Raymond Gustavson's Website
1. LOCAL AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT - Sebastian writer weaves Civil War novel with intrigue and romance

Raymond Gustavson
Gypsy Shadow Publishing, (305 pgs. $19.95)

Special to Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers
(Gene Hull is the author of the music memoir ďChasing the MuseĒ)

Raymond Gustavson has added a vibrant new novel to the trove of 50,000 published Civil War books. He depicts a small Tennessee town struggling to persevere its traditions while occupied by Union Troops. Its citizens are microcosm of the Warís bigger picture.
Young college professor John Martin longs to enlist in the Confederate Army. A boyhood injury has left him lame and rejected for service. Eventually, he says goodbye to Lydia, his lovely friend, goes east, finds Southern forces, and is sworn in on the battlefield.
When he returns to his Tennessee home, wounded, he finds Lydia infatuated with a Union Army Lieutenant. The plot soon accelerates to a gallop with forbidden romance, sabotage, murder, heroism, intrigue and love. Itís a well-told tale, worthy of a place in the annals of good period novels.

Q. Great story. Did you imagine it all before you wrote it or did the plot evolve as you wrote it?

A. I imagined it first and wrote the first draft. Then, realizing there would be problems, I constructed an outline and rearranged sections, adding chapters so the whole thing made sense.

Q. Your descriptions are easy to visualize. Any comment?

A. I feel as if Iím actually there when Iím writing. I walked the Cornfield at Antietam early one morning, and had the strange feeling of seeing men thudding down after they were shot and crying out as they died.

Q. What was your favorite aspect of writing this novel?
A. The revision process. It gave the opportunity to think about revisions that were needed. My editor would weigh in and point out what Iíd ignored or dismissed. In the end, this process tied the whole novel together.

2. John Ulysses Martin had a dream at the age of ten and he finally had the opportunity to fulfill that dream as he marched off to war with his students. There, he faced the harsh reality of combat as he witnessed the death of his friends, and the cries of the wounded and dying. The story is unforgettable, the characters come to life, and the conclusion is explosive. "A THIRST FOR WAR" is as entertaining as GONE WITH THE WIND, as dramatic as Steven Spielberg's SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, and is as emotional as THE DEER HUNTER, with Robert Deniro. Reviewed by Gerri Ahearn.

3. If you are looking for a well-written civil war story, I recommend A Thirst for War. With well-developed characters and a realistic plot, Mr. Gustavson builds the tension toward an explosive conclusion. Like me, Iím sure youíll be looking to read the sequel. Dr. Michael J. Deeb

4. Mr. Gustavson's rich eye for detail works like a time machine for readers of this interesting tale. Leave the modern world behind, and visit real life in the time of the Civil War. With the possibility of a second U.S. Civil War looming, 'A Thirst for War' gives us not only a look back, but possibly a look ahead into the near future. Neighbor against neighbor. Friend against friend. Gustavson's first novel brings it all home. Start turning the pages of Mr. Gustavson's first novel, and you will soon find yourself immersed in a time when slavery and brutal warfare were more than just far-off ideas. Ė Chris Nelson, Editor, Vietnow Magazine

5. Dear Ray,
I received your book in the mail the other day. Thanks so much for sending it, and for signing it for me. I really appreciate that.

I have to tell you...I've looked at the book a few times since I got it...(so much more fun to look at a book in print that it is to try to read it on screen)...but I have to tell you that I'm highly impressed by what you've done.

It's a safe guess that most people you will show the book to will have no real appreciation of what you have gone through to write this book. I mean, they'll say "Oohhhhh" and "Ahhhhhhhh"...blah blah blah. But they won't really and truly understand what you've done.

A book like this is a truly great accomplishment. As a writer myself, I can page through the book, and pick out certain passages of the book, and can imagine you sitting there..maybe late at night or early in the morning...when you could have been doing other things...but instead of doing those other things, I know you were sitting there working away on finding the right word, trying to "keep it real"...and keeping all the characters and the plot straight. It's amazing.

A book like this could never be finished without a great amount of personal sacrifice (even though writing is often great fun)...but there is a lot of hard work...really hard work...and must have been times when you fell into despair and felt like you would never finish, or felt that the book wouldn't be any good, or felt like "What's the use?"

But you kept going...where most people just imagine that they're going to write a book "some day" you have actually done it. When other people quit, you kept pushing and scrabbling your way through it.

I have to tell you that you have my great respect and admiration, Ray.


6. Mr. Gustavson has created an interesting Civil War novel which entertains on the surface but also addresses the conflict created for individuals and families torn apart by this Tennessee town's occupation by troops as well as the brutalities of war. It appeals to history buffs through the attention to historical detail and to the casual reader through its sensitive treatment of the relationships of the characters. Definitely a good read. Barb Horne

7. I met Mr. Gustavson at a recent FL Writers Association conference. Impacted by his career in the Department of Veterans Affairs, this author has avidly studied the Civil War. He's created a protagonist, Professor John Ulysses Martin, whose core belief is that "war is nothing more than the butchery of innocents". I confess to being a creative nonfiction devotee, so I'm not attuned to the craft of historical fiction. However, if this is your favored reading area, do check this book out. And give Mr. Gustavson a sincere review. Donna Guillaume.

