iUniverse continues its interview with J. Boyce Gleason, author of Anvil of God. Here, Gleason talks about his fascination with historical fiction, his book’s awards and his publishing experience.
What is it about historical fiction that excites you?
When I was younger, I was swept away by the books of James Clavell, James Michener and Herman Wouk. They took me inside another place and time and wove me into their stories of love and war, human suffering and triumph. Those are the types of stories I like to write.
What I find compelling about writing historical fiction is that it gets to the heart of “why” history happened. For the most part, we know what happened in history. We can learn the dates and the names of the events and people that define our past. But the devil is in the why. Why did people make the choices they made? What led them to such extremes? Were they evil? Or were they left with little more than a Sophie’s Choice? That’s what is interesting about history: The why.
You’ve won numerous awards and received considerable acclaim. Did you apply directly to all of these awards contests, or did some of the awards come as a surprise? Which awards stick out as most meaningful?
I applied to all the awards I’ve received. And I am very appreciative of all the recognition they have given Anvil. It is hard to gain recognition as an author – especially a self-published author. I was very lucky. Of the six or seven awards programs that I entered, four honored Anvil of God. Two awarded the book first prize.
Only once was I surprised. I had submitted Anvil to the Writers Digest Awards and was told that I did not win. When they sent me the judges’ comments about the book, however, Anvil received stellar marks. Out of five points in every criterion, Anvil received a five. Plot: 5. Characters: 5. Cover Design: 5 etc. I couldn’t figure out how Anvil had lost if it had achieved a perfect score. What I didn’t realize was that they had selected it as the “e-book of the year” for historical fiction. I found out two months later that it had taken first prize.
My objective in publishing Anvil was to raise my visibility as an author to help attract an agent and a publisher. And while I’ll have to wait until I finish my next book to learn if that objective will be reached, I couldn’t be happier with the visibility that Anvil of God has generated on my behalf. It required a lot more work and money to succeed than I expected, but that is true of most objectives worthy of pursuit.
As to iUniverse, I loved their editorial service. They couldn’t have been better. They loved the book and were thoughtful, thorough and relentless in getting it ready for prime time. They helped me make Anvil a better book.
What else can you say about writing Anvil of God?
One of the biggest surprises that I found in writing Anvil is the role that the women characters played in the story. Although hampered by the conventions of the time period, Charles’s wife and daughter played a significant role in the history. And the more I wrote about them, the more captivated I became by their stories. As the book unfolded, they began to wrestle me for the plotline and more often than not, they won. In many ways, I witnessed the story unfold as would any reader. I was surprised by their plot twists, moved by their nobility and amused by their character flaws.
Fortunately, for me, I still get to visit them. Anvil of God is Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles. I’m about halfway through writing Book II.
Make sure to follow the author at:
Facebook: J. Boyce Gleason
Author website: http://jboycegleason.com/