Eric Pierpoint | The Children’s Book Review | September 18, 2015
Eric Pierpoint is a veteran Hollywood character actor who’s begun a writing career with several screenplays in development. His ancestors came west on the Oregon Trail in the mid 1800s, so Eric and his dog, Joey, followed in their wagon wheel tracks and traveled cross-country researching The Last Ride of Caleb O’Toole.
Latest published book …
You wrote it because…
I love writing about young people who must overcome great danger and obstacles in order to win in the end. The characters must dig deep and learn the skills in order to survive tremendous challenges and powerful enemies. I also love history. As a young boy, I was often bored with lessons and books. Now I feel it is very important to learn about these great historical times. The challenge is to make it all exciting, to combine action, emotion, and history in order to create an entertaining adventure.
Best moment …
THE LAST RIDE OF CALEB O’TOOLE, my first book, was being considered for for a Best Children’s Book Award. There were so many wonderful books also nominated, I thought, well…how could I win? Like authors do, I put my heart and soul into writing Caleb’s adventure. When I scrolled down on my computer the morning of the announcement, I saw my book cover. I had won! I let out a yell and didn’t stop smiling for a week. It is nice to have your work appreciated.
Your special place to write …
I call it my “cave.” For both THE LAST RIDE OF CALEB O’TOOLE and THE SECRET MISSION OF WILLIAM TUCK, I put up maps, charts, photos, or drawings of the times that stimulate my imagination and put me is a writing mood. I just took all my Revolutionary War stuff off the wall and am now researching The Civil War for my next book. I can also stare out the window and see the hawks circling over the trees, listen to the coyotes howl. Sometimes I find just the right music to listen to. Every now and then Joey, my dog, comes in to see how I’m doing.
Necessary writing/creativity tool …
Travel, if you can consider that a tool. Before I begin writing, I journey to the places that will be in my books and take photos, write notes, talk to historians, visit museums. I’ve even taken Joey, my four-legged writing partner. He’s a big help. I want to see where the covered wagons crossed the plains and walk the battlefields of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. I like to imagine it all happening. It inspires me!
Favorite bookshop …
I have family up in Missoula, Montana, so I like to pop into the Fact And Fiction bookshop.
Currently reading …
I’m researching for my next book, so my desk is piled high with Civil War books. Right now I’m reading THE BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM, by James McPherson, KILLER ANGLES, by Michael Shaara, and Harriet Jacobs’s INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL.
All-time favorite children’s book you didn’t write…
I think HOLES is possibly my favorite. As an actor, I even played the part of the sheriff in the movie.
An author you idol …
So many. I like Leon Uris. Part of being a historical fiction writer is doing thorough research to enhance the story. He was a master of that.
Favorite illustrator …
I’ve always been a big fan of Alan Lee’s illustrations in the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.
A literary character to vacation with …
Connect with Eric Pierpoint …
Written by Eric Pierpoint
Publisher’s Synopsis: William Tuck is set on justice. For his brother killed by British soldiers, for his friend Rebecca’s father held prisoner by the redcoats, and for the countless other rebel Americans struggling beneath the crushing weight of British rule.
The whispered words of a dying soldier and a mysterious watch give William all the ammunition he needs: a secret message for the leader of the rebel army. Rebecca disguises herself as a boy, and she and William join the American troops. They embark on an epic journey that pulls them into a secret network of spies, pits them against dangerous gunmen, and leads them on a quest to find General George Washington himself.
Can William and Rebecca determine friend from foe long enough to deliver a message that might just change the tide of the American Revolution?
Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky | 2015 | ISBN-13: 978-1402281747
Excerpt: William! No!” screamed his mother, Martha, as William broke out of her grasp. He leaped from the porch of their farmhouse and ran toward his brother, who stood surrounded by redcoats on horseback over by the freshly plowed field at the edge of the woods. “Dear God! William!”
Still dressed in her yellow dress and white bonnet, her arms covered in flour, she bent down to help her burly husband, Benjamin Tuck, who lay still after being shot in the leg by a soldier of the British procurement troops. Bo, the old family bloodhound, howled from the end of his rope, which was tied to the front stoop.
“Asher!” cried William. He raced along the wooden fence that held the family livestock, past two British supply wagons. Four black men, dressed in shirts with the words “We Are Free” written in red paint across their fronts, had begun to slaughter the Tucks’ hogs and chickens and load the carcasses. Former slaves promised their freedom by the British, they went about their bloody business with axes and clubs.
William ran as fast as his legs could carry him across the field, past the bodies of three British soldiers and Asher’s fallen friend, a fellow member of the Virginia militia. The battle had been short and deadly. What had begun as an argument had ended in an explosion of muskets. Asher, a crack shot with his Virginia rifle, had killed two of the twenty British soldiers who had come to take the family livestock for General Cornwallis’s army as he rampaged through the southern colonies.
A British captain stood pointing an accusing finger at Asher. The brass buttons on the officer’s red uniform coat gleamed in the sunlight. The black feather cockade of his dragoon helmet pointed straight up into the blue of the hot June sky.
Suddenly, the captain slapped Asher across the face with his glove, knocking his tricorn to the ground. He barked an order, and ten redcoats quickly dismounted and began to drag Asher to the nearby woods. Hopelessly outnumbered, Asher did not resist but stood proud and defiant as the soldiers tied him to a tree.
“Form up!” ordered the captain. He then marched arrogantly over to his men as they lined up to form a firing squad. The soldiers began to check and load their muskets.
“I, Captain Barrington Scroope, humble servant of His Majesty, King George III, do hereby sentence you to death for crimes against the Crown.” Scroope drew his saber. “May God have mercy on your soul.”
“No!” choked William, tears streaming down his cheeks.
“William! Stay back!” called Asher.
“Make ready!” commanded Scroope as he raised his sword above his head. In perfect unison, the ten soldiers brought their Brown Bess muskets up into position and pulled back the cocks.
“Present!” The redcoats took aim. Captain Scroope waited, as if relishing his power.
William sprinted, his feet flying over the ground.
Seeing William running toward his brother, Scroope cocked his head slightly and smiled with false pity—-the saber scar that ran down the left side of his mouth turned it into a ghoulish grin.
“Asher!” cried William desperately, racing to get to his brother’s side. As he reached the firing squad, one of the redcoats swiftly turned and smashed his musket into the side of William’s head. William fell to the ground as blinding pain shot through his body. Blood began to pour from his scalp and drip into his eyes, and his ears rang as he tried to find Asher.
“Fire!” Scroope sliced the air with his sword. Asher turned his gaze from his younger brother and faced his death. The crash of ten muskets ripped the air and tore the heart right out of William Tuck.
Win 1 of 2 copies of The Secret Mission of William Tuck. Runs August 24-September 30.
Discover more books like The Secret Mission of William Tuck, by Eric Pierpoint, by checking out our reviews and articles tagged with Adventure, Civil Rights, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade Books, Books for Ages 9-12; and be sure to follow along with our Writing and Reading Life series.