Interview // Author Edward Rickford
When was the moment that you knew writing would become part of your life?
I knew from a young age that I enjoyed writing and one of the few photos from my toddler years features me in front of a typewriter.
Could you see yourself writing a book or series outside of the historical fiction genre? If so, what other genres could you see yourself writing?
I used to write science fiction and I think there are a lot of interesting parallels between that genre and historical fiction. Sci-fi is in many respects an examination what could be while historical fiction is an examination of what used to be. Moreover, both involve an incredible amount of research, as evidenced by authors like Michael Crichton and John Scalzi. Nonetheless, while I do have a great deal of respect for these authors, I think it is unlikely I will be writing in this genre anytime soon.
What was your most satisfying moment while writing The Serpent and the Eagle?
I think my most satisfying moment had to be the conversations between Aguilar and Malintze. Authors like George Orwell and Harper Lee did a lot to make me appreciate the value of symbolism and textual analysis so I knew I wanted to include some “Easter Eggs” in my novel. These Easter Eggs are scattered all throughout the novel but the conversations between Aguilar and Malintze provided some of the best opportunities to inject symbolism into the story. Moreover, I think the conversations also gave me the chance to explore some themes related to gender and race which still hold relevance today.
While writing, did you find that The Serpent and the Eagle stayed along your intended path?
I think The Serpent and the Eagle is one of the very few books I have written that stayed on the intended path. When it comes to major historical events, we generally have a good sense of the chronology which is great from an outlining standpoint. All I really need to decide is which POV a particular section or chapter will showcase and which events will actually get included in the narrative.
What is your biggest writing pet peeve?
Extremely graphic violence, especially when it is included primarily to titillate, has never really been my cup of tea.
If you only had one sentence to capture a new reader for your book, what would it be?
The Serpent and the Eagle follows a fascinating military expedition to pre-Hispanic Mexico that toppled a seemingly invincible hegemon, established the first European foothold in the Americas, and helped usher in the era of world trade.
Do you have a favorite genre you like to read?
Historical fiction is by far my favorite genre to read.
Can you tell us your favorite book and why?
I first read Don Quixote in college and it continues to be my favorite book this day. So much of the canon includes books that would only appeal to a literature professor and I really appreciate that Miguel Cervantes incorporated so much humor into his work. Personally, I think it helped a lot with making the narrative more engaging and I expect that I will fondly remember the adventures of Poncho Villa and Don Quixote for many years to come.
What author has inspired you the most in your writing?
Michael Crichton. I have yet to find another author who is more talented when it comes to exposition, John Scalzi certainly does give him a run for his money though, and I really respect his world-building abilities.
What one book do you recommend that every historical fiction lover read (not including your book)?
The one book I would recommend to every historical fiction lover is Killer Angels.
Of course, we have to know, what is in-store next – books, events, etc.?
The next book in the Tenochtitlan trilogy will be The Bend of the River and should be released next year if all goes well. As for events, that’s a little hard to say at this time. I could move to Spain come fall to improve my Spanish and do some writing-related research. However, if I end up staying in the US, I will take part in events with the local bookstores and various literary festivals.
Ever since Edward was young, he has enjoyed writing. College gave him the chance to combine his interest in history with his passion for storytelling and he mainly writes historical fiction now. To research The Serpent and the Eagle, he read centuries-old texts and traveled to Mexico repeatedly, even retracing Cortés’ route through central Mexico. For his writing, he has won the Grand Prize Award in the 2018 Chaucer Book Awards, the Readers’ Favorite Award, and the Deixler-Swain prize for his undergraduate thesis on the Spanish-Mexica war.