Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Finalist Stuart Blackburn

Stuart Blackburn was born in Providence, Rhode Island and lived with his ever-westward moving family in Detroit and then Claremont (California), where he attended high school. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1969 and soon entered the Peace Corps (one of the few remaining alternatives to serving in the military in Vietnam). Two and a half years in the rice fields and villages of south India, where he learned to speak Tamil, changed his life.

He completed his doctorate in Tamil language and international folklore from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1980, after which he took a teaching position at Dartmouth College, followed by other positions at Berkeley as well as a private high school in San Francisco. In 1994, he was offered a position at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), part of the University of London, where he remained until he took early retirement in 2003.

He is the author or editor of 16 books on Indian culture and folklore, mainly in south India (where his first novel, Murder in Melur, is set) and northeast India. One book, a study of shadow puppet theatre in Kerala, won the runner-up prize for the UK Folklore Book of the Year, while a translation of an early Tamil novel won the A.K. Ramanujan Prize in the United States.
He has received numerous grants, including a Fulbright and a Guggenheim. He was also the director of a five-year, multi-disciplinary grant to study Tibeto-Burman tribal cultures in northeast India, which provided him with the inspiration for Into the Hidden Valley.

In 1977, he married Judith Tarr, who accompanied him on several research trips, enduring heat, mosquitoes and bad food. Judith’s son (by her first marriage), Michael, has also spent many years in India, some of them with his mother and Stuart. Michael now lives in New Delhi, with his partner, the landscape architect Aditya Advani. Stuart’s obsessions include old films, Arsenal football club and organic food. He lives with his wife in Brighton, on the south coast of England.

Into the Hidden Valley explores a little-known episode in the colonial history of British India. While a great deal has been written about the British Raj, considerably less is known about the encounter between the British and the tribes of India. One reason for this is that the paper trail for tribal history is thin, but another is that tribal populations were generally dismissed as peripheral. Yet, the British and their Indian allies were engaged in constant, low-level warfare with tribes from the 18th century right up to Independence. Even today, armed struggles continue in parts of the country, especially the northeast, where the story is set. Many of the main events described in the novel are either true or based on true events, though I have manipulated the dates of some events to fit into the time-frame of my narrative.

This photograph from 1897 shows negotiations between British and tribal leaders (flanked by Indian soldiers) in the Apatani valley, which is the ‘hidden valley’ of the novel. This was the first official colonial contact with the valley, which remains isolated even in modern India.

The novel dramatises the colonial encounter with tribes by telling two stories, one of a British official and the other of a tribesman. I made the tribesman a shaman because he takes the reader into the mental as well as the physical world of the ‘hidden valley’ and highlights the contrast with the incoming culture. The fictional shaman (named Gyati) was inspired by a shaman of the same name with whom I worked during field research. In the photo below, he is shown holding a copy of the Indian edition of the novel. Gyati died in May 2016.

I first became interested in the Tibeto-Burman-speaking tribes of northeast Indi, when I went to Arunachal Pradesh (which had been part of colonial Assam) in 1999. I spent a large part of the next decade researching the cultures and oral traditions of one particular group, the Apatanis, who live in the ‘hidden valley’ of the story. Two of my monographs document their storytelling arts.

Into the Hidden Valley is published by Bygone Era Books (Denver) and by Speaking Tiger Books (New Delhi). It is available both on Amazon and from the publisher in India.

Finalist Kermit Roosevelt

Kermit Roosevelt is the author of Allegiance, the critically acclaimed historical novel that captures the drama, heroism and adversity of wartime Washington and the Supreme Court, immersing readers in the life of an idealistic lawyer who comes of age. Published by Regan Arts in 2015, Allegiance is currently a finalist for the M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction and the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. Kermit is a professor of constitutional law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he also teaches creative writing, and a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Souter.

