Monday, April 22, 2013

Developing Historical Fiction Characters by Bob O'Connor

Today we have a guest post from Bob O'Connor about his books Catesby: Eyewitness to the Civil War and The Return of Catesby as part of his tour with Walker Author Tours.

As a historical fiction writer, my basic style is taking real characters, researching their lives, following an actual time line and then writing a story around that.

In my book “The Return of Catesby” the story centers around a real colored blacksmith who was the slave of Colonel Lewis Washington. His plantation was in Charlestown, Virginia (now Charles Town, WV). The book is the sequel to “Catesby: Eyewitness to the Civil War.”

In this second book, Catesby meets with General Robert E. Lee again. He had shoed Lee’s horse Traveler twice during the war. Catesby is also asked to give a deposition in the trial of the commandant at Andersonville Prison, Henry Wirz, who was tried by the federal government for war crimes in the late summer of 1865. Catesby had been captured in Florida and was a prisoner at Andersonville prison.

Catesby’s varied experiences and dogged determination to become a free black led to his hiring as a teacher at the new school (Storer College) set up for the teaching of newly freed blacks at Harper Ferry, Virginia.

I do extensive research on what really happened and then add the historical fiction part to fill in the blanks and to offer authentic sounding dialogue.

“The Return of Catesby” is available on line at or at The author may be reached at

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