Sunday, September 22, 2013

Author Talks: Robert Williams

Robert Williams came to Just Write Books on the advice of his brother John Vinton who had enjoyed a good business relationship with Nancy E. Randolph in her former business Just Write Communications. Bob and I met and found that we could work together quite well. Bob had gathered old photos and taken some of his own. He wrote Lovewell's Town, Lovell, Maine: From Howling Wilderness to Vacationland in Trust. He continues to sell copies of Lovewell's Town.

He is in the process of moving to Topsham, Maine and I've suggested a next project—the history of Topsham, Maine. Robert is a fine historian and I look forward to Topsham's history as “discovered” and revealed by Robert C. Williams.

JWB: When did you start writing?
Williams: I began writing poetry and essays in high school in the 1950s, then in college and graduate school. Initially I wanted to be a scientist, but decided that life was too short and History was sufficiently challenging and complex, as well as fun.

JWB: What are some of the themes that you return to regularly in your writing?
Williams: Much of my work in modern Russian, American and European history has involved what I call ‘collective biography,’ seeking patterns in the behavior and thoughts of a number of individuals. Sometimes I have found a single individual (the atomic spy Klaus Fuchs or the Newspaper editor Horace Greeley) who embodied those patterns (secrecy and security, or the distinction between liberty and freedom, in those two cases).

JWB: What is one event that has shaped your writing?
Williams: Reading good books. Outstanding teaching, especially my mentor Wilbury Crockett, who taught English and life at Wellesley High School for many years.

JWB: What are three of your favorite books to reread?
Williams: The poetry of Auden, Yeats and Eliot, the essays of Thoreau and Emerson, the novels of Dostoevsky and Tolstoi. Any good works of history.

JWB: Any advice for young authors?
Williams: You can’t read too many books. Avoid television, video games, and computers. Write for yourself as well as your intended audience.

JWB: What are you currently working on?
Williams: A history of Topsham in the short term, and a book on British intelligence and the politics of forgery in the longer term.

Author Bio
Dr. Robert C. Williams (Ph.D., Harvard, 1966) is a semi-retired historian and the author of numerous books and articles in modern Russian, European, and American history. He has taught at Williams College, Washington University in St. Louis, Davidson College and part-time at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. He first came to his grandfather's summer camp on Kezar Lake in West Lovell in 1939. He and his wife Ann now live permanently in Center Lovell.



Nancy E. Randolph operates Just Write Books, a publishing business with the tag line: Maine books by Maine authors telling Maine stories. Randolph quickly developed a reputation as a publisher of quality Maine books. An active community member along with two others she founded and serves as a member of the board of Save Our Swinging Bridge.Org to ensure the maintenance of the historic Roebling designed and built bridge connecting Topsham and Brunswick. She co-chairs with Cathy Lamb the Androscoggin Brunswick-Topsham Riverwalk project--building a 2K walking/biking intown loop. To contact her directly: jstwrite@jstwrite.com

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