Today I’ve invited Robert Tucker, author of The Revolutionist to Ascroft, eh? to tell us about his new novel.
Welcome Robert. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about your novel.
RT: Two different families escape from the political tyranny of their respective homelands, the Josephsons from Sweden and Matias and Kurt Bauman, brothers from Germany and Austria Hungary, with the aid of a Viennese opera diva, Sophie Augusta Rose, and Jean Guenoc, a former Jesuit priest, family friend and protector and partisan of the French underground.
Their journey brings them to America in the throes of the industrial revolution during the 1890s and early 1900s. Ingrid and Olaf Josephson settle on a small wheat farm in North Central Minnesota to raise their children, Newt and Julie.
Among the Jewish entrepreneurs forced to leave Germany and Austria-Hungary, Matias and Kurt Bauman re-establish their transportation company in Chicago, Illinois
In search of a secret list of insurgent social democrats, the bounty hunter assassin, Luther Baggot, tracks his victims to the American heartland. Following the murder of their mother and father, Newt, Julie, and their friends, Aaron and Beth Peet, hide from the killer in a Northern Minnesota logging camp. Believing the children have taken possession of the list, Luther tracks them down.
Fleeing to a central Minnesota town, the four young people come across a remote business location of Bauman Enterprises and meet Matias Bauman, who had been a friend and former political collaborator with Newt’s and Julie’s parents. He takes them all to Chicago where a different world opens up to them as they are thrust into the turmoil and violence of an urban society and economy careening into the new century.
What prompted you to write about this historical event?
RT: As the grandson of immigrants who fled persecution in Germany and Austria-Hungary and came to America during the early 1900’s, the early history of our country and the rise of the middle-class have always held a fascination for me. The dramatic depiction of fictional characters placed in actual events sharply and realistically bring alive the harsh times and adversity of the multitude of people who sought freedom and a better way of life and demonstrate that only a little over one-hundred years have passed to bring us to where we are as a struggling society today.
The chronology and events of history have captured and held my interest for many reasons, among them being stories that entertain, educate, and inform. Learning about the lives of my immigrant grandparents coming to America from Czechoslovakia during the early 1900s and the lives of my parents during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s provided the initial motivation. Researching and writing historical fiction is a way to learn more about myself and my origins and the social, political, and economic influences related to my generation.
Whether writing historical fiction or non-fiction or fantasy, I’m drawn into the societies and cultures of a particular period that inspire the creation of characters who bring that era to life. Not only do I experience this dynamic in books, but in films, plays, dance, music, and other art forms.
Researching history takes me into the exploration of new territory outside of my own life experience through reading other sources, interviews, travel, and films.
How closely did you stick to the historical facts? If you used them loosely, how did you decide whether to deviate from them?
RT: Historical facts provided the foundation for the novel. I placed my fictional characters and historical figures within the context of what actually happened and adapted scenes, dialogue, and narrative accordingly in supporting the direction of the story.
What research did you do for this book?
RT: The novel features an extensive bibliography.
Although a number of fine books are written from personal experience by authors who lived through those times, much of the historical writing by contemporary authors is dependent on secondary sources. Forays into the past for story material is a rewarding part of the creative process.
Do you use a mixture of historic figures and invented characters in the novel. Which is more difficult to write? Which do you prefer to write and why?
RT: Both fictionally created characters and historic figures are integral to the story. The lives of the characters tend to influence the direction of the plot rather than my imposing the plot on them. Writing invented characters is more difficult than bringing historic figures to life. I prefer the creative satisfaction of writing invented characters.
In an historical novel you must vividly re-create a place and people in a bygone era. How did you bring the place and people you are writing about to life?
RT: I place the characters into planned situations, conflicts, and events and see and experience their world from their eyes. This approach enhances the verisimilitude or authenticity of the characters and their world for me as a writer (walking in their shoes) and ultimately for the reader. Recreating the lives of the characters is a discovery process for me that becomes the foundation of their story and expands to myriad others in the context of historical events at the turn of the twentieth century.
The Revolutionist offers an unusual entertaining, dynamic story populated with colorfully drawn characters, dramatic tension, a sense of immediacy, and a cinematic visual style.
The historical chronology and events capture a reader’s attention for many reasons, among them being a plot that entertains, educates, and informs. In writing this novel, I was drawn into the societies and cultures of a particular period that inspired the creation of characters who bring that era to life.
The Revolutionist will take a reader into the exploration of new territory outside of his or her life.
Personal integrity is a powerful recurring theme.
I think the issues and conflicts in this story are manifested in different societies and cultures every day. Throughout the world and locally all around us, people are struggling against tyranny and injustice to have good meaningful lives in ways that matter to them. I believe readers will identify with the lives of the characters and what happens to them.
There often seems to be more scope in historical novels for male characters rather than female characters. Do you prefer to write one sex or the other. And, if so, why?
RT: Although the majority of my protagonists in my books are female, I’m comfortable writing about both male and female characters. I find that female characters offer greater psychological complexity than established male archetypes, however. There are many new books of historical fiction being published featuring female characters.
Thanks for answering my questions in such interesting detail, Robert, and good luck with your new novel.
About Robert Tucker: Rob is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara and received his graduate degree in communications from the University of California, Los Angeles.
He worked as a business and management consultant to advertising, corporate communications, and media production companies as well as many others. Now retired, he resides with his wife in Southern California where he devotes much of his time to writing.
He is a recipient of the Samuel Goldwyn and Donald Davis Literary Awards. An affinity for family and the astute observation of generational interaction pervade his novels.
His works are literary and genre upmarket fiction that address the nature and importance of personal integrity.