Interview with writer and novelist Ray Gleason

Writer and novelist
Ray Gleason is here and we’re chatting
about his new historical fiction, The
Swabian Affair.
Bio:
Ray Gleason
is a medieval scholar and the popular author of the novels, A Grunt Speaks: A Devil’s Dictionary of
Vietnam Infantry Terms
, The Violent
Season
, and the Gaius Marius Chronicle, a series of historical fiction
novels set in the late Roman Republic.
His first
book, A Grunt Speaks: A Devil’s
Dictionary of Vietnam Infantry Terms
, reflects his experience as an
infantryman and ranger in Vietnam through an exploration of the jargon used by
American infantrymen during the Vietnam war. A Grunt Speaks was recently featured in the NPR quiz show, Says
You.
Ray continued
his advocacy of Vietnam veterans in his novel, The Violent Season. In this book, Ray presents the stories of what
he calls the “lost generation of the 1960’s” – not the anti-war protestors and
the Woodstock crowd – but the thousands of young Americans – men and women –
who answered the call to duty in the jungles of southeast Asia and on the
home-front.
Ray’s latest
project, the Gaius Marius Chronicle, is the fictitious memoir of a retired
Roman soldier, Gaius Marius Insubrecus, who served Caesar and his heir,
Octavius, throughout the Gallic campaigns and in the Roman civil wars. The
first novel of the series, The Gabinian
Affair
, was released by Morgan James Fiction in October 2015. Book two, The Helvetian Affair, was released in
May 2016. The third book, The Swabian
Affair
, hit bookshelves in March 2017. A fourth novel, The Mystery of the Dead Centurion, is expected in late 2017.
Ray received
an MA and Ph.D. from Northwestern University where he teaches Medieval
Literature. He received a BA in History and English from Hunter College in New
York. Ray also teaches writing at Purdue.
Ray is a
decorated, retired, army Ranger officer, who served three combat tours in
Vietnam. He recently retired from the Culver Academies where he developed and
taught courses in leadership ethics.
Ray swaps his
time between Chicago and northern Indiana with his wife, Jan Peyser, an
award-winning silversmith jeweler, and the author of The Opera Cat.
Welcome, Ray. Please tell us about your
current release.
The Gaius
Marius Chronicle is the memoir of a retired Roman soldier, Gaius Marius
Insubrecus, a legionary who served Caesar during his wars in Gaul and in the
Roman civil wars, and who then supported Caesar’s heir, Octavius, in his
struggle against Caesar’s assassins and against Antony and Cleopatra.
The Swabian Affair, the third book of the Gaius Marius
Chronicle, tells the story of Caesar’s march to the Rhine with a mutinous Roman
army, depleted and exhausted from its battle against the Helvetians. Caesar
must defeat a mystic, warrior-king, before he leads a full-scale Germanic
invasion of Gaul. Insubrecus must prevent a war from breaking out between
Caesar’s Gallic allies while protecting himself from the murderous vengeance of
a Roman assassin.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve
become curious about the lives of my characters.
Excerpt from The Swabian Affair:
I realized I
was revealing too much to Grennadios, so I changed the subject. “What do you
know of a Roman merchant named Marcus Metius?”
“Metius!”
Grennadios snorted. “Metius is no merchant … he is iktismustela … a
rat-eater …he would trade his mother’s honor for a clipped drachma … he trades
in information … he works for whomever will pay … he serves only himself.”
“Do you
know anything about a Roman who travels with him?” I asked. “A thug named
Bulla.”
I thought I
saw Grennadios’ eyes widen, then he shuttered. “That one? That one has no … no psyche … no life force in him …he is the
bringer of death … that one you stay away from, phile mou.”
Stay
away from him … if only I could.
What exciting story are you working on
next?
The Mystery of the Murdered Centurion … The narrative of the chronicle goes
forward in time to Insubrecus after he retires from the army and is the Urban
Prefect of Milan. Someone dumps the dead body of a murdered Roman officer in
the town forum, right under the newly installed statue of Augustus. Insubrecus
must find the murderer to protect himself and his family from possible
political repercussions from Rome.
When did you first consider yourself a
writer?
Depends … I
became a credible fiction writer, at least in my own mind, when I published The Violent Season.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
Can write
“full time”; the ability to write credible text is limited. At times, I can
only sustain productive writing for a couple of hours; at other times, I look
up and wonder where the day has gone. My other hobbies are teaching, medieval
culture, research, police work, red wine, BBC shows and the cats.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
Chaos! Unlike
most fictional portrayals of soldiers and detectives, my characters do have
neither the benefit of historical hindsight nor the ability to shut down the
rest of their lives when faced with a problem. They make decisions on what they
know and how much time they’re afforded for investigation. Sometimes they get
things right; sometimes … not so much.
As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?
Let’s see … I
had my cowboy period … Hopalong Cassidy, mostly; then my cop period, because my
uncles on NYPD were my heroes; I studied for the Catholic ministry for four
years; when I found myself in Nam, I just wanted to survive; after Nam, I had
kids, so my goal was taking care of my family and being a god father.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
The
credibility of fiction is more demanding than the credibility of reality.

Thanks for being here today, Ray. All
the best with your writing.

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