As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, author David A. Jacinto talks about the catastrophe at the Silkstone mine which inspired the story of his new book, Out Of The Darkness: Book One In The Courageous Series.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed David A. Jacinto about his life and career, being inspired by the catastrophe at the Silkstone mine and the campaign against child labor, and the story of his new historical fiction book, Out Of The Darkness.
Tell me a bit about who you are?
I have spent most of my life in the business world. As an owner, and member of various Board of Directors, I have managed some of the most prosperous businesses in southern California, mostly in San Diego County. I have found storytelling a very effective way to convey a message when speaking to organizations, various groups, planning commissions, city councils, and during legislative hearings.
In my 40-year career, I’ve gotten my point across with stories of danger, adventure and disaster, but often they are stories about family, heartwarming stories that people remember.
When did you first want to write a book? And when did you take your first step in writing?
My first book came by chance. I thought it might be interesting for my family and friends if I distilled into a book some of those family stories I had so often told in speaking engagements around the country.
In perusing my stories, I came up with 16 – original family Christmas stories. And as a Christmas present, I put them into a book, retained an artist to add drawings and made fifty copies. I sent it out to family and friends one Christmas.
One of my friends, a well respected author, loved the stories so much she sent the book to her publisher, and they offered me a publishing contract. After a bit of editing and repackaging, the book was released in all the English speaking countries of the world. It was well received, and I caught the writing bug.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
It took three months to compile the family Christmas stories and do the drawings. It took almost a year working with the publisher to actually complete Christmas Kindling.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from first idea to release?
I spent 2-1/2 years, working, off and on, to research this historical fiction series. The characters are real people involved in mid nineteenth century historical events forming the basis for the story that reshaped history in the UK. The interpersonal relationships are emotional, romantic, intriguing, and exciting, but often with literary license taken. It is a novel after all. A fascinating story, and most of it occurs in South Yorkshire England, set around the Wentworth-Woodhouse mansion. The actual writing of the two-book series took about two years. It will take most of another year working with the publisher before it’s distributed and released by Simon & Schuster, on October 3, 2023.
Focussing on your latest release. What made you want to write Out Of The Darkness?
That’s a fascinating story. My mum was very sick with cancer, diabetes and had macular degeneration so bad she had gone blind. She asked if I might read Christmas Kindling to her before it was published. So I flew the 2000-miles from San Diego to Louisiana and spent a week with her reading two stories a day during which time she told me about a family I knew nothing about. My mom had grown up an orphan, but during that week she told me about her birth family in Wyoming. We had long discussions about family and in the end she asked to be buried in the family plot in the small Wyoming town.
She passed away a short time after and we buried her in Evanston, Wyoming. The two largest tombstones in the cemetery were for my great-great grandparents, whom I knew nothing about. I was fascinated, so immediately went to work researching their lives. Before flying home the day after the memorial service I spent most of the day with the County historian, who was also fascinated by their story and agreed to continue her research after I flew home. She corresponded with me for several months and later wrote one of the 6 blurbs on the back of Out of the Darkness.
Thomas Wright was a child coal miner in South Yorkshire. He was eight when he survived the 1838 Silkstone Mine disaster that killed 26 children just outside of Barnsley. Thomas grew up to become a brilliant engineer fighting child labor against some of the most powerful men in the United Kingdom during the Industrial Revolution. After playing an important role in the 1867 Oaks mining disaster inquest, chronicling the deaths of 384 men and boys, he immigrated to America.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Out Of The Darkness?
The research was fairly difficult and time-consuming, but so exciting. I searched old BBC stories, historical mining records, and of course the internet sent me in all kinds of different directions. I visited sites and met people who had spent a lifetime studying these historical events. And I was lucky enough to find a trunk full of historical family records – journals, letters and artifacts, a treasure trove of information that painted a fascinating picture of their lives.
One fascinating story led to another, until finally I pieced it all together; the story of these lives long since passed – their trials, heartaches, triumphs, growing pains, loves lost and a romance that set the course for future generations. But this is historical fiction and while the action of the actual events were fast and wild, I also told a story filled with imagination about the interpersonal relationships – family, heartache, life changing conflict, failures, successes, and of course, the romantic relationships between the main characters.
Who or what inspired you in creating your protagonist and antagonist?
Of course, all of the main characters were real people in a story of historically significant events between 1830 and 1868. And while I took some literary license developing the personal relationships between the characters, the dates, places, and significant events are all true.
The antagonists were real people. The primary antagonist was one of the most powerful and wealthy aristocrats in all of Europe and the story surrounding the Oaks disaster shook all of London and the UK to the very core. Parliament passed child protection legislation between 1842 through 1874, in part because of these characters’ efforts and the active support of a young Queen Victoria. And the opposing forces of powerful men threatened the lives of these protagonists. In the end, the course of the industrial revolution changed direction because of their efforts.
What is the inciting incident in Out Of The Darkness?
When the main character is working in the mine as a 8 year-old boy, he is a part of the catastrophe at the Silkstone mine, killing 26 children. He, of course, is devastated, but his self-educated mother is incensed to the point of joining forces with other mothers to take action in the fight against child labor.
What was the main conflict of Out Of The Darkness?
It is the classic story of the little guy facing Goliath. The extremely poor coal miners versus powerful aristocratic industrialists who ruled the United Kingdom with an iron fist in the nineteenth century. This was a culture that favored the powerful, with the rule of law stacked entirely against the poor coal miner. But with the help of a fierce young Queen Victoria those dynamics changed.
Did you get support with editing and how much editing did Out Of The Darkness need?
Yes, of course, the publisher provided both development edit and copy edit, as well as proofreading. They cleaned up all of my messes.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
Be passionate about your subject. Study out the story, but also study all the techniques for writing good fiction. Since my first book, I have read a dozen books on techniques for writing emotional, intriguing and exciting fiction. But most important in writing really good historical fiction is to learn your subject and the character arcs well.
Can you give me a hint about further books you’re planning to write?
An interesting question. In fact, I’m in the midst of writing book 2 of this historical fiction series. Without giving away too much, book I is the story of their lives in England. Book II is about immigrating to a young America, surviving in the wild west, and is equally as exciting. We follow a young couple learning to live in a new nation at the end of the Civil War, under freedom in an untamed wilderness in the American west during the late 1860’s.
And finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I think I’m most gratified so far by the reviews from those who have read the publisher’s galleys of this first book in the series, (Book I is not actually released until October 3, 2023). It has been heartening to hear from those many readers excited about the book. For many, Out of the Darkness has touched their hearts and impacted their lives.
Just this morning I received a video clip from a mother of five, who after reading the galley, has decided to read this story to her children (although there are a few amorous scenes I am sure she might want to skip). She shared with me the tears she shed when reading about the harsh working conditions of little children in the mines, and how it made her feel grateful for her life at this time in history. Her family absolutely loves the heartwarming story of family, the main character’s rise from poverty and tragedy to achieve great things, and the touching humanity of most people. As she put it, “This story will live in our hearts and minds long after we have finished reading your book. My only regret is that I hate to finish reading it when Book II is not yet finished.”
Responses like this to a story you have written both touch your heart and make it all worthwhile.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
We strive to keep The Table Read free for both our readers and our contributors. If you have enjoyed our work, please consider donating to help keep The Table Read going!
Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.