Thursday, September 20, 2012

David Carthage - The Jericho River - Author Interview

Author Interview

1. How did you come up with the title?
The story follows an adventure journey through another world, down the Jericho River. The river gives the book its name, of course, but naming the river took some thought. The river is a timeline, flowing through Sumer, ancient Egypt, Babylon, the Roman Empire, etc.--all in chronological order. In other words, the river journey traces the history of both Western and Middle Eastern Civilizations. So I wanted a name that comes down to us from the most ancient headwaters of those two societies. The town of Jericho is home to one of the oldest settlements ever dug up--from around 9600 B.C.E.--so it really can claim to be a great-great-grandmother society. And people know the name "Jericho." It's got an ancient resonance.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
History is an adventure. It's one fantastic story after another--about swords and kings, damsels in distress, barbarians and heroes, slaves and scholars, castles, temples, and myths of gods and monsters. It's not a lot of memorized dates and names. In fact, the dates and names aren't even all that important. It's the stories that matter.

3. How much of the book is realistic?
The hero, Jason, visits historic societies, and they're all realistic. The Jericho River takes him to ancient Egypt, for instance, and the people, buildings, and culture he encounters are all real, based on what we know about the ancients' lives. So is the mythology. As he travels from one society to another, Jason meets centaurs, angels, sphinxes, fairies, genies, and much more, and each springs from the mythology of its home society.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I've been writing, revising, and tweaking this book for ten years (driving my wife crazy). I don't think I've left out a single edit I'd like to make. (But now that it's too late, I'm sure I'll think of one.)

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Tracking down the tiny details that make each society realistic. Lots of the research was easy--the information was readily available--but plenty wasn't. What do you first see when you walk into an ancient Roman city? What do you smell? What did a Sumerian priestess wear? What shape were ancient sails? When did tomatoes become common in Europe? All that stuff took a great deal of research.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
From inventing and writing about the characters, I learned a lot about myself--about the kind of people I like and dislike, and about how I'd want to behave in challenging and dangerous situations--and how I probably would behave. But most of all, I learned a great deal of history.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I've always been a writer, particularly in my job as a lawyer, but it was the idea behind The Jericho River that spurred my interest in writing fiction. My girlfriend (now wife) was studying for her teacher's certification, and she was having trouble with the history exam. I knew a lot of history, so I offered to tutor her. I gave her a 5-hour lesson, almost all from memory--and she passed her test. I was surprised to find all this knowledge packing my brain, and I began to wonder what else I might do with it. The Jericho River was the best idea that came along, so I said, "I'll have to write that book." Just like that, writing became a profession.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
J.R.R. Tolkien inspired me to become a reader and also to read history. And that inspiration really lies at the heart of The Jericho River. In the fourth grade, I started reading Tolkien and then moved on to other fantasy novels. That led me to mythology--particularly Greek and Norse myths--and mythology led me to history. So history never struck me as an academic subject: as something for school, rather than for fun. To me, reading history is a lot like reading fantasy stories. I got that view from reading Tolkien. And he must have seen the same magic in the past because he blended fantasy with real history better than anyone.

9. Tell us your latest news.
The Jericho River is pulling in an amazing series of reviews and endorsements. They come from historians, academics working in education and other fields, journalists, and authors. They include a former national teacher of the year and a Nebula-nominated fantasy author. We'll keep posting as many of the endorsements and reviews as we can, at

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope my readers find magic in history the way I have. I hope they enjoy The Jericho River and then move on to other tales of the past--historical novels and actual histories--and read purely for pleasure, purely for fun.

About the Book

Imagine you could learn history by reading a magical adventure novel. You can.

The Jericho River flows through a mythic world shaped by history. Young Jason Gallo sails the river on a dangerous quest to rescue his father. He battles minotaurs and pirates, flees barbarians, stumbles into mummies' tombs, and outwits fairies, philosophers, and scientists. Along the way, he discovers friendship, love, and betrayal - and faces a hidden foe who threatens all he holds dear.

The Jericho River flows like a timeline, carrying its hero through historic lands: Sumer, Babylonia, ancient Greece, Medieval Europe, Napoleon's empire, and many others, all in chronological order - tracing the history of Western Civilization, from its Middle Eastern origins to the modern era. Professor Gallo, Jason's father, is a historian, and his notes outline the journey, revealing the truth about Cleopatra, King Arthur, and the fall of the Roman Empire. He explains how Snow White began as a promiscuous goddess and why Eve was created from Adam's rib, as well as the origins of coffee, the cat, chivalry, the Internet, Atlantis - and much more.

Come ride the currents of pageantry, myth, and magic that flow from our past into the future.

Prices: $12.50 paperback, $2.99 ebook
Pages: 335
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Winifred Press
Release Date: September 1, 2012
Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Amazon UK

About the Author

David Carthage is a lawyer with degrees from Harvard Law School and Cambridge University (Queens' College), as well as a B.A. in history from U.C. Berkeley. He lives and works in Northern California.

David's first book, "The Jericho River," has received widespread praise--including from historians and academics in education and other fields, thanks to its unique use of fantasy to teach history. David is a dedicated history buff and reads about the past almost constantly. He's also passionate about teaching, and he loves repackaging big, complex topics in a way that's fun, exciting, and easy to understand.

David is the father of two small boys, as well as the husband of one teacher and the son of another.

Links to connect with David:
Web site

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  1. Wow David! This creative read sounds wonderful. What a great inspirational, educational, and entertaining book for kids. Thanks for sharing your Thoughts and ideas with us. I enjoyed the interview.

  2. Susan, thanks for taking the time to comment on David's interview!