So what’ll it be today—fact or fiction? On being a “split personality” writer

It’s very exciting to have a new book coming out. “Great Storms of the Chesapeake” has been a year in the making. (It goes on sale Sept. 18.) It is a nonfiction book based upon endless hours of research into the legendary hurricanes, blizzards, fogs and freezes of the Chesapeake Bay region.

In between delving into all those snowstorms and gales, I was working on some fairly heavy duty revisions to my novel, “Time Reich.” This book took a very long and convoluted path to being published … in some ways, I’ve been working on it for twenty years. Good grief, Charlie Brown!

I was never really happy with an earlier, paperback version and so revised the book significantly for the ebook version that came out recently. I am thrilled that it has received some kind reviews on amazon.com! The book is also gaining traction in terms of sales, which means more readers are noticing “Time Reich.”

What’s been a little crazy at times has been switching gears between nonfiction and fiction. I’ve noticed this when posting to my Facebook Books & Author Page because in one post I might have an amazing photo of Hurricane Hazel chewing up a sloop, while the next post might be something from the pages of the novel.

To be sure, “Time Reich” and “Great Storms of the Chesapeake” are very, very different books. There are days when it’s a nice change of scenery to move from one to another. There are also times when it leaves me feeling a little dazed or like I have two personas—one as a writer of history books and the other as a novelist.

That’s not to say that a great deal of research didn’t also go into the novel, because I read deeply about the topic, visited Dachau and the Holocaust museum, interviewed an actual OSI war crimes researcher, and ended up with a thick folder of research materials. However, the kind of historical research one does for a novel is used differently from how it is used for a nonfiction book. One tends to weave it into the story in a way that is far more subtle. In a novel, historical research might never even bubble to the surface, but it is always there in the writer’s mind to give context and influence the actions of the characters. I suppose you might say historical novels are written out of distilled knowledge and understanding.

I have to say I’m looking forward to focusing on fiction for a while … with a little history mixed in, of course.

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