VBT – FINDING GEORGE WASHINGTON
Posted by authorcamilson
Finding George Washington: A Time Travel Tale
by Bill Zarchy
GENRE: Sci-Fi / Alternate History / Baseball Saga / Action Thriller
On a freezing night in 1778, General George Washington vanishes. Walking away from the Valley Forge encampment, he takes a fall and is knocked unconscious, only to reappear at a dog park on San Francisco Bay—in the summer of 2014.
Washington befriends two Berkeley twenty-somethings who help him cope with the astonishing—and often comical—surprises of the twenty-first century.
Washington’s absence from Valley Forge, however, is not without serious consequences. As the world rapidly devolves around them—and their beloved Giants fight to salvage a disappointing season—George, Tim, and Matt are catapulted on a race across America to find a way to get George back to 1778.
Equal parts time travel tale, thriller, and baseball saga, Finding George Washington is a gripping, humorous, and entertaining look at what happens when past and present collide in the 9th inning, with the bases loaded and no one warming up in the bullpen.
The General watched as the Northern Lights spread, shimmered, and swirled through the sky like the smoke from God’s own cigar, now rising, now dipping, now twirling and pulsing.
Though soldiers often considered the aurora a bad omen, at that moment it thrilled him. To the east, he could see the glow of sentry fires of some of the closer regiments, the troops hunkered down for the night. A short distance to the south, the men of his personal guard occupied their own group of makeshift huts within sight of the farmhouse.
It’s cold. I should get back before Patsy and the staff begin to miss me.
He paused and took a deep breath of the night air. He was a durable and determined man who had survived cold and wintry weather during his early life as a surveyor and, later, as a British officer. He would show his Continental Army troops that the cold didn’t bother him, that staying strong was a state of mind. Certainly they had it worse than he did, but they respected that he had refused to move out of his tent into the stone farmhouse until his men moved out of their tattered shelters into log huts.
The fluid, ethereal display of light in the skies danced and pulsated. Before he could climb down the hill and head back toward the farmhouse, the ground under his feet began to shake and rumble, providing a steady, geological drumbeat to accompany the green and red light in the sky. The terrain rolled. He lost his footing on the ice, just at a point where a crisp moonbeam seemed to hit the patch of turf he was crossing.
The earth came up to meet him, and he banged his head on the frozen ground. Woozy and lightheaded, teetering on the edge of consciousness, he felt a great sadness, felt the bones in his body melt in the shard of moonlight, even as, in his remaining awareness, he realized the moon was not out that evening. He felt his body scooped off the ground, as if by a vengeful wind, then tumbled in a heap onto something hard and unyielding that swept him along at a great rate of speed. All went dark.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Bill Zarchy filmed projects on six continents during his 40 years as a cinematographer, captured in his first book, Showdown at Shinagawa: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil. Now he writes novels, takes photos, and talks of many things.
Bill’s career includes filming three former presidents for the Emmy-winning West Wing Documentary Special, the Grammy-winning Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em, feature films Conceiving Ada and Read You Like A Book, PBS science series Closer to Truth, musical performances as diverse as the Grateful Dead, Weird Al Yankovic, and Wagner’s Ring Cycle, and countless high-end projects for technology and medical companies.
His tales from the road, personal essays, and technical articles have appeared in Travelers’ Tales and Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, the San Francisco Chronicle and other newspapers, and American Cinematographer, Emmy, and other trade magazines.
Bill has a BA in Government from Dartmouth and an MA in Film from Stanford. He taught Advanced Cinematography at San Francisco State for twelve years. He is a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area and a graduate of the EPIC Storytelling Program at Stagebridge in Oakland. This is his first novel.
The book will be $0.99.
Bill Zarchy be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Interview With …..
Thanks for being here today. Tell us about you as a person.
I love sunset walks on the beach, dogs, and a warm fire. I’m allergic to cats, so what looks like a sweet, purring ball of cuddly fluff to you looks like a scratchy, itchy, sneezy hour to me. I have always been a writer. My dad gave me an old portable typewriter when I was a young lad, and I taught myself to type pretty quickly with two fingers. I convinced some relatives to pay me money for a “subscription” to a family newspaper that I published with carbon paper and light gossip for an issue or two. I wrote a column for my high school paper and was managing editor of the campus daily when I was an undergrad at Dartmouth. I was seduced by visual media after graduate film school at Stanford, and I ignored my writing for a long time, till about 20 years ago.
My wife and I have been together nearly 50 years, 43 of them married. We’ve lived in the same house for 35 years. We love family, baseball, music, movies, friends, theatre, and ballet. As a tall guy who’s never been good at basketball, I hated basketball for much of my life, a whiny response to folks saying, “Wow, you’re so tall! You must be SO good at hoops!” We have two wonderful sons. One is a speech-language pathologist, and one is a lawyer.
If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
I’ve been researching Franklin D. Roosevelt for another novel, and I would very much like to meet him, to see how it feels to be in his presence. I’m intrigued by the sparkling personality that emerged from the twists and turns of his remarkable life — raised in wealth and privilege, struck down by polio, a cruel twist of fate. Then coming back from that depressing low point to be elected president four times, always depicted smiling. Historians attribute the great empathy he exhibited toward others to his own life narrative of triumph over adversity. I’d love to spend time with him, perhaps as a fly in the wall, and try to see if his warmth and empathy is genuine, or something fabricated for the cameras, to enhance his public image. I don’t mean to sound cynical. I’d just love to meet him.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
The presidents have always fascinated me, especially Washington. He’s so far back in time that his accomplishments have always seemed larger than life, and perhaps they were. As a young boy, I often asked myself how I would explain technology — like trains, cars, planes, cameras, movies — to George Washington, if he suddenly left his horse-and-buggy age and appeared in mine. When I was looking for an idea for a novel a few years ago, that old notion popped up again, and I began to develop it as a comical, fish-out-of-water story. As I learned more about George, I began to see him as the pre-eminent figure of his age, which sparked a new theme. What if he never returned to Valley Forge? What cascading effect would that have on the history of the world? Then my beloved Giants had a magnificent season, and I began to fold a baseball metaphor and theme into the story mixture. It’s all a big stew, really.
