Lamar’s Folly: Author Interview


Jeffrey Stuart Kerr
  Genre: Texas Historical Fiction
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
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Date of Publication: November 15, 2017
Number of Pages: 320

Mirabeau Lamar seeks nothing less than a Texas empire that will dominate the North American continent. Brave exploits at the Battle of San Jacinto bring him rank, power, and prestige, which by 1838 propel him to the presidency of the young Republic of Texas and put him in position to achieve his dream. Edward Fontaine, who works for and idolizes Lamar, vows to help his hero overcome all obstacles, including the substantial power of Sam Houston. Houston and Lamar are not only political, but personal enemies, and each man regards the other with contempt.

Edward’s slave Jacob likes and admires his master, but cannot share his hatred of Sam Houston. The loyalties of both Jacob and Edward are tested by President Lamar’s belief that a righteous cause justifies any means necessary to sustain it. Lamar becomes infatuated with a married woman who resembles his deceased wife. He sends the woman’s husband on the ill-fated Santa Fe Expedition, the failure of which humiliates Lamar and provokes a crisis in his relationship with Edward, who in turn jeopardizes the trust that Jacob has placed in him. Edward laments the waste of Lamar’s genius, while Jacob marvels at the hypocrisy of both men.

What did you find most useful in learning to write for publication?  What was least useful or most destructive? Most useful: ultimately, it is up to you to decide what goes into the manuscript. I can’t think of any destructive lessons along the way.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book? Imagining a world that has disappeared but that preceded us by only a few generations.

Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured if your book?  I wish I had been able to think of a way to include a more developed, strong female character.  

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing? Part-time with the goal of becoming full-time.  The hard part about being a part-time writer is coming back to a project after being away from it for a week or more.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  Have any of them impacted your writing? I have been a physician for thirty years.  In my work, I have met a wide variety of people and heard all manner of speech.  This has helped tremendously in creating authentic characters and dialog.

How has your formal education influenced or impacted your writing? In my freshman history class at Rice, the professor, Frank Vandiver, hammered home the idea of avoiding passive voice.  That remains foremost in my mind when I write.

What does your perfect writing spot look like? Is that what your ACTUAL writing spot looks like? I need a desk with enough space on it for my laptop and beverage of choice in a quiet room free of distraction.  My actual spot is a little more cluttered than I would like but meets the other criteria nicely.

What do you like to read in your free time? Mysteries, spy novels, thrillers, historical fiction, and lively history books.

Who are some of the authors you feel were influential in your work?  Some of my favorites include John LeCarre, Elmore Leonard, and Craig Johnson, each of whom tells great stories but leaves much for the reader to figure out.  On the flip side, I enjoy Michael Connelly’s books for their straightforward style and well-developed, complex characters.  Two favorite writers of historical fiction are Robert Harris and Bernard Cornwell.

What book do you wish you could have written? Imperium, Robert Harris’s outstanding historical novel based on the life of the Roman statesman Cicero.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it? The Holocaust.  It’s too painful and there are already a slew of excellent books about it.

What question do you wish someone would ask about your book, but nobody yet has? Why write a novel about Mirabeau Lamar?

What do your plans for future projects include? I would like to write more historical fiction set in the Texas frontier.  I also plan on writing “Lamar’s Folly” as a screenplay.

Who would you cast to play your characters in a movie version of your book? Mirabeau Lamar – Josh Brolin.  Sam Houston – George Clooney.  Edward Fontaine – Chris Pine.  Jacob – Daniel Kaluuya

If you had a superpower, what would it be? Flying

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before? Antarctica

What’s something interesting, fun, or funny that most people don’t know about you? I’m sixty, but I still fantasize playing center field for the Houston Astros.

What is something you want to accomplish before you die? Have a novel published by a major publishing house; see one of my screenplays turned into a movie.

Jeffrey Stuart Kerr is the author of several titles, including Seat of Empire: The Embattled Birth of Austin, Texas, winner of the Summerfield G. Roberts Award and a True West Best Western Book.


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