I’m delighted to introduce today’s blog guest, Diana Rubino from the Authors Helping Authors group. Diana has turned her love of history into some amazing stories. You don’t want to miss this!
In April 1865, President Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theater, in the back of the head by a deranged coward, John Wilkes Booth. I’ve been a Lincoln buff since childhood, and in 2006, I decided to combine my love of Lincoln and the paranormal. I began researching A NECESSARY END, my paranormal twist on Booth’s insane plot to assassinate President Lincoln. It contains no fictional characters.
Abraham Lincoln has fascinated me since I was eight years old. I don’t know what got me started, but it might’ve been a book which I still have titled The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 1, written in 1895. When I was in 3rd grade, in the mid-60s (which shows how long I’ve been a Lincoln nut), my teacher asked us to bring a book to school from home, for a show & tell.
My mother suggested I bring this Lincoln book, which even in 1966 was in bad shape—yellowed, stiffened strips of Scotch tape barely held the covers to the spine. With the wisdom of an 8-year-old that sadly, all of us outgrow, I demurred, saying, “This old book? She’ll think we’re poor!” My mother corrected me: “No, she’ll think we’re rich. Books like this are rare.” Then she proceeded to tape it up some more. My teacher, Miss Cohen, was duly impressed.
A Short List of My Research Books
I treasure that book to this day, and it’s one of many on my “Lincoln shelf” which holds books about our murdered president, his wife Mary, his assassin John Wilkes Booth and his family, the “Mad Booths of Maryland” and the conspirators who faced the gallows or years of hard labor because Booth, their charismatic leader, sucked these poor impressionable souls into his insane plot.
After writing eight historicals set in England and New York City, I wanted to indulge my passion for Lincoln-lore. I began researching in depth about Lincoln’s life, his presidency, his role in the Civil War, and Booth’s plans to first kidnap him, and then to assassinate him.
These were some of my essential books:
- The Day Lincoln Was Shot by Jim Bishop. (I read this in one sitting—I am not exaggerating. I could NOT put it down)
- The Unlocked Book by Asia Booth Clarke. Asia is John Wilkes Booth’s sister. She and her husband were arrested after the assassination.
- The Mad Booths of Maryland by Stanley Kimmel. A fascinating insight into what made the Booth family tick—John Wilkes’s parents, Junius and Mary Ann, had ten children, and Junius had another wife and child in England, where they originally came from.
- A True History of the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln by Louis Weichmann. Louis lived in Mary Surratt’s boardinghouse, where Booth and the other conspirators met to hatch their heinous plot. Louis was not charged as a conspirator, but Mrs. Surratt and the 3 other conspirators were. They were all hanged in July 1865.
History and the Paranormal
A NECESSARY END combines two genres I’m passionate about—history and paranormal.
Through the Surratt Society in Maryland I met several Lincoln/Booth/Civil War experts. My trips to Lincoln’s home and tomb in Springfield, Illinois, Gettysburg, Ford’s Theater, and the house he died in, Petersen House, brought me close to Mr. Lincoln’s spirit.
In my book, which is fiction–but we all know that novels are fictionalized truths–I gave Booth what was coming to him. He got his justice in real life, but in A NECESSARY END, he also got the paranormal twist he deserves.
And I enjoyed sticking it to him!
Et tu, Brute?
I paralleled the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar in this story because in the play, Caesar was known as a tyrant to the Senators, who feared losing their power, as Booth feared losing the Confederacy. Booth always considered Lincoln the tyrant, hence his proclamation ‘sic simper tyrannis’ (be it ever to tyrants) when he jumped to the stage after shooting Lincoln.
Caesar’s Senators, Brutus and Cassius among them, conspired to stab Caesar to death on an appointed day. Booth recruited a group of like-minded disciples to aid him in his insane plot, at first to kidnap Lincoln, then to kill him.
By day, Booth was a Confederate spy and courier, taking dangerous missions so that his beloved South could fight the North in the war that tore the nation in two. But in this story, an even darker secret plagues him–he believes he’s the reincarnation of Brutus, the man who slew the tyrant Caesar, and Booth’s destiny in this life is to murder the tyrant who’s ravaged the South—Abraham Lincoln. In obeying the spirit of Brutus, Booth devises a plot to assassinate the tyrant.
I wrote it as a paranormal instead of a straight historical novel because spirituality was extremely popular in 1865 and all throughout Victorian times. Mary Lincoln was a staunch spiritualist. So stricken with grief after the deaths of her boys Willie and Eddie, she hired mediums such as Nettie Maynard to visit the White House and hold séances in attempts to contact her boys from beyond the grave.
The extent of séances, table-tapping, Ouija boards, Tarot cards, and otherworldly activities in this era fit perfectly with the story I wanted to tell. We could never enter Booth’s head, but his insane behavior begs the question: was he truly haunted by a spirit who drove him to his heinous act that changed history forever?
Or was he simply insane?
“And I am Brutus, Marcus Brutus, I; Brutus, my country’s friend; know me for Brutus!” Booth declared to the proud reflections in his three facing mirrors.
The center mirror clouded over. Puzzled, he leaned into it to peer closer. His reflection faded as if the mirror were clear glass, and another human form took shape, becoming sharper as the mist faded. He was astonished to be looking into the face of a man whose eyes bored into his, pinning him with an unnerving stare. Booth took a step back, glancing to the left, then to the right, but his own reflections were moving right along with him. He focused once more on the stranger in the center, the Roman nose giving the weathered features distinction. He’d seen this face before, but where?
The head nodded and the hint of a pleased smile curled the thin lips. Without so much as a word, the figure faded into the mirror’s eternal depths, and Booth was once again looking at his own astonished face.
“Damn you! Who are you?” He pounded the mirror and it wavered, his image jerking back and forth with the moving glass.
Exasperated, he turned away.
“I’ll find out who you are if I die doing it.” He twirled around to face the mirror, seeing only his three perplexed reflections.
Purchase A NECESSARY END
About Diana Rubino, in Her Own Words
Setting goals is a key to success. Sacrifice helps, too. In 1999 I signed with my first publisher Domhan Books of the UK. I spent several summers in England writing, researching, and revising my 4-book Yorkist saga. A dedicated history buff and Anglophile, I’m a member of the Richard III Society, a fascinating group of learned historians, some of whom claim to have met Richard.
My husband Chris and I own CostPro Inc., a construction cost consulting company in New England. I’m indulging another longtime interest, archaeology, for which I’m working on a Master’s Degree. We also love to travel. The Mediterranean cruise “Cradles of Civilization” aboard the Rotterdam included a visit to the Pyramids of Egypt. I was fortunate to visit Poland, my grandmother’s native land, and Chopin’s birthplace as well as the resting place of his heart, Warsaw.
I have a Real Estate license and since 1994 I’ve owned rental condos in Myrtle Beach and New England.
My stories are romances set against a backdrop of political upheaval, court intrigue, poverty, general drama of the surroundings, and sometimes a splash of the paranormal. What I’m trying to convey is that love can prevail no matter what the conflicts and obstacles, earthly or not.
I recently began writing biographical novels with no fictional characters.
I enjoy living in the most beautiful spot on Earth, my beloved Cape Cod.
Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Diana Rubino