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Loudoun native wins Cooke Fiction Award

photoPhoto Courtesy/michaeljroueche.com Micheal J. Rouche, a Loudoun County native, recently won the 2012 John Esten Cook Fiction Award for his novel “Beyond the Wood.”

A Loudoun County native has been awarded the 2012 John Esten Cook Fiction Award by the Military Order of the Stars and Bars.

Michael J. Rouche, author of “Beyond the Wood,” lived in Loudoun County for 25 years. Now a resident of Colorado, Rouche wrote the book, which tells the story of Union soldier Hank Gregg who refuses to retreat from his first battle without a trophy from the battlefield, while he lived in Loudoun.

He accepted the award and a $1,000 prize at the organization’s yearly convention in San Antonio, Texas.

“Beyond the Wood was a somewhat accidental labor of love, growing naturally out of my personal affinity for Virginia, its history and heritage, personal study of the War and battlefield tours, especially experiences in Manassas National Battlefield Park. Writing Beyond the Wood ranks as one of my most enjoyable and memorable labors …: Rouche said in a prepared statement.

The award is given annually to encourage writers of fiction to portray characters and events dealing with Southern history in an accurate manor.

The competition, open to book-length works, is judged on effectiveness of research, accuracy of statement and excellence of style, according to Historical Fiction News.

In Roueche’s book, the main character finds the memento he’s seeking on the body of a dying Confederate officer who charges him with delivering his last letter to his wife.
The character, Gregg, determines he will deliver the letter in person even though it means leaving his regiment and going behind enemy lines deep into Virginia. Meanwhile, the Confederate officer’s widow struggles with burdens left by her husband and the difficulties created by grasping opportunists.

“Beyond the Wood” also includes a brief modern plot that highlights contemporary perspective on the Civil War and the way it’s remembered and celebrated.

The book is published by Vesta House Publishing and is available in trade paperback and for Kindle and Nook.

Roueche is writing a sequel and blogs at http://www.michaeljroueche.com.

In addition to the Cooke Fiction Award, the book also has been named a finalist in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards; the 2011 Silver Medalist for Historical Fiction in eLit Book Awards; and a 2012 Merit Book in the EVVY Awards Program.

The Cooke Fiction Award is named for Virginia novelist and biographer John Esten Cooke who served in the Confederate Army throughout the war. Among his writings are biographies of Thomas Jefferson, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee.

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