Emily: I enjoyed reading Frontier Preacher and Frontier At Three Rivers. For someone like me, who enjoys history but doesn’t like reading textbooks, your books are a treat! You really know how to tell a story. I felt like your books came alive right in my hands:)
Sam: I am really happy you liked my books, Frontier Preacher and Frontier At Three Rivers. Authors are not really sure how their work will go over, even though they think it is the best out there. So words of praise are most welcome. Below I will try and answer your questions.
Emily: Can you tell me, who you are, your basic roles in life besides author?
Sam: At eighty one I have had many roles in life. When I came out of the Air Force in 1955 I wanted to be an on- the- road salesman. Looking back that probably wasn’t the wisest career I could have made, but all through my school years including college I sold something. In high school it was magazine subscriptions during college I worked in a men’s clothing store. Sales excited me. Eventually I achieved my goal and went on to be a district sales manager for a large steel company. During this time I was freelancing magazine articles to outdoor sources.
Emily:How did you get involved in writing?
Sam: An avid reader of outdoor stories I took a creative writing course in college and found I did have a flair for telling stories. However my education in English grammar was really poor and something I have struggled with over the years. After a float/fishing trip in 1966 down the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania I wrote up the trip and submitted the copy and photos to magazine Pennsylvania Angler. They bought it and that was the beginning of a life of putting words on paper.
Emily: What interested you about John Corbly’s life?
Sam: When I was living in Pennsylvania an archeological dig was begun not far from my home. They were working on the lost frontier town of Hanna’s Town, Hanna’s Town was the county seat of Westmoreland County in the 1700s and Westmoreland covered everything from Bedford (central Pa) to the junction of the three rivers. They uncovered the old trading post, which served as the court house, and where a stockade had once stood. I was fascinated and read all I could find on this frontier post. The raid in Frontier At Three Rivers was taken from the actual raid, although I called it Griswalt’s. The more I learned about the dig the more I was sure there was a book in there. It took me a number of years to put it together but I finally finished it. With all the research I had put into the first half of this book it was relatively easy to put the second half together. Not many people knew Virginia had invaded western Pennsylvania and I thought it would be a good story.
Sam: Having hunted, hiked and fished the mountains of western Pennsylvania I could imagine the hardships a frontier family would endure in the 1700s and would place myself in these situations, in my mind of course. So when a lady called me and said she had read one of my books and had a great idea for another I told her to send me the information and I would look it over. Well, the story of John Corbly and his family begged to be put into a book. It turns out she is a direct descendent of Corbly and furnished me with tons of info. Weaving it into the history of the area was an exciting chore. Old newspaper stories, items from historical web sites and history books brought this story to life. I feel history should be alive, not dry dull facts.
Emily: What do you prefer to fish and why? I am partial to Chinook myself
Sam: Fishing – I do love to fish. My favorite eating fish are walleye and crappie followed by the salmon family. I have sat on the bank of a stream dunking worms and been just as happy as when I’m in a boat trolling for larger critters. You relax and let your mind wander.
Emily: Why a story about the Frontier at Three Rivers and specifically the Indian raids?
Sam: Frontier At Three Rivers is a rewrite and combination of my first two books, The Summer of 1763 and The Great Land Grab. As I mentioned earlier I had little formal training in writing, when I moved to Florida I joined a writer’s group that critiques each other’s work. I had the idea of combining the books and brought chapter by chapter of The Great Land Grab to the writer’s meetings. There are some very good writers there and they helped me improve the copy to the point where you see it today. In the frontier days of the 1700s the Indians were being pushed out of their home territory. It was natural for them to strike back. Unfortunately they had no idea of the flood of immigrants from Europe that would engulf their land. The Indian culture was war, and they were masters at cruelty. The bashing of babies heads and tomahawking of innocent women and children was taken from actual accounts found in old newspapers, letters etc. Remember they were fighting for survival and I can imagine when they worked themselves up into a blood rage they would kill anything found.
Emily: Anything coming up, that you are really excited about?
Sam: I am thinking of doing a story on two cousins that immigrated from Ireland and found their way into central Pennsylvania founding the town now known as Hollidaysburg. That may take a while as there is a lot of research to do.
Emily: Care to share anything else, such as favorite foods, fun facts, books that might be of interest to my readers?
Sam: Favorite food – I had my first taste of deep fried turkey the other day and it was terrific, don’t know if it’s my favorite but it ranks right up there.
Books I’ve read – Thorns and Roses by Almut Metzroth; The life of a teen age girl trapped in Russian occupied Germany.
For a fun read, Humorous Beat, Actual Funny Police Stories by Bob Morrissey.
Note From Emily’s Frugal Tips: Book Reviews to follow:)