History is important because we and the world we live in are the products of the past. What’s past is prologue. Santayana truly said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” My goal as an author and historian is to entertain readers while helping them learn some important lessons from history.
I’ve been fascinated by history since childhood. I grew up absorbing stories about my ancestors from elderly relatives who were delighted that a new generation had an interest in preserving both oral history and tangible ties with our past (I have some wonderful Ashby family artifacts left to me by these people). The oral history of relatives’ experience during the American Civil War certainly influenced Devil’s Den. My grandparents’ generation was especially proud of Brigadier General Turner Ashby, a Confederate officer who commanded “Stonewall” Jackson’s cavalry before dying romantically in a charge against the Yankee’s “Pennsylvania Bucktail’s” regiment.
Looking back on my childhood, I marvel that I knew people whose parents and grandparents had met Turner Ashby. Another relative had been raised by her grandfather, Captain John T. Ashby, who served in the Confederate Army’s 8th Virginia Regiment, and was one of the few members of his unit to survive “Pickett’s Charge” at the battle of Gettysburg (his teenage younger brother was not so fortunate). The oral history from Capt. John Ashby via his granddaughter to me helped me create the characters of the two Confederate soldiers in Devil’s Den who were the grandfathers of my hero, Seth Armitage, agent of the Bureau of Investigation.