Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Interview with Author Richard Warren Field

Today and tomorrow we're talking with author Richard Warren Field.

Richard Warren Field lives in Southern California with his wife and two children. His recent historical novel, The Swords of Faith, won a Bronze Medal at the 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards in the Historical Novel/Military category. He has also co-written Dying to Heal, a novel of alternative medicine, with chiropractor Dr. Alan Fluger. Recently, two of his essays were published in the Opposing Viewpoints series (see Richard Warren Field's Internet Column for details -http://www.richardwarrenfield.com/int-clmn.htm). More biographical information is available at http://www.richardwarrenfield.com/about.htm.

Welcome to PASTimes. Tell us a little about what you write.

My current release is The Swords of Faith, winner of a Bronze Medal from the 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards. At this point, I find myself drawn to the issue of how religious fanaticism factors into conflicts among humans. So my current projects reflect this. Also, I co-wrote a novel about alternative medicine, Dying to Heal, with my friend, chiropractor Dr. Alan Fluger.

Are you a full-time writer or do you hold a day job? What is the biggest challenge/obstacle you face in protecting your writing time?

Writing income does not support me yet. But I find time to write—I’m not sure I think of it as “protecting” writing time. I would love to have more time to write, as I have a multitude of worthy project ideas to pursue!

What historical time periods interest you the most and how have you immersed yourself in a particular time period?

I’m not really a period specialist. The Swords of Faith involves a titanic religious conflict between Christianity and Islam. The sequel will involve events seventy years later when religion mixes into an even more turbulent age with bizarre permutations and combinations. So if I’m specializing right now, it’s on religious conflict and fanaticism. But that could change, depending on what calls to me.

Introduce us briefly to the main characters in your most recent book.

We follow the stories of four characters in The Swords of Faith. Two of them are iconic historical figures, Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. The other two are fictional: Pierre, a Christian knight, and Rashid, a Muslim trader. The story of Pierre and Rashid intertwines with the events of what history now calls the “Third Crusade.” Their relationship, complicated by their interaction with a beautiful and mysterious young girl, offers the possibility that common people of good will can prosper in the midst of such a polarizing conflict.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the follow-up to The Swords of Faith, The Sultan and the Khan, set about seventy years later. In The Swords of Faith, we have Richard the Lionheart against Saladin, two highly celebrated figures of their times. In The Sultan and the Khan, it is the Mongols against the Mamluks. The sultan of the title is the future mamluk Sultan Baybars. The khan of the title is Il-Khan Hulegu, grandson of Genghis Khan. These may be lesser-known men, but the confrontation between their forces was a more pivotal event for the history of eastern Mediterranean—and the world—than the “Third Crusade,” which ended with a stalemate. (See my blog post about the 750th anniversary of the Battle of Ayn Jalut.

The events of The Sultan and the Khan take place between 1258, starting with the Mongol destruction of Baghdad, and 1260, the decisive battle between Mongols and Mamluks at Ayn Jalut. Crusaders figure in the confrontation. They are a fading presence, factionalized, indecisive—but positioned where their actions have importance to the confrontation. Christianity inserts itself in strange ways. The wife of Hulegu (along with many high-ranking Mongol leaders’ wives) called herself a Christian. We have Nestorian Christians in the region, branded as heretics by the western Christian Catholic Church. All of this mixes together to supply material for a rich story.

A reader once asked me this question, and I thought it was a good one. Is there ever a time when you feel like your work is truly finished and complete?

Come back tomorrow for the answer and the completion of the interview with Richard Warren Field. Leave a comment by this Friday, 8AM EDT, for a chance to win a copy of Richard's novel, The Swords of Faith. Be sure to leave your email in your comment this way: name at domain name dot com. (Readers should know that this is a book about embracing all faiths. Come back tomorrow to learn more.)