Last week my great grandson, Camden, said that he wished he could be a superhero. I told him that he could be, in a book. Here it is: Da’s Stoty Time: Camden and the Beanstalk.
The first book in an illustrated trilogy that’s based upon the legend of King Arthur. The King Arthur project is a bridge, of sorts, between my historical fiction and the children’s picture books. Each book in the trilogy is a full length novel with pictures of most major scenes. The subject matter is adult and not intended for a juvenile audience.
The story of Guinevere and Arthur begins with the rape by deception of the Duchess Igraine by King Uther and ends with Arthur’s discovery of Guinevere and Lancelot’s adulterous affair.
65,000 words with 380 illustrations.
The next book is planned for a mid-summer release and the third by Christmas.
In 1776, between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the continually retreating, seemingly defeated Continental Army of the fledgling United States of America went on the attack and changed the course of history.
Was the army’s sudden reversal of fortune purely a product of General George Washington’s brilliance, or did Washington get some divine assistance?
An illustrated Christmas story in verse about a little boy who’s afraid of the dark and about his grandfather, who with the help of Santa Claus, solves the problem.
Clement Moore’s classic Christmas poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, with full color illustrations.
The timeless story based upon the musical symphony for children by Sergei Prokofiev first performed at the Central Children’s Theatre in Moscow on May 2, 1936.
With 28 original, full-color illustrations.
Free today. Stevie Gee’s Halloween Party.
Seven good fairies, seven special gifts for the little princess: beauty, sweet temper, charm and grace, dance, song, music. But that’s only six gifts. When the black fairy casts an evil spell on the princess, can the last good fairy give the princess a gift that will save her?
Editor: Jeffry, first let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading Gone for a Soldier. I felt more connected to Anna, but at the end I missed John. I believed in the characters and was actually sorry to see the novel end. I have a few questions for you.
Hepple: Thank you, Stephan. I’m happy that you liked the book. Fire away.
Editor: Are you a genealogist or a historian?
Hepple: No. I researched my mother’s family as a gift for her. I have no professional credentials.
Editor: What is your style of research?
Hepple: In the early 1970s, when I started, all my research was done in libraries, historical societies or court houses when I traveled on business. With the advent of the Internet, everything got easier.
Editor: What prompted writing Gone for a Soldier? What did you want to accomplish with this novel?
Hepple: Colonel Abraham Van Buskirk’s wartime behavior was pardoned by Washington, but not by all the members of the Van Buskirk family, including my great-grandmother. My mother said that, as a little girl, she was ashamed of the Tories in her family and afraid that there were no American patriots. I was hoping to find that there were Van Buskirks who chose to side with the Colonies.
Editor: How long did it take?
Hepple: It took five or six more years after I switched from a straight historical piece to a novel. I’m not sure how long in total.
Editor: You mentioned you used other Van Buskirks than those in your direct line. Why?
Hepple: I wanted to maintain historical accuracy, use as many real people as possible and still entertain the reader. Staying within my direct line would have been very boring.
Editor: There was a lot of violence in the novel. There is always too much violence in general life and more so in times of war. Was this violence historically documented?
Hepple: The book is much less violent than the reality of war. For example, as I mentioned a moment ago, Colonel Abraham Van Buskirk was pardoned by George Washington for slaughtering Colonials who were trying to surrender. To any civilian, Van Buskirk’s action was clearly murder. To Washington, it was war.
Editor: I know there were Van Buskirks at Van Buskirk Point for 200 years.
Hepple: During her lifetime, my mother’s older sister was still paying lawyers in the hope of regaining Van Buskirk point from the Rockefellers. She was heartbroken over the fact that the graveyard had been moved from Constable Hook to Long Island.
Editor: Was there really a Yank Van Buskirk?
Hepple: No. Yank Van Buskirk is pure fiction. His father, John, was a real person, but in the novel John’s been given credit for the exploits of many others. Yank’s mother, Anna is based upon a real person who’s now remembered only as Agent 355 by the CIA. Her real name has been lost over time, but her background, her career and her end are very much like Anna’s. In the book, Anna’s family, the William Livingstons, is historically accurate. The Livingston home, Liberty Hall, is very near Van Buskirk Point.
Editor: Nanette Balletti Van Buskirk was a wonderful character. What was her genesis?
Hepple: Nanette Balletti is composite, fictional character who represents the French spy network that Marie Antoinette recruited from her circle of actor friends. I couldn’t gather enough verifiable facts to use a real person from history. Historically, Manon Balletti was the daughter of famous French actresses whose troop came to the Colonies with La Fayette and were involved in spying. Manon was also a notable beauty and Casanova’s lover. I borrowed her surname for Nanette.
Editor: What are your other Van Buskirk novels?
Hepple: I’ve written five novels that follow the fictional Van Buskirk family. Land Of The Free is set during The French And Indian War. Home of The Brave is set during the war of 1812. Johnny Comes Marching Home, which is a trilogy: Antebellum, Lonely Is the Soldier, and Freedom, is set before and during the Civil War. Three other novels have protagonists that relate to the Van Buskirks by blood or association.
Editor: What are you working on now?
Hepple: I’m illustrating Children’s books. I’m working on the twelfth right now. I’m not sure if I’ll ever tackle another historical novel.
Editor: Despite my last name, which I will not change, I consider myself a Van Buskirk. I have been doing lots of research and collecting for years now and I consider the Van Buskirks one of my clans. Do you feel the same?
Hepple: During World War II, all the men in our family went to war and my mother, her sisters, her sister-in-law and all their children moved in with my mother’s parents. My earliest memories are of my grandfather Van Buskirk’s big house in New Jersey where I was surrounded by Van Buskirks. So, to answer your question, Stephan, I am a Van Buskirk and the last in my line.
Editor: Thanks, cousin, for writing and for helping with this interview.
Thank you for your hard work in pulling together The Van Buskirk News, Stephan. I enjoy reading it.
Stevie Gee is not a happy little ghost. All he wants is to go to the big Halloween party, but unless he scares someone soon, he won’t be allowed to go. When he searches for someone to scare, he meets Miss Mary, who isn’t scared of him at all. If only Miss Mary can help him be scary, all his dreams will come true.