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Getting To Know ...

Robert Tecklenburg, author of historical fiction.

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The cover of 'Chasing Pancho Villa' by Robert Tecklenburg of Springfield

For his first novel, Robert Tecklenburg drew on his own experiences as a Vietnam veteran and research at the National Archives to flesh out the history behind "Ghosts of War," a thriller set in Southeast Asia.

In writing "Chasing Pancho Villa," the Springfield headed back to the National Archives to research the Mexican War, which provides the backdrop of his second historical novel.

What made you want to write "Chasing Pancho Villa?"

About 10 years ago I saw a PBS docu-history on World War One. In one of the segments they covered an incident in Houston, Texas. Black soldiers from the 24th Infantry Regiment had mutinied against the tough "Jim Crow" laws then in place in that state. Sixty-four were tried and 16 were eventually executed. I thought that sounded like a significant if tragic event and I had to know more. My research took me to the National Archives where one thing led to another and I was reading about the Mexican Revolution, Pancho Villa, spies and gun runners. I created my novel from those threads of history.

If you had to describe your writing style in three words

Well-researched, to-the-point and reader-friendly.

Has anything changed since you wrote your last book, "Ghosts of War?"

I have gotten older and, hopefully, a little wiser. But, other than that, I'm still writing, traveling and sailing.

What makes an interesting character?

Experience, perspective (good or evil), and lots of personality.

What do you hope readers gain from reading your book?

Hopefully, five things: A greater understanding of the role African Americans played in American history; how extraordinary events impact on the lives of ordinary people; an appreciation that our concepts of justice are complex and involve much more than good verses evil; more insight into how Pancho Villa came to symbolize this great struggle we now call the Mexican Revolution; and finally, I want readers to know that the novel is, at its core, a love story between a man who, searching for something bigger than himself to give his life meaning, finds love along the way.