His work as an author combines his lifelong interests in writing, history, and the law. As the great-great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, he’s had a more-than-typical sense of identity with the government, prompting him to examine the triumphs and stumbles of the political system and the many leaders within it. When it came time to write his second novel, he chose an era that closely parallels our world today. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, as fear swept the nation, FDR’s measures to keep Americans safe would lead to civil rights violations, legal debates and moral dilemmas, as seen through the eyes of his hero protagonist. During Kermit’s eight years of research, he uncovered a real-life house of cards story: “I was creating a mystery plot, but at the same time I was solving a mystery,” he says.

"I went to work on the Supreme Court, reading the diaries and personal papers of the Justices and the papers filed by the people involved in the Japanese American internment cases, around which the book centers. I researched the world of wartime Washington and the important figures within the government and the military. But I also wanted a story that would work outside the legal context, so I built in another mystery, one that would explore the same themes: loyalty, suspicion, appearances, and the fundamental question of who we will sacrifice to protect the people we love." -- KR

Allegiance is his first work of fiction since the bestselling In the Shadow of the Law, a winner of the Philadelphia Athenaeum Annual Literary Award, the New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice Selection, and a Christian Science Monitor best book of the year. His experiences clerking and practicing law informed the book.

A frequent op-ed contributor, his work has been published in the New York Times, the Washington Times, Time Magazine, and the Huffington Post, among many other outlets. He serves as a media expert, panelist, and public speaker on issues concerning the Supreme Court, constitutional law, civil rights, national security, American presidential history, conflict of laws, and his work as a novelist. He recently presented talks for organizations including TEDx, the National Constitution Center, and the Commonwealth Club, and has been interviewed by major media outlets in Europe and the United States.

Kermit’s nonfiction books include Conflict of Laws and The Myth of Judicial Activism: Making Sense of Supreme Court Decisions. He has also published in the Virginia Law Review, the Michigan Law Review, and the Columbia Law Review, among others, and the Supreme Court has cited his articles twice. Additionally, he hosts a Coursera class entitled, “Introduction to Key Constitutional Concepts and Supreme Court Cases.” Born in Washington, DC, Kermit attended Harvard University and Yale Law School.

Allegiance by Kermit Roosevelt
Published by Regan Arts, August 25, 2015

Allegiance on Amazon.com
Allegiance on Amazon UK
Kermit Roosevelt website
Regan Arts, publisher’s website

Finalist Helena P. Schrader

Novelist, Historian Diplomat

For readers tired of clich├ęs, apologists and “blaming the victim,” award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader brings refreshing insight to important historical episodes and personalities based on sound historical research. Helena holds a PhD in history and is a career diplomat, but far from writing dry historical tomes, she conveys the drama and excitement of the events and societies described and delivers her stories through the eyes of complex and compelling characters—male and female—drawn from the pages of history.

Helena was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the daughter of a professor, and travelled abroad for the first time at the age of two, when her father went to teach at the University of Wasada in Tokyo, Japan. Later the family lived in Brazil, England and Kentucky, but home was always the coast of Maine. There, her father’s family had roots and an old, white clapboard house perched above the boatyard in East Blue Hill.

It was the frequent travel and exposure to different cultures, peoples and heritage that inspired Helena to start writing creatively and to focus on historical fiction. She wrote her first novel in second grade, but later made a conscious decision not try to earn a living from writing. She never wanted to be forced to write what was popular, rather than what was in her heart.

Helena graduated with honors in History from the University of Michigan, added a Master’s Degree in Diplomacy and International Commerce from Patterson School, University of Kentucky, and rounded off her education with a PhD in History cum Laude from the University of Hamburg, awarded for a ground-breaking dissertation on a leading member of the German Resistance to Hitler. She worked in the private sector as a research analyst, and an investor relations manager in both the U.S. and Germany.

Helena published her first book in 1993, when her dissertation was released by a leading academic publisher in Germany; a second edition followed after excellent reviews in major newspapers. Since then she has published three additional non-fiction books, starting with Sisters in Arms about women pilots in WWII, The Blockade Breakers about the Berlin Airlift, and Codename Valkyrie, a biography of General Olbricht, based on her dissertation.

