November 06, 2013
Guest Post: J. Boyce Gleason's Anvil of God
Please welcome J. Boyce Gleason as part of the virtual tour for his novel, Anvil of God.
I always had a passion for history, but writing? It scares the hell out of me. I’m not sure why. There is something about a blank page that assaults the ego. “You think you have something to say? Why, how self-important of you!” In college, I even tailored my classes based on the length of the papers required. (Twenty-five pages? Flip on to the next course). For the most part, during those four years, I got away with it. And as a history major, that’s saying something.
Even so, every once in a while I’d surprise myself on an assignment. I’d like the way a sentence hung together or how a paragraph seemed to flow. I’d find myself spending twenty minutes over a single sentence wanting the consonants to match up, sure that it wasn’t quite right.
When I graduated, I set off for Washington to work on Capitol Hill as a legislative aid. It took two years – starving as an intern, working on campaigns and freelancing – before I finally landed a job there. Yet when the offer came, I almost didn’t take it. It was working as a press secretary. All they do is write.
The first day, I was told I had to compose an op/ed column for the Congressman by 3:00 p.m. I didn’t even know what an op/ed column was. I called a friend who supplied me with a couple of samples and so armed I sat down to type. (Back then it was at a typewriter). I stared at the page for over an hour as the clock raced toward my deadline. I knew this was a test and that if I wanted to keep the job, I would have to deliver.
From the samples I had, I could see that the first line set up the argument. It had to be catchy and relevant. (Later I would learn this is called the “lead).” If I could come up with a good one, at least I’d have a chance.
Another hour went by. Still, I stared at the page. Then it hit me. With a thrill of possibility, I typed out a line then raced to frame out the arguments for and against the issue at hand (I think it was something exciting like tax-indexing). To be honest, I don’t remember much of the next ninety minutes. What I do remember was coming to the end and thinking, “done.” I went back to reread the copy. To my surprise, all I edited were a few typos, a sentence or two, and then cleaned up the grammar. It was done. I had time to spare. Best of all, I could keep my job.
Twenty years later, when I sat down to write Anvil of God, I suffered from the same doubts I had in college. I could write for the news media, but creative writing? I didn’t think I had the stuff. But there was story running around in my head based on an epic poem about Charlemagne’s greatest knight. I had to try.
I sat down and stared at the blank screen. I couldn’t find a place to start. I decided to write a scene between Charlemagne’s father and the last of the Merovingian Kings…just to create some character interaction. Four hours later, I shut down the computer. I was shaking. The characters had run amok and the scene I had written was so disturbing that I couldn’t look at it for three days. I had written that? (It still scares me).
I understood then what writers talk about when referring to their “muse.” (Okay, mine is a dark muse, but it’s still a muse). When I had recovered from the shock, I knew there was no going back. Although I still consult about the news media, my world has refocused on the writing. I spend a few hours a day bending sentences to my will, waiting for the next gush of words to kick in.
It is still scary. I still worry that I have nothing new to say. And there are days when I have to talk myself into sitting down before the screen. But, thankfully, I do a better job of keeping my characters in check so it isn’t quite so frightening.
About the book
Publication Date: July 26, 2013
It is 741. After subduing the pagan religions in the east, halting the march of Islam in the west, and conquering the continent for the Merovingian kings, mayor of the palace Charles the Hammer has one final ambition-the throne. Only one thing stands in his way-he is dying.
Charles cobbles together a plan to divide the kingdom among his three sons, betroth his daughter to a Lombard prince to secure his southern border, and keep the Church unified behind them through his friend Bishop Boniface. Despite his best efforts, the only thing to reign after Charles's death is chaos. His daughter has no intention of marrying anyone, let alone a Lombard prince. His two eldest sons question the rights of their younger pagan stepbrother, and the Church demands a steep price for their support. Son battles son, Christianity battles paganism, and Charles's daughter flees his court for an enemy's love.
Based on a true story, Anvil of God is a whirlwind of love, honor, sacrifice, and betrayal that follows a bereaved family's relentless quest for power and destiny.
About the author
After a 25-year career in crisis management and public affairs, J. Boyce Gleason began writing historical fiction and is publishing his first novel ANVIL OF GOD, Book One of the Carolingian Chronicles. With an AB in history from Dartmouth College, Gleason brings a strong understanding of the past to his historical fiction. He is married, has three sons and lives in Virginia.
For more information please visit www.jboycegleason.com.
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Stop by for my review and a giveaway of Anvil of God at The True Book Addict on November 25.