Ronald E. Yates is the multi-award-winning author of historical fiction and action-adventure novels. A multi-faceted talent, Ronald received the Goethe Grand Prize Award for Historical Fiction, the Best Book of the Year Award from Chanticleer International Book Awards, and a Book Excellence Award.
Before turning to fiction, Ronald was a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and Professor of Journalism at the University of Illinois, where he was also the Dean of the College of Media. As a professional journalist, Ronald covered several history-making events, including the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia; the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing; and wars and revolutions in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala, among other places. His work as a foreign correspondent earned him several journalism awards, including three Pulitzer Prize nominations. Ronald is also a U.S. Army veteran.
This one-on-one interview shares Ronald’s background and experience in writing the Finding Billy Battles Trilogy, that includes Book 1: Finding Billy Battles: An Account of Peril, Transgression, and Redemption, Book 2: The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles and Book 3: The Lost Years of Billy Battles.
Tell Us About the Finding Billy Battles Trilogy.
When a great-grandson inherits two aging trunks and a stack of meticulously detailed journals penned by his great-grandfather, Billy Battles, he sets out to fulfill his great-grandfather’s last request: to tell the story of an incredible life replete with adventure, violence, and tragedy.
For much of his 100-year-long life, Billy is a man missing and largely unknown to his descendants. His great-grandson is about to change that.
As he works his way through the aging journals and the other possessions he finds in the battered trunks, he uncovers the truth about his mysterious great-grandfather–a man whose deeds and misdeeds propelled him on an extraordinary and perilous journey from the untamed American West to the inscrutable Far East, Latin America, and Europe. He learns of Billy’s surprising connections to the Spanish-American War, French Indochina, and the revolution in Mexico.
What Inspired You to Write the Finding Billy Battles Trilogy?
I grew up in Kansas, and I was always fascinated by what life was like there in the 19th Century when the state was still quite wild.
At the same time, I spent a lot of time in the Far East as a foreign correspondent, and I was equally intrigued by what life must have been like in the 19th Century colonial period in places like French Indochina, The Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, etc.
I got the idea to blend the two using a character from 19th Century Kansas who goes to the Far East in search of himself in the 1890s, and my own experiences covering war and mayhem in Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere from the 1970s to the 1990s.
How Did Your Background and Experience Lead You to Write Historical Fiction?
I wanted to bring little-known historical events to life for my readers.
For 27 years, I was a foreign correspondent with the Chicago Tribune, covering wars, revolutions, and uprisings in places like Vietnam, Cambodia, The Philippines, Afghanistan, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Argentina. Working and living in these places enabled me to learn their histories and meet many of the people who were history-makers.
In deciding to write in the historical fiction genre, I wanted to blend my love of history and the real people who made it, with my fictional characters. In that way, I could immerse readers into the times and places the Finding Billy Battles Trilogy is set.
If You Could Leave Readers with One Message to Walk Away With, What Would That Be?
Because Finding Billy Battles is historical fiction and is set in the 19th Century and early 20th Century, I would like readers to get a sense of the time and place of the story. I would like them to have an appreciation of the way people lived, how they thought, and how they dealt with both adversity and triumph in a very different era.
If I had to define the perfect reader for any of my books, it is someone who loves history and is willing to journey with me to the past. My books are filled with real but little-known historical events that I love to put my characters into.
Finally, I would like readers to finish my trilogy and think to themselves: “I didn’t want that story to end!“
Purchasing the Book Series
The Finding Billy Battles Trilogy is as thought provoking as it is exhilarating, and fans of historical fiction will be captivated from start to finish.
The book series is available for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Kobo and the Google Play store. Readers are encouraged to purchase their copy today: amazon.com/author/ronaldyates
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