It's true, there is "An Interesting and Unique History: A Conversation with Debut Author Robert Tomaino" at LitReactor. I had this to say in the introduction about Robert: "As the year winds down, it has...been my great pleasure to work with Robert Tomaino on, not only getting his debut novel New Madrid out into the world, but talking to him about writing a western, the Salem Witch Trials, and crafting alternative histories whose themes seem anything but historical." You can read the interview in its entirety here and some excerpt below. Cool? Totally, I know. Enjoy.
Building on this, what's the importance then of 1811, "a year marked by numerous incredible events that rival the strangeness of the last two years," and the choice to use the very real town New Madrid itself?
New Madrid has an interesting and unique history, which is detailed in the book. The town was begun with the dream of incorporating all peoples and faiths where everyone was welcome to build a life. The struggles of a community during a time where numerous problems face the entire country is fascinating and pertinent to today for me. Some of those issues were man-made—outlaws and the growing hostilities with the British and some Native American tribes, the largest slave revolt in history—teach us that no community can insulate itself from broader problems facing the country. Other issues are not man-made, including the rising Mississippi River, which threatened the town, numerous hurricanes that struck the East Coast, the largest continental earthquake in U.S. history, which suggests that despite everything we do as a people, mother nature still holds the final say.
Seeing you draw mother nature into a discussion that already involves the Salem Witch Trials and like threads, I'm curious how conscious you were about striking a balance in your writing between making political statements, while remaining entertaining?
Outside of some back-and-forth banter between the preacher and the sheriff, politics isn't at the forefront of the novel. It can easily be read without any acknowledgement of the politics. This is a story, first and foremost, about people, and how we all deal with our issues in different ways. And, when there are circumstances that cause us to come together (as in searching for the lost child), problems arise if we cannot see past our differences.