Victor Verney Author Profile

August 8, 2010

Victor Verney

What genre do you write in? What books have you written? What are they about?

I write nonfiction — although I fully intend to write some short stories and a novel or two before all is said and done. My first book, Warrior of God: Jan Zizka and the Hussite Revolution, was published in ’09 by Frontline Books, a British press specializing in military history.  Zizka, little known in the West despite being a huge cultural icon in the Czech Republic, is to that country what Oliver Cromwell is to England, Simon Bolivar is to South America, or George Washington is to the U.S.A.  The Hussite Revolution of 1419 was the very beginning of the Protestant Reformation and the religious wars that swept Europe after Luther.

Warrior of God: Jan Zizka & the Hussite Revolution (Frontline, 2009)Tell us about yourself.

Although my parents were originally from northeastern Ohio, they moved around a bit during the early years of their marriage.  Eventually, however, they settled in Buffalo, NY, where my father was a mechanical engineer at a local steel plant and my mother an art teacher.  Like my father, I served in the U.S. Navy for four years, receiving my honorable discharge at the rank of E-5.  In addition to learning welding and pipefitting, I also saw Europe, the Caribbean, and the western Pacific Rim.

I earned a graduate degree in American literature with a minor in American history at the State University of NY/Buffalo, writing my doctoral dissertation under direction of the late Leslie Fiedler, renowned literary and cultural critic.  After a few years as an English professor, I entered the field of journalism, working as editor at both weekly and daily newspapers.  A desire to focus on specific projects led to a career as freelance writer.

Along with a strong avocational interest in jazz, I have a life-long fascination with baseball — two of my favorite writing topics — as well as history and literary studies.

What are you working on?

I’m currently working on a book about nine famous writers who served as bona fide combat soldiers — versus wartime ambulance drivers (e.g. Hemingway, Dos Passos, Cummings), journalists (Crane), or nurses (Whitman).  I signed a contract last year with Algora Publishing, and the provisional title is Pen & Sword: Writers Who Fight.  The subjects are Miguel de Cervantes, Lord Byron, Leo Tolstoy, Ambrose Bierce, Arthur Conan Doyle, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, George Orwell, and Kurt Vonnegut.

What are three random things that others wouldn’t know or guess about you?

  • I’ve played piano since I was 10 and have performed semi-professionally much of my life.  After starting with ’60s garage bands during high school, I discovered Miles Davis my freshman year of college and went off the deep end with jazz-fusion during the ’70s.  I even played in Top-40 bands in San Diego during the synthesizer-crazy ’80s and was able (for a while, at least) to fulfill every musician’s fantasy: quitting my day job!
  • I’m a serious cat lover and have been fascinated by felines since my first boyhood trip to the zoo.  My mother did not share my appreciation, so I didn’t have my own cat until later in life.  I recently experienced, for the first time, the sorrow of having to put a beloved pet to sleep, which affected me far more than I (or anyone else) might have guessed.
  • Despite taking typing classes in high school (at my mother’s insistence) and being a piano player, I am a terrible “hunt-and-peck” typist!  I rely heavily on the voice recognition software program Dragon NaturallySpeaking to write — or perhaps I should say dictate — my lengthier work.

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