The Making of the Adversaries

An American Family Portrait

Video Podcast


This is the sixth in a series of videos in which I take a look back at the making of my 9-volume novel series, An American Family Portrait, on the 20th Anniversary of the publishing of the first book in the series, The Puritans. This video features Book 4, The Adversaries.

  • Book 4 in the series is set during one of the most popular periods for historical fiction, the Civil War.
  • As strange as it sounds, Chapter 15 is special to me because it is the first chapter I wrote as a professional novelist. At the publisher’s request, for the proposal I submitted to them, I wrote a scene set on the eve of the Battle of Fredericksburg. It is this chapter that got me a four book contract and launched this series and my career as a novelist.
  • After getting the contract, I then had to go back and write The Puritans, The Colonists, The Patriots, and half of The Adversaries before I finally was able to get to this scene in Chapter 15 again.
  • One of the problems of writing a story set during the Civil War is what to do with the “N” word. Harriet Beecher Stowe used it liberally, as did Mark Twain because it reflected the language of the culture.
  • I chose not to use it because it would call attention to itself and break the illusory bubble of the story.
  • Herman Wouk wrote The Caine Mutiny in 1952 and didn’t use cursing even though it was story set aboard a naval ship. He chose not to use cursing for a similar reason, it didn’t add to the story. He is proof you can still tell a great story and not use foul language; The Caine Mutiny won the Pulitzer Prize for literature.
  • Two of the historical people that inspired me while writing The Adversaries were Abraham Lincoln and Harriet Beecher Stowe.
  • Lincoln is regarded as our greatest president, yet he was vilified during his day, not only by the South but by his own people as well.
  • When Lincoln invited Harriet Beecher Stowe to visit the White House, he greeted her by saying, “So this is the little lady that started this great war.”
  • I hope that my stories will inspire readers to live courageous lives and change their corner of the world.

CLICK HERE to start reading the American Family Portrait series in minutes!

Other episodes in this series: 


  1. Why I Write Christian Historical Fiction
  2. The Incredible Power of Historical Fiction
  3. The Making of The Puritans
  4. The Making of The Colonists
  5. The Making of The Patriots


  1. Sports on Sundays: Keeping the Sabbath in the Days of The Puritans
  2. My 13-year Odyssey to Getting Published
  3. John Winthrop: The Forgotten Founding Father
  4. A Middle-Aged Male Author Attempts to Write Poetry From a Teenage Character
  5. 300-year-old Bible stolen
  6. The Incredible Patience Wright

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