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Monday, May 6, 2013

The Prize

Hello, and welcome to Lars Hedbor's blog tour. Lars is the author of the Prize a young adult novel about the Revolutionary War in Vermont. Lars, I teach history, so I'm definitely intending to read your book. Thank you so much for coming.

1.When did you realize that you were a “real” writer?

I think that I became a "real" writer at the first moment that one of my characters did something that I didn't expect.  It was something like watching Doctor Frankenstein's monster draw its first, shuddering breath, and from then on, I regard my job as being more of a coach than a creator.

Sometimes my characters listen, and do what I want; other times, they've got their own ideas, their own motivations.  Either way, my writing process then becomes a simple matter of recording what they do.


2.Why do you write?    It isn’t as easy as some people think.

My primary motivation is to inform in an entertaining manner.  If my readers come away with a deeper understanding of the real historical events I've fictionalized, if they've been motivated by the story and the characters, then I've done my job.


More fundamentally, I write because there are such wonderful stories to tell.  There are so many events that have shaped our history, but don't make it into the textbooks.  More importantly, all of the events in history were brought about by people like you and me, people who woke up in the morning and tried to make the best of the world they found themselves in.


Our forebears laughed, sang, wept and grieved, just as we do.  They had mundane chores to do, between the soaring moments when they rose above themselves to accomplish extraordinary deeds.  I write to remind my readers of this, both about the people in my books, and themselves.


3.What can readers expect when they read your books?


First of all, my readers can expect to meet folks who are, as we are, products of their time and circumstances.  They can expect to get caught up in the lives of these people, and to come to better understand them.  And, if they're not careful, my readers might wind up learning a bit here and there - how to catch geese with a shovel, or what it meant for the British to have unrestricted access to Lake Champlain during the Revolution.


They can expect, too, that I've done my research.  I once spent an entire evening making sure that the particular species of tree that I wanted to have silhouetted on a ridgeline could be found in the place and time where I was depicting it.  In order to achieve verisimilitude in my stories, I read everything from the diaries and letters of people who witnessed the events I'm writing to scholarly theses putting the events they lived into historical context.


4.What or who has been your most significant inspirations for your writing?


It may seem strange that as a writer of historical fiction, I am most inspired by the writing of the dean of science fiction, but Robert Heinlein's grasp of characters, and his focus on letting the people in your books tell the story, deeply inform my approach to writing.   In my own field, though, I'd be remiss in not mentioning the towering achievements of Patrick O'Brien and James Michener.  I'm not in their league, but I strive to emulate aspects of their work.


As for what inspires the subjects that I write about, that's the quiet, everyday heroism of everyday people as they faced challenges that they knew were too big for them, but stood up and took their best shot anyway.    It is simply breathtaking what we can accomplish when we decide that we're going to, regardless of our limitations.


5.What's next for you writing wise?


I am working on writing at least one novel for each of the colonies at the time of the American Revolution.  Of course, Vermont wasn't actually a colony - it was an independent republic - so you can see right away that there will be more than just the thirteen books. 


I'm working on the production tasks for a book about the Quakers in New Jersey, and I've got drafts completed telling the stories of some of the Iroquois of New York, and a tobacco farmer in South Carolina.  I'm currently wrapping up a novel about a sailor participating in the amazing Spanish-led campaign along the Gulf coast of the West Florida colony, and after that is a tale of science and adventure out of the Massachusetts colony.


As you may have guessed, my dance card as an author is quite full, and I deeply appreciate the opportunity to share with your visitors a little bit about my work.  I sincerely hope that they will give my first novel a read, and that they'll let me know what they think of it.  I also look forward to answering any questions your visitors might have for me.  Thanks again!



Lars D. H. Hedbor





Caleb's father is serving with Ethan Allen's Green Mountain Boys as the long-anticipated open war against the British rages up and down the length of Lake Champlain. Between his duties on the family farm and constant worry about his father's safety, the young man's attentions are already fully occupied when a fateful encounter with an unlikely neighbor changes everything. Pulled into new intrigues and new friendships, Caleb finds himself on a path that changes his life - and which will affect the outcome of the whole war.


Caleb nodded and hesitated slightly before asking, "Da, how do you go about making a home with a wife. I mean, "—he blushed suddenly—" not everything, just … well, you might have noted that Lunette has a forceful way about her, not unlike Ma at some times. How do you keep peace with Ma, even when she is being stubborn?"

Elijah smiled and got a faraway look in his eyes for a moment before answering, "Well, Caleb, for a start, you have to value her opinions highly enough to hear her out, even if you should disagree. Of course, your word is final in the house, but 'tis a foolish man indeed who listens not to the intelligence of his helpmeet."

