If James Garner is your Clint Eastwood, Jackson Speed might be for you

A few days ago, I wrote a post wherein I describe people who should not bother reading the Jackson Speed novels.

I thought it was only fair that I also put together a list of those readers who might enjoy the Jackson Speed Memoirs and should therefore be reading them.

 

If James Garner is your Clint Eastwood

There was a time when I thought that folks who enjoy a good Western would also make good Speed fans. Though most of the Speed novels published so far take place during or around the time of the American Civil War, I’ve always known that eventually the action would shift to a Western setting.

And, as is true with The Outlaw Josey Wales or The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly, the American Civil War and the traditional Western should never be completely separated. Much of the lawlessness of the “Wild West” was a direct result of the Civil War veterans who sought their fortune to the west in a hard and untamed land.

So knowing that one day Jackson Speed would rub elbows with the likes of Billy the Kid and Buckshot Roberts and would ride with the Pinkertons, I always considered the Speed novels to be akin to Westerns.

But I trip on a specific point.

Most Westerns feature as the protagonists brave and hard men who fear nothing. They are fast with a gun and are modern-day knights, chivalrous and noble.

If you love a good Western, there’s a pretty good chance that you want your heroes to be heroic.

Jackson Speed is not that. He’s a coward who stumbles into his adventures, and rather than putting on the white hat and figuring a way to beat the guy in the black hat, Speed is always trying to figure out how to get out of the trouble he’s in. And the color of the hat he wears is always whatever is most convenient for the moment.

I think about some of James Garner’s movies, particularly “Support Your Local Gunfighter.”

Speed is much more the conman with loose morals, more similar to Latigo, than he is Marshal Jed Cooper, the trail-hardened gunslinger.

Jackson Speed is the classic lovable rogue: Rhett Butler, Maverick, Han Solo. If he wasn’t, then how does he manage to always get the girl?

So if James Garner is your Clint Eastwood, and you like your heroes to be a bit on the cowardly side, you’ll probably enjoy the Jackson Speed Memoirs.

 

If you love history

I am meticulous when it comes to the historical settings of the Jackson Speed books, and I can all but guarantee that even the most avid of armchair historians will learn something in the Jackson Speed books. Some of the books are more heavily footnoted than others – Orange Turnpike, High Tide, and In the Rush all have numerous footnotes to assist in setting the historical context of the books.

In researching the books, I go to as many primary sources as I can. When historical figures make a cameo in the Jackson Speed books, I try very hard to be true and accurate to the character of the man or woman resurrected in the novels.

When describing battles or historical events, I attempt to recreate those as exactly as I can, and I will bend my story to fit the historical record before I will rewrite history to fit my narrative. And when I cannot tell the story I want to tell without altering history, I make a note of it in the footnotes to preserve the historical record.

I do this because I have both a passion and respect for history.

As a result, I also dig deep into my research to find the bizarre and outrageous and forgotten bits of history that you’ll not find in your text books.

Where – other than a Jackson Speed novel – are you going to discover the true and accurate reason why the Georgia volunteers were not taken into battle by Zachary Taylor in the Mexican-American War? Almost nowhere. That true and accurate historical accounting took extensive research, and it’s a moment of history that has almost entirely disappeared from memory.

And that was just a scene from the first book. Similar scenes can be found in any of the Jackson Speed novels.

 

If you’ve gone looking for Historical Fiction and you’re sick of finding this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing against Jasmine Ashford (if that’s your real name!). Her books sell significantly better than mine, and she’s got dozens and dozens more 4- and 5-star reviews than I have.

But if you’ve gone looking for historical fiction, and you found this, and you were horrified, I promise that Jackson Speed is not this.

“Shauna had loved Aaron so much; their eyes locking when they met on the street one day. She wasn’t stupid though; she understood completely that a Lord could never marry a peasant, no matter how much they thought they loved each other. She had accepted that from the beginning, just as she accepted everything about him. His smile, his blue eyes, his laugh; his penchant to dream. She knew everything about him as he did her, and she loved him with all of her heart.”

Jackson Speed is nothing at all like this.

 

You like your humor dry and dark

The Jackson Speed Memoirs are not laugh-out-loud novels, but they are rich in humor. Much of it is a dark humor, as a fair number of the punchlines are centered on some man’s misfortune or death. All of it is a dry humor.

