So where did James Tobias Hogg come from?  Here is the background:

 

To start out, I don’t really like my (real) name that much.  There is nothing wrong with it, but it just isn’t that interesting a name.  If only I could be James Bond, and say when people asked my name: 

 

The name is Bond.  James Bond!

 

How exciting that would be.  Well, I wasn’t going to really change my name at age 65, but I thought my pseudonym would begin with James.

 

Then we get to Tobias.  That is even stranger I guess.  But in my law firm business whenever we are talking about someone who is a metaphor, we have used the name “Toby”.  I have no idea why this happened – it just did – but after 25 years everyone in my law firm now uses Toby as a metaphor.  So Tobias seemed like a good middle name. 

 

And now the Hogg part, which I bet you are wondering about.   The answer there is stranger yet, and is based on the fact that my wife and I have been collecting pigs for about 35 years.  Without giving away too much I hope, my wife’s nickname is Sweetie Pig and our house is festooned with pigs – probably well over 1000 pig stuff infests our residence.  As the crowning touch, our front yard has eleven pig topiaries looking out proudly on the street, no doubt to our neighbors’ glee.  So that leads you to a pig-type name, which I decided would be Hogg.  

 

Now you know everything!

 

I apologize if I sound like kind of, well, a bit of a jerk, but I guess sometimes that is what I am.  Here goes…..

 

It was about twenty years ago – probably around the year 2000.  

 

I had just read a fiction book that was a Best Seller.  I don’t remember the book, but it was pretty lame.  Trite characters and a plot that was like so many other books.  It kinda sucked.  Yet it was a vaunted Best Seller!

 

So, there I was in the kitchen.  I was with my wife.  By the way, I should mention I have been married close to forty years and am head over heels crazy in love with my wife – still – like a schoolboy with his first crush.  Go figure that.  

 

Irrespective of that, I was sitting at the kitchen table and ranting.  I was going on and on about how this book was a Best Seller but it sucked!  On and on I ranted, while my wife probably just rolled her eyes. 

 

Finally, she looked at me and said:

 

“If you’re so amazing, could you write a best seller?”

 

This sounded like a challenge – like fighting words – so I responded:

 

“Of course.  Here is the plot……”

 

And then – it was almost scary – the plot for Faythe of North HInkapee just bubbled out of me.  I told the first part of the story in about five minutes without pausing for breath.

 

When I stopped I looked at her and she looked at me.  We were both kind of shocked at what had happened.  And she said:

 

“My God.  That does sound like a best seller!”

 

Trust me – my wife doesn’t kiss my ass.  She is a fifth degree black belt in karate and has a fighting spirit.  She was serious and I knew it.

 

So maybe I had something here.  Let’s test market it….

 

At that time, my older daughter – about 11 years old – and I used to go running together.  The runs got longer and longer till they were around two hours in length.  We didn’t go super-fast but we kept going.  And part of what kept us going is I would tell stories as we went.  Strangely, there wasn’t ever a pre-existing plot before we left for a run.  I would just start out with something and see where the tale went.  It was odd, but something about running along created all sorts of tales.

 

I started out with the story I had told my wife, which was only the first part of Faythe of North Hinkapee.  And my daughter loved it.  And then I gradually unfolded the rest of it to her on various long runs, until we had the whole story finished.  I give her credit as sometimes when the plot stumbled she would help me out with ideas and angles.

 

Roughly 15 years went by and I always wanted to write the book, but couldn’t get around to it.  I had a round-the-clock day job as a lawyer in mid-town NYC, and there just wasn’t that kind of time.

 

Then, starting about five years ago — about 2018 – I started out writing the book.  I found that if I could take two uninterrupted weeks at a time and turn off email, I could whip out a volume.  With a total of four weeks a year, it took roughly two years and it was done!

 

This was pretty fast I realized – an 850 page book written in about 8 weeks – a hundred pages a week.  But it was done, finally,

 

As a first-time author of fiction, I then learned the hard way that “done” means I was starting on editing, marketing and all sorts of things that discourage authors.  And that took another two years.

But now I am happy to say, I am really done, and here is the book for your reading enjoyment and excitement.

Ken Follett has been an inspiration to me. I find myself continuously wrapped up in his books, whether super long or short – and eagerly awaiting his next book. The characters I root for wholeheartedly – and I thoroughly hate the bad evil characters. Plus the plots are incredibly interesting, creative and suspenseful. How many days did I show up at work bleary-eyed from staying up an extra hour – or two hours – reading the book till the wee hours, because I just couldn’t stop reading the next chapter?

If only I could write like that, I would feel so, well, proud of myself. But how could I ever be that good. I mean I am one of the top real estate lawyers in NYC, but I am just almost sixty years old and starting a fiction writing career. I could never get that good…..or could I……? So Ken Follett inspired me in another way. I am going to be too honest here, but hopefully this will not ruin my hero worship. So I found a book Mr. Follett had written under a pseudonym long ago – maybe one of his first books. I got it and read it. And – sorry Ken – it was truly awful. The characters were almost shockingly wooden and the plot was so inane I couldn’t even finish it.

Now the ingredients for inspiration were upon me.
If the man I believe is possibly the top fiction writer in the world started out writing so poorly and could create himself into a fiction-writing genius, maybe I could do the same? Or at least I could give it a try. Adding a final ingredient, my entire family (including myself) all have Follett’s masterpiece opus Pillars of the Earth as one of their top five favorite books.

Could I do something like that?

Could I create a bunch of sleepy, blear-eyed people who would stay up all night reading my epic story?

Well, my book – broken into a five-book series – Faythe of North Hinkapee– is my attempt to do exactly that.

It is a far-ranging epic historical fiction vengeance story with Faythe Emily Wentworth, as a young and indefatigable female protagonist, set in Colonial Times. Notably, women – especially young women – in those days were to be seen and not heard, but Faythe is having none of that, and when her innocent younger sister is brutally raped by the ruthless Downing Family boys – and her family is falsely accused of witchcraft and burnt to death in the village square — she confronts seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her relentless quest for justice.

The plot – similar to Pillars of the Earth – is deep in the genre of Historical Fiction. And like Pillars of the Earth, the plot starts from different antipodes,
and at the end weaves the characters together into an exciting climax.

Is it as good as Ken Follett’s writing? You know – my wife says I am ‘arrogant in a nice way’ – but I am not that
much of a humbug. No, I am not Ken Follett just yet, but if you pick up, and you read, the first chapter, I will bet that you will get sucked in, just like everyone else who has started – they all can’t wait to get to the finish.