The Battle of Walnut Hollow


The Story

           I can't say for certain when the idea for this story came to me except that I had the notion for what eventually became The Battle of Walnut Hollow in my head before I finished The Man in the Room. I had read an article detailing two high-profile standoffs from the early 1990's: the shootout at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, a case of right-wing activists taking a stand against a federal prosecution and the siege in Waco, Texas, involving a cult called the Branch Davidians led by David Koresh.

           I followed both events decades ago as they happened, but until I read this article, written twenty years later, I never had a complete picture of what took place. In both cases, law enforcement officials responded aggressively to armed extremists, and it turned out disastrously each time. What seemed to be a foregone conclusion when the government moved in with overwhelming force, proved to be anything but, and I was intrigued with how quickly an armed conflict such as these were, can spin out of control.

           In both cases, the forces in opposition to the government were small, particularly at Ruby Ridge, and I wondered, what might happen, say in a situation like Ruby Ridge, if unbeknownst to the government these few individuals were part of or backed up by a well trained militia.

           The story expanded in all directions from this basic idea, encompassing many things I've read about war and the causes of war, including my own ideas on the subject. A number of contemporary topics were woven into the story along the way and even the current political situation in the United States influenced the final tone of the novel.


During the course of writing The Man in the Room, I came to enjoy writing in the first person and appreciated the way such a perspective allows an audience to become more intimate with a character. My main character, Ira Stone seemed like a perfect fit for this approach. However, as the story unfolded, I felt that I couldn�t present a complete picture from just his point of view and rewrote the dozen or so completed chapters in the third person. A few chapters later, as Ira�s character developed, I decided that I definitely wanted him to tell the story, and the narration was converted back to the first person.

I worked on The Battle of Walnut Hollow in fits and starts for four years, never seeming to get in a good rhythm with the writing. I liked parts of the story, and the ending was fixed in my mind, but there were many gaps and sections that I couldn�t seem to get right. More than once, I nearly gave up on the idea, but in the summer of 2017, after a layoff of eight months, I got going again.

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