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 easy writing battle scenes (as Kermit might sing). They are a crisis in the story; possibly the piece of history that inspired the book; the climactic moment of danger for the characters I’ve sent into the breach. I’ve reached this point once more while writing Tigers in Blue, my hands held anxiously above my keyboard, like a soldier with an itchy trigger-finger before the charge. Well, sort of.
I beg to differ. You don’t hear that term so much these days. A polite apology for having your own point of view and asking if you might offer it up. We’re more likely to stridently announce how someone else is a hundred percent wrong, or maybe never listen to what they have to say in the first place.
It was Christmas Day in 1860 and Lincoln, newly elected president but yet to be inaugurated, was at home in his reception room in Springfield, Illinois. The town was busy. Christmas was not a public holiday. He was trying to cope with a mountain of mail and a constant flow of visitors who were mostly there for their own interests rather than his. South Carolina had seceded five days ago. Civil War loomed, although the first shot wouldn’t be fired until the spring. Amongst the gifts he received from complete strangers this day, was a whistle fashioned from a pig-tail. The sender claimed he’d crafted it just to show it was possible. I can imagine it appealing to Lincoln’s earthy sense of humour. It probably got more attention from him than his more expensive gifts.