Thursday, January 09, 2014

Interview With Authors---Gettysburg: The Story of the Battle With Maps, Detweiler and Reisch [Part Three]

Interview with David Detweiler and David Reisch, of Gettysburg: The Story Of The Battle With Maps, Editors of Stackpole Press, [2013]

DD--David Detweiler, President and Chairman, Stackpole Publishing, author
DR—David Reisch, historian, researcher, cartographer, author
CWL—Civil War Librarian, Rea Andrew Redd, Director, Eberly Library, and adjunct instructor, U.S. history, Waynesburg University, Waynesburg, PA 15370; author of Gettysburg Campaign Study Guide, Volume One, [2012].

Part Three
CWL: 11  On page 60, the text reads “Longstreet peevishly rejoins, no. Lee told us to attack up the road, we attack up the road. Longstreet is torn. There’s no one way he feels.”   What tone are you setting for the reader?
DD:  Good question.  I was trying to mimetically not only overtly describe Longstreet’s dilemma but convey the mood of what I think at that moment was his frustration, loyalty, pessimism, anger, stubbornness, loyalty (again) and fatalism, each at war with the other(s).

CWL: 12. The review in Library Journal stated: “A dispassionate recitation will suddenly veer into purple prose (e.g., “Near the darkling swale of Plum Run, Barksdale is discovered….”), complete with mixed metaphors (e.g., “Like a mighty breaker exhausting to froth, the Confederate sweep eastward has run out of steam”).”  As authors, how do you approach statements like these?
DD:  I am responsible for the outbreaks of purple prose, from more than which you will find in the book David Reisch saved me.   I don’t apologize, but I do, certainly, admit that what I write sometimes (I trust not often) goes too far, becomes contrived or, worse, cute or, worst of all, opaque in a sophomoric attempt to be colorful.   Yet, you can’t write well if you edit yourself while you’re writing, so, what I hope I can learn to do (better) is to flag and temper or eradicate the purple prose when it rears up.  But who’s counting?  I am (!)  Of perhaps four dozen written review/responses, from here and there, to the book, about half a dozen expressly make it clear they do not like the writing.  Not quite double that go out of their way to praise the writing.  And the great majority (I with unobjective egoism calculate), in praising the book highly, generally and without caveat are in effect approving of the writing.  But!  The purple prose criticism is not only valid but, much as I hate to admit it, accurate.
DR:  De gustibus non est disputandum. [In matters of taste, there can be no disputes.]

CWL: 13.  Stackpole Publishing has been around since before World War 2. Tell us a little about the history of Stackpole Books and Edward Stackpole.
DD:  We – my family – have been publishing for 120-plus years – newspaper, the odd book in the early twentieth century.  In the mid-1930s my grandfather Edward Stackpole and his brother formalized the tiny book publishing vein as “Stackpole Sons.”   He, my granddad, his father before him, a bit, my dad, and I all worked in the field (of publishing).  My grandfather Edward Stackpole, a friend, I’m fortunate to be able to say, was a general, was awarded everything, and I mean everything, short of the Medal of Honor for his service in World War I, published, wrote, was heavy into community affairs, a charming man, what they sometimes call a mensch.

CWL: 14. Stackpole Publishing offers Don Troiani’s books.  Is it an exacting business to publish art books?
DD:  Very exacting to publish art books, which we don’t strictly speaking do . . . Jack Davis suggested we see if Don Troiani (head and shoulders, in my opinion, the best Civil War painter and one of the very few best “war” painters anywhere ever), would let us do a book, with text (Jack and the late Brian Pohanka), of his magnificent paintings.  He did, we did, and the huge success continues.  We’re proud to have more than one Don Troiani book on our list.  He is the very best and, naturally, though I believe he’s pleased overall with what we’ve been able to do together, momentary issues such as the exact blue of a particular sky have, once or twice, led to what the diplomats call a frank and open exchange.   We are, again, immensely fortunate he chose us.
DR:  Exacting – and very much worth it.  Don’s paintings involve not only days upon days at the canvas, but also countless hours devoted to researching the historical details, acquiring period uniforms and equipment, and enlisting individuals to pose.  He takes the time to get every detail right, from the shade of blue of a Union jacket to the position of a metal ring on a musket, and we’re happy to take the time to make sure Don’s artistic talent and historical meticulousness come through in the printed books.  The results, we hope, speak for themselves.

CWL: 15. Stackpole Publishing offers Ralph Peter’s fiction written under the pseudonym of Owen Parry.  How did this come about?
DD:  Ralph is a friend, and a friend of the house, and, as with Don Troiani, we’re hugely proud to have books of Ralph’s on our list.  Principally, as we are, principally, a nonfiction publisher, we have done collections of Ralph’s well-known non-fiction writing, commentary, on geo-military-political affairs and history.   These books have been a source of pride for us not to mention lucrative.  We also have a few re-issues of Ralph’s best-selling Civil War novels (nom de plume Parry).  We haven’t had a book of his in a while as he’s doing more Civil War novels, one of which to me – Cain at Gettysburg – is on the short list of the best Civil War fiction.

CWL: 16 What will Stackpole Publishing release within the next two years regarding the American Civil War?
DD:  Classified I’m afraid.   Thanks so much for the forum and the good questions, it was fun.

CWL:  Thank upu  for Gettysburg: The Story of the Battle With Maps and for this interview.

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