Bookish Giveaway & Interview: James W. George, Author of My Father’s Kingdom

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Folks, please give a warm welcome to historical fiction author James W. George. I recently had the pleasure of listening to his book, My Father’s Kingdom, which explores the relations between the Wampanoag tribe and the Puritan colonists of the 1670s.

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

Wow, what a fun question. Is time travel a possibility? I might have to go back to 1970 and pilot a B-25 while sitting next to Art Garfunkel in “Catch-22.” If I have to stick around 2017, I guess “The Tudors” is long gone so I can’t gallivant around with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Natalie Dormer and Henry Cavill in my finest sixteenth-century frippery.
I guess I’ll keep it simple and appear on the next “Avengers” movie. Maybe I can smack some of the smugness out of Tony Stark, and my daughter would be extremely jealous.

What are the top 3 historical time periods and locations you would like to visit?

My first answer is very predictable. When writing and marketing My Father’s Kingdom, I’ve held fast and true to a fundamental precept: King Philip’s War in 1675 New England was one of the most fascinating and catastrophic events in American history, and most of us have never even heard of it.

So certainly, I would welcome the opportunity to see seventeenth century New England, especially the first interactions between some of the Native people and the European settlers.

I would love to visit well-studied periods like WWII, the American Revolution, the Viking conquests of England, and Tudor England, but I feel like historical fiction and cinema have done such a remarkable job of recreating these eras, I almost wonder if anything would genuinely be surprising.

If you’re going to hand me a fully-functioning time machine, I think I’d like to see some really obscure and mysterious periods, such as the empires of South America.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Brom Bones from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow is a remarkable piece of American literature. I love it so much my daughter is named Katrina. The lyrical prose by Washington Irving is simply unbelievable.

Brom Bones is the villain, but what did he actually do? He deceived the interloping schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane, with a brilliant ruse. No one was actually hurt, maimed, or killed. I guess in the end he already has his happy ending, but I would hope he and Katrina lived a wonderful married life together.

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

Wow. Let’s go with some intellectual giants of American history. Maybe Increase Mather, John and Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Let’s throw in some modern-day wit. Perhaps Mark Steyn can regale us with the conservative viewpoint, and Jon Stewart can hold down the left wing.

What to read? Probably 1984 and Catch-22, but we’re going to have to do an awful lot of explaining to all those old people. And of course, my book, so Increase Mather can tell me how unfairly I portrayed him.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I used to load trucks for UPS while in high school. It was physically exhausting and quite difficult. You don’t load one truck at once, you loaded multiple trucks.

In addition to the physical toil, it was all like one big game of Tetris; you have to make sure you’re building the wall of boxes in the most logical, sturdy fashion possible. I guess there’s a lesson there for writers; sometimes you think all the disparate elements are seamlessly coming together in a nice, impressive structure, but when they don’t, you have to tear it down and start over.

What nonfiction works have you found useful in building fictional worlds, cultures, and plots?

As a writer of historical fiction, I rely on countless works of nonfiction that help make 1670s New England come to life. I think one book in particular, which is probably my favorite work of nonfiction, is Don’t Know Much about the Bible by Kenneth Davis. He approaches all the complex, thorny questions of the Bible with an open mind, and gears the book toward those who know little or nothing about the Bible. It helped me imagine how incomprehensible the Puritans and Bible must have been to Native Americans in the seventeenth century.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I live my relatively mundane life here in southeastern Virginia. I work my day job (which I love) and spend time with my wife and two kids. I’m a big music fan and it’s been a great pleasure watching my sixteen-year-old guitarist son completely eclipse me musically.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

Yikes. No distinct memory is coming to mind. It might have been Clifford the Big Red Dog. I also remember loving the “Encyclopedia Brown” series as a kid. We have a house full of books and have kept quite a few children’s books. My favorite, hands-down, is Yertle the Turtle. That is Dr. Seuss at his finest!

Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

I’ve completely immersed myself in the New England of the 1670s this year, but it’s reminded me how ignorant I am of so much history regarding the European exploration of the United States before the Mayflower. I live down the road from Jamestown, so I’m pretty familiar with that, but the tales of Spanish conquistadors like Coronado and DeSoto exploring the southern U.S. in the 1500s are unbelievable. How many Americans know the tale of the French Huguenot settlement in Florida?

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Book Two should be out this fall, and I’m delighted with how it’s shaping up. I think Book One is quite atmospheric. It develops the characters and sets the tone for King Philip’s War, whereas Book Two is the actual war and is a little more action-packed. Benjamin Church, one of colonial America’s most famous soldiers, will play a very prominent role.

Check out more interviews, spotlights, & reviews on the blog tour.

About Author James W. George:

James W. George is a debut author currently residing in Virginia.  He is a graduate of Boston University, a military veteran, and a lover of historical fiction.

Amazon ~ GoodReads

Synopsis of My Father’s Kingdom:

In 1620, more than 100 devout men and women crossed the treacherous Atlantic Ocean and established a colony in the New World where they could build a righteous and Godly society. Without the fortuitous friendship of the Wampanoag people and their charismatic leader Massasoit, however, it is doubtful the holy experiment would have survived.

Fifty years later Plymouth Colony has not only survived, it has prospered, and more and more Englishmen are immigrating to New England. The blessed alliance with the Wampanoag, however, is in severe jeopardy. Massasoit has passed away along with most of the original settlers of Plymouth Colony, and their children and grandchildren have very different ideas about their historic friendship.