Helena has also published historical novels set in World War Two, Ancient Sparta and the Crusades. St. Louis’ Knight won the Bronze in both the Historical Fiction and Spiritual/Religious Categories of the Feathered Quill Literary Awards 2014. Her latest project, a biographical novel of Balian d’Ibelin in three parts, got off to a great start when Knight of Jerusalem earned a B.R.A.G. Medallion, and was selected as a Finalist for the 2014 Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction. The second book in the series did even better: Defender of Jerusalem took the “Silver” for spiritual/religious fiction in the 2015 Feathered Quill Awards, won the Chaucer Award for Medieval Historical Fiction, and is a finalist for the M.M.Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction. It too is a B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree.

Helena a career American diplomat currently serving in Africa. In June 2010 she was awarded the “Dr. Bernard LaFayette Lifetime Achievement Award for Promoting the Institutionalization of Nonviolence Ideals in Nigeria” by the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria.

She grew up sailing on the Maine coast and served as a petty officer on the sail-training schooners Sir Winston Churchill and Malcolm Miller. She has owned four horses over the years and remains a resolute horsewoman. She owns property in what was once Lacedaemon, which she visits regularly and where she and her husband Herbert intend to retire.

Visit her website or Amazon page for a complete description and reviews of her publications. Follow her blog for updates on current works in progress, recent reviews and excerpts. For more on the crusader kingdoms and Balian d’Ibelin visit: http://www.defenderofjerusalem.com or follow her blog on the Crusader Kingdoms at: http://defendingcrusaderkingdoms.blogspot.com.

Friday, May 13, 2016

2016 Finalists

The finalists for the 2016 Award are, in order of submission:

Defender of Jerusalem by Helena Page Schrader
Into the Hidden Valley by Stuart Blackburn
Allegiance by Kermit Roosevelt

Congratulations to all!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Semifinalists for 2016

Congratulations to the authors of the long list. In order of submission:

Helena P. Schrader – Defender of Jerusalem
Carol Anne Dobson – Hecate’s Moon
Lucienne Boyce: Bloodie Bones
Stuart Blackburn: Into the Hidden Valley
Karen Charlton: The San Pareil Mystery
Gemma Lawrence: The Heretic Heir
Prue Batten: Tobias
Dean Hamilton: The Jesuit Letter
Kermit Roosevelt: Allegiance
Nuala O’Connor: Miss Emily

Finalists will be announced in May.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Call for Sumissions: Historical Fiction Published in 2015

The M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction Association is pleased to issue a Call for Submissions for historical fiction published in 2015. The winner will be announced at the Oxford, England Historical Novel Society's Conference in September, 2016.

We would appreciate early submissions to take time pressure off the readers/judges. Questionnaires with scoring and commenting are filled out at the end of a read and will not be changed, so time will not affect the judge's view of a book.

Please see the Submissions page of this site to determine whether your novel qualifies and what steps you should take to submit.

We look forward to the 2015/16 season!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Interview of Greg Taylor on his Award Winning Book, Lusitania R.E.X

It has been an exciting first year for the M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction. We of the Board of Directors feel that there were many good books; judges said they found new authors to follow. Our finalists, Steve Wiegenstein, David Blixt, and Greg Taylor are all wonderful writers, and their stories are an excellent read. We were eager to learn about the winner's experience conceiving of and writing his book, Lusitania R.E.X; his interview is below.

1) Congratulation on winning the M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction for your novel, Lusitania R.E.X! Did you think of being a writer as a child? Or when and how did the thought develop?

Thank you Debra. I was thrilled to win the M.M. Bennetts Award. It was a wonderful culmination of five years work on the book to go onstage in front of 600 people attending the Historical Novel Society Conference Banquet and accept the award.

I did write short stories as a kid and even submitted one with my application to college, but just in case that wasn’t enough to differentiate me, I included a tape of my senior organ recital.

