Are there any people still alive that actually talked to and met C.W. Rickard that you had the privilege of talking with about his life?
To my knowledge there is no one around who actually spoke to C.W. Rickard about his experience in the Civil War. His daughter, Alice Bowersock, was his sole survivor. I met and spoke with Alice several times prior to her passing. Since she was a friend of my wife’s family, we visited her on several occasions. She was a very quiet woman who never spoke about her past or about her father. I tried to interview her about her own life and only got that she was born in Peru. I regret not knowing about her father before she passed. She might have been able to fill in the blanks in his life as well as her husband, who was the son of J.P. Bowersock.
Do you think Charlie would like the book you wrote about his experience in the Civil War?
My goal was to tell his story in a way that I believe he would have been pleased. After reading his letter and sifting through all that remained of his history, I believe I became familiar enough with who he was to be able to recreate his courage and determination. He was a colorful character. Among his artifacts I found a carbon copy of a letter he wrote to President Wilson when the U.S. entered World War I. He was consulate in Peru at the time and a very old man, yet he wrote to let the president know that he felt healthy and was ready to take up arms again to fight for America. Notes like that tell a lot about his character and I hope I reflected that in the novel.
What was it that caused you to realize you needed to write this book?
When I acquired Alice Bowersock’s estate and uncovered this letter, I knew it was an important document. As an antique seller, it was easy to sell off the furniture and even the railroad memorabilia like the old red and green lanterns. It was easy to sell off some of the documents like the postcards from the San Diego Panama Exposition. But I simply could not part with the personal documents, especially his letters. I read them over and over as the next couple years went by. It one day dawned on me that I know this man from his letter and can share his story and share my own perspectives as well.
How interested in the Civil War were you before you began writing this book?
When I owned and operated my store I had already earned a Master’s degree in Theology with the emphasis in history, so I had an interest in history prior to finding the letter. In fact, my interest in the antique and collectible store came from an underlying interest in history. Every acquisition was a piece of someone’s history. Around the year 2000, I began studying for my third Master’s degree. It is a degree in U.S. History. Doing research in U.S. History led me to realize that I could actually write a Civil War historical fiction using the information I was learning at American Public University and the letter from C.W. Rickard.
Is this your first book?
Yes, it is my first book. I have always wanted to write. This was the first time I found a subject that appealed to me and excited me.
Do you plan out the entire book before you begin writing? Or do you just sit down and write?
I have a general idea of where the story will go, but the characters sometimes surprise me. It is like they have a mind of their own. So, though I have an idea of the direction, I am flexible and will start typing. I guess you could say I write by letter. I just sit at the computer and just let her fly.
Do you have a set time that you write each day? Or do you wait to be inspired?
When I am onboard a navy ship, teaching college courses for Central Texas College, I have plenty of spare time so I am almost always writing. When I get home, I have to make time. I like to ride my bicycle to the mall from about 9:00am to 1:00pm (it is about 3 miles). There I sit in the food court and type all morning long. I get internet access from the local Starbucks for doing research. I find that if I stay home there is always something to distract me.