Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Interview with J. Boyce Gleason, author of 'Anvil of God'

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.

Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

I’m a husband and father (and soon to be a grandfather). I’ve been married to my wife since we were in our mid-twenties and I’ve got three great sons who make me proud and keep me on my toes every day.  They are a lot of fun and, for the moment live near me so I can enjoy their company on a regular basis.  I still do some consulting (my first career) in public affairs and crisis
management.  And for recreation, I play golf, head to the beach and take in a game or two of the Washington Capitols, the Nationals or the Burgundy and Gold.

When did you start writing?

I remember writing early on in fits and starts at a very young age, but it was always a love/hate kind of thing.  I liked the opportunity to express myself, but I was more interested in the power of the words than the message they sent.  I feared I had nothing to original or important to say.  It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I started to write in earnest. 

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

One Sunday afternoon, I sat down to see if I could write a scene between a young Charlemagne and the last Merovingian King.  It was a bit of a test to see if I had the stuff to write a novel.  After some initial hesitancy, the story poured out onto the screen in front of me as if the characters were writing it.  It was dark, violent and scared the Hell out of me.  I was afraid to show it to anyone.  That was when I first began to understand what writers talk about when they reference their “muse.” 

It still took me a long time to get up the courage to undertake the novel, but after that moment, I knew it was just a matter of time before I did.  

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

I usually write down at the Eastern Shore in Delaware.  But, I’d love to take up residence in Paris or maybe Tours for a month or two to get started.
If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

Spend it with my mom.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?
London, Aquitaine, Spoleto.  I’ve already got plans to set a novel in each of them.

Back to your present book, Anvil of God, Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles, how did you publish it?

I self-published through iUniverse (they call it “assisted publishing”). I hope that it will attract the attention of an agent and a publisher.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

Yes, I traveled across France into Germany to follow the route of one of the lead character’s journey.

Why was writing Anvil of God so important to you?

I’ve thought about writing it since I studied Charlemagne in college.  It is such a fascinating period!  It proved to be a pivotal time for western civilization, Christianity and modern warfare.  But to me, it is a story about people, the choices they make and the consequences of their choices.  I promise you, you won’t be bored.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

I get the best ideas from my characters.  If they are well formed and I can hear their voices inside my head, the dialogue almost writes itself.  I’m constantly wrestling with them to stay close to the plot line.  And to be truthful, I don’t always win.

Any final words?

I think Anvil of God is a compelling read for a number of reasons.  It brings to life an era that largely has been forgotten by modern society and for the most part, sticks to a true story – at least, it is as true as I could make it.  Unlike most novels of this genre, the two main characters are women and bring a perspective to the story that moves it away from the political to the personal.  It ultimately is a story of a family in crisis, except this family’s power and influence affects an entire continent.  It’s a big, sweeping, story that is bound to keep you enthralled.  I hope you enjoy it!

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