By Cady Kuzmich
Rexford — Imagine how drastically different the modern world might be given a seemingly insignificant change in the course of history. Ed Peck, a retired teacher and author based in Rexford, explores that question in his new book “Lincoln’s Secret.”
Peck holds his cards close to his chest when it comes to the book. His writing could be described as something between alternative history and historical fiction. His work is largely based on history, however he expands upon certain possibilities which have not yet been proven. “I took a tiny little fact or two and i just changed it slightly. In the process, I changed history in a way,” he said.
“I didn’t torture history too much,” he laughed.
Peck, now 65, graduated from Roeliff Jansen Central School in 1969 before earning his bachelor’s degree from SUNY Brockport and his masters at SUNY Albany. Literature and history have always interested Peck. He credits growing up with relatives who fought in both World Wars for some of his interest in history. “There was a lot of patriotism and devotion to service in the family,” he said. “I ate it up.”
It was while teaching at Brittonkill Central School near Troy in the late seventies that Peck realized his love and dedication to writing while dreaming up lesson plans and and choosing articles for his students. He later worked at Tamarac where he taught both English and history.
Peck was forced to retire earlier than he would have liked in 2010 after being diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. “I decided to devote my time to my health,” he said. Peck is now in remission. “I’m very fortunate,” he added.
Peck said his book was already 90 percent complete by the time he was diagnosed. “I’m an early riser,” he said when asked how he found the time to write a book while working as a full time teacher. “I did a lot on Saturday and Sunday mornings.”
All in all, the book took eight years to write. “I imagine 99 out of 100 books don’t get written because people have to make a living,” he said. “It’s always been a dream and a goal of mine. I chipped away at it little by little. Never really put it down,” added Peck.
Peck’s work involved extensive research. “I wanted it to be as true to life and to history as possible.”
In “Lincoln’s Secret,” Peck not only seeks to question history as we know it, but he works to shed light on the unsung heroes of the civil war. “There are people who aren’t remembered. No recognition. It’s absolutely distasteful.”
Peck is now married to his second wife, Donna, and has a daughter and two step-daughters.
His advice to aspiring writers is this — “Read like crazy.”
“I don’t think you can be a good writer without being a reader. You have to know so much about so many things. I probably read 40 books just for the research for my little 200 page novel,” said Peck.
Peck already has another project in the works. His next book will focus on the Battle of Saratoga and General John Burgoyne.