Shelf Unbound: What fueled your interest in the Civil War?
J. Arthur Moore: When I was in high school my parents got a monthly magazine, Saturday Evening Post. The April 30, 1960, issue carried a story by Ray Bradbury, “Drummer Boy of Shiloh.” I had been to Gettysburg and was aware of the war but had not yet delved into it that much. The story was a conversation between a drummer boy and a general on the eve of battle—nicely done, but no action. I determined that I could do a better job and started to write my own story. Over the next three years I worked on it on and off and then took a notebook and laid out a story outline. Realizing I didn’t have the knowledge to create a historically accurate story, I set it aside and told the story as an oral presentation at camping trip campfires before finally picking up the story decades later and writing a novel.
Shelf Unbound: Tell us about your main character, Duane Kinkade.
Moore: I liked the sound of the name and used it. Active in the Boy Scouts at the time, I worked with a number of kids and think one, in particular, may have influenced the creation of the character, an eleven-year-old mischievous boy of brown hair and brown eyes. He was a good kid full of energy and adventure, enjoyed camping and the outdoors, and was kind and considerate of others. The location for the Kinkade farm was selected using a period map of the United States that was geographic as well as labeled for historic events. Some of the events came from incidents in my own life. The journey by riverboat was influenced by Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi and the use of the historic map.
Shelf Unbound: You’re also a photographer and have illustrated your books with your own photos. Has photogrpahy taught you anything about storytelling?
Moore: I think that being a photographer has encouraged me to use descriptive writing within my stories to create photographic images in the reader’s mind and that the presence of photography within the book provides visual prompts that aid in that process.