Zachary Webster was an innocent Maine farm boy before becoming a sharpshooter, but the violence of the Civil War battlefields has turned him into a natural killer. While home on his unit’s month-long furlough, he murders the man he believes has stolen his beloved. In doing so, he sets into motion three intensely dark journeys—his own as a soldier returning to a brutal and hopeless war; his sweetheart’s as she seeks absolution; and the brother of the murdered man, whose quest for revenge propels him into the most violent of worlds. When the three find each other amid the chaos and brutality of the Battle of the Wilderness, they’re faced with figuring out if they are tempered enough from their own redemptive ordeals to face whatever uncertain future awaits them after the bloody fighting is over.
Targeted Age Group:: 18-100
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I am a volunteer at the history museum on our island. The main hall of our building has a gallery of old framed photos of the veterans of the Civil War who built the building as a retreat center in 1888. It is a bit haunting to have them all looking down at us, but the thought began to creep into my head about the fact that these young men engaged in the horrors of warfare, yet came home to Maine to be the politicians, laborers, and fishermen again. I started to wonder how they shed the horrors they'd seen or perpetrated during their service. After all, the modern wars have left so many scars upon the men and women who've fought in them – war does that – yet these soldiers came from an era in which those kinds of wounds were not recognized or acknowledged. How?
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I wanted to show the devastation that war causes – to its willing and unwilling participants. As soon as I discovered that there was a unit of sharpshooters from Maine, I was intrigued by the idea of the main character being one. After I established that he would be too good at the gory aspects of the service, I needed some victims who would turn out to be more than just that.
As he watched the animal slog its way toward the opening, Webster cleared his mind. He could not think about Tilden and the crows anymore. He could not think about how his father’s body was currently in its coffin in the family barn waiting for the ground to thaw enough to dig his grave. He could not think about his need to convince his younger brother, Elijah, not to enlist in the war. He especially could not think about how strangely his beloved Catherine was acting toward him, nor the rumors swirling about her and Jonathan Stiller. Even the fact that his month-long furlough would be over in three days and he would be headed back to the fighting could not distract him—he needed to think about the moose and the moose alone.
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