He nodded toward the house. "Your Lunette, she has a good head on her shoulders, and a strong spirit to accompany it. Pay her heed and be sure that she knows you have considered her point, even if you come to a different conclusion at some times."

Then he grinned, a twinkle in his eye. "Let her win more arguments than she loses. On matters that are of little import to you, look for the opportunity to grant her victories, that you may claim the advantage when you more ardently desire it. Lastly, always apologize sincerely for your disagreements, whether you prevail or yield. Don't be afraid to disagree, but make sure that she knows that you wish that it weren't so."

Caleb nodded thoughtfully. "I shall endeavor to hew as closely as I can to your advice, Da. Thank you for your wisdom."



"Wonderful! Lars Hedbor has magnificently captured the zeitgeist of Colonial Vermont! He seamlessly blends his tale with the events of the American Revolution in the Champlain Valley!" 

- Daniel O'Neil, Executive Director, Ethan Allen Homestead Museum






Lars D. H. Hedbor is an amateur historian, homebrewer, astronomer, fiddler, linguist and baker.  His fascination with the central question of how the populace of the American Colonies made the transition from being subjects of the Crown to being citizens of the Republic drives him to tell the stories of those people.  Hedbor resides in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and five daughters, and is hard at work on the next novel in the Tales From a Revolution series.




Twitter: @LarsDHHedbor
Lars is giving away a $25 gift certificate to either Barnes and Noble or Amazon so follow the tour and comment often.  You can find his schedule at


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting

Mary Preston said...

Pleased to meet you Lars. I thoroughly enjoy historical stories & this is a fascinating period in history.


Elaine Cantrell said...

I teach history, so I was thrilled to host Lars today. The excerpt is wonderful.

Lars D. H. Hedbor said...

Thank you so much for hosting me, Elaine! I'd be happy to answer any questions your readers may have, and I appreciate your kind support.

Shannon R said...

Thanks for the great interview. It sounds like a good mixture of entertainment while educating the reader at the same time. How long does it take you to research for something like this?

Lars D. H. Hedbor said...

Thanks, Shannon - I certainly hope so! I tend to work very quickly, and the resources available to us on the Internet -- including a wealth of primary sources! -- make it so that the answer to any question I might have about the Revolutionary era is only as far away as a well-worded Google search.

That said, I do try to validate my research, cross-checking multiple sources wherever possible, and checking with subject matter experts if I can't get a clear answer from my research.

I'm almost embarrassed to say how quickly I wrote the initial draft of The Prize - it helped a lot that I grew up where it's set, so I did not have to spend a great deal of time trying to get a visceral sense of the lay of the land and so forth. Too, the characters in this novel took charge of their story early on -- and then it was just a matter of hanging on for dear life and recording what they did!

Including research, The Prize took me about three weeks to draft, and several more weeks to refine and validate. My current work in progress is taking me a good deal longer, but that's in part because a lot of the primary sources are in Spanish, which I read very slowly. :)

Ingeborg said...

Looks like Caleb is getting some great advice from his Da.


Lars D. H. Hedbor said...

When I remarried this past summer, I actually went back and read that passage for my own benefit -- and I've found it to be sound advice. :)

Linda Juliano said...

How wonderful of you to bring history alive for all of us, but especially for youth. Thank you! I'm a huge fan of historical fiction. I love how the fiction part combined with the fact educates and entertains. Not only will I read this first book of yours, but I think I'll have my youngest son (13) read it as well. It's not easy to find things boys will read, and both of mine prefer fact over fiction, but I think historical fiction for youth is a great avenue. Thanks for all your hard work in creating what I imagine is a wonderful piece of work. Best wished to you in your career!

Lars D. H. Hedbor said...

Thank you very much, Linda -- I hope that you and your son enjoy The Prize!

Catherine Lee said...

Lars...Thanks for sharing the fact that you're a researcher. As a librarian, I appreciate authors who pay attention to historical accuracy. And how dedicated that you're currently reading primary sources in Spanish? Wow!

bn100 said...

Nice motivation to write

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Lars D. H. Hedbor said...

Thanks, Catherine - I've been complimented on my historical accuracy by working historians -- see my recent blog post for more on my approach to research.

As for reading sources in their original languages (where possible), it helps me to get a better sense of the tenor of the source. Was the writer of a letter feeling despair or elation? Was a military dispatch merely a dry recitation of facts, or did it betray some emotion?

While a translation (which is, necessarily, a secondary source) can convey some of this, you are at the mercy of the translator's skill. I read a number of languages well enough to get by, though it's usually slow going, and even when I do use a translation, I try to track down the original, as well, to get a sampling of the vocabulary used.

Karen H in NC said...

Thanks for the interview.

kareninnc at gmail dot com

Andra Lyn said...

Thanks for the interview! Enlightening :)

andralynn7 AT gmail dot com