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Author’s Perspective with Marc Wortman

October 31, 2010

On October 19, Dr. Marc Wortman visited Averett University as part of Averett's Authors on Campus series. Wortman, author of "The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta" and "The Millionaires' Unit: The Aristocratic Flyboys Who Fought the Great War and Invented American Air Power," spent a few minutes before his lecture talking with Randy King, Averett's Director of Marketing and Communications.

Q. What would you share with a student or a professor interested in writing a historical novel or writing about history?

A. There are two things: One is being able to imagine your way into the past, based on - in the case of historical writing - the facts that you can gather through research, and then weaving those elements together into a compelling narrative. The other is a love of story. And that love of story is important whether you're writing a novel, a long form of journalism or a historical narrative; you want to be able to write something that has pace, that has character and that carries the reader from page to page.

Q. What was the most surprising thing you learned in seeking to publish your work?

A. In seeking to publish my first book, I discovered a couple of things. One is that nobody owns all the wisdom when it comes to what is publishable and what the public will be interested in reading. My proposal for my first book was rejected by many agents. I ended up writing an article based on the material, and then an agent contacted me and asked if I wanted to write a book on the subject! So I told her the story and the next you thing you know there was a small auction to purchase rights to the book and an option for it to be made into a motion picture. So, you never know, and nobody has all the wisdom when it comes to what the public wants to read.

Q. How has what you learned in college helped you succeed as a writer?

A. One of the things I've grown to appreciate as I've matured as a person and as an author and journalist is just how important my undergraduate liberal arts education was. You get an education for life in exploring different subjects, in learning about history and philosophy, in writing and reading. You learn how to think critically. And that's going to help you in so many areas of life. Life's paths cannot be predicted. The one thing I know that is that the way to prepare yourself for that is to have a rich and critical mind, able to respond to the curve balls that life is going to throw you.

Averett's Authors on Campus series is a component of the University's Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), Reading Critically for Success.