Author Interview – Michael Gleason – Historical Fiction – Elephant Bones

Michael Gleason is an author whose journey in the world of literature took an unexpected turn. Collaborating closely with his wife, MaryAnne, they co-authored numerous novels, with two of them published under her name, until her tragic battle with cancer in 1998. Devastated by the loss of his life partner of two decades, Michael relocated from their 5-acre home in Chesapeake, VA, to his hometown of Virginia Beach, where he still resides today. For two decades, their shared writing projects remained tucked away on a garage shelf until 2020 when Michael, spurred by newfound inspiration, completed their novel, “Forbidden Justice,” released on Amazon Kindle in February 2021. Now remarried to Terri, he enjoys a joyous life alongside their Boston Terrier, Abbey, who exuberantly welcomes every visitor at their front door. Michael’s educational background includes a BA and Master’s Degree from the College of William and Mary, where he minored in English literature. His life journey has taken him from the east coast of the U.S. to Europe, with notable experiences including a summer of study at the University of Graz in Austria.

Author Q&A

What inspired you to write your first book?

Like many people, I have always desired to write a book, but I could never seem to get started. As I became more excited by such authors as Alexander Dumas, James Michener, Ernest Heminway, and Ian Fleming, I felt like I wanted to express myself in similar fashion as these authors. I was also inspired by my deceased wife, MaryAnne. I studied her initial books such as Forbidden Obsession and Forbidden Image. I learned the basic techniques of formulating an attractive idea for a story, developing characters, establishing an outline, and writing each chapter. She was organized and a very smart lady.

Do you have a particular writing style?

I like history so I add historical events or times to my books. I tend to focus on the narrative style interspersed with bouts of conversation.

How did you come up with the title?

It is explained in the book, but it is due to the fact that the gnarled roots of the water oaks and drinking ability of bald cypress trees in the river reminded original slaves of the elephants they once knew in Africa. Believing they would never know or see the pachyderms again, the slaves named the small beach area ELEPHANT BONES.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There is great friendship in the world that people must hold on to. There is also evil that must be overcome. ELEPHANT BONES represents a special place in people’s lives that brings them back to the area over and over and to the vast love, pain and memories that exist through their lives..

How much of the book is realistic?

Pungo is a borough of Virginia Beach, the largest city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia Beach incorporated the county of Princess Anne in the 1960s and became the geographical size it is today. For a while Virginia Beach was known as the ‘World’s Largest Resort” due to its geographical nature, but eventually it disappeared as a result of other areas increasing their size, such as Jacksonville, FL which was once called the sister city of VA Beach. It incorporated their county and became larger than the city of Virginia Beach.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Nope, not based on anyone who is not fictional. The characters don’t even remind me of people I have known in the past.

What books have most influenced your life most?

As a high school student, I would have to say that Victor Hugo’s THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO was my most enjoyable read by far. I could not put it down and found myself reading it in several classes and in the football stadium when it was empty.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I once visited the home of Ernest Hemingway in Key West, FL. Upon my return to VA Beach, I read most of the books he had written. I once shook hands with James Michener. I was overwhelmed. I don’t know if I ever washed that hand again and that was back in the early 1990s.

What book are you reading now?

I am writing now. I live a busy life and have only so some much time to devote to the written word. I don’t believe many people who claim to be reading and writing all the time. You are missing an important part of real life.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

No, but I am certain there are many wonderful authors in the world whose works should be read, but I have not had the honor.

What are your current projects?

I am currently writing a book called Devil, Sinner, Saint. It involves a Serial Killer in a town known as Sand City and let’s just say, it is very close to Virginia Beach.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

There are several friends who were supportive of my works. They are mentioned in the Acknowledgement page of my books.

Do you see writing as a career?

I see writing as a wonderful outlet that I will continue to pursue as long as I live or run out of ideas. Hopefully, neither shall approach too soon. I am ready to take a sabbatical after Devil, Sinner, Saint.

Elephant Bones is available for purchase on Amazon.

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