I remember the precise moment I decided to write Lusitania R.E.X, although I didn’t know the title then. I was driving from London to Dover with a friend of mine who had written and self-published a book. We were on our way to a crazy costume party. I announced that I was going to write a book about the Lusitania. Two years later I returned to that party wearing a Lusitania costume that took me days to construct, complete with a revolving propeller.

I have always loved history and was intrigued with the Edwardian era because of the vast gulf that separates it from what followed the war. I also felt it unfair that the Titanic receives all the attention while the Lusitania is part of a more complex and intriguing story.

2) How long did the book take you from starting the research to final edits?

I took me roughly four years to complete Lusitania R.E.X. I spent a year researching, reading everything I could get my hands on about the Lusitania. There was less available four years ago than there is today given the 100th anniversary earlier this year.

I compiled what I considered to be the most interesting stories, aspects and mysteries about the tragedy and then worked for several months to develop my story and outline. From that point, I tried to be disciplined about executing to that outline unless I found a factual mistake that forced a correction. It took me two years to execute the writing phase, so with a few months of revisions, including cutting the book in half, it was a total of fours years to achieve the finished product.

3) We know you interviewed people with personal links to the sinking: Can you give us some examples of how you used your interviews in refining the story line?

My first breakthrough was to connect with Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt III, the grandson of my main character, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt. I went to visit Alfred III in Connecticut and found him so interesting that we barely looked at the eleven volumes of original newspaper clippings compiled by his grandmother, the grieving widow of Alfred I. Alfred shared a number of details that I included in the book, in most cases assigning them to his grandfather.

The second connection was with the 11th Duke of Marlborough, whose middle name is Vanderbilt. His grandmother was Consuelo Vanderbilt, a cousin of my main character. The Duke was very interested in my research about the Vanderbilts and eventually wrote the forward for the book.

4) Do you feel you had a good grasp of the personalities of the real people in the story?

Yes, after my research, I really felt like I knew them. The only real changes I made to the book after completing the outline was when I got to know one of the characters better and decided I had misrepresented them. Then I had to rewrite the book. This happened with President Taft, when I realised he would have voted differently in a crucial Skull and Bones meeting than I first expected.

5) As to the purely fictional characters, which was the easiest to fit into the actual history?

Of the three main characters, only one is fictional, and even she is a composite of four real people. I used her as the glue to bind the story together. She is composed of (i) a school girl friend of Princess Viktoria Luise of Prussia that attended her wedding in 1913, (ii) the fictitious younger sister of Alice Crompton, married to Paul Crompton, nephew of the chairman of Cunard Lines, (iii) the woman Alfred Vanderbilt gives his lifebelt to before he drowns, (iv) a woman sucked into one of the massive funnels of the sinking ship and then shot out naked with the escaping steam when the cold seawater hits the superheated boilers.

6) Did you have to bend history at all?

As I explained to the Duke and Alfred Vanderbilt, I followed facts wherever I could but otherwise endeavored to write things that could have happened, but probably didn’t. When faced with a factual error, I corrected it, with the exception of the timing of the assassination of the Russian prime minister. I had written that scene and liked it but reshuffled that part of the story to occur a year later when I couldn’t bear to give it up. That’s the only factual inaccuracy of which I am aware, and it is not central to the story.

7) Define the character Alfred Vanderbilt as you portray him, and what drove him to behave as he did at the sinking of the ship?

Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt was the best of his breed; a sporting Edwardian gentleman, he gave his lifebelt to a woman passenger knowing that, despite mastering nearly every other sport, he had never learned to swim. In my story, Alfred is a lost soul at the beginning of the book, tortured by the admonitions of his stronger sister, Gertrude (Gertrude Whitney, founder of the Whitney Art Museum in New York) to find some purpose in his life. With the help of his friend and Skull and Bones mate, Percy Rockefeller, he finds a mission to embrace as his own. His commitment ultimately leads to his martyrdom and redemption.

8) You had to fly from London to Denver to attend the announcement of the M.M. Bennetts Award, but something was interesting about the location of the presentation. Please explain.

