By Christine Galeone, Contributing Writer
Hudson – In September of 1814 in Plattsburgh, N.Y., a small group of American soldiers defeated a British army that was approximately 10 times its size. The astonishing victory helped persuade the Redcoats to sign the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812. When Hudson author Joseph W.M. Bebo was growing up in Plattsburgh, he never imagined that the historic event would one day lead to his personal victory – becoming a published author.
In Bebo's novel “Of Lake, Land and Liberty,” two patriotic boys with adventurous spirits risk everything to help defend their country in the Battle of Plattsburgh. One becomes a hero on the lake, by becoming an assistant surgeon on Commodore Thomas Macdonough's flagship, while the other becomes a hero on the land, by leading Martin Aiken's rifle company. Throughout the book, the coming-of-age stories of the two fictional main characters are set against a backdrop of actual events and heroes of the battle.
Growing up, Bebo heard tales about the battle. But since he didn's know all the details, its significance didn's fully resonate with him. What did, however, was a profound love of stories.
“I love to write and tell stories,” he said.?”I’ve enjoyed writing all my life and as a child wrote several stories in school that attracted attention. My father was a great storyteller.”
After graduating from high school, Joe went to Berklee College of Music in Boston where he graduated in 1971 with a degree in music composition. In 1968, Bebo played around town with Van Morrison, who was in the Boston area. He taught himself computer programming, getting a job at Digital Equipment Corporation in 1979. He eventually got his master's degree in computer science from Boston University and still programs computers for a living.
His appreciation for the art of storytelling reemerged about 20 years ago, when he began writing novels as a hobby.
“Over that time, I have written over a dozen full-length novels in a number of genres, including action-crime dramas featuring an expert marital artist and techno-thrillers based on a number of scientific themes,” Bebo said. “I’ve?also written some historical fiction like the Battle of Plattsburgh book.?I even have a ghost story of sorts. After many years of trial and error, where I wrote and rewrote each book at least a half dozen times,?I?think I's finally getting the hang of it.”
After years of honing his writing skills, Bebo read George C. Daughan's nonfiction book “1812: The Navy's War.” He said it “really brought home to me the significance of the battle, as well as the importance of the war itself in our country's early struggle for survival.”
“What really inspired me to write the story, however, was the fact that over 3,000 volunteers came out to defend their country and their homes, against these overwhelming odds. When most would have fled, these patriots put their lives on the line.?I began to realize how the war and the battle must have affected the people in the area, especially the young people,” Bebo noted.
Bebo hopes the novel will entertain, thrill and surprise readers.
“I like writing historical novels, where I?can take something that many people find dry and boring and make it exciting and interesting,” he explained. “In the process, I would like to take something virtually unknown to most Americans, and bring it the attention it deserves in our country's glorious past, however small and long ago it was.”
In the future, Bebo, who lives in Hudson with his wife Kathy, aspires to have his techno-thriller novels published, as well as a novel about Toussaint Charbonneau. In the meantime, readers and history buffs can learn more about “Of Lake, Land and Liberty” Wednesday, April 30, at 7 p.m. at the Hudson Public Library, 3 Washington St.