Welcome to The Whirligig, the website for Richard Buxton.
Richard is a multi-award winning author. On this site he will talk about the writing craft. He'll muse about inspiration drawn from the world of the present and from the imperfectly remembered past.
Richard writes both historical fiction and stories set in the here and now, though his inclination is strongly towards the former. His time spent at university in upstate New York has imbued him with a lifelong interest in the story of America, in particular the schism and after effects of the American Civil War. He travels there as often as he can for inspiration and research. Learn more about what inspires Richard here.
Richard's first novel, Whirligig, set in Tennessee in the pivotal Civil War year of 1863, was released in the spring of 2017. He is also compiling a collection of short stories that explore the long shadow of the Civil War. Many of his stories have won awards or have been published. His story Battle Town won the 2015 Exeter Story Prize. Roller Coaster won the 2015 Bedford International Writing Competition. The Bread Man won the Fabula Press Nivalis 2016 Short Story Competition.
It's not the easiest of times to be an American Civil War novelist. The subject has become heavily politicised and the simple equation for many readers, both in the US and the UK, is ‘Civil war = Bad. Avoid.’ Their internet attention moves swiftly to the next thumbnail cover. It’s a matter of some despair for those interested in the history. Approaching four-hundred-thousand Union soldiers died defeating the Confederacy. Their reasons for fighting were many: poverty, to preserve the Union, adventure. But a great number signed on and gave their lives to end slavery.
It’s an odd experience, launching a novel. Maybe more so in a time where you can’t collect like-minded people in a church hall and spend an hour or two putting your new book, and yourself, in the glow of a small spotlight - real or imagined. Most of our crowds have become virtual. How strange it would be to try and make my nineteenth century characters understand that in today’s world we can gather and yet not be together.
How does writing a second book compare to writing the first? I’m beginning to build awareness of my second novel, The Copper Road, in advance of its release on July 26th, and one Goodreads follower has already posed this question. It’s got me thinking. Has it been easier or harder? Did I approach it differently? Do I like my second novel more than my first?