By sheer coincidence, I happen to be from Denver. The weekend of the Historical Novel Society’s North American conference was also my sister’s birthday weekend, so it was a fortuitous occasion.

9) Do you have plans to write another book? If so, what topic is brewing?

I am exhausted after the effort required to produce Lusitania R.E.X, but enjoyed the process so much that I have no doubt of writing again someday. In the short term, I need to focus on the things I neglected during my four-year hibernation to write my book. I already have a few ideas, however, for the next one.

10) Where can Lusitania R.E.X be purchased?

On the website, www.lusitaniarex.com, where you can also view a faux Edwardian photo album of Alfred Vanderbilt that tracks the story. It is also available on Amazon and other retailers and a few special places including the Duke’s Blenheim Palace, Alfred’s Great Camp Sagamore, the Cunard Lines vessels and the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool.

Questions by Debra Brown and Linda Root. If you have questions for Greg, please ask them in the comment section below.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Winner of the M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction Is....

Greg Taylor for Lusitania R.E.X! 
Congratulations, Greg!

Mike Uretsky, Professor at the New York University Stern School of Business, was contacted specifically to vet Lusitania R.E.X. Mike is a specialist and adviser to governments on international energy policy. His area of expertise provides him with an in-depth view of the part private capital has in the past and continues to play in international affairs.

Greg had to decide whether to fly from London to Denver for the presentation. We held our breath, and he did come. Perhaps it helped that he has family near Denver!

You can read Greg's biography here.

David Blixt, Steve Wiegenstein, and Greg Taylor
signing their books at the Historical Novel Society Conference

We thank the management of the Historical Novel Society 2015 Conference in Denver, CO for allowing us to make the presentation at their banquet on June 27 and for making accommodations for our needs. It was a setting Greg and the other finalists, David Blixt and Steve Wiegenstein, will always remember.

Anna Belfrage, who presented Greg's prize and then
won one of her own, stands with Greg and his scroll.

Jim Bencivenga, a retired book critic at The Christian Science Monitor, wrote of Lusitania R.E.X:

"Were it not of American origin, 'Lusitania R.E.X', by Greg Taylor, is a candidate for a BBC Masterpiece series.

"Most enjoyable are descriptions and details of the luxury ship itself. From boilers to horse stables to elevators to paneled suites puts me on board, freeing the imagination with the rhythm of ocean swells and throbbing engines (several decks below, certainly not from Alfred Vanderbilt's suite).

"War on land, in the air, or at sea is deadly business. World War I trench warfare and U boat war (novel and ever so 'ungentlemanly') with the potential for rocket combat as explored in this novel, does indeed set the tone for the modern age.

"Combine political intrigue among British and European aristocrats, the fabulously wealthy American elite, members of a secret Yale society and you have a superlative historical account about the best and worst in human beings.

"Archibald MacLeish tops my list of fascinating characters inhabiting the pages of 'Lusitania R.E.X'. Individuals do make a difference, historical differences. Taylor exploits the Newport crowd, the Skull and Bones crowd. He characterizes an era. Irish and German espionage (I have a German grandfather and an Irish grandmother whom I now understand much better), suffocating conditions in diesel powered U-boats, sex drives above and below the waves, inform this notorious crime at sea.

"The relevant lesson I take from 'Lusitania R.E.X' is how easy it is for people and nations to stumble into war. The US and India just signed a ten-year naval pact to balance the rise of China in the South China sea (in the annals of war the phrase 'balance of power' should bring dread).

"What misstep off a nameless atoll on or below the waters near the Philippines awaits its destiny. Torpedo tubes from a diesel sub, again, could down a ship and initiate a devastating nuclear war.

Final judge Edd Morris wrote:

"Exhilarating and ambitious, I found Luistania R.E.X to be a jolly ride through an impressive swathe of early twentieth century history. Although its final scenes are quite clear from the outset, the tale managed to sweep in enough imaginative intrigue to propel me to the impending disaster.

