Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Author Interview with Loren DeShon, author of Redemption on the River

Today I'm happy to welcome author Loren Deshon to the blog. Loren recently published Redemption on the River a historical fiction novel set in Mississippi in the 1800's.

About the Book:

Redemption on the River

Publisher: Self Published
Published: July 2012
Pages: 390
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:
Silas Jacobson pulled a trigger, killed his father, and ended up months later face down in Memphis mud, trying to forget the girl who betrayed him.

Silas buries his father on the farm, his guilt in himself and leaves home seeking to forget past mistakes. He travels on Mississippi steamboats and meets his best friend in a brawl, his worst enemy in a cathouse, and a mentor and lover at a New Orleans faro table. Fighting, fornicating, and cheating at cards are a grand time, but there's another woman, a girl on a mission of her own, who saves his life and offers the opportunity to redeem himself.

Silas staggers out of the mud to go to her, but he finds that she's deceived him from the start. He'll risk his neck for her—he owes her that much—but love is no longer possible. His shot at redemption comes down to his conscience, the two women, a poker game, and the turn of a card.

Redemption on the River is historical fiction set along the Mississippi River in 1848.

The Interview:

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Do you have any unusual talents or hobbies?

About yourself

I grew up mainly in Olympia, Washington and graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Economics, which is something I use every day in my day job as an airline pilot.

After graduation I joined the accounting firm of Peat Marwick and worked as a CPA for two years before deciding that a career change was in order.  I joined the Navy, entered the flight program, and became an F/A-18 Hornet pilot.  I made 278 carrier landings, flew combat missions in the Gulf War, and was an Adversary pilot in Fallon, Nevada.  For a while there I was likely the only CPA/fighter pilot you were likely to run into.

Currently I’m a captain for Alaska Airlines and my wife of 27 years tells me I have too many hobbies.

 When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer? 

I danced around it for a long time.  I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I’d always been casual about it.  I’d written some short stories, only a few which saw the light of day, and magazine articles published, but the highlight of my writing career prior to Redemption on the River has to be the Christmas letter I write every year, which folks tell me they look forward to.  Born-to-be-a-writer, a la Stephen King, I am not.

 Where did the inspiration for Redemption on the River come from?

The light bulb went on when I realized that it would be best if I would write a book that I would like to read myself.  That made the whole project interesting and fun.

I love historical fiction, so I picked and colorful place and era—the antebellum lower Mississippi River in the heyday of the steamboat—outlined some plot ideas, started in on page one, and the story took off.

 Who is your favorite author?

That’s very hard to decide on, but since you’re twisting my arm and forcing me to choose, I’ll go with Patrick O’Brian, the author of the Aubrey/Maturin series of historical novels.

His absolutely masterful writing is sustained through 20 successive books, the sum total of which George Will described as “One of the great literary achievements of the 20th Century.”

 Do you have writing routine? A special pen, a certain type of music, time limits, e

I do a lot of writing on the job, either longhand in the cockpit or in hotels on layover on a laptop.  I write only when I’ve exhausted every possible way to procrastinate.

 Do you enjoy edits/rewrites, or not?

Yes and no.  I wrote 12 drafts of the novel with multiple iterations of each draft.  I enjoyed seeing the book get better and better, and coming up with creative solutions to make it better, but as it got closer to being finished the creativity quotient subsided and thus did the fun.

There are many historical events tied in at the time period this novel is set in, did you find it  at ll difficult to write a story around these events?

My anchor event for Redemption on the River is President Polk’s announcement of the discovery of gold in California in his State of the Union address in December of 1848.  That had to occur in the last chapter of the novel, so my timeline worked back from that.

Did you do a lot of external research in the process of writing this book? If so, what's the most interesting thing you uncovered in your research?

I did a LOT of research, which I really enjoyed.  The most interesting historical item?  I can’t say because that would be a spoiler for a fun scene in the book.

Which character  was your favorite to write and why?

My protagonist, Silas is the obvious answer to that, because early in the first draft he woke up, developed a mind of his own and started to do what he wanted to do rather than what I had planned for him.

A close second would be George Devol, who is an actual historical figure who befriends Silas in the novel.  It was an interesting challenge to read Mr. Devol’s autobiography and then do my best to write him as he really was.

How do you come up with your character names?

For major and medium characters I roll names around in my head until they feel right.  For minor characters I’ll sometimes use the names of friends and family, and for bit players I’ll occasionally resort to looking through names in a phone book or internet list.

Please tell us a little bit about your journey to publication

Describing that would take more space than we have.  Briefly, I weighed the pros and cons of traditional and independent publication and decided to do it on my own.  I vowed to make Redemption on the River as well-written and well-published as anything available from a major publishing house.

My first reviewer from a book review site was from a traditionally published author, and after reading RotR she offered to put me in touch with her agent, so I like to think I succeeded.

What is the hardest part of being a writer?

Motivation motivation motivation.  That’s what it comes down to for me.

If you don’t have the motivation to sit down at the keyboard and face that screen for days, weeks, months and even years you’ll never write your book.  Everything comes down to motivation.

What is the main thought or feeling that you hope readers of the book will walk away with?

Hmmm.  Silas is a far from perfect hero and he can be downright unlikeable at times, but he always tries to do his best.  He’s a product of his times and environment, but with the help of some good influencers he does some clear thinking and makes great progress as a person.

I hope that most people can see much of that in themselves and others.

What made you decide to write a historical fiction novel rather than another genre?

Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and my goal was to write a book that I’d like to read myself.  I did.

Thanks so much for stopping by today Loren!


kimbacaffeinate said...

I love the setting on this one. Thanks for sharing and what a great interview.

Melissas Midnight Musings said...

Thanks Kimba!