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Exclusive Interview with Author Timothy L. O’Brien: The Lincoln Conspiracy

Yesterday, I reviewed The Lincoln Conspiracy by Timothy L. O’Brien and loved it: click HERE to read review and don’t forget to enter the giveaway! Watching a Journalist use those talents researching and writing to pen a creative novel, seeped also in another of my loves–history, was absolutely inspiring. Today, I had the honor of interviewing O’Brien. For me as a writer, he’s one of my role-models. A Pulitizer Prize winning Journalist and Editor. A trail-blazer for The Huffington Post. And now an author of a historical novel. I hope this interview helps all my readers get more of a feel for the book, why he wrote it, how he wrote it, and what is in store for the future! Comment and let him know what you think!

Interview~Timothy L. O’Brien, author of The Lincoln Conspiracy

Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! We have been looking forward to this interview about your new release, The Lincoln Conspiracy, and learning about you and your writing.

Q:  With a Journalism degree myself, I was intrigued first by the fact that you are an award-winning Journalist and Editor. How did your Journalistic side propel you along with this novel?

A: I was pretty relentless about the fact pattern surrounding the Lincoln assassination, Erin, and that’s certainly part of the journalism well I dipped into – I did quite a bit of reporting and research into Washington and New York in the 1850s and 1860s, as well as research about prominent figures such as Mary Todd Lincoln, Alexander Gardner, Allan Pinkerton, and others.

Q:  What gave you the desire to write a book about Abraham Lincoln? Presidential history? Conspiracy theories? Economics of the United States at the time?  Which most interested you and how did that play into your angle for the novel?

A: I’ve been a Lincoln buff since I was about ten years old. My father’s uncle gave me Sandburg’s Lincoln biography as a birthday present and I just became fixated on Lincoln after that. Like many others, I was fascinated by Lincoln as a person and as a historical figure. But there was little I felt I could add to the understanding about the period in which he lived through non-fiction. A novel – particularly a novel centered around his assassination and the myriad new forces shaping post-Civil War Society – felt like a meaningful way in for readers. I hope The Lincoln Assassination also works as a great mystery yarn.

Q:  What do want readers to take away most from this book? A suspenseful novel based on a very political time in U.S. History or something much deeper?

A: I hope they take away a deeper appreciation for what a wild, revolutionary time it was in Lincoln’s era and how fascinating the men and women of that time were. What most of us consider to be “modern” has its roots in that period. I also hope that real lovers of historical fiction and mysteries simply enjoy the tale itself.

Q:  What do you think is spurring the rush of historical conspiracy and intrigue novels? How many of them are based on truth?

A:  Novels allow you to probe character and intent, something that non-fiction has less leeway around. Novels also allow you to do creative things with the writing that non-fiction usually doesn’t allow, so that’s another reason novels are such great venues for a different form of historical understanding. I don’t know enough about the market to know if there’s a rush now or not – I just worked on this because I loved it and felt I could pull readers into the era.

Q:  How long did it take to finish The Lincoln Conspiracy?

A: I took five years, largely because I have a very consuming day job! The research for this novel also took a great deal of time.

Q:  What were your biggest hurdles along the way? Your biggest celebrations?

A: The biggest hurdle was time management – really carving out time to steep myself consistently in the writing and in the creative space I needed for the book. But I guess that’s nothing new! Seeing The Lincoln Conspiracy published has been the biggest celebration so far.

Q: Do you have plans for another novel? If so, please give us details!

A: This is the first in a multi-part series about Temple McFadden and his wife, Fiona. The next book will be set largely in New York, where they will encounter Maestro once again, but Washington will never be far from their thoughts or actions.

Q: How can readers best get in contact with you?

A: My website is an easy way to reach me: http://www.timothylobrien.com

Thank you very much for spending some time here on my blog! Wish you the very best of luck with your book and future endeavors.

Author Bio~Timothy L. O’Brien (pictured above)

Timothy L. O’Brien is the Executive Editor of The Huffington Post, where he edited the 2012 Pulitzer Prize–winning series about wounded war veterans, “Beyond the Battlefield.” Previously, he was an editor and reporter at The New York Times. There, he helped to lead a team of Times reporters that was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in Public Service in 2009 for coverage of the financial crisis. O’Brien, a graduate of Georgetown University, holds three master’s degrees — in US History,Business and Journalism — all from Columbia University. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife and two children.

 About the Book~The Lincoln Conspiracy

Publication Date: September 18, 2012 | Ballantine Books | 368p

DESCRIPTION: A nation shattered by its president’s murder. Two diaries that reveal the true scope of an American conspiracy. A detective determined to bring the truth to light, no matter what it costs him

From award-winning journalist Timothy L. O’Brien comes a gripping historical thriller that poses a provocative question: What if the plot to assassinate President Lincoln was wider and more sinister than we ever imagined?

