The Sword and Scabbard by Allen Woods is a great, thrilling crime and historical fiction book. We spoke with Allen via Skype to talk about the book…
Please tell us what your book is about…
The Sword and Scabbard is essentially a crime novel set in 1760s Boston. Its main characters are struggling to survive and make a place for themselves after coming to America from England in less than ideal circumstances. Because of their criminal skills, their management of a natural meeting place in a waterfront tavern, and a natural connection with the crowds of unhappy and disaffected people in Boston at the time, they are drawn into the political conflicts as well. They find that the line separating political and criminal action is indistinct and often crosses from one side of the street to the other.
Is it part of a series? Are you planning any more?
This is the first book in a planned series that will follow Nicholas Gray and Maggie Magowan through the events of the Tea Party, the shots at Lexington and Concord, the Revolutionary War itself, the British surrender, and the disastrous years under the Articles of the Confederation. They are still young when this book ends and they have many more adventures ahead.
What inspired you to write the book?
I have always been interested in crime novels and history. In doing research for an American History text, I was struck by how important smuggling was in establishing the fortune of John Hancock and other rich and powerful merchants. I realized that to profit so greatly from smuggling, the merchants or their men needed a strong connection to people who were capable of unloading a ship and evading Customs. After a bit more research, the connection between the two groups through waterfront taverns became clear, in the same way that much of the political action revolved around the taverns as well. It just seemed like a great story.
Who do you think will enjoy reading the book?
I think it is appealing to people who like crime novels, since it is a series of adventures rather than a mystery, and involves a variety of shady characters who just happen to live in the 1760s rather than today. I think anyone who has any interest in American and British history, the Boston Massacre, or the American Revolutionary movement will find the details of the time and events fascinating. There is a romantic relationship that develops as well, and the characters do have unique backgrounds and personalities. There’s a lot to enjoy.
How are your descriptions of colonial Boston before the Massacre different from the common view?
[The Revolutionary period in Boston and elsewhere is usually seen through rose-colored glasses, for good reason. It was an exciting and unique time in American and world history. But that doesn’t mean that people’s lives and their actions and concerns were that much different than during other periods. The Sword and Scabbard is essentially a crime novel that occurs during a pivotal point in history. It also highlights some of the actions and possible motivations of the period that don’t necessarily follow the Revolutionary ideals we cherish today.]
What are some examples from your book?
[One example is the violent resistance to the Stamp Act. It was dressed up as a philosophical fight concerning the right to tax people if they don’t have a hand in their own government. But it can also be seen as a simple economic revolt pushed by merchants who didn’t want to part with any more of their profits. Another example is the actions of the Sons of Liberty in attacking and shutting down a newspaper that dared to print uncomfortable facts and opposing viewpoints.]
Do you believe that the iconic reputation of the Boston patriots is undeserved?
[Not really. I think that people’s actions need to be seen and appreciated from a realistic point-of-view rather than one that relies on a carefully-crafted Revolutionary “brand” that paints those involved as completely selfless and idealistic. It’s the same as finding out more about modern heroes such as FDR and JFK. They were still heroic and inspiring figures even if their private lives weren’t what people dreamed of.]
Which part of the book do you think people will find most surprising?
[I find it comical at this point that Samuel Adams is the face of a rapidly growing local- and craft-brewed beer movement when he showed little interest or skill in brewing during his life. He was an outstanding man in many ways and a true force of nature in community organizing, but he wasn’t a successful or innovative brewer.]
READ THE FIRST CHAPTER and praise from well-known authors, etc. at www.theswordandscabbard.com.
About the Author
Allen Woods has been a full-time freelance writer and editor for almost 30 years, recently specializing in social studies and reading textbooks for all ages. The spark for The Sword and Scabbard came while doing research for an American history text. He welcomes e-mail at the Blog page of the book web site www.theswordandscabbard.com.
About the Book
The streets and taverns of Boston before “The Bloody Massacre” were filled with brawls and scrapes, hot words and cold calculations. Nicholas Gray and Maggie Magowan run The Sword and Scabbard, a tavern which is home to both criminal and political intrigue. Each is a fugitive from a dangerous past and their relationship grows fitfully in the midst of historic events. They remain suspicious of politicians on both sides of the Atlantic, but are eventually caught in the shadow world where politics and crime meet. In the end, Nicholas faces a choice between saving himself and crippling the march towards the Revolution. It is available at www.lulu.com or www.theswordandscabbard.com as well as online retailers and select bookstores.
Review Copies and Media Interviews:
For a review copy of The Sword and Scabbard or an interview with Allen Woods, please contact Kris Barnes of Authoramp. Allen is also available for interviews and guest blogging.