“Billy Battles is definitely not in Kansas anymore.”
As Book 2 of the Finding Billy Battles trilogy opens, Billy is far from his Kansas roots–and his improbable journeys are just beginning. He is aboard an ocean liner sailing to the Mysterious East (Hong Kong, French Indochina, and the Philippines), among other places.
The year is 1894 and aboard the S S China Billy meets a mysterious, dazzling, and possibly dangerous German Baroness, locked horns with malevolent agents of the German government, and battled ferocious Chinese and Malay pirates in the South China Sea. Later, he is inadvertently embroiled in the bloody anti-French insurgency in Indochina-which quite possibly makes him the first American combatant in a country that eventually will become Vietnam.
Later, in the Philippines, he is thrust into the Spanish-American War and the anti-American insurgency that follows. But Billy’s troubles are just beginning. As the 19th-century ends and the 20th century begins, he finds himself entangled with political opportunists, spies, revolutionaries and an assortment of malevolent and dubious characters of both sexes. How will Billy handle those people and the challenges they present?
Targeted Age Group:: All
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
From all my foreign travels as a journalist for 25years for The Chicago Tribune I was always fascinated by what life was like there in the 19th Century when the state was still pretty wild. At the same time, I spent a lot of time in the Far East as a foreign correspondent and I was equally intrigued by what life must have been like in the 19th Century colonial period in places like French Indochina, The Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc. Then one day I got the idea to blend the two using a character from 19th Century Kansas who goes to the Far East in search of himself. I also use many of the real historical sites I have actually been to or visited weaved throughout the trilogy.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
In telling the saga of Billy Battles, I have mined my family's history and the stories I heard various family members tell while I was growing up in my native state of Kansas, a place rife with a rich Native American and immigrant history. It is, and was, a place filled with fascinating characters-especially those men and women of the past who worked so hard to transform what people once called the Great American Desert into one of the most productive regions on the planet.
I have also attempted to stay true to the vernacular of the time and place, especially late nineteenth-century Kansas. The reader will notice, therefore, a difference in the tone, mood, and colloquial language that Billy Battles uses to tell his story from the way a contemporary individual might speak. Fortunately, I can recall with reasonable accuracy the way relatives, most now deceased, spoke and behaved as I was reaching adulthood in Kansas.
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