If you like slapstick comedy because you don’t get the joke unless someone smacks you with it, you might not laugh much while reading Jackson Speed. But if a subtle joke that makes you crack a smile is how you roll, you’ll probably enjoy the Jackson Speed novels.

 

You’re sick of political correctness

I don’t go out of my way to write non-PC novels, but I am certainly not creating characters who have 21st Century sensibilities and putting them into novels about the 1800s.

Some of my characters are bigots. Jackson Speed is a womanizer. The only thing his wife hates more than an abolitionist is William Tecumseh Sherman.

I don’t seek to write offensive books for the sake of being offensive, but if you feel like everyone is too uptight all the time and you think an off-color joke shouldn’t be a crime, you might find that the Jackson Speed novels are just the right amount of offensive.

If you are easily offended, please see my list of people who should not read my books. It does not (but should have) included people who are easily offended.

 

Nipples and bigamy are cool with you

You think it’s funny that an old man in his 80s and 90s, writing his memoirs, recalls all the women he bedded by the size, color and shape of their nipples.

As noted earlier, Speed is a womanizer. He gets belly-to-belly with as many women as he possibly can in 100,000 words or so, and in writing his memoirs his favorite thing is to reminisce about those women. Often, he recalls them by specific features, in particular their nipples. And he refers to their breasts as “teats.”

The sex is not explicit, but there is a lot of it. Jackson Speed’s arch nemesis throughout each of the novels is the “toothed vagina.” Every escapade and dangerous adventure that Jackson Speed encounters is brought about by his desire to bed some woman, and he is only married to a few of them.

If this isn’t enough to put you off the books, then you are almost surely going to love the Jackson Speed novels.

 

You love a good adventure

The Jackson Speed novels are full of adventure. Some of them read like a spy novel, and some are military adventures.

Speed’s life span takes him from the Mexican-American War, through the 1849 California Gold Rush, into the War of Northern Aggression, and out to the Wild West. In that time he spends time as a Texas Ranger, a Pinkerton, an officer and a spy for both the Union and the Confederacy, an outlaw, a prospector, an Indian and he rides with the 7th Cavalry. He’s a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle, and he helps fugitive slaves flee the South.

You don’t have to know the history to enjoy the adventure.

 

So if James Garner is your Clint Eastwood and you get a kick out of a hero who will do any anti-heroic deed to get himself out of trouble, then I’d recommend the Jackson Speed Memoirs to you.

Only certain people should read the Jackson Speed novels

Sometimes when a person tells me that they are reading one of my Jackson Speed novels, I feel an involuntary cringe. There are some people who really should not read my books, and maybe it would be a good idea to help people self-qualify whether or not they should read Jackson Speed.

And I’ll tell you right now, if you are not the kind of person who should read my books, I sinerely don’t want you to read my books.

About a year ago I found myself in a meeting full of about 50 business owners – most of them folks I didn’t know. One of the people in the room – in front of everyone – announced that he’d read the first Jackson Speed novel.

He didn’t say it in so many words, but he didn’t like the book. He acknowledged that I told a good story, and he acknowledged that I’d developed a character. But he did say he “hates” the character, and when he said it, I understood that what he meant was that he hates the book.

That’s cool. I can live with that. He’s not going to read any more Jackson Speed novels, and that’s okay. My feelings aren’t hurt. I knew when I started writing the books that they were going to appeal to only a certain few people.

I understand that Speed isn’t for everyone, and I get why some people don’t like the books.

So maybe it’s worthwhile to eliminate prospective readers before their sensibilities are destroyed.

 

If the word “nipple” bothers you

The protagonist of the story is an old man telling about his memoirs. The character is not the guy running from Yankee bullets in the Civil War. The character is the old man reminiscing. A lot of what he reminisces about are the women he bedded when he was younger.

When I started writing the novels, it struck me as funny if the old man remembers his love conquests by their nipples. So when Ol’ Speedy remembers the girls – and there were many girls – he remembers them by their nipples. So for every female character in the series, there are nipples times two.

If nipples bother you, please don’t read the Jackson Speed novels.

 

If you are given to moralizing

The Jackson Speed depicted in the novels is not a good, decent, church-going type of person. If you are in law school and you want to develop a firm understanding of “moral turpitude,” perhaps you should let Jackson Speed be your guide. He often conducts himself in a vile, base manner. He is a scoundrel.

