Friday, December 6, 2013
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Q: The book reads like a script for a movie. Any plans for something along those lines?
A: I tend to see things like that. I am a huge movie buff, so I think cinematically. That's a hope. We'll see. There has been some discussion.
Q: How did you come to collaborate with Stephen Erickson?
A: I had a contract to write this book. I was doing my research and came across a manuscript in New England Quarterly that suggested I had competition. It was a feature-length article, maybe 20 or 25 pages. I saw the name Stephen Erickson. In 300 years, no one had written a history of the event, and now we had two people who wanted to write about it. I thought it was pretty good, his piece. He found some things that I didn't have. I didn't think the world needed two histories of Boon Island. We found each other, and decided it would make more sense to collaborate. He has been researching it for three or four years. It is one of his life missions.
Q: How did you research this story? What were your methods?
A: There are two manuscripts that exist. The captain wrote a memoir and published it. It was quite a hit. Because of the cannibalism incident, there were quite a few people interested in it. And then the crew wrote their own. They said, "No, no, no, you are a scoundrel. This is a pack of lies." Both documents still exist. So you have these two histories that were in conflict. That is very rich. Stephen and I found the crew's story more compelling. There has been some historical research, and we did our own research, looking at shipping between the colonies and what the colonies were like back then.
There is a gentleman vs. the commoner element to this story. When you dig in and look at a lot of the history around this event, it's really very interesting. It's fascinating in that the crew actually list their sources in their account. They talk about, "We met this boat, we met that boat. We met this captain." They listed all the members of the crew, which gives their account some credibility. The captain failed to do any of that in his account.
Q: You are a ranger at Baxter State Park. Tell me about that.
A: I work as a seasonal ranger at Baxter. I am a ranger at Daicey Pond. I do everything from register campers and provide basic info for campers. We protect the people from the park and the park from the people. In the day-to-day sense, I do maintenance at the campground. I help with rescues and rule enforcement and all kinds of different stuff.
Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be reached at 791-6457 or: