Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Guest post by Bob O'Connor

Today we have a guest post by Bob O'Connor, who is currently touring with Walker Author Tours to promote his novel A House Divided Against Itself. Enjoy, and be sure to check out his book.

When you are a historical fiction writer, as I am, it is incredibly important that your writing is believable. When I write about the Civil War, a popular subject, I need to make sure my facts are right.
You could say “facts” aren’t important in writing fiction; I would disagree. If you don’t know, for instance, if General Robert E. Lee is right or left handed, you had better not include that in your story. Because someone will know.
I am unusual in that I use photographs, battle maps, and newspaper drawings in my book A House Divided Against Itself. The four characters the book follows were all real people who grew up in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I have included a photograph of each one.
As part of the story, I mention Jack Skelly’s brother Daniel as having received a provisional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. I include in my book a copy of the actual appointment, signed by Edward Stanton, Secretary of War, to show you that the event really happened.

I talk throughout the book of Wesley Culp’s stature. He was five feet tall. I tell you that his arm was so short that the stock of his gun had to be cut off so his finger could reach the trigger. And that he carved his name in the stock of the gun to help identify that it was his.

I indicate both times when he was captured that he paid a Union guard to look after his firearm because no one else could fire it.

The more I can get you to buy into the actual facts within the story, the more I can trick you into believing those things that I fabricate.

A House Divided Against Itself is available on line at www.boboconnorbooks.com or at amazon.com. It is also available on all e-book formats.


  1. Love your last sentence - it really says it all. I am currently working on a historical piece of fiction set during the Gold Rush and the research takes almost as much time as the actual writing.

    1. That is exactly the case with me. Some people think historical fiction writers don't have to do any research because we make it all up. Not true at all. As you well know. Thanks for following the tour.

  2. Bob, I admire your motivation of using actual documents and making them interesting -- and therefore accessible -- very much. You began with the telegraphs of the B & O Railroad about the raid at Harpers Ferry by John Brown. I knew these documents, and know you are historically correct in your fiction.

    I do trust your judgement and especially your love for documents, and for history. I especially enjoyed your blog post today. With you on your tour from California. Jean

  3. Bob, The amount of research you do to write historical fiction is very impressive. It makes the reader wonder which parts are the truth, but in reality, when one is reading your books, it all seems so true! That is a gift that you have: to weave such a story that the reader gets totally immersed in the characters! Thank you and keep writing!

  4. Hello, Bob! You are so right about getting your facts straight. Someone will know the truth if you try to fudge and there are many readers who aren't shy to point it out to you. Great post!