Welcome Edward Rickford, author of the historical novels, The Serpent and the Eagle and most recently, The Bend of the River.
Tell our readers about your new historical fiction.
Bend of the River is an exciting historical novel that recounts a fascinating expedition which toppled a seemingly invincible hegemon, established the first European foothold in all the Americas, and helped usher in the era of world trade.
What makes your book unique?
I think my book stands out from other books in the same genre because of its subject matter. Most historical novels deal with the European theatre of WWII. It’s a fascinating period of history, but it has also been covered at length in fiction. I write about a period of history that has received far less attention in popular culture, but the great benefit of that is I get to write something that feels fresh and original. Readers who like historical fiction with diverse viewpoints will find much to appreciate in The Bend of the River, as will readers who simply want to gain a better understanding of the European colonization of the Americas.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I hope readers get a better sense of the motivations of the people involved with the so-called “Conquest of The New World.”
What qualifies you to write this book?
To write about something, you must be passionately interested in the subject matter. I wrote my undergraduate thesis on Cortes 1519 expedition to pre-Hispanic Mexico and have traveled to Mexico repeatedly to help research this novel. In addition to this, I have consulted dozens of primary and secondary sources. I have been researching the subject for years and I still find myself very engaged by the material.
How did you prepare to write this book?
I read a lot and then re-read a lot. It’s a good thing so many books are digital these days because I would have run out of space on my bookshelf a long time ago otherwise.
What challenges did you have to overcome?
One of my biggest challenges was deciding which source I would listen to. Often times, the primary sources and the secondary sources would offer very different interpretations of the exact same incident. In a non-fiction book, an author can present all the differing interpretations and then let the reader decide which one is the most plausible. In historical fiction, an author has to decide which interpretation makes the most sense and then hope readers will see it that same way too. It’s a big responsibility and it’s one I take very seriously.
What advice do you have for those who want to write on a similar topic?
I would advise authors to consult the newest secondary sources. Technically, newer works have gone through less of a peer review process than older works but I think the benefits are more than worth it. Not only do newer secondary sources tend to cite a greater diversity of primary sources, they also can make use of newer information from a variety of other disciplines.
I would also recommend the library as a research aid. My library card probably saved me thousands of dollars over the years and I do not think I would have been able to write the Tenochtitlan Trilogy without it.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Like most writers, I really like to read and I can often be found with my head buried in a book. I also enjoy traveling quite a bit which ties in nicely with my interest in history. Before the pandemic, I would often get together with friends for poker and movies, but I can’t do that as much these days. When I was younger, I used to run a lot and considering how much time I spend cooped up inside these days, I may take up that habit again.