"There’s lots I loved: in particular, the bitter loss of control (and misunderstanding of the repercussions) of a life’s work. Wally was a beautiful character: rounded, warm, humane.

"The level of historical research - particularly in regard to the Luistania herself - was unparalleled, and the inclusion of real photographs is a beautiful touch.

"With an eye for exquisite detail, Luistania R.E.X marries some feverish flights of imagination with historical accuracy. It’s a pacy, readable novel, designed to impress all who choose to sail with it."

Monday, June 22, 2015

Meet our Final Round Judges

The Board of Directors wishes to thank those (listed below) who spent hours and days of reading time in the initial stages of judging the seventy-five 2014 novels. Many made comments such as that they had found new authors they liked and would be searching out their books. We hope all enjoyed the work.

The scoring and comments of each of these judges was carefully reviewed by the Board of Directors. The difficult job of selecting a small number of semifinalists took longer than we expected; there were many good books, and we wanted to adhere to M.M. Bennetts' views of literature in making our choices. We eventually reached the last stage. With additional reading by certain members and vetting by experts to whom we turned, the group at last heartily endorsed the selection of our three finalists.

The decision was turned over to a panel of three judges.

Jim Bencivenga was a book editor and worked with M.M. Bennetts for seven years as a book critic for The Christian Science Monitor. We thank the staff at the Monitor for helping us find a colleague of hers that could help us.

A writer and editor for 23 years at the Christian Science Monitor, Jim is interested in freelance writing and sharing his knowledge and expertise in the areas of education, astronomy, religion, technology and the environment.  From authoring one-off articles, to shepherding an author through a lengthy article, or even a book, he leads a life of the mind through written expression.

Jim has worked as a visiting adjunct professor of Journalism at Ithaca College, a Writer/Consultant at Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, Wash., DC, an Education Writer and Editor, Book Editor, Ideas Editor of Science & Technology, Religion, Ethics, and Books, and a Community Producer of the website for The Christian Science Monitor.

He is a Trustee of the Asher Student Foundation actively engaged in a variety of ways in supporting Christian Science students of all ages who are enrolled in accredited colleges, universities and certificate programs across the country. Jim was the Director of Information Services at the National Institute of Education in the US Department of Education for two years and was in the Ford Foundation Education Fellowship regarding Special Education in Prisons, visiting twelve prisons in eight states.

Jim was twice the recipient of the NY Times feature writing award presented by the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the Director of Publications at the National Institute of Education within the US Dept. of Education. He worked as the President of a community based Group Home for adjudicated teenagers in Bozeman, MT.

Jim can be reached at Jimmyb3 at comcast.net.

Edd Morris is a medical doctor and the author of the full color Exploring English Castles: Evocative, Romantic, and Mysterious True Tales of the Kings and Queens of the British Isles. Edd has a passion for history, travel, and for visiting castles in the UK and in Europe.

His website, www.exploring-castles.com, attracts more than a third of a million visitors every year, and is one of the web's most visited resources on castles. Edd graduated with a BA from the University of Warwick, and a MA and MBBS from the University of London. He presently works as a doctor within the UK National Health Service.

Many thanks to Reader/Judges Andrew Latham, Anna Belfrage, Anne-Marie Caluwaert, Annie 'EditingPen', Arthur Russell, Audra Friend, Averil Bennetts, Charles Bazelgette, Christoph Fischer, Cryssa Bazos, Darius Stransky, Darlene Williams, Deborah Swift, EM Powell, Fiona Powell, Geri Dunlop Clouston, Glen Craney, Helen Hollick, Irene Conroy, Jacqui Reiter, Jeanne Greene, Jonathan Hopkins, Jude Knight, Katherine Pym, Kathy Carroll, Laurel Ann Natress, Lauren Gilbert, Linda Collison, Linda Root, Lisl Zlitni, Margaret Porter Evans, Margaret Skea, Mike Rendell, Mike Uretsky, Nancy Bilyeau, Pippa Elliott, Richard Abbott, Robyn Leatherman, Rose Spears, Sarah Johnson, Shannon Gallagher, Sr. Sheila, Sophia Rose, Sue Millard, Tru Denton, and Williamaye Jones. We couldn't have done it without you!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Award Finalist (and Winner!) Greg Taylor

