Dr. Charles C. Anderson is the author of “The Farm” series of Mystery/Thriller novels. Blue Farm is the third and latest in the series, the first two being The Farm and Nuclear Farm. Dr. Anderson is a retired naval officer, an emergency care physician, a critical care physician, and a weapons specialist. He is also an expert in several other subjects, including Colonial Virginia, the Civil War, limestone caves, and military installations in Hampton Roads, Virginia.
“The Farm” novels are about the adventures of Dr. Andrew Carlson, who is an emergency physician and former Navy SEAL. The entire Carlson family includes his wife, former CIA operative Lindsey Carlson, their twin children, Jack and Ava, and their youngest child, Peewee, who is five in Blue Farm. The novels are action-packed, with plots torn out of today’s headlines.
The Carlson family lives on The Farm, which is a 4,000-acre plantation that has an extensive system of tunnels and limestone caves underneath the land. Located in central Virginia, the farm is an actual place. Dr. Anderson is the current owner and caretaker of much of it. Two presidents, James Monroe and James Madison, were neighbors at one time. George Washington and Lafayette visited the plantation and Peter Francisco, a famous Colonial patriot, married Suzanna Anderson in the plantation house.
Dr. Anderson has happily agreed to discuss the Farm series for The Guardian Liberty Voice. In this interview, he will discuss the inspiration for his novels and the historical background that he so colorfully depicts in the series.
Douglas Cobb: Charles, thanks for agreeing to do this interview! It’s good to talk with you and discuss your novels and the history behind them, the antebellum Virginia plantation called “The Farm.”
You mentioned that an aunt of yours now owns the plantation house. How long has your family lived there? Also, how long did you think about using your farm as the setting for your series before you began writing?
Dr. Charles C. Anderson: My ancestor, Richard Anderson, immigrated to Jamestown from England in 1635. The Farm includes multiple Crown Grants from King George II to four Anderson brothers in the 1740s. All the grants were contiguous, along the Appomattox River. My direct ancestor, James Anderson, received multiple grants in 1743 and 1745, and paid for them with bales of tobacco.
My father was born in the plantation house and twelve generations before him. This property is one of the largest estates in America held continuously by one family since the 1740s.
In the 1700s and 1800s a father often gave as much as 500 acres to a son-in-law at the time of his marriage into the family. Thus, several pieces of the original plantation have passed out of the immediate family for periods of time. The central 2500 acres have never been outside the family.
This farm has been at the crossroads of history several times. I wanted to write about my farm for years, but did not begin until 2011. I retired in 2012 to write full-time.
Douglas Cobb: How long did you serve in the Navy, Charles, and how closely would you say that the life of your male protagonist, Dr. Andy Carlson, resembles your own life?
Dr. Charles C. Anderson: I received one of the first medical school scholarships ever offered by the U.S. Navy. I had already been accepted to Emory University Medical School. Including my time in medical school, I spent twelve years in the Navy, and loved almost every minute of it.
Like me, my protagonist, Andy Carlson, is an emergency physician. Like me, he’s an epinephrine junkie. