What would you like readers to know about you?
Michael Ross is a lover of history and great stories. He’s a retired software engineer turned author, with three adult children, and five grandchildren, living in Newton, Kansas with his wife of 42 years. Michael graduated from Rice University and Portland State University with German and software engineering degrees. He was part of an MBA program at Boston University. He was born in Lubbock, Texas, and still loves Texas. He’s written short stories, technical articles in the past, and articles for the Texas Historical Society. His trilogy, Across the Great Divide, includes “The Clouds of War”, “The Search”, and “The Founding”. The series has won many awards and positive reviews, including Silver Medal Book of the Year from the Coffee Pot Book Club (The Search), Honorable Mention Book of the Year (Clouds of War), Five Star Firebird award, Five Star Chanticleer International Book award, shortlisted for the Chanticleer Laramie award 2021, and Publisher’s Weekly positive review. Clouds of War was an Amazon #1 best seller in three categories in 2019. Most recently, The Founding has won a silver category award for YA from The Historical Fiction Company.
Can you tell us what you’ve written?
I’ve published the Across the Great Divide trilogy mentioned in the bio, and contributed to the historical fiction anthology “Alternate Endings” in 2022. I have a few other WIPs related to the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, the1920s, China, and a children’s book. A long time ago I sold a dystopian short story to Random House – I have no idea if it ever got published.
Did you choose historical fiction or did it choose you?
I suppose in a sense historical fiction chose me. I’ve always had a passion for history and current events. I’ve lived all over the United States (seven different states) and traveled Europe and Asia. My family had connections to political figures, like Preston Smith, who became governor of Texas. My mother was an English/Spanish teacher who taught writing. Growing up, my time in the Washington D.C. area brought history up close, and then living in both Willamsburg, Va. and New England gave lots of access to historical sites and people.
Can you share three books on your night table right now?
There’s my physical night table, and my Kindle night table 😊. My physical night table has non-fiction, mostly inspirational: A Doctor in the House by Candy Carson, subtitled “My Life with Ben Carson”, The Word Spreads, a devotional on the book of Acts, Married for Life, an inspirational set of vignettes from ordinary people married for 50 years or more, a signed copy of “Unexpected Blessings”, an inspirational book by Roma Downey, TV and Movie star from our friendship on Twitter, and last, Barbara and Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest, by Barbara Rainey and Susan Yates. Barbara is the wife of Dennis Rainey, and together they run the Family Life organization promoting Christian marriage.
My Kindle night table is likely of more interest to the Lanterns: The Lines Between Us, Lap Baby by Amy Barker, Women of the American Revolution by Samantha Wilcoxson, The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr. Mount TBR has other entries, but these are currently at the top. Vanessa Riley’s Island Queen is at the top of the audio queue.
What writer has influenced you? What non-writer?
I once lucked into an extended email conversation with author Tom Clancy. Tom was generous with his time and answered my writing questions. I’ve never forgotten his lessons on character and plot. I’d like to think I have been learning from Kate Quinn’s books, and her generous answers to questions. Jenny Quinlan is an editor rather than a writer, but has certainly influenced my writing with her thoughtful edits to my books, published and unpublished.
Do you have a favorite writing quote, book, or author?
Favorite book about writing is Stephen King’s “On Writing” – “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
What was the inspiration for your most recent book?
I’d always intended to finish the Across the Great Divide series, up through the founding of Lubbock, Texas. A few years ago, I came across the story of Nicodemus, and other all black towns founded in the 1800s in the Exoduster movement. When I discovered that the founders were from Lexington, Ky, and could easily have been some of my characters (though fictional) from The Clouds of War, I was hooked. Lots of people haven’t heard the story of the Exodusters, and many assume prejudice and discrimination was confined to the South, which isn’t true. When I learned the different fates of the two towns, Nicodemus and Lubbock, and the circumstances, I felt it was a parallel story that had to be told.
The main character of the Across the Great Divide series, William Dorsey Crump, is one of the founders of Lubbock and Shallowater, Texas. Michael wrote a scholarly article on Will Crump for the Texas Historical Society which was published in the Handbook of Texas Online. Interestingly, Michael knew Will’s granddaughter when he was a child. THE CLOUDS OF WAR is his first novel and the first in the Across the Great Divide series. The second book, THE SEARCH, came out in 2020, and the third, THE FOUNDING, in 2022.
Along with his above-mentioned article, Michael has published several short stories, including one in ALTERNATE ENDINGS.
Born in Lubbock, Texas, Michael is a retired software engineer turned author with three children and five grandchildren. After attending Rice University as an undergraduate, Michael went to Portland State University for his graduate degree and has degrees in computer science, software engineering, and German. In his spare time, Michael loves fishing, riding horses, and playing with his grandchildren (all of whom are currently under six years old). Although he lives in Newton, Kansas with his wife of thirty-eight years, a part of Michael’s heart will always be in Texas.
Michael sees many parallels between the time of the Civil War and our divided nation of today. Sanctuary cities, immigration, arguments around the holiday table, threats of secession – all are nothing new. Sometimes, to understand the present, you have to look at the past – and reach Across the Great Divide. Find out more at HistoricalNovelsRUs.
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Award-winning author Rebecca D’Harlingue writes about seventeenth-century women forging a different path. Her debut novel, The Lines Between Us, won an Independent Press Award and a CIBA Chaucer Award. Her next novel, The Map Colorist, comes out in September, 2023.