Saturday, November 04, 2006

Newly discovered writers

They say that when you are interested in a particular topic, you suddenly see it every where around you. It was there all along, you are just now noticing it.

The same can be said for writers.

Here are two new writers I recently discovered who are very good.

New Writer # 1: Lalita Tademy, a Silicon Valley hot shot like my author friend Keith Raffel, became obsessed with her family history. She quit her job as a VP at Sun Microsystems and wrote the 4 generation saga of her Louisiana family, Cane River. It's set in the Cane River, a side channel of the Red River north of Alexandria and south of Natchitoches.

A couple of interesting things about Ms. Tademy. First, like Keith Raffel, she attended a UC Berkely Extension Course in Writing. They must be doing something right in that class ! And second, her latest novel -- scheduled for publication in January 2007 -- is titled Red River. That's right. Red River, not The Red River, the title for the second book in my Trans-Mississippi Trilogy.

The good news, her novel focuses on the Colfax Massacre of 1873, not the Red River Campaign of 1864. But still, I imagine I will have to come up with another title for my book. Hmmmm. I'm thinking Bailey's Dam might work. Any ideas out there ?

New Writer # 2: Ralph Peters, a retired lieutenant colonel in the US Army, writing under the nom-de-plume of Owen Parry, has a Civil War mystery series featuring Union Major Abel Jones, a Welshman and a detective. His latest, The Rebels of Babylon, is set in 1863 New Orleans, and we see several characters in Fort Desperate in this mystery, including Nathaniel Banks.


CaptainBoone said...

Michael, Apparently, Red River is a popular title for books. There was a "Red River" that came out in 2003, by P. G. Nagle, which was a historical fiction account of the Red River Campaign. Now there's the Tademy "Red River", featuring the Colfax Riot. So maybe the "Bailey's Dam" title would be preferred.
You're not going to make Joseph Bailey a larger-than-life hero, are you? If you're considering it, I suggest you read "Among the Cotton Thieves," by Bacon, for some insight into the man by one who knew him personally. If you read that, along with Uri Pearsall's account of the building of the dam, you'll get an entirely new perspective on Bailey.

Michael Patrick Leahy said...

Captain Boone

Thanks for the reference to the Nagle book. I definitely need to read that. Didn't know it was out there.

And thanks also for the reference to the Bacon book. I have other accounts that are not complimentary of Bailey's character, especially as it relates to his attitude towards blacks.

So, as a character, he remains somewhat undefined.

Hard not to make him central to the book, though, since his engineering feat saved the Union Army !

CaptainBoone said...

"since his engineering feat saved the Union Army!"

But was it HIS engineering feat? Or did he just take the credit for it? Uri Pearsall, the officer in charge of the Colored Troops who actually built the dam, was indignant that Bailey got all the credit. The wing dams were Pearsall's idea, and they eventually had to be built in spite of Bailey's original attempt to build the dam without them. Pearsall may be one of the Union's unrecognized heroes, and Bailey may be one of those people who build themselves up on the backs of their subordinates.

Wow, what an opportunity for a sub-plot!

And, yes, Bailey's treatment of the black engineer troops would make Simon Legree look like Martin Luther King.

Michael Patrick Leahy said...

Captain Boone,

You have the advantage of me, sir ! ( I presume it's sir.)

You obviously know a great deal about this topic, and the story line you suggest is terrific.

I will brush up on Uri Pearsall and his role in building the dam.

So how is it you come about such great knowledge of this campaign, and how did you stumble across my modest little blog here ?

Email me at so I can learn more about your work in this area.

Thanks !