So far, I have babbled on about some of my experiences and things I am working on for the future. But what have done so far?
My first published book was released in 1996. It was a genealogy of the descendants of Empress Maria Theresia of Austria called The House of Habsburg. How I ever managed to do it without much use of the internet and only the beginnings of an email account, I will never know. There were many aspects of the book that I was not happy with and immediately endeavored to do something much better.
In 1999 came The Descendants of Louis XIII. Much better, computer access really made a difference. Also had the benefit of revisiting all of the Habsburg descendants because Maria Theresia’s husband, Emperor Karl Stephan, was a great-grandson of Louis XIII.
The third of these very large genealogies was published in 2002 and was the book that I actually started first and covered the family that got me interested in royal genealogy to begin with. The Descendants of King George I of Great Britain was very similar in nature to the previous books, but essentially covered all of the protestant families while the the previous books focused on the Catholic ones. There was some cross-over, of course.
Those first 3 books were strictly genealogical facts compiled into an outline format. Not much “writing” was invloved. The advent of the internet started making large genealogies of this nature (each one had tens of thousands of people in it) less profitable to publish in book form. It is difficult to compete with an electronic format that can be continuously updated. And the publisher also fell on financial hard times. It was time to take a different track.
The royal family that has really caught my imaginiation is the Romanov family of Russia. I wanted to do a book about them, but trying to find a viewpoint that had not already been done to death was a little difficult. I ended up focusing my attention on the current generation of the family. I wanted to keep the genealogical aspect, but added biographical information as well. This can be done with a smaller group of people. So Romanovs in the 21st Century included a detailed genealogy of the descendants of Emperor Nicholas I of Russia, but also biographical information about the lives of the currently living, or recently deceased, family members. In another entry I discussed my problems with the paperback edition of this book, which was published in 2009. The following year, I re-published an revamped version of the book as my first ebook. That ebook remains my best selling book to date.
This format of mixing biography and genealogy was working very well, so I applied it to another group, the illegitimate children of King William IV of the UK and their descendants. This book, titled William IV, Mrs. Jordan, and the Family They Made came out in 2011. All of the genealogies I have written since use this mixture with biography.
Ever since the first book, I had been chipping away at a royal mystery. Archduke Ernst of Austria (1824-1899) may or may not have married his mistress, Laura Skublics. They had 4 children and several grandchildren, the youngest of whom was born in the early 20th century. No one knew what had become of them since then. After four trips to Budapest and gazillions of hours searching archives and church records, I had finally solved the mystery and made contact with the living descendants. The fruit of this labor was published in late 2011 as The Archduke’s Secret Family.
By this time I had been involved with a writer’s critique group for a couple of years. Most of them wrote science fiction and/or fantasy. I have always been a fan of fantasy stories and of alternative history, so I decided to try my hand at it. I had several areas of history I wanted to visit and tell stories from the point of view of by-standers who had their own problems but were affected by the events going on around them. Rather quickly, I was able to bang out the first draft of Immortal Betrayal which the critique group was able to help me get into a publishable shape. It infused my love of history, the ups and downs of the Romanovs, and a concept that always fascinated me, immortality. I self-published the first version in March, 2012. It has since been picked up by Thursday Night Press, and will be re-released in a re-edited format by them sometime in May. I have now determined it will be the first of a 5-books series, the basic plot of which I have worked out. Book 2, Immortal Betrayal is still being written and takes place in 1865 Colorado and Nazi Germany.
In addition to novels, I have experimented with magazine article-legnth alternate fiction stories that dwell on turning points in royal history. Some questions I have explored so far are “What if Tsar Alexander II had not been assassinated?” “What if Princess Charlotte of Wales had lived, becoming Queen instead of Victoria?” and “What if Queen Victoria insisted on changing the succession laws to be gender neutral, causing her daughter to succeed her rather than Edward VII?” I have submitted these articles to a couple of magazines, but have not gotten any published thus far.
When Prince William married Kate Middleton in April, 2011, I was absolutely appalled by lack of knowledge on the part of the reporters who were covering this event. Then it occurred to me, they really did not have a good concise source to consult about European royalty. So I wrote one. The title pretty much says it all: A Reference Guide to the Royal Families: What Every Reporter (or Royal Fan) Needs to Know. It is written in the format of a field guide and I update it with a new edition each January.
Not one to sit still too long, I am continuing with the genealogy books as well. I wrote one about my mother’s family called Legends, Half-Truths, and Cherished Myths of the Drane Family. There was much mis-information running about the web concerning my maternal family so I wrote a well documented account of what the records show actually happened from the time they came to America in 1600s to the end of the 19th century. This book came out in June 2012.
What is likely my last genealogical effort, is also my most ambitious. King Charles II of England and Scotland (d.1685) fathered and acknowledged at least a dozen illegitimate children by several different women. Their descendants have since become some of the most influential and/or popular people in British history, including Diana, Princess of Wales, the Duchess of York, and the current Prime Minister. This genealogy is far too massive to be done in one book, so I have embarked on an 11-book series which lists complete genealogies along with rather generalized biographical information about the main lines of descent. Book 1 of The Descendants of Charles II was published this past December. I am going to try to release each volume in the next 10 Decembers.
I have a few more fiction plots running around the back of head which may see light one day.
So, now you may understand why I don’t find as much time to write blog entries!