I met Author John Holt more than a year ago on the writers’ website, Authonomy. John has published multiple novels, and his latest is The Thackery Journal, which was published two weeks ago.
Excerpt from The Thackery Journal:
As Thackery’s men sat huddled together trying to keep warm, the rain continued falling steadily. A wind began to stir rustling the leaves high in the trees, and it was beginning to get quite cold. Dark thick clouds were forming. There would be a storm before morning.
Thackery pulled his blanket closer to him. His leg was beginning to ache. The damp always affected his leg, ever since that day at the mine, the day of the cave-in. He reached down and gently massaged his lower leg. Sometimes it helped, but not today.
Thackery looked back towards the valley. Miles had certainly saved him that day, saved him from a certain slow and painful death. Single-handed he had gone into that tunnel, into the debris and the rubble, and the dust. With no thought for his own safety he had torn the rocks away with his bare hands, and cleared a pathway to safety.
“How he knew I was there I’ll never know,” Thackery murmured. “Pulled me right out, he did, saved my life, plain and simple, no question about that.”
Then he thought of their last bitter meeting. It had been a bad way to part, arguing like that. How he wished he could turn back the clock. How he wished he could see his friend once more. “Wonder where he is now?” he said in a whisper. He wondered what would happen if they were to meet up on the battlefield. Thackery knew that he could never fire at his old friend, no matter what. He didn’t think that his friend would fire at him. So what would they do? “We will probably just wave at each other,” he thought. “Smile at each other, and then go our own separate ways.”
Jacob took up his field glasses, and looked back down at the forest in the foothills. He could see nothing. Maybe Miles was there after all, in one of those tents, or maybe huddled around one of those camp fires. There was no way of knowing.
He shook his head. It was most unlikely. Miles had joined a battalion in Washington. As far as he was aware they were nowhere near the area. Of course he could have been transferred, Jacob murmured.
He looked away, and shook his head once again. “If I actually thought Miles was down there,” he murmured, “I couldn’t fire a single shot for fear of hitting him.”
“Wherever you are, Miles my old friend, stay safe.”
* * *
Close by were a handful of his men. They were all that were left of the proud band that had marched away with him so long ago. He looked down at the fire, tears in his eyes.
“I wish I were in Dixie,” he started to sing quietly.
It had all gone so badly wrong. It was all to be over by Christmas. At least that’s what they had said. But Christmas had come and gone, and it was far from over. The war had not gone well for the south. He had lost several men at that first battle at Philippi. When was that, he murmured. “Nine months ago,” he whispered. It seemed so long ago. Nine months only. Since that day there had been one defeat after the other.
On the night of April 14th 1865 President Abraham Lincoln attended a performance at The Ford Theatre, in Washington. A single shot fired by John Wilkes Booth hit the President in the back of the head. He slumped to the floor, and died a few hours later without recovering consciousness. Was Booth a lone assassin? Or was he part of a wider conspiracy? What if Booth had merely been a willing party to a plot to replace Lincoln with General Ulysees S. Grant.
Let us suppose that Booth had been set up by a group of men, a group of Lincoln’s own Army Generals; Generals who wanted Ulysees S. Grant for their President, and not Lincoln. And let us also suppose that the funding for the assassination came from gold stolen by the Confederate Army.
I was born in 1943 in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire. I currently live in Essex with my wife, Margaret, and my daughter Elizabeth. And not forgetting Missy, the cat who adopted us, and considered that we were worthy enough to live with her. For many years I was a Chartered Surveyor in local government. I was a Senior Project Manager with the Greater London Council from 1971 until it was closed down in 1986. I then set up my own surveying practice, retiring in 2008.
I suppose like many others I had always thought how good it would be to write a novel, but I could never think of a good enough plot. My first novel, The Kammersee Affair, published in 2006, was inspired by a holiday in the Austrian lake district. We were staying in Grundlsee. The next lake, Toplitzsee, was used by the German Navy during the war to test rockets, and torpedoes. As the war came to an end many items were hidden in the lake – millions of UK pounds, and US dollars, in counterfeit currency; jewellery stolen from the holocaust victims; and weapons. There were also rumours of gold bullion being hidden in that lake. Despite extensive searches the gold was never found. In my book, however, it is found, only in the next lake, Kammersee.