Lusitania R.E.X, an historical novel about the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in the early days of World War I, is Greg Taylor’s first novel and a very remarkable debut. Taylor says he was drawn to accounts of the Lusitania, fascinated by the collapse of Edwardian society, the epitome of elegance, in the brutal warfare their own industrial success had made possible. Taylor's passion for history and research earned him access to private family archives never before opened to a writer, and has taken him to numerous sites that appear in the book, from the palaces of the Tsar, the Kaiser and the Vanderbilts to the battlefields of Ypres.

Lusitania R.E.X explores the events and influences leading up to the sinking, with a well argued theory as to the cause of a second, unexplained blast that doomed the ship after it had been struck by a single German torpedo on May 7th, 1915. The Lusitania sank eighteen minutes after that second, internal blast. Taylor’s book is brimming with convincingly drawn spies and secret societies, superweapons, obscure Russian physicists and playboy millionaires, including Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt I, the main character of the novel.

Since the time of her sinking, the Lusitania has been wrapped in mystery and intrigue. Experts continue to debate the cause of that second explosion. Imperial Germany immediately claimed the ship was loaded with explosives destined for the front.

Lusitania R.E.X weaves fiction around the known facts to create a plausible explanation of unresolved questions surrounding her sinking and explores how modern, mechanized war, with its zeppelin raids and poison gas, brought to an end the gilded age of Newport, Edwardian England and Imperial Germany and Russia.

The Nautilus Telegraph wrote: “Through its fictionalised treatment of historical events, Lusitania R.E.X tries to get inside the head of Vanderbilt, exploring the reasons why this rather indolent heir to a fortune could have developed into someone capable of heroism. In the best blockbuster tradition, the book features plenty of romance and glamour, as well as a Dan Brown-style conspiracy posited by the author as the real reason why the German navy attacked the ship in the First World War.”

Originally from Colorado, Greg Taylor has made London his home since 2000; he divides his investment banking and asset management career between New York and London. Lusitania R.E.X was written while the author was founding and developing his own investment management firm, Sequoia Investment Management.

Undergraduate studies in history at Williams College in Massachusetts and the University of Durham in England influenced Taylor's writing of Lusitania R.E.X., as did his work at the School of Management at Yale University, where he lived just one block from The Tomb, the headquarters of the Skull and Bones Club, which figures prominently in the book.

During his research, Taylor came to know descendants of some of the principal characters in Lusitania R.E.X. He spent some time with Alfred Vanderbilt III, including accompanying Alfred and his wife on a visit to his grandfather’s Great Camp Sagamore in the Adirondacks, described with first-hand vividness in the book. Alfred Vanderbilt I, who inherited one of the largest fortunes of America’s Gilded Age, perished on the Lusitania after giving his lifebelt to a woman passenger.

The Duke of Marlborough also took an interest in Lusitania R.E.X. His father and grandfather are significant in the story through the 9th Duke’s marriage to Consuelo Vanderbilt. The 11th Duke, whose middle name is Vanderbilt, wrote the forward to Lusitania R.E.X.

Taylor also was able to sail on the Cunard Line’s “Lusitania Remembered” Voyage in May of 2015 and participated in marking the 100th anniversary over the site of the Lusitania wreck which lies beneath 260 feet of water eleven miles off the coast of Ireland. Taylor had the pleasure of meeting a number of descendants of Lusitania victims and survivors and is hosting an upcoming event with Lady Helen Gaskell, the descendant of a survivor.

Lusitania R.E.X is published by Filament (hard bound and paperback) and Autharium (electronic formats) and is available on the book website, Amazon, and from other retailers and your local bookshop.

The book website is www.lusitaniarex.com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/LUSITANIAREX/303457686474329
Taylor’s Twitter is @GregTaylor_LUSI