A retired educator who spent 14 years of his 42-year career at Episcopal Academy, J. Arthur Moore is the author and photographic illustrator behind Up From Corinth (Xlibris), the second installment of Journey into Darkness, a four-book historical fiction series that details 11-year-old Duane Kinkade’s baptism into the Civil War. The project arrives as the nation ramps up for the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States, which engaged some 250,000 boys aged 17 and under. Up From Corinth will be featured at the Pennsylvania School Library Association Book Exhibit April 12-14 in Hershey, Book Expo America June 5-8 in New York City and the Pennsylvania Library Association Book Exhibit Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in Gettysburg.
MLT: What sparked your interest in the Civil War?
JAM: A cap box belonging to a distant relative and stories I read in high school.
MLT: What inspired the series?
JAM: I told the story to local campers over the years. Then, on an October 1984 trip, 10-year-old Charlie French offered to represent Duane Kinkade in the photography—but only if I’d finish the story. Another, Michael Flanagan, suggested it be written in several smaller books; he hated reading thick books. With the parents’ permission, Charlie, schoolmate David Rowland and I created the photography, and I started researching and writing Up From Corinth. The 150th is a happy coincidence.
MLT: Why tell the story of the war through a boy’s experience?
JAM: The earliest stories I read were about a drummer boy or other youth. I learned early on about Johnny Clem, who went to war at age 10, and that many were boy soldiers.
MLT: How likely would it have been for a boy Duane’s age to spend time with the Union and Confederate armies?
JAM: It’s not entirely impossible, since battles often found individuals in the care of the other army. But it’s highly unlikely that a boy Duane’s age would’ve spent so much time with both armies. That’s a fiction that allows Duane to realize a universal sameness in humanity. Regardless of the army, war is hell on earth. But there’s also a need for people in our lives, for friends where we least expect them, family for whom he searches, and the tie that binds—love.
MLT: Why does the Civil War continue to fascinate so many of us?
JAM: A benchmark event in the history of the United States—as much as the American Revolution—it determined whether the nation would survive as a whole or become two separate nations. It brought an end to slavery and a beginning to another 100-year battle for equal rights. We celebrate it because it’s our history, just as we celebrate those involved because they are our people, our ancestors, our veterans.
MLT: When are the other books in the series due out?
JAM: Up From Corinth is the second book written in the series Journey Into Darkness. The first book, On the Eve of Conflict, was written like a prequel. The remaining titles, Across the Valley to Darkness and Toward the End of the Search, were written in sequence afterwards. The entire series is being read by another publisher with the thought of releasing it all as a box set.
MLT: What were the challenges of blending Civil War facts with fiction?
JAM: To focus on the smaller picture in the research and to concentrate on the pieces that dealt with the storyline. Another major effort went into tracing the history of the real units and officers used in the story—to be sure they were actually at the events within the story as it unfolded. At times, these units had to be changed because of an error in continuity. Environmental issues like weather were taken, in part, from the Time Life and Battles and Leaders history series, but were also from published diaries and journals of those present. Some made-up events are based on probability as reflected in the research, or taken from similar events that actually happened.
MLT: Does the series speak to a Main Line audience in any way?
JAM: The war so encompassed and consumed the country that, wherever [an audience] is, there are past family members who fought in the war, wherever their regiments were engaged.
MLT: What are your hopes for the series?
JAM: My end goal is that it be published in its entirety. Several have said it should be made into a movie. For the story itself, I wish it to find its way into the classroom as a way for our country’s youth to experience the war through the experience of Duane Kinkade—and to realize that history is the story of individual people, not just a list of names, events and dates.
To learn more, visit upfromcorinth.com.