Thrust into the center of events is Reverend Israel Brewster, an idealistic young minister with a famous grandfather and a tragic past. Meanwhile, Massasoit’s son, known as “King Philip” by the English, is tormented by both the present and the past. He is watching the resources and culture of the Wampanoag nation fade away at the hands of the English and desperately wishes to restore hope and security to his people.

In a world of religious fervor, devastating sickness, and incessant greed, can the alliance of their forefathers survive? Or will New England feel the wrath of tragic, bloody war?

Audible ~ Amazon ~ Audio Excerpt

About Narrator Angus Freathy:

Angus Freathy was born and educated in London – that’s the one in England, for you Ohio folks!

After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, he went to Switzerland to join Nestlé for a 2-year wandering assignment, which lasted 37 years and involved travel and work on every continent (except the cold ones at the top and bottom).

Periods of residence in the U.S., Hong Kong and Switzerland have resulted in a network of friends and acquaintances with an amazing range of world insight and a wide repertoire of mostly excellent jokes.

Since retirement, Angus and his (still working) wife, Debra have lived in Oregon, Maryland and are now in Dublin, Ohio, ‘the only place we have actually chosen to live since we have been married!’.

Following a crushing rejection by the BBC at the age of 19, Angus is re-activating a long-held ambition and launching a new career in voice-over, with the sole intention of having some fun and being in touch with some very talented people.

Website

GIVEAWAY!!!

The giveaway is for a $25 Amazon gift Card. Open internationally! Ends August 6th, 2017.

My Father’s Kingdom Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card

My Father’s Kingdom by James W. George

Narrator: Angus Freathy

Publisher: James W. George (2017)

Length: 6 hours 18 minutes

Series: Book 1 King Philip’s War

Author’s Page

Set in the 1670s, Plimouth has become a thriving colony in the New World. However, the once solid relationship between the English settlers and the local Native Americans, the Wampanoag chief among them, has become strained. Culture clash, religious differences, and disrespect could lead to much bigger issues. Israel Brewster, a Puritan reverend, is a bit idealistic but believes people can be won over to the faith through compassion and mutual respect. Linto, a once orphaned boy, was adopted into the Wampanoag tribe. Great things are expected of him.

While this story takes a little time to settle into, I found it quite worthy. At the end of the audiobook, there are two notes – an author’s note and a narrator’s note – and both express how this section of American history has mostly been overlooked. I wholeheartedly agree and it’s great that we now have a quality historical fiction novel to explore this section of history.

I knew going into this tale that religion would play a significant role in the story. There’s the Puritans, the nearby Quakers, and the more enigmatic religious believes of the Wampanoag. However, the first 2 hours of the tale are rather weighty with Biblical verses and such. For me, this was almost too much. While I appreciate knowing the lay of religious land in historical fiction, this first part was quite top heavy with it. That said, I’m very glad I stuck with it. The religious context, once established, slides to the side to make room for more interesting stuff. By the end of the book, I was looking around for the next book.

Linto was the most interesting character to me. He’s genuinely interested in the English and their odd ways. In fact, I really loved his way of repeating back Biblical stories when talking with Israel. The author did a great job in showing this culture clash that was going on at the time. The conversations between Linto and Israel really showed how strange some of the English and Christian ways were. Linto also carries quite a lot on his shoulders in his adoptive tribe. His own tribe was wiped out by disease, the Wampanoag finding him as a lone survivor as a baby. His adoptive father, Metacomet (Sachem or leader of the tribe), expects much from him especially as their Powwas (spiritual leader).

Meanwhile, Israel has an interesting story arc as well. He’s suffered a horrible tragedy and feels deep spiritual guilt over it. In reaching out with compassion and mutual respect (for not only the nearby Native Americans but also the Quakers in a nearby colony), he loses face with the Puritans. His life spirals out of control but much later in the book he finds his feet again and is able to provide a key piece of info to Linto about an event that happened a generation ago involving Metacomet’s older brother Wamsutta. Massasoit, Metacomet’s father, had welcomed the Puritans to the area 50 years ago. Both Israel and Linto want very much to preserve a peace between the Wampanoag and the English colonists. However, the Wampanoag have legitimate gripes with a colonist they refer to as Skunk Genitals. This, among other serious issues, could undo that peace.

There are a few female characters in this story and one or two of them even have spoken lines. Yes, this tale is woefully light on gender balance. The ladies during this time were important too and it’s a bit sad to see them overlooked. Despite this weakness, I still enjoyed this novel once I settled into it.

Towards the end, there is some courtroom drama which I felt would change the future one way or another. The author did a great job of building the suspense and not giving away how things would turn out. Since I haven’t studied this part of history, I really appreciated this. While I had heard of King Philip’s war in passing, I never really understood what it meant. Now I have a solid idea of what events lead up to it. I’m looking forward to Book 2 to see how things continue to unfold.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Angus Freathy was a good fit for this book. He has a variety of English accents that suited the various English colonists. He kept each character distinct. His female character voices were lacking femininity though. There is a little bit of singing which I quite enjoyed. 

What I Liked: Cover art; a much over-looked time period made clearer; the culture clash so clearly laid out; various religious believes; the Wampanoag get equal page time with the English colonists; compelling story, so much so I look forward to Book 2. 

What I Disliked: The first part is very thick with religion; very few ladies and they all have tiny roles, mostly as romantic interests.

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.