8. Action Packed Historical Novel, November 27, 2010 Any fan of historical fiction will certainly enjoy "A Thirst for War" by Raymond Gustavson. Raymond takes his readers back to an era that tore at the very heart of this country. His characters do not fail to draw you into their lives as they struggle for peace and righteousness on their land and in their hearts and souls.

Raymond shows us that he has an affection for this time period along with a significant knowledge of the places and historic events in his book. Ė Diana Clang

9.A Young professor in his 20's teaches a small group of students at a College in Clarksville Tennessee. Professor John Martin would have called himself lucky to be in the field and position he was in at that point in his life if he didn't have an uncontrollable desire to leave and fight the war like many of his students did. Having a physical problem, the Army would not accept him, and this made his need to serve his country even greater. He wanted to prove himself worthy. Like many of the characters in his history books, Professor Martin truly wanted his students to have that same glory in the heat of a battle. When it all comes down to in the end, facing much more than just the battle in the fields, will he feel the same way when the war comes to his home town? Find out as your eyes become glued to this fantastic novel. As you turn the pages you, too, will feel as if you are one of the characters. Reviewed on 11/21/2010 by ReviewTheBook.com Member Michelle Lichtenfels

10. Mr. Gustavson has the distinct talent of creating believable characters, so I found it easy to visualize them as I read. His attention to detail is also revealed not only in the settings in which he places those characters, but in his use of metaphor, for instance: "It was old news; stale and worn like the brown leaves lying at his feet." That kind of language keeps me present in the scene at hand. As far as the subject matter goes, I don't read books that deal with war, or disturbing themes in any way, so this is not one I would ordinarily have read. Having said that, a haunting love story runs throughout the novel, so I do feel that the author struck a balance in widening the appeal of his book. I would certainly be interested in seeing something else from him. Ė Tricia Pimental

11. I enjoyed this book very much. The characters were interesting and realistic, you could easily forget that you were reading about a time in history so far gone because you were caught up in the story of the people. There is a certain pleasure in reading a book that focuses on the characters and their interactions without the cluttering of talk about technology and weapons that you either look up to follow or you just read past and forget about, therefore sometimes missing part of the story. This book is about core experiences of one's life; people, love and the battle of good and evil. I highly recommend taking a break from the hectic, complicated experiences of today and stepping back into this story. Betsy Horne

12. A Very Strong First Novel January 10, 2011 A Thirst for War is not a book I would have picked up off the bookstore shelf because I don't read many Civil War novels. But I'm glad for the opportunity to read this one. Mr. Gustavson captured the emotions and raw, honest issues that must assail those who face war in every generation. His character John Ulysses Martin learns his life's lessons the very hardest way, and the author did a fine job of keeping me turning the pages to follow him, no matter how hard the journey became. With few slow spots, I found this to be a very strong first novel and I hope that there are more to come from this insightful author. N.L. Quatrano

13.Reviewed By Kenya Dow
Official Apex Reviews Rating:
As the American Civil War breaks out, Professor John Martin leads his students in a valiant effort to join the climactic battle; however, as he watches more and more of their young lives get snuffed out, John soon comes to the grim realization that war is nothing more than the tragic slaughter of innocents, and he ultimately undergoes quite the transformative change of heart. Little does he know, though, his newfound conscientiousness will soon place him in the perilous position of having to decide between destroying either his hometown or his own life.

Skillfully crafted, A Thirst For War is a compelling piece of historical fiction. In his no-holds-barred account of the Civil War, author Raymond Gustavson takes the reader on an eye-opening journey into the living, breathing history behind the crucial conflict. With a masterful eye for detail, Mr. Gustavson chronicles the pain, loss, death, and grueling sacrifices suffered by those whose lives the war would ultimately never leave the same, and his adept storytelling style draws the reader deep into the dark, vivid realities of battle. An intriguing read.

14. I read this book on recommendation from a friend, and even though it's not a genre I typically lean towards, I enjoyed it thoroughly. The characters are well defined and the story progresses at a steady pace. The author's descriptive style makes it easy to picture the events whether it's heavy combat or subtle flirting, and really makes you feel for the characters as their world crashes around them. Definitely worth checking out! Brian Roller

14. A Thirst for War gives readers a unique view of the Civil War. It tells the story of Professor John Ulysses Martin. He is idealistically anxious to serve. Accompanied by a couple of his students, he travels to join up and looks forward to seeing action. As he watches others killed and maimed one after another, disillusionment settles in on him.

A Thirst for War starts before Martin goes off to war. It shows his anticipation before he first sees action, then his immersion into the breathtaking action, and the sorrow of injury and death that surround the soldiers every day. This book gives readers a fast-paced glimpse into the past and the realities of war in those days as well as a good dose of beautifully crafted intrigue.

History buffs will read this eagerly to experience the war through this authorís eyes. Those who donít generally read historical fiction will enjoy it as well as it is an exciting story that grabs the reader and hangs on. Lou Belcher, Florida Book News

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