HOW I HAPPENED TO WRITE MY FIRST NOVEL
I am J. Kenneth Metz, retired high school science and biology teacher, residing in Frostburg, Maryland, with my wife, Julia.
My mother's sister, Bonnie Lee (Wilson) Graney asked me to research the web in order to find out whether or not a certain "founding father" was related to members of our Russell family. I could find no family tree connection, but I did learn some interesting things about the man's life.
I reported my findings to my grandson, Kade Kahl (grad student at the University of Georgia), suggesting to him that the biography of this "founding father" (I do not name which one, but allow the reader to discover which one) might make an interesting subject for a historical novel.
Kade responded that he was not interested, but that I should write it.
Having never read many novels, let alone having never attempted to write anything like that before, I, nonetheless, found a couple of "how-to" web sites that gave me a template, a systematic methodology, and other cues about under-taking the task.
I followed their advice about constructing an outline, a short synopsis, character descriptions, a longer synopsis, etc. -- advice perhaps that an experienced fiction writer would not need, but which I (trained in science and not in literature) found indispensable.
Because my story's setting was 1801 Richmond, Virginia, I also had to research a variety of subjects new to me, including that era's music, literature, courts, inventions, weapons, politics, churches, fashions, government office holders, language, slave trade, other founding fathers, medicine, forgery laws, religions, higher education, miscegenation laws, Hessians, municipalities, gambling, coinage, alcoholic beverages, diseases, cotton harvesting, prohibitionists, maiden names of historical figures, dances, slave revolts, philosophers, door knockers, menus, trial reports, co-defendants' laws, and much more.
I enjoyed the research and enjoyed writing my first novel.
Selfpublishing.com will be printing Founding Father: A Novel, for sale in January, 2013.