What is your writing process?
When I was younger, I could write and think in the midst of chaos, surrounded by people and media. But lately, as my attention has become more fragmented, I need peace and quiet. I only write in my office, formerly my son’s room, which I took over some years ago. I have a comfy chair, good elbow support, a keyboard in a tray off a large wooden desk. I use a Mac laptop on a stand, which raises it up to match the height of an adjacent large monitor.
I marvel at folks like you who can write while listening to songs with lyrics. We must be a different species. I can’t have words floating around in the air around my head when I’m trying to compose words inside it, but more power to you if it works for you! I only listen to instrumental music. Lots of jazz, usually soft jazz. I have a Miles Davis / John Coltrane playlist that lasts 16 hours, though some of it’s too raucous for writing. I play classical sometimes, looking for pieces that have a steady dynamic range throughout, like chamber music, rather than those that get very loud and very soft, like concerti or symphonies.
I work best in two-to-four hour shifts, with breaks for pit stops and stretching as needed.
Tell us about your main character:
My main character is General George Washington of the Continental Army, who comes to the present. This is not the old, marble-faced, unhappy-looking guy on the dollar bill, but a tall, vigorous, powerful leader in his mid-40s, who’s perplexed by his sudden shifts in venues and centuries. He’s very intense, but exercises tight self-control, rarely shows anger. He’s a man’s man who nonetheless enjoys the company of women. An excellent rider and a graceful dancer. In his own era, he was the most famous man in the Colonies — and one of the richest — despite having little formal education.
If your book was to be turned into a movie, who would play the lead role and why.
It’s tough to imagine who could play Washington credibly, but I think William Hurt has a broad, strong face and the right kind of presence to pull it off. Unfortunately, he’s 71 now, more than a quarter century older than George in my story. I thought David Morse did a good job portraying Washington in the mini-series John Adams, but he’s in his late 60s. I also liked the accent he used for George. Hurt and Morse are both tall, like George.
What are you working on next?
Right now, I’m working with an actor on an audiobook version of Finding George Washington. We’ve done all the recording, but it needs to be edited, checked, corrected, and mixed. I hope to be able to release the audiobook in just a few weeks. David Boyll, the actor, is performing all the different roles with different voices, and he’s highly skilled at accents. For George, he’s been using a sort of an English West Counties accent, similar to David Morse in John Adams. It’s been fun hearing my words come to life!
I’m also planning a sequel to Finding George Washington. It’s about FDR, titled Saving Franklin. It centers on an incident from 1933, where Franklin D. Roosevelt, newly elected to his first term as president, is the object of an attack by a seemingly crazed gunman. FDR is unhurt, but half a dozen shots were fired, causing several injuries and two deaths. It’s a ‘what-if’ story. What if Roosevelt had been killed that night and never become president? What would happen to the U.S. and the rest of the world without FDR’s leadership through the Depression and World War II? I’ve made a couple of research trips and written a bit of this, involving some of the same characters in Finding George.
What advice do you have for other writers who want to get the word out about their book?
First and foremost, make it the best book you possibly can. Write, edit, rewrite. Get notes from other writers and learn how to get and give constructive, positive feedback. If you possibly can, have your book professionally edited. Get on social media and join online interest groups. Get a website. Blog and post about yourself and your book and other subjects. Plan online and in-person events with bookstores and libraries and other organizations. Ask readers who like your book to post online reviews for it. Purchase reviews from Clarion, Kirkus, and other review services. Do a book blog tour. Advertise if you can.
What is your favorite book on your shelf right now?
The book I’m most looking forward to reading is Spider Woman’s Daughter, by Anne Hillerman, her first novel about the Navajo Tribal Police. She took over the series from her father Tony Hillerman after he passed away a dozen years ago. I saw the author speak at an online book chat a few weeks ago, and I recalled how much I enjoyed the earlier books in the series. I ordered her book and wrote to her, and she graciously accepted a copy of my debut novel, Finding George Washington.
Anne’s book will have to wait a little while. I normally only read one book at a time, but right now, I’m in the middle of both A Promised Land, by Barack Obama, and Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, by James Nestor, and I can’t deal with the idea of being in the middle of three books at once.
Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I worked for many years as a cinematographer, shooting film and video projects on six continents, and I taught Advanced Cinematography at San Francisco State for twelve years. Since retiring from the film business six years ago, I’ve studied (oral) storytelling and, in 2018, produced and performed my first one-man storytelling show called “Billy Solo;” in 2019, curated and hung my first photo exhibition; and in 2020, published my first novel, Finding George Washington: A Time Travel Tale.
You are given the choice of one super power. What super power would you have and why?
I want x-ray vision!
I want to be able to see into buildings and containers and vehicles. I want to know what’s inside nearly everything around me.
List 5 things on your bucket list:
- Feel safe enough to travel again.
- Visit Antarctica. I’ve been to the other six continents and would love to collect the whole set.
- Attend Game 7 of the World Series in San Francisco, in great seats on the field level, as my beloved Giants win it all!
- Write several more books, mostly novels.
- See Finding George Washington made into a movie.
Any final thoughts?
This has been fun. Great questions. Thanks so much for hosting me!
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