David O. Stewart, novelist? Pretty soon. The following notice just ran on Publishers Marketplace:
“Author of SUMMER OF 1787, the recently published AMERICAN EMPEROR, on Aaron Burr, and a forthcoming history of James Madison, founder and president of The Washington Independent Review of Books David Stewart’s MR. BINGHAM’S SECRET, about a deathbed confession that reveals a further, darker twist to the Booth conspiracy to kill Abraham Lincoln, to John Scognonimiglio at Kensington Books, in a two-book deal, for publication in 2013, by Will Lippincott at Lippincott Massie McQuilkin.”
Very exciting! I wrote the novel last winter and spring (2011) after handing in my manuscript for American Emperor. I really couldn’t face going back back into the Library of Congress to research the next book, and I had this idea for a novel, involving the prosecutor of the John Wilkes Booth conspiracy, John Bingham of Ohio. When he died in 1900, 35 years after the Lincoln assassination, Bingham made an electrifying disclosure that historians have ignored until now. (This part’s true.) I tried to figure out how to write a nonfiction book about it, but couldn’t. So I tried an historical novel, trying to puzzle out some of the many continuing secrets of the Lincoln killing.
And now Kensington wants to publish it! Even better, as those of you learned if you read the above notice closely, they have insisted on a two-book deal, so I’m on the hook to write a sequel.
Kensington is the largest independent publisher, with a particular focus on genre fiction. My novel fits into their historical mystery/thriller category. They are pointing towards publication in fall 2013. My working title, as the notice states, is Mr. Bingham’s Secret, but Kensington has made it clear that they think we can do better. To which I have responded with all the hard-nosed negotiating tactics mastered in my life at the bar, . . . sure!
This is an exciting new turn in the road for me. I actually started out twelve years ago thinking I was going to write novels, but the marketplace had a different verdict. Now, I’m getting to scratch that itch. Very sweet.
This doesn’t mean I’m turning my back on straight history — I’m a devotee of the principle that you go home with the one that brung you! I’m deep into an examination of James Madison and the major historical figures he partnered with through a long and astonishingly productive political career. That one should come out in the second half of 2014, if all goes well.
It’s going to be busy!