Interestingly enough, I commemorated the 222nd anniversary of Bastille Day this past weekend with the Manassas author B.N. Peacock, whose historical novel, The Tainted Dawn, is the first in a series about the great naval wars between England and France, 1792-1815.
It’s not often you run into someone whose hero is Lord Nelson of the Royal Navy.
B.N., or Barbara, as neighbors greet her on dog walks around Old Town Manassas, has been writing most of her life. She won honorable mention in a national writing contest in middle school for a short story on the Battle of Bunker Hill, as seen through the eyes of a British correspondent. She spent a college year studying in England, earned several degrees, traveled extensively, met her husband, Dan Peacock while working at the USDA in Washington, DC, built a house with him in Culpeper, raised two children, nursed an ailing mother for almost two decades and then, in the late 1990s decided to write a series of books that began with The Tainted Dawn.
England and Spain are on the brink of war. France, allied by treaty with Spain, readies her warships. Three youths – the son of an English carpenter, the son of a naval captain, and the son of a French court tailor – meet in London, a chance encounter that entwines their lives ever after. The English boys find themselves on the same frigate bound for the Caribbean. The Frenchman sails to Trinidad, where he meets an even more zealous Spanish revolutionary. As diplomats in Europe race to avoid conflict, war threatens to explode in the Caribbean, with the three youths pitted against each other.
She finished the manuscript in 2005, on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. By that time she and Dan had moved to a home in Historic Manassas. There, she began querying editors – and collecting rejections. She tackled the hard task of editing by lighting a candle and setting it near her laptop while the soundtrack from Les Miserables fed her muse.
Finally, in January 2011, her manuscript was accepted by www.FireshipPress.com. She signed a contract, worked with Fireship’s editor, and in March 2012, The Tainted Dawn was published.
Peacock is currently working with a publicist to market the book. A book reviewer herself for the Historical Novel Society, she has garnered three reviews through Library Giveaways and Goodreads, and will soon have two more reviews by the Military Writers Society of America and The Copperfield Review. David Hayes of Historical Naval Fiction recently interviewed her: www.historicnavalfiction.com.
Meanwhile Barbara Peacock continues to collect material for the second novel in the series, as yet unnamed. She recently traveled to the Fells Point Maritime Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, to visit the home to one of her characters, and was delighted to talk to a colonial re-enactor at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, who showed her how to load and fire a 1766 French Charleville Musket. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8a2vJwbUm8&feature=relmfu
Peacock keeps a box of books ready to sell or consign for $15 a piece in her car trunk, much as John Grisham or Tom Clancy did when they started out. Would Herman Melville have done the same from his steamer trunk? She recently did a book signing at Opera House Gourmet in Old Town Manassas, and is lining up one for later this summer at 2nd & Charles in Woodbridge.
Her advice for other writers in the local Write by the Rails networking group: “Never ever give up.”
Excerpts of her novel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ragyerj94M&feature=relmfu