With his most recent novels, Roosevelt's Beast, The School of Night, The Black Tower, The Pale Blue Eye and Mr. Timothy, Louis Bayard, in the words of the Washington Post, has ascended to "the upper reaches of the historical-thriller league." A New York Times Notable author, he has been nominated for both the Edgar® and Dagger awards and has been named one of People magazine's top authors of the year.
From Bayard's Q & A with Hilli Levin for BookPage:
What was the initial inspiration for Roosevelt’s Beast?Visit Louis Bayard's website.
That’s a bit shrouded in mystery. All I can remember is standing in a Borders— that’s how long ago this was—and thinking: “Wait, didn’t Teddy Roosevelt go on some crazy journey through the Amazon jungle?”
At that point, I hadn’t yet read Candace Millard’s The River of Doubt, so I didn’t know how close Roosevelt came to death or how harrowing that journey really was—backbreaking labor, disease, starvation, drowning. The only thing I had, really, was a question. What would that experience have done to Roosevelt’s mind—or, to be metaphysical about it, his soul? The rest of the book just flowed from there.
Did you get the chance to see the Rio Roosevelt for yourself?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from writing historical novels, it’s how elusive the past can be. You can go to Paris, you can go to London, and I’ve done that, but if you want to reconstruct Napoleonic Paris or Victorian London, you have to head back to the library. And that’s what I did with Roosevelt’s Beast. I immersed myself in primary sources until I had the clearest possible picture of Teddy Roosevelt’s jungle. (Plus I’m fortunate to...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: The Black Tower.
The Page 69 Test: The Pale Blue Eye.
The Page 69 Test: The School of Night.
The Page 69 Test: Roosevelt's Beast.