David B. Coe: Release Day for DEAD MAN’S REACH!

Today is release day for Dead Man’s Reach, the fourth and final (for now) novel of the Thieftaker Chronicles. I’m incredibly excited about this book for several reasons, not the least of which being that it represents, I believe, some of the finest work I’ve ever done. I hope you enjoy reading it every bit as much as I enjoyed writing it.

All of the Thieftaker novels demanded that I interweave fictional story elements with actual historical events. That has been one of the great challenges of writing these books, and one of the great pleasures as well. And I think that most fans of the series would agree that the interplay of fiction with history is part of what has drawn them to the Ethan Kaille stories.

In no book has that blending of history and make believe been more demanding, more complex, and more intricate, than in Dead […]

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Research Treasures

I love doing research. I know that a metric ton of you out there also love looking stuff up, and are, at this moment, nodding your heads in solidarity. There’s something exciting about digging into the history or language or whatever in the hope of making your writing just that much more authentic. The only thing that ever makes me sad about research (besides the part where I can easily get lost in the looking-up and forget to write the damn book) is finding cool stuff that I can’t use right away. I know you know what I’m talking about – you’re busy checking the price of maple syrup Vermont in 1875, and wham! You discover this seriously interesting story about the Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919, in which a large molasses storage tank burst, and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets pf Boston at an estimated 35 […]

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An Interview with Ethan Kaille, Thieftaker and Conjurer

Ethan Kaille is one of Colonial Boston’s leading thieftakers. He is also a conjurer, an ex-convict, and a veteran of the War of the Austrian Succession, in which he served as a sailor in the navy of His Majesty King George II. Though an intensely private man, he recently agreed, albeit reluctantly, to sit down and answer a few questions about his life, his career, and, of course, his rivalry with Sephira Pryce, Boston’s famed “Empress of the South End.”

*****Mister Kaille, thank you for joining us today. I wonder if you wouldn’t begin by telling us a bit about your work as a thieftaker.

There is little to tell, really. Boston is filled with reprobates and fools, and invariably men who fall into one category or the other take it upon themselves to improve their meagre lot in life by stealing from the city’s monied class. When they do, […]

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On Writing: Is Your Book Too Normal?

My wife’s department at the university includes a guy named John and another named Jon. The university’s president, provost, and dean are all also named John.

My younger daughter has three close friends (two are boys, one is a girl) who are all named Sam.

My brother’s wife is named Karen, and they named their first-born son Jonah. My college roommate’s wife is named Karen, and they named their first-born son Jonah.

There is a Greenville in Wisconsin, South Carolina, Utah, Georgia, and twenty-eight other states. Well, actually twenty-seven; there are two in California.

Washington is our nation’s capitol. It’s also a state. And it’s the name of cities in at least twenty-five other states. Who was the genius who came up with all of that?

Here’s one from history:

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were friends and intense political rivals who both signed the Declaration of Independence, served together […]

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A List for President’s Day

Today is a national holiday — the one that celebrates all the Presidents, which seems a little strange to me. I mean, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Roosevelt, Kennedy? Yeah, sure. But does the Presidency of James Buchanan really deserve a holiday? And what about William Henry Harrison’s pneumonia-plagued tenure of exactly one month — surely a highlight in Presidential history and worthy of a national holiday. It all seems a bit odd to me. Then again, it’s a day off, so what the heck.

Anyway, these holiday Mondays are usually pretty quiet here at MW, so I thought I’d take a week off from the serious writing stuff and focus on something on the fun side. And what’s more fun than lists? Nothing, I say! (And, in fact, I’ve done something like this before.) To wit:

A list made especially for President’s Day, by a writer who is lately […]

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Accurate, Schmaccurate; As Long As It’s Right

“The clock hath stricken three…”

William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act II, scene I

A.J.’s Friday post, and the discussion that followed has had me thinking about research, historical accuracy, and artistic license all weekend long. So I decided to share some thoughts, in the hope of generating more conversation and perhaps more understanding.

Let me begin by saying that I have a Ph.D. in history, and that I am just completing a historical fantasy set in colonial Boston. I have worked harder on this book than I have on any other, not just because I want to make this novel as good as it can be, but also because I want to fit the story into its historical context as comfortably and seamlessly as possible. The last thing I want is for historical inaccuracies to jar my reader out of the story. As Beatriz put it in […]

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Making Historical Characters Your Own

Did you know that Eleanor of Aquitaine, in addition to being married to two kings and giving birth to three more, and in addition to riding to the Holy Land with the Second Crusade, spent sixteen years of her life in prison (by order of her second husband) and outlived all but two of her ten children? Did you know that Samuel Adams, in addition to helping to build momentum for the American Revolution, and in addition to being a brewmaster (yes, he really was, although not a successful one), was afflicted all his life with a mild palsy, lost his first wife when she was only thirty-two, and spent much of his early career deeply in debt?

Character, we often say here at MW, is the most important element of storytelling. Stuart wrote about this on Friday. You can come up with a great story and set it in […]

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