His only two motivations are self-preservation and getting belly-to-belly with whatever woman is unfortunate enough to catch his attention. He is no Southern Gentleman.

So if your favorite part of your religiosity is condemning other people who are not as good as you are, please take that somewhere else.

 

If you are offended by bigamy and/or extramarital sex

In all of the book descriptions, I specifically point out that Jackson Speed is a womanizer. While the sex scenes are not graphic depictions, Jackson Speed has sex with a lot of women. He’s only married to a few of them.

 

If you don’t like history

The footnotes alone should be enough to keep you away if you don’t like history. Most of the Jackson Speed books are heavily footnoted because the novels are full of true history. While Speed is a character of my imagination, the setting is often real and many of the secondary characters are people who actually lived. I’ve gone to some lengths to fairly and accurately portray those people, and often the quotes given to them in the books are things they actually said or nearly said. All these portrayals, of course, are through the filter of Jackson Speed – who dislikes most of these people – but I do try to be fair and honest when dealing with historical places, events, and characters.

If you don’t have a love for history, too much of the painstaking research I put into the books will be completely wasted on you. So even if you enjoy the stories and think the character is outrageous and funny, and your favorite word is “nipple,” maybe you should skip the Jackson Speed novels. If you think history is boring and just a bunch of dates and places to be memorized, I might recommend 50 Shades of Gray. I’ve never read it, but I’m told it’s pretty banal.

 

If you are under 16 years of age

You’re too young.

 

If you are anyone’s grandmother

Maybe you’d like “Four Things My Wife Hates About Mornings.”

 

If you are one of these three people

My sons, who have never read them, hate my books. It may have something to do with their father using the word “nipples.”

 

If you are this woman

One of my very first reviews came from a woman who said, “I borrowed this for my free Amazon Prime monthly download. I’m glad I didn’t pay for it. I didn’t finish reading the book. Sorry, I’m not interested in hearing about how many times a 15 year old boy gets laid.”

For the purposes of my story, Jackson Speed needed to be 15 years old when he fled his boyhood home of Scull Shoals, so necessarily the story is about a 15-year-old. And let’s remember, in 1845, a 15-year-old was a man, not a boy. A shit ton of 15-year-olds got holes in them in the War of Northern Aggression.

If this woman is you, don’t read Jackson Speed. You cannot imagine how glad I am that she did not finish reading the book.

 

If you think Robert E. Lee sits on the right hand of Jesus

My books, while well researched and historically informative, take a critical view (Jackson Speed’s point of view) of a lot of historical personages. Robert E. Lee is among them.

I spoke about my books once at a meeting of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. These are my people. These are people who love history, specifically the time period of the mid-1800s. These are people who have a deeply held affection for their forebears. These are people who I can talk to and relate to and spend time with. But let’s be honest – most of these folks don’t read fiction. They just want the War of Northern Aggression in stark and vivid reality. They want Ken Burns and Shelby Foote, not Rob Peecher and Jackson Speed. Although, the speech to the SCV went very well, and I had my audience laughing for an hour. But they still aren’t the folks who are going to read my novels.

And I’m afraid too many of them would have apoplexy when they read High Tide and discover that Speed turns Yankee halfway through the Battle of Gettysburg.

But if you are a Son of Confederate Veterans and you can take a joke, then maybe. Maybe. But don’t get mad at me if you start reading the book and discover that Jackson Speed helped prevent Lincoln’s assassination in ’61.

 

If you think I mean 1961

Come on.

 

There is probably a lot more that should be added to this list, and I’ll continue to give thought to other people who should not read my books. I’m sure more people will read the books, tell me how much they don’t like them, and help me identify the characteristics of people who should not read the Jackson Speed Memoirs.

But if nothing in this list excludes you from reading Jackson Speed, then you really should get on with it.

Click here to start buying the Jackson Speed Memoirs.

The Battle of the Boat video

When writing the Jackson Speed novels, I try very hard to find interesting, unique, and often forgotten episodes from history to slip into my plots. When I was writing the first of the Jackson Speed novels, I stumbled upon the story of the Battle of the Boat, and I knew immediately it was the exact sort of disaster in which Jackson Speed should take part.

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of sources about the event, but there were enough that I was able to piece together a pretty thorough approximation of what happened.

In the video above, I discuss the Battle of the Boat and what took place on the Rio Grande to make General Taylor decide that he was not taking any of the Georgia militia units into battle with him during the Mexican-American War.