In late spring of 1865, as America mourns the death of its leader, Washington, D.C., police detective Temple McFadden makes a startling discovery. Strapped to the body of a dead man at the B&O Railroad station are two diaries, two documents that together reveal the true depth of the Lincoln conspiracy. Securing the diaries will put Temple’s life in jeopardy—and will endanger the fragile peace of a nation still torn by war.

Temple’s quest to bring the conspirators to justice takes him on a perilous journey through the gaslit streets of the Civil War–era capital, into bawdy houses and back alleys where ruthless enemies await him in every shadowed corner. Aided by an underground network of friends—and by his wife, Fiona, a nurse who possesses a formidable arsenal of medicinal potions—Temple must stay one step ahead of Lafayette Baker, head of the Union Army’s spy service. Along the way, he’ll run from or rely on Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s fearsome secretary of war; the legendary Scottish spymaster Allan Pinkerton; abolitionist Sojourner Truth; the photographer Alexander Gardner; and many others.

Bristling with twists and building to a climax that will leave readers gasping, The Lincoln Conspiracy offers a riveting new account of what truly motivated the assassination of one of America’s most beloved presidents—and who participated in the plot to derail the train of liberty that Lincoln set in motion.

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On Starting to Write My First Children’s Series–Outline on My Book Idea!

I have put my mind to the goal of writing my first children’s book this year. I’ve been waiting for years it seems for just the right idea to pop into my head. Something that would just take off in my mind. Initially, I always thought it would be a children’s picture book. I think that mostly because not only do I love words and books, I also love art and the essence of both that picture books bring. In fact, as an adult, I like to collect children’s books for myself as well as my children. Beautiful words and images in a book are like little art gallerys to me. I wanted the pictures to come to life in my mind, and then I thought maybe the story would come.

My mind tends to race in many different directions, not only with all the demands of life—kids, home, several start-up businesses, health, etc.– but with ideas too! Creative juices!  It just became real to me one day towards the end of last year as I was watching my girls, ages 7 and 3. I realized how often they play together, or maybe even put up with each other, but at the same time how opposite they really are. I spent time listening to their conversations, sometimes laughing, sometimes amazed, sometimes it was upsetting, but I really saw how different their interests are and how unique it makes each of them. And it came to me, I could write a book stemming loosely from their relationship.  A 7 year old girl who is girly, yet likes sparkly skulls,black,  jeans, art, mystery, pop songs, and is super subdued unless spiked by her sister compared to a girl age 3 who is the total princess package including pink and more pink, dresses, dance and ballet, classical music and song who really lives oblivious to anything happening around her. Basically no fear while her older sister is full of questions and concerns. 

So I have come up with the name Monster Princess and Little Diva because it seems to fitting to me. I ran it past my older daughter and she thought it sounded just like them and is very excited. So I am wondering what kind of trouble I might get them both into with a picture book, which I still want to start with because of the art element. I can just SEE the characters in my head, you know?  I’m having the most issues with getting this one started, even with less words, because I don’t know where to have it go in short amount of text. I see way far into the future already with these books.  I am a writer than tends to overwrite and am very detailed. I am thinking that chapter books for ages 7-9 would be great. I have this great idea to encompass my love of history and adventure and the fantastical genre in the books and with different adventures would come different titles. My very rough outline includes the girls having to move with their single mother to a new town and/or state in New England. In doing some reseach, Salem, Mass. is the frontrunner due to its overwhelming amount of history and the fact that the Peabody Essex Museum, a grand art and history museum, is located there. I’d like their mom to be a single mom who is an artist, and possibly getting a job at the museum while also pursuing her art or fine art photography at the local downtown scene.  Mom would have a studio at home and be very busy setting up this new life, and the girls would spend a lot of time alone together squabbling and who knows what. They may head off for a walk and end up at a old building or house, with a special key and/or door that opens and turns into an adventure or chaotic happening. The 7 year old would be the curious one, and also most fearful, while the 3 year old would be following along behind doing ballet piroettes and singing, totally not even seeing what is happening around her. The banter between them might be quite funny. I am also currently reseaching names for the two of them, based on maybe the early 1500 or 1600s. 

 I am nervous but hopeful that this initial set-up in my brain will take me somewhere further and I can write an initial picture book and chapter book by the end of 2011. I really need support and feedback since this is my first book. I welcome comments at any time and I hope to keep everyone updated using my blog! Please let me know what you think!

*Please remember that now that my ideas are down on paper, in several places, these are copyrighted and I really hope you don’t steal them. Especially since they are loosely based on my girls.

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