Civil War family story fascinates novelist: Q&A with Christopher Morin

Christopher Morin's latest novel is partly set in North Scarborough just after the Civil War.

An event from his own family’s history provided the inspiration for Christopher Morin’s latest book, “The Rebel’s Wrath,” which takes place during the late days of the Civil War and right afterward.

“The Rebel’s Wrath” tells the story of Pvt. Sherman Jackson of the 20th Maine, who survives the Battle of Gettysburg and the remainder of the Civil War only to face more trouble when he returns home with the hope of saving the family business, located in North Scarborough, before all is lost.

This is Morin’s third book. Another work of historical fiction is “A Tale of Life & War.” In that novel, which takes place during World War II, a downed American pilot struggles to survive in occupied France just prior to the D-Day invasion.

Morin, who lives in Portland but who has family roots in Scarborough, also has a short story, “The Besieged,” set in the rugged Alaskan wilderness at the turn of the 20th century.

On Saturday, Nov. 12, Morin will be at the South Portland Public Library to discuss his new book.

A Maine native, he works for General Mills as field personnel, which allows him to work from home. Morin has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maine and this week spoke with the Current about his love of writing historical fiction.

Q: What was the inspiration for “The Rebel’s Wrath?”

A: For several generations my family owned and operated a general store, called O.E. Sherman, in North Scarborough, along with the house next door. Now it’s called Countryside Butchers. Anyway, my family owned the house and store until the early 1980s. The O.E. stood for Orra Edgar Sherman, who was my great-great grandfather and the owner. My uncle once showed me a letter that O.E. wrote to his son, Joe, who was in the Army during World War I. In the letter, O.E. beseeches his son to come home and help with the store once the war was over, which he did. My uncle is still in possession of the actual letter to this day and the house, the store and the letter were the main inspirations for creating “The Rebel’s Wrath.”

Q: How much research and other reading did you do to write this story?

A: I researched a lot of family history, local Portland history and also read up on events and life during the Reconstruction period, which ran from 1865 to 1877, in order to create this story. I have always loved history and found it interesting, particularly when it concerns topics and time periods I like.

Q: Why tell a story that’s set partly after the Civil War?

A:  Obviously I got the idea from real life events that happened in my own family, but instead of the son returning home from World War I, I decided to make it the Civil War, which is one of my favorite time periods of American history.

Q: Are you fascinated with all history or just specific aspects of American history? And, why does history provide such good fodder for storytelling?

A: I love history in general, but my favorite areas of interest are American military history, specifically the Civil War and World War II. In addition, there are so many fascinating events that have transpired in the past. I love to take interesting actual events in history and wrap a good fictional story around them. By doing so, it’s my goal to both educate and entertain the reader. If I’ve done that, then I feel I’ve been successful.

Q: What do you hope readers get out of “The Rebel’s Wrath?” And, what can attendees expect from the author’s talk on Nov. 12?

A: I hope they enjoy a good story and that they are able to learn about some interesting local history that they might not know. I also hope it fuels their imagination and makes them want to learn more about the Civil War and its aftermath in general.

In terms of the author talk, I hope it’s a pleasant, relaxed and enthusiastic discussion about not only “The Rebel’s Wrath,” but my other two books, as well. I also am more than happy to talk about my personal experiences in writing these books, and the writing process in general.

Q: What do you most enjoy about writing and writing historical fiction in particular?

A: I love studying fascinating events in history and letting my imagination run wild. I love creating fictional characters and places that cleverly fit in with historic events of the past. I love shaping a good fictional story from actual events in time. The goal is always to educate and entertain the reader and to make them want to learn more about a particular topic.

Q: Do you have any advice for budding writers or those who’ve always wanted to write a novel?

A: Everyone has a story inside them that they want to share. The hardest part is starting. Don’t get frustrated when the words don’t flow and don’t get discouraged when life gets in your way and your creation isn’t moving along toward completion as fast as you want.

Keep going. Don’t let anything or anybody get in your way. As long as you stay determined, your book will get written and published. It’s not easy, and it will be a lot of work, but the goal is attainable. The key is to stay positive and not let others discourage you. Overall, I would say just keep writing and keep dreaming.

A closer look

Maine author Christopher Morin will discuss his newest book, “The Rebel’s Wrath,” at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12, at the South Portland Public Library. This event is free and open to the public. See or call 767-7660 for more information.

Christopher Morin’s latest novel is partly set in North Scarborough just after the Civil War.