If you enjoy reading historical fiction and like your heroes to be on the scoundrel side, please check out the Jackson Speed Memoirs. And if you enjoy the novels, leave a review on Amazon!

Also, go and “like” the Jackson Speed page on Facebook where I am regularly posting short videos in which I discuss my research and the novels.

Follow me on Facebook for video updates

I have shot a few videos in the past where I talk about Jackson Speed (such as the one posted above), and I expect I’ll continue to do some longer ones like that in the future. However, I decided recently to start doing some short (2-3 minute) videos on a somewhat regular basis, and I’m going to post directly to the Jackson Speed Facebook page.

Mostly in these videos I’ll talk about the Jackson Speed books or the research I’m doing for the current novel. If you find the history contained in the novels interesting, I’d really encourage you to follow the Jackson Speed page on Facebook to see these videos.

As I research the Jackson Speed Memoirs, I end up learning so much information that never gets into the books. But I love being able to share that information with other people. So Facebook seems like a good place to do that.

I don’t intend to post all of these videos on Youtube or on my website, so the Facebook page is going to be the best place to find them.

If you’re wondering why I’m not going to post them anywhere other than Facebook, the reason is simple enough: We live just far enough out in the country that my internet is pretty poor. It’s not dial-up poor, but uploading video is a time consuming challenge. I start hogging all the internet bandwidth, and suddenly my sons are complaining to me that they can’t watch the latest Ozzy Man video, and my wife is yelling at me because she’s trying to watch videos of dogs doing tricks.

So if you want to keep up with where I am writing the next novel or you want to pick up some interesting tidbits of history, click the link here and like the page. And, of course, please feel free to share it with your friends.

Reading is a manly pursuit

A man's man: Ben McCulloch counted camp fires at Encarnacion.

A man’s man: Ben McCulloch counted camp fires at Encarnacion.

I recently started following The Order of Man on Facebook at the suggestion of one of my sons.

While I don’t need some dude who is a decade younger than me to tell me how to be a man, I enjoy a fair amount of the stuff they post and discuss. I don’t think they’re offering bad advice about manliness, but I haven’t dipped too deep into their content to necessarily offer a heartfelt recommendation for Order of Man.

I’ll say this: If you want to learn how to conduct yourself as a man and you don’t already have in your life some good role models, probably the internet is not the best place to figure that out. I would recommend you find some other men and a river or a path in the woods and let that be your starting point. But maybe the Order of Man podcast can be what you listen to on your drive to the wilderness.

Today one of the Order of Man’s posts came up in my newsfeed on Facebook, and I realized that one of the things they are encouraging men to do is to spend some time every day reading.

I am a lifelong reader. I started reading heavily when I was in middle school. Spy fiction is what I loved best of all back in the day, and then the Spencer series by Robert B. Parker. I devoured those Spencer novels.

In college I took enough English lit courses that I nearly majored in English. In my adult life, I largely switched from novels to historical non-fiction, but I still read fiction quite a bit. Currently I’m reading a Carl Hiaasen novel.

I’m a champion of reading. It broadens horizons. It makes you more knowledgeable, gives you clearer insight, challenges your assumptions, allows you to grow mentally, reveals human truths and understanding, and reading makes you a better man.

When I first started writing the Jackson Speed novels, my assumption was that my readership would consist almost entirely of men. The novels are about guns and horses and armies and war and beautiful women. I just figured that was the stuff that would appeal to men.

James “Old Peter” Longstreet is a recurring character in my books. Nobody at the Order of Man has a better beard than Old Peter had.

Ben McCulloch is a character in the first novel. This is historical fact: Ben McCulloch and a handful of Texas Rangers rode hell for leather through Santa Anna’s camp at Encarnacion in the middle of the night. With Mexican soldiers going bat shit crazy and shooting every musket and swinging every sword they could find at McCulloch and the Rangers, McCulloch COUNTED CAMP FIRES. He wanted to know the size of his enemy, and he was able to guesstimate the enemy’s size by the number of campfires they had.

There are not many men in the history of the world who can lay claim to the sort of manliness Ben McCulloch exhibited, and that was just one evening in a lifetime of machismo.

Anyway, I don’t want to go too far astray of my point.

The other thing I saw over the weekend is that some traditional publishers are hiring “sensitivity readers” to flag offensive content in manuscripts. I find this confusing and stupid. But it suggests to me something that I’ve believed for a long time: Men who have a traditional sense of manhood do not read books.

