The History Press decided in September 2015 to publish The Last Lynching in Northern Virginia: Searching for Truth at Rattlesnake Mountain. I’m told that the book will be available for sale in autumn 2016. Between now and then, I hope to use this space to tell you about it, including the research I did, the people I met, and how I wrote it. I’ll also talk about the technical aspects of publishing, at least from the author’s point of view. I’ve spent a lot of time lately doing production tasks that I didn’t know a book writer had to do. These include collecting up to 80 photos, numbering them, and marking places in the text where they will go. Still ahead is something called an image checklist. Apparently someone, somewhere, in the production process will use this checklist to make sure each photo is in its proper place. I’m more comfortable with the writing part of book-making. This is my first book, though I was a newspaper reporter and editor for 36 years. Even so, I was excited when the editorial board at History Press in Charleston, S.C., agreed to offer me a contract and publish my story. Banks Smither, the editor I have been working with, had recommended publication, and he told me that he would notify me of the board members’ decision on the day they met. I checked my email dozens of times that day, awaiting word. Finally, at 5 p.m., Banks wrote to say that the decision was favorable. “Everyone is very excited about the project and I think we’re really going to have a wonderful book to represent the hard work and great story you have to tell,” he wrote.
I liked that part of his email: “the great story you have to tell.” The Last Lynching in Northern Virginia is a great story–sad but interesting and important. I hope you will enjoy it.