Tell us a little bit about your writing and educational background
Mr. Harding: Master’s Degree in Education. Adjunct professor of writing. Lifelong writer. I write a great deal of historical fiction. Much of the effort is spent in research to insure the characters & events are true to the time period and history. The writing is a true journey as I seldom utilize an outline – rather, I craft rich characters and place them on the fringe of an actual event then eavesdrop and write what happens to them and what their conversations are.
What is your book about?
Mr. Harding: Losing St. Christopher is Book Two in a trilogy surrounding the Cherokee Nation. The 1st installment, Cherokee Talisman, covered the early colonial days (1775-1820). Losing St. Christopher covers the period and events leading up to and including the infamous Trail of Tears (1838). The central characters, Totsuhwa, the Cherokee shaman, and his son, Chancellor, manage the conflicts of assimilation with whites in different ways. Totsuhwa sees the whites as invaders and terrorists. His son sees integration with white society as the only way to save the Cherokee way of life. He takes a white bride and the prejudice begins to flows in both directions. Conflicts between governments and cultures reach into the family and become personal. When Totsuhwa’s only grandchild is forced onto the Trail of Tears, attitudes must change, hearts will break, and people will die.
Why should readers read your book?
Mr. Harding: To discover something unique called “edu-tainment.” Losing St. Christopher unfolds a dark period of American history that has seldom been explored. The ‘American Holocaust’ was a government sponsored systematic annihilation of the American Indian that reached its zenith on the Cherokee’s Trail of Tears forced march. The story relays the truths about the cause and the impact on one family and in doing so addresses the devastation to a Nation.
Did you have any obstacles while writing this book? What were they?
Mr. Harding: The exacting nature of the research. Many actual people come and go in Losing St. Christopher as the family’s story intertwines with history. Accuracy is a mandate in the genre. Nothing will turn a discerning reader away quicker than an error in history. The challenge of writing historical fiction is to weave that history into an entertaining story with the drama, conflict, and depth of characters readers demand. The process is very taxing and time consuming.
Is this the first book you have ever had published? If not, please share with us what other books you have previously had published.
Mr. Harding: This is my 4th. How Angels Die, (2011) a WWII piece centered on two sisters and their involvement in the French Resistance, continues to have strong sales and is routinely in the Top 20 in France; Cherokee Talisman, (2012) the prequel to the current release w/ foreword penned by Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Bill John Baker; The Cats of Savone: Eight Short Novels for Busy People, (2013) has been wonderfully received and contains the novella, St. Alden’s, which has just been re-written as a feature length screenplay.
Are you working on any projects right now? Tell us about your upcoming book.
Mr. Harding: The New Illuminati, will be published in the fall of 2014. A break from historical fiction, the story is contemporary and follows several close friends who have had enough of the headlines that rip across network news. They ban together to use their technology expertise to wreak havoc with corrupt politicos. But when viruses & drained bank accounts aren’t enough, their cyber attacks turn physical and someone is going to get hurt. Bad. With many layers and conflicted characters, the fodder comes right from our daily news cycles.
What is your advice for writers wanting to turn authors out there?
Mr. Harding: Read the back cover of my book, The Cats of Savone. I’m not pushing a sale, but that book evolved from my teaching of writing classes on the collegiate level. Writing short stories is the months of low mileage training before the marathon (the novel). Practicing the craft of story telling in a short story is the repetition of scales on the piano, years before the recital (the novel). Write. Practice. Strengthen the writing “muscles” – strengthen your craft (characters, depth, flow, layering, plot, etc.)
What made you become a writer?
Mr. Harding: Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone and The Night Gallery. His teleplay’s were at times frightening, but within that aspect, they had layers and layers of character development and story crammed into 20 mins. When I discovered his 1st published collection of short stories/teleplays, I read the words off the pages! Then started writing my own (sci-fi Sterling-rip offs!). When I created my first believable character (though the story was definitely UN-believable), I was hooked.
Who is your favorite author and why?
Mr. Harding: John Steinbeck. He wastes no words. Every sentence propels at least one of several layers in the story ahead. That is what makes a reader turn the page. There is no fluff or filler in a Steinbeck piece. He’s a master craftsman.
Where can we find you?
For More of Michelle's Articles:
Phoenix Authors Examiner