Fiction, 286 Pages
Signalman Publishing, October 2, 2012
Available on Paperback
This historically based novel is a window into Alabama both before, during and after the Civil War. River Hunter is the son of a Cherokee mother and a Scotch-Irish father who has a unique perspective on a society that undergoes a radical shift forced on it by the War. River’s father is presumed dead after disappearing on a trapping trip into the mountains of the Carolinas, so, River’s mother gathers her children and they move to the cotton belt of Alabama to avoid being shipped west by President Jackson during the Removal time for Native Americans. River rapidly adapts to the new life and has an insatiable appetite for knowledge, reading books at every opportunity. In time he obtains a formal education at recognized academies and universities. Following his heroic service in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and schooling at one of the nation’s most prestigious law schools, River becomes an attorney. He is then betrothed to a beautiful young woman who has inherited a substantial plantation upon the death of her husband in the War. Many problems plague the young couple from the forces existing in the South after the War to the prejudicial attitudes of River’s inlaws to the polarized politics between the newly freed Slaves and their former owners. This fascinating novel exams all sides within the context of a very unique segment of American history.
In a day and age of texts and emails, it was nice to see some handwritten letters between River and Sarah within the book. What was it like getting into the personal mindset of these characters?
I have spent a lot of time in my life thinking of River Hunter. He is the embodiment of people I have known or imagined, and I have a pretty good idea as to how River would think and speak. As for Sarah, I had to use imagination there.
If your book were turned into a movie, which actors would you have leading the cast?
I spend most of my time reading or writing and haven’t even seen a movie in years other than what is on Turner Classic Movies, which I do check out frequently. They are for the most part 30 to 50 year old movies. Not too many Native American actors on TCM. I am a fan of Humphrey Bogart, Alan Ladd, Henry Fonda, Veronica Lake, Hedy Lamarr, Lauren Bacall, John Wayne, James Dean, etc. The great actors and actresses of years past.
Why did you choose to set the book in Alabama?
That was where the events were taking place I wanted to portray. Also, I have a great attraction for Alabama. It has such historical aspects. The heavy forested areas and thick vegetation contribute to the dark history of the state. I lived in Alabama for three years and frequently go there to visit Mobile, Montgomery and the Forkland area.
You do a good job of presenting facts versus judgmental opinions of certain lifestyles your characters lead and ideals they have. Is that hard to do in writing fiction, when you could make up any story you want?
I try to stay away from being judgmental in my writing. I try to present both sides fairly, although most likely I lean in favor of one or the other. Two targets I have when writing: Not to be judgmental. Let the readers decide whether they approve or not of the issues I present. Secondly, I do not write graphically about sex. I consider that as a cover-up for what is missing in the novel. Not always though, as there have been some novels that excelled in writing about sex and it was appropriately handled.
What do you hope your readers get out of the book? Any certain message, or just the enjoyment of an entertaining story?
I consider my first novel, The Gaelic Letters, to present an interesting and entertaining story. The others have had more of a message included. I think The Alabama Rebel is both interesting and contains a message. I intend to aim more at the entertaining, while sending a message format in the future.