I love history, especially when it is not fused with revisionist opinions and hogwash. I have always been fascinated with American history regarding the founding of America and the battles that ensued. Although, I learned much about America’s history in school, the school history books never spend enough time on the major events in history. The war for the independence of America was miraculous to say the least; an unprepared group of farmers, peasants and merchants took up arms and fought against the most seasoned and well-equipped army of the time. The American colonies were no match for the brutal strength and sizable numbers of England. Yet, somehow, through determination, tremendous fortitude and faith in God, these men (and women), though sustaining heavy losses of some of the most noble blood in American history, overcame the greatest of odds, and beat back England, and claimed freedom!
I have ancestors who fraught in the revolutionary war, on both sides; some were American colonists and others were sent from the homeland of England. Mr. Reilly’s book doesn’t hold back on detail, including some uncomfortable detail about the lives of America’s most prominent founding fathers.
There were times during reading that I was uncomfortable hearing about the weakness and human nature of these great men, but it also helped put their humanity into perspective. These men were not perfect, but they were no doubt led by the perfection of divine providence in their quest for American freedom. I enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone who wants to experience a deeper understanding and learn about the terrifying experience of the events that helped create the United States of America.
I have had many of my readers ask why I write historical fiction, and not just history books. This is a great question. I love history, but like many, I sometimes read history books that tend to bog down my mind with too many details that keep me from enjoying the subject. But when I read about an individual in history I cannot help but wonder who they were, what they were feeling, how others around them were being impacted, and what they were thinking about the very moment history was being made.
There are many great journals kept by prominent people in history, but unless they were very detailed and prolific in their journal entries, it doesn’t always tell the whole story. I like putting a fictional character in a factual story to bring it to life. It becomes more interesting to me when the character becomes the story, not the historical facts.
For me, it is much more interesting hearing a story or learning history when it revolves around a central character. But when I do this, I am very conscious about making sure I get my story and facts as accurate as possible. I want the reader to get so lost in the story that they believe my character really did exist, and really did play a part, or was a player in the history.
You will notice in Not Without Mercy The Black Death, that I introduce many real people of history, and I allow my characters to interact with them, maybe even being the person to help or encourage them to do the thing they did that actually made history. An example of this is when William meets John Wycliffe in an English PUB in London.
During a casual conversation, William says something that inspires John Wycliffe to be the first to translate the Bible, (the Catholic Vulgate) into English. Now, was my Character William Beorn a real person who may have helped John Wycliffe decide to translate the Bible into English, or to start the Lollard movement that ushered in the beginning of the Great Reformation? I don’t know, was he? Either way, it sure makes the history come to life with a little bit of fiction, now doesn’t it?