Across the Great Divide #2
Where do you go when home is no longer an option?
The guns of the Civil War have ceased firing, and the shots are but an echo… yet the war rages on, deep inside Will Crump’s soul. His “soldier’s heart” is searching for peace, and in that quest Will joins the westward movement, setting his path on a collision course with adventure, loss, and love.
The Westward Expansion floods the sacred, untouched lands with immigrants, bringing conflict to the Shoshone, Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. Amidst the chaos Will finds safety in the shadow of the US Army, but the army brings battle-hardened troops into Red Cloud’s War, pulling Will into a tornado of conflict. Broken treaties and promises leave both sides searching for answers. Will’s search leads him to a battle for survival, and there he finds a love that could change him forever.
Dove, a young Shoshone woman, is a survivor of the Bear Creek Massacre. After being kidnapped and escaping from the Cheyenne, she joins Will’s search, seeking where she belongs. Dove longs for more than the restricted role placed on women in her tribe. If she can learn to trust a white man, he just might help her find home… and hope.
Together, Will and Dove must search for understanding, and reach Across the Great Divide.
- When and where do you prefer to write?
I have a “writing cave” upstairs at our house, about 14 feet by 20 feet, lined with stone at one end. My “cave” has resource books, an easy chair, a desk, refrigerator, coffee pot, big screen TV (rarely used), and contains several computers along with my violin. When I feel stuck on a scene, I stop and play the violin for a while. Since I am “retired” (meaning I write full time), I’m involved in researching, writing, or reading most days. My favorite time to write is from three to seven AM several days a week.
- Do you need peace and quiet when you are writing?
Yes, I much prefer peace and quiet. Occasionally I will listen to Bach or Mozart, but dead silence is the usual mode. I grew used to it during my days as a software engineer and find that it still helps to concentrate and not forget details.
When editing, I often listen to the text read aloud, which helps to catch errors. Very occasionally editing demands Casting Crowns, Led Zeppelin, or Emerson, Lake, and Palmer music.
- If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
I suppose most people would pick someone famous – but I’d prefer to work with someone that I feel would be a good team member. I’d probably choose either Paula Scott or Sophie Schiller, both HNS members and veterans of several books. Paula and Sophie are good book friends that I’ve conversed with online and shared writing journeys. If I were choosing someone famous, it might be Kate Quinn or Karen Kingsbury – I adore Kate’s books, though I don’t know her personally. I met Karen K. once, and she was a delight to talk to about her process.
- Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
I used to be involved in community theatre and almost had a screen test when I was a child (Mom prevented it). I’ve always thought portraying villains was more interesting than being the hero. If not the villain, then a very troubled hero, like Billy in Carousel. As long as the “bad one” isn’t just a stereotype, I’d rather be “the bad one.” It gives you more problems to solve and illustrate.
- Who would you like/have liked to interview?
That’s a tough one because there are so many people I’d love to have interviewed. My main character, Will Crump, tops the list since he was a real person. I knew his granddaughter, but there are many questions I’d like to ask. Abraham Lincoln, William Still, Jim Bridger, and Chief Washakie of the Shoshone are a few others.
Caption: Will Crump, January 1940 shortly before his death. Used by permission of Crump family. Will’s great grandniece (pictured) sent it to me.
- Where can I find you when you are reading?
That would be just about everywhere! I read on my phone whenever I have to wait for someone. I read in my “cave”. I read in bed before going to sleep. I listen to audiobooks when driving.
- Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
Spending time with my wife or grandkids, mostly. My wife loves to be outdoors, and occasionally indulges me with historical trips. I’m learning to swim in my old age and go to the YMCA a few times a week. I also do woodworking projects, and have a shop in a little shed by our house. Sadly, I had to give up my avocation of riding horses when we moved to Kansas a few years ago due to time constraints. And then there’s the time I spend working on the Historical Novel Society as part of the board.
- What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
Finally! That’s probably the main thought. Books are like raising children – a lot of learning, patience, labor, frustration, and joy. It’s like watching the graduation and launching your child into the world.
- How do you come up with a title for your book?
I like simple titles and reflect the theme of the book. For Clouds of War I felt that encapsulated what the book was about, dealing with the issues that led to the Civil War, and then going through the war itself, how it affected families. The Search sums up the whole book in a word, as Will searches for God, himself, peace, and meaning. Dove is involved in her search, as she tries to understand how to reconcile her desires and personality with the customs of her people, her relationship with Will, and white society. I’ve also learned the importance of checking to assure that my title is unique!
- How do you pick a cover for your book?
I take a poll among beta readers and friends. Harper Collins designed the cover for Clouds of War and took my original concept of crossed flags, adding the divided family on each side. They offered three different color palettes for the same design, and I asked my beta readers and local library. The library does a weekly cover commentary on new books online. The reality is that people do choose books by their covers, and most readers are women – I’m not one, so I look for outside input. Jenny Quinlan, Chairperson of HNS, and head of historicalfictionbookcovers.com designed the cover for The Search. Jenny is well known in the community for her gorgeous cover designs. She presented me with ten different choices, not just color variations, but completely different covers. After taking a poll among beta readers, we combined aspects of two of them for the final cover.
Thank you, Michael L. Ross and The Coffee Pot Book Club
About the Author
Best-selling author Michael Ross is a lover of history and great stories. He’s a retired software engineer turned author, with three children and five grandchildren, living in Newton, Kansas with his wife of forty years. He was born in Lubbock, Texas, and still loves Texas. The main character of “Across the Great Divide”, William Dorsey Crump, is one of the founders of Lubbock and Shallowater, Texas. Michael knew Will’s granddaughter when he was a child. He has written a scholarly article on Will Crump for the Texas Historical Society, published in the Handbook of Texas Online, and has sold short stories in the past. This is his first novel and the first in the Across the Great Divide series, now an Amazon bestseller. Michael attended Rice University as an undergraduate, and Portland State University for his graduate degree. He has degrees in computer science, software engineering, and German. In his spare time, Michael loves to go fishing, riding horses, and play with his grandchildren, who are currently all under six years old. He sees many parallels between the time of the Civil War and our divided nation of today. Sanctuary cities, immigration, arguments around the holiday table, threats of secession – all are nothing new. Sometimes, to understand the present, you have to look at the past- and reach Across the Great Divide.
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