Having watched trends in publishing for a long time, it seems to me that the vast majority of books are intended for women. Women are the marketplace for publishers, and not a lot of books are being published for men.

I could be wrong, but when I try to find books that I enjoy, I don’t find them among the new releases.

Sure, James Patterson has two new books being published every week, and Lee Child always has a new release. I suppose Grisham and Clancy novels are intended for a male audience, but it just seems to me that most of the new books by new authors are targeted to women.

I don’t fault authors or publishers. You write and publish what sells. I fault the untruths that we told boys for a couple of generations. Somewhere along the line I believe we failed to disabuse boys of the notion that reading was a “girly” pursuit. I think we raised up a generation or two of boys who thought that time spent in a book was time in a feminine activity.

So, I found it refreshing when I read on Order of Man that they are encouraging men to read. I don’t know if they have a reading list or if it’s every man for himself. But I like the idea that there are men out there who are holding out reading as a manly pursuit.

When I was a kid I was enthralled with my dad’s knowledge. I remember, even in my early 20s, thinking that I would never know as much about the Civil War as my dad did. And then it occurred to me that when I was young my dad frequently had a book in his hand. And the books he had were nonfiction Civil War histories. So I started reading nonfiction Civil War histories to try to catch up with my dad. I’m not saying that I have an equal amount of knowledge (he has a 30-year jump on me, after all), but I will say that there was footnoted material in Jackson Speed at the High Tide that when he finished reading the novel my dad said, “You uncovered somethings even I didn’t know.” Now that’s book review worth having!

Maybe I’m all wrong and men are reading books and books are being written, published, and marketed to men, and I just don’t realize it. None of what I’ve written here is statistical and researched, it’s all anecdotal observation.

Nevertheless, I find it encouraging that somewhere out there men are telling other men that they should read books.

And if Order of Man has a recommended reading list, maybe I can convince them some day to put Jackson Speed on their list as a sort of “how not to behave like a man” guidebook.

What happens when you call an Irishman a mule? Author Robert Peecher discusses the ‘battle of the boat’ in The Hero of El Teneria

Rob Peecher and Melissa Bowden at Library book signing.

Rob Peecher (left) signing books at an author talk.

I periodically do author talks, and they are usually a lot of fun for me.

I enjoy being able to talk to a group of people about Jackson Speed and the research that goes into writing historical fiction.

What I most enjoy about them is the audience interaction and being able to answer questions and have a conversation with the audience about the books.

Unfortunately, most of the talks I do are in front of people who have never read any of the Jackson Speed books. Most of the folks who read Jackson Speed are in far off places like Alaska and the United Kingdom, and I don’t have any publishing house send me on worldwide speaking tours.

So until someone decides to pony up the cash for a worldwide speaking tour, I thought it might be worthwhile to stand in front of a video camera and get some footage of me talking about Jackson Speed, and that might be a way for people who have enjoyed the books to have the opportunity to “attend” an author talk.

Obviously, we lose the interaction, but if anyone posts in the comments here or at Youtube or on Facebook, I’ll be glad to try to answer their questions.

The first talk addresses the question that I still get from readers more than anything else: Was the battle of the boat scene in the Hero of El Teneria based on an actual event?

Let me know what you think – and if you have questions, feel free to post them on the blog or at any of my social media accounts and I’ll try to get you an answer!

Jackson Speed: The Movie

In my ongoing effort to introduce more readers to Jackson Speed, I decided some time ago to shoot a video to promote the Jackson Speed novels.

I enlisted the help of my children who were all kind enough to assist me with the project. We had a pretty good time shooting the video, and I feel like Nathan and Robert have futures in acting if they so desire. My youngest, Robert, portrays Jackson Speed and my middle son, Nathan, portrays Mexican General Santa Anna.

My oldest son, Harrison, directed and produced the video for me.

I wrote the script and portray “the author” in the movie.

It’s campy and silly and funny – all things that I think appropriately reflect the Jackson Speed novels. When Harrison showed me the completed video, I had tears streaming down my face I was laughing so hard.

If you enjoy the video, please feel free to share it with your friends and enemies. If you read the books, please leave a review at Amazon.com. If the video compels you to read the novels, you can find them here: The Jackson Speed Memoirs.

Enjoy!