Author of Love and Honor
By Frank R. Shaw, Atlanta, GA, USA
All color photos are by Stephen Vaughan
The first historical novelist was Sir
Walter Scott, another Scotsman. The recently deceased Nigel Tranter,
author of approximately 125 novels, was considered to be the heir to Sir
Walter in that regard. Do you consider yourself a historical novelist?
No, I think of myself as a writer who
looks for great stories regardless of the time period. Because I love to
look at the full sweep of a life, I’ve been drawn to stories set in the
past, but the greatest of novelists like Tolstoy and Mark Twain wrote
stories set in the past but did not consider themselves limited to those
times, and I try to follow in their examples.
under your belt and now another wonderful Scottish story of intrigue,
adventure, patriotism, love and honor, it is evident that your
Scottishness plays a big part of who you are. Will you comment on that
aspect of your life?
The passions and power of the Scottish
people have left their mark on America and even more particularly on the
American South in ways so pervasive and profound that they have sometimes
been almost invisible. As a great tree might be to a man who is standing
with his nose up against it, in searching for a better understanding of my
Scottish roots, I have come to a greater appreciation of both personal and
Randall Wallace in a cowboy hat.
The Scottish community would be
interested in knowing if you are kilted. Or, as the question goes, “Do you
talk the talk and walk the walk?”
I have two kilts, the Royal and the Hunting Wallace tartan. When I wear
them, I feel like a braver and a bolder man. I am also more cautious about
standing in a stiff breeze.
Where did your ancestors live in
Scotland? Do you still have family there and do you go back to the “auld
My branch of the Wallaces came to
America in the 1660s from Western Scotland, but I also know that being of
Scottish descent from the American South, I have many threads of Scottish
ancestors, as do so many of us from the American South.
Randall Wallace and Mel Gibson on the set of
"We Were Soldiers Once...And Young" in Fort Hunter Liggett, California.
Mel Gibson played the role of Lt. Gen. Hal Moore in the movie which was
directed by Randall Wallace.
Is there a connection in your Wallace
family branch to “the” William Wallace?
I have traced my genealogy back to within a few generations of William
Wallace, but it is my understanding that no one knows the names of his
immediate descendents, so direct ancestry might be impossible to prove.
But I am absolutely convinced he is an ancestor and no one can prove that
he is not.
One last Wallace question. History seems
to indicate that William Wallace was a tall man with unusual strength and
could use his claymore, a two-handed sword, with one hand. Yet, Mel
Gibson, who is physically the opposite of Wallace, was chosen to play his
role in BRAVEHEART.
A: The legends of William Wallace are
like modern day movies in that they seek to capture the essence of a man.
No one knows for sure the physical size of William Wallace, but the force
of his character was huge and undeniable. Mel Gibson seemed to me to be
the perfect actor to capture the strength of William Wallace’s will and
the depths of his heart.
Q: How did you come to choose the name
Kieran Selkirk as the name of the main character in LOVE AND HONOR?
Both are very Scottish.
A: I found the name in a book that
listed options for naming a child, and I loved the strength and music of
the name. I chose Selkirk from the names of towns on a map of Scotland.
Q: How did you bring Benjamin
Franklin and Kieran Selkirk together? Why not another early American icon?
A: Benjamin Franklin was in fact the
head of American intelligence operations in Europe during the fight for
American Independence. He was also a man who rose from humble beginnings
to a level of greatness that is astonishing. I find Franklin inspiring and
believed that Kieran Selkirk would experience him in the same way.
Lt. General Hal Moore, co-author of the book,
"We Were Soldiers Once...And Young", along with Randall Wallace, Director,
on the set.
Word on the street is that you will make
a movie of LOVE AND HONOR.
Is it true that Angelina Jolie will play Catherine the Great? Who will
play the other major characters in the movie? When will production start
and where will the movie be filmed? When is the release date?
A: We are aiming to go into production
in March of 2006. Angelina Jolie, for some time now, has been my choice to
play Catherine. But I don’t want to announce any cast members until the
entire cast has been set.
Q: You dare go where few authors would
go regarding one of the most poignant scenes in your book. It is a
Christmas Eve gift-buying spree of Col. Selkirk, coupled with the
Christmas Day celebration among his friends. You have the good Colonel
talking to his dear friend Gorlov about the meaning of Christmas. What
part did your major in religion or your own personal faith play in these
A: I don’t know that anyone could give
an objective answer to that question, but I do know a writer’s work is a
window to his soul and my soul, like everyone else’s, is formed in the
crucible of faith and despair and passion and pain. Writing is to me an
act of faith.
The first chapter of LOVE
AND HONOR is as
“Zhivagoian” as anything I have read about the Russian winters. I read the
first chapter and enjoyed it immensely - as the hairs standing on my neck
could testify. I’m happy to report the remainder of your book is just as
good. How much time did you spend in Russia writing or researching this
A: I did not visit Russia until after I
had finished the manuscript of the book, but I went to Russia in my
imagination as I studied for four years with native Russians who were
survivors of the Siege of Leningrad. I’m thrilled you enjoyed Love
and Honor and were reminded of Doctor Zhivago in that it is one of
my favorite films of all time.
Q: Thank you for your courtesies
regarding this wee “chat”. I appreciate the efforts by Jill Rytie on your
behalf. She has been a big help to me in securing this interview, and you
are most fortunate to have someone with her talents. Now, is there a final
word for our readers in the Scottish community?
A: I’m proud to be a part of the Tartan
Day parade this year in New York City on April 2nd where
Americans of whatever heritage are invited to share in the celebration of
courage, honor and liberty. (FRS 3-18-2005)