Author Interview: William Gordon
I would like to introduce Author William Gordon, the winner of the BRAG Medallion for the book, “Requiem.”
Read the entire interview at:
William, congrats on winning the B.R.A.G. Medallion for your book, “Requiem”, please tell us about your story.
Requiem is the first in a five-part saga tracing the fortunes of a family from the Victorian age until the present day. Under the umbrella title Byland Crescent each book in the saga will concentrate on a successive generation. The story tells of Albert Cowgill’s rise from poverty in the squalid slums of Bradford in West Yorkshire, to become one of the leading figures in the textile industry. When he and his family move into Byland Crescent in the genteel seaside resort of Scarborough, it seems as if they have it all, and that their contentment will be endless. However, betrayed sometimes by their own passionate nature and at other times affected by events they cannot control, their lives are turned upside down, and the onset of World War 1 signals the requiem for a lost generation.
You write about a daunting time in history, what were some of the research involved? Did you discover anything you didn’t already know?
I am conscious that when writing historical fiction, the need for accuracy in relating factual events is crucial, so a lot of time was spent in research – and in checking dates. I may know when a particular event took place, but that doesn’t mean my fingers will transcribe it accurately. The research that was most rewarding and necessary included the assassination in Sarajevo and the events leading up to it that led to the outbreak of World War I. What I didn’t begin to comprehend was the sheer scale of the casualties during those four years. When I read the bare statistics I was both shocked and appalled by them. Nor did I appreciate how quickly it all began. Bearing in mind that in 1914 there were no computers, internet or email, no radio or TV and that very few people had telephones, for the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife on June 28th to lead to the whole of Europe being at war by July 28th led me to the belief that nobody was prepared to negotiate. In other words they were spoiling for a fight.
What there a particular scene you found a challenge to write?
The war scenes were the most difficult and challenging part of the book to write. The more research I did, the angrier I became, both with the headlong plunge into war and the senseless slaughter that ensued. That slaughter, of millions of young men (and women) more often than not achieved absolutely nothing. I was also sickened by the increasingly brutal tactics adopted by both sides, which was signified by the concept of ‘total war’. That meant that men, women and children, be they combatants or civilians, are to be considered legitimate targets. I believe my sense of anger is reflected in the passages I wrote about this, thinly disguised as sarcasm.
Who or what inspired you to write this story?
Byland Crescent was inspired by the sight of a beautiful crescent of fine, stone-built Victorian terraced houses in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. As I looked at them, I wondered what stories those houses could tell about the people who have lived there over the years. The original concept was to write a story about each house, but I got so involved with the lives and loves of the inhabitants of No.1 that I stayed with them. However, the neighbours do enter the story from time to time, and the actions of one of them have a pivotal impact on the outcome of book 5, Reunion.
How did you discover BRAG?
I found out about BRAG via the medium of social networking. Considering the network I was on, you could say that a little bird told me! I read a message congratulating Helen Hollick on one of her titles being honoured with a Medallion and decided to investigate. I liked what I discovered and put Requiem forward for consideration.