J.D. Ferguson on His Main Character, Justin Thorne from Holderby's Landing #Fiction #AmReading

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Can you tell us about your main character?
Justin Thorne is a young man of privilege in pre-Civil War Virginia.  He has grown up so insulated that his naivet√© is a primary part of his personality.  Through circumstances beyond his control he is thrown into the frontier life along the western edge of Virginia, at that time the Ohio River, and through a series of adventures is forced to grow up, and quickly.  He is aided along the way by his Father’s good friend Osman Treat, a secondary but fundamental part of the story.
How did you develop your plot and characters?
The characters came naturally enough, once I understood the story I wanted to tell.  They are part and parcel of people I have known or experienced through personal contact, study, and imagination.  Initially, I directed their actions through the necessary plot twists to get the story going, but after I became comfortable with them the action developed on its own accord because of the characters and their individual traits.  I just followed the logic.
Who designed the cover?
The story set the template and was interpreted by the publisher, Black Rose Writing.  They did a great job, with which I am well pleased.
Who is your publisher?
Black Rose Writing, created by Reagan Rothe and located in Texas, is the publishing house.  They started out as a self-publisher but quickly changed to an independent.
Why did you choose to write this particular book?
All the experts involved in publishing, book sales, author management, etc. will tell you to know your audience and the buying public you are trying to attract and write accordingly.  That is probably smart advice for the commercial author.  They write to make the most sales with the least amount of effort.  Some of the most prolific and successful even buy manuscripts from the unknown and unpublished on which they put their names in order to access the available market with the most books of their genre while their iron is still hot and their work desired.  Sadly to say, I am not yet commercially successful, and even if I were, would not follow that course of action.  You see, I did not make the choice so much as I saw the story in my head and accepted the charge of writing it.  I liked what I imagined and wanted to see it on paper, regardless of commerciality.  Now that it has been written, I work to make it a success in the marketplace.  I just do things my own way, even if back-asswards.
How much of the book is realistic?
I think the whole of the book is realistic.  Though a work of fiction and driven by my imagination, no scenario or sequence of events or action really falls outside the possible and probable.  In order to be true to historical fiction, one must first and foremost make the characters and storyline follow logic.  I could have used the same location and environment yet used a female, teenage, nympho, vampire as my main character and placed her in a colony of religious, teenage, male, werewolves; called it historical fiction and hoped for the best, but there would be very little realism in the finished product.
How important do you think villains are in a story?
Depending on the type of book you choose to write, villains will drive the action and give you a moral compass from which to place your hero or heroine at the opposite pole.  Those functions alone are almost indispensable in action stories.  But to paraphrase the thoughts of a great mind, “All things are relative”.  So your villain need not be Jack the Ripper in order to make a contribution.  A perfect example is the character Scott Farkus in Christmas Story.  He was just a bully, but gave Ralphie a scene in which to shine all the brighter.
What books have most influenced your life?
I cannot say.  I cannot even begin to imagine an answer.  Life is a dynamic proposition in which changes occur constantly, the impacts of which may not be realized until much, much later.  I have never experienced an epiphany while reading a book.  No storyline has led me to yell “Eureka!” and charge out to change my world.  No, changes have occurred because of what I have encountered in print, some profound, but the effects have been gradual and cumulative, and not attributable to any one book or publication.
How do you work through self- doubt and fear?
Some avocations require dedication to duty, stringent regimen, or even sterling work-ethics.  This occupation requires faith.  You must believe in yourself and what you can accomplish, even above all criticisms from others.  I do not mean to be deaf to critique or constructive criticism.  You are victim to the consequences if you do.  Belief in what you do and how you do it must be secure in your heart.  Its strength must guide your efforts.   Without it, you might never get to the end of your work, and if you do, will not be satisfied with the results.
What scares you the most?
It is hard to decide.  I guess; death or speaking in front of an audience, whichever comes first.
What makes you happiest?
I expect that living forever or never having to address an audience would make me ecstatic.
When Justin Thorne, coddled student and heir apparent to Sylvan Springs Plantation, is forced to find his heritage, his manhood, and his destiny, in the space of one brief spring, all hell breaks loose on the banks of the Ohio River. His Virginia of 1836 is a time of transition and enormous growth. Northern industrial might and southern aristocracy, abolitionist movements and slave cultures, collide in turmoil and lay bare the raw needs and desires of those intrepid spirits confronting the frontiers of the antebellum South. Coming of age is an expected result of time and circumstance. It happens to all who live so long, but to each within the dictates of their own lives. 
The process is on-going and ever dynamic. Every person is a precious product resulting from the effects of nature and nurture. One's ancestry, culture, and environment collude in myriad ways to make us; all as different as each life's story, and as singular as snowflakes. This theme is played out over-and-over throughout the world and throughout history, in millions of places like Holderby's Landing; as similar and as different as each human is to the other. 
Holderby's Landing is a single glimpse in time at the coming of age of a land, a community, and a few determined souls thrown together in love, strife and chance. What they make of the time, the opportunities and themselves is the story told and the living breath of this book.
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Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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