her father’s court in the dead of night to pursue love amongst his enemies. It was the scandal of the 8th century.
Eventually, I’ll get to Charlemagne.
What themes do you like to explore in your writing?
Religious conflict, family loyalty, and the consequences of the choices we make are all central themes of Anvil. The religious conflict of the time is very much like what we grapple with today on the world stage. How does that conflict manifest itself? Do the choices we make on the battlefield, compromise our morality and belie our faith? In Anvil, I try very hard to ensure that there are no “evil” characters. There are only characters who make choices that are evil.
How long did it take you to complete the novel?
Three years, off and on.
Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.
I’m disciplined once I’m writing. I find writing very intimidating and look for every excuse I can find to avoid it. Once I’m sitting in the chair, however, it’s a great ride. When I get into a rhythm, I’ll get up, go for a run with my wife, have breakfast and then sit down to write. I’ll draft for three or four hours and then break for Vienna Fingers and coffee. I’ll sit down to edit for another hour or two, always leaving something to edit for the following morning. I usually put in five to six days a week writing (again, once I get started).
What did you find most challenging about writing this book?
Convincing myself I had something worthwhile to say. Writing is, in and of itself, an act of hubris. It assumes you have something new or different or important to convey that others will be interested in reading. I wasn’t sure I had it in me. I also found it difficult to convince all those around me that this was more than just a hobby to me. Saying you are “writing a novel” is like saying, “I’m cutting a hit record.” People just roll their eyes until you’ve completed it. Then they take you seriously.
What do you love most about being an author?
I love it when my work resonates with people. I love it when my characters become real to them and they celebrate their successes and grieve with their losses. The greatest complement I’ve gotten for Anvil is the constant harassment I get from readers demanding Book II. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?
I’m hoping my decision to self-publish Anvil of God will attract a mainstream agent and publisher. It’s hard to break into the field and I felt if I just could put a copy of Anvil in people’s hands, they would see how great a story it is and why it should be in bookstores everywhere.
The book has received a lot of favorable attention. It’s gotten a “starred review” from Publishers Weekly, a “highly recommended” review from the Historical Novel Society; it’s been named “Best Historical Fiction Novel of 2014” by the Independent Publishers Awards and currently is a finalist in the ForeWord Review’s “Book of the Year” Awards. Time will tell, however, if it succeeds in helping make it to mainstream publishing.
Where can we find you on the web?
You can purchase Anvil almost anywhere online that sells books. The Amazon site is: http://www.networkedblogs.com/blog/blog-j-boyce-gleason. You can access all the other major sites through my website listed below. You can also order Anvil through you local bookstore.
My website is: www.jboycegleason.com
My Facebook page is: J. Boyce Gleason
My Twitter account is: @JBoyceGleason
And you can follow my blog on my website (www.jboycegleason.com/blog) or on: http://www.networkedblogs.com/blog/blog-j-boyce-gleason
Please join me on whatever venue serves you best. And please share with your network!