Ron Singerton, next speaker for the Idyllwild Community Center Speaker Series, is an accomplished artist whose art evinces a fine attention to detail.
That attention to detail served him well when he began researching his first historical novel, “Villa of Deceit” (Penmore Press, 2015) and its sequel “The Silk and the Sword” (due out this month). Both are set in ancient Rome, a time and place of extraordinary social complexity — a dangerous milieu of power, architectural magnificence, corruption, greed and brazen brutality.
Singerton is interested in complexity — especially in social mores, class hierarchies and the conventions of different historical periods. For him, as a writer, it’s always about the emotions of his characters as their lives play out against the challenges of the civilizations of which they are a part.
His interest in history has infused his teaching, his art and his recent novels. He stressed if one is going to write of civilizations long past, dogged and thorough research is critical.
Using his historical novels as background, Singerton will discuss his research techniques and sources and the importance of fact-checking when writing about known historical periods, places and events. “You need to go to actual historical sources, writers and historians of the time,” he noted. “And since history is subject to revisionism, being recast according to prevailing orthodoxies, it is vitally important to read the writers of the time.”
Singerton will also focus on how to navigate the current publishing industry. His books are released by small publishing house, Arizona-based Penmore Press. “The advantages of having your books published by a publishing house are significant,” said Singerton, “primarily editing and distribution. The editing process is where people learn how to write. Good editors will take the time, particularly with historical novels, to fact-check. My editor corrected the tense of Latin I was using.”
Singerton will also share how he found his publisher, the value of attending literary conventions, and reference books like “The Writers’ Market” that help first time authors navigate the today’s publishing industry. “The whole writing industry has changed enormously,” said Singerton, “influenced by Facebook and blogs. Writers are almost responsible to do their own public relations now.”
Singerton said that, in the end, getting a book accepted by a good publishing house depends upon it being sellable, good literature and something that people cannot put down.
Singerton’s first writing foray, when teaching art and history in inner city schools in Los Angeles, was authoring a history of the United States in easy-reading play format. In the 1980s he authored “Moments in History,” a series of thirty minibooks depicting legendary and historical events from the landing of Columbus to the first moon landing by U.S. astronauts. The books were adopted as supplementary teaching material for the State of California and approved by the Los Angeles school board as teaching aids.
Singerton will conclude his presentation with an extended Q & A. Aspiring writers and inveterate readers won’t want to miss his talk.
Singerton’s talk is free to the public and takes place at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 18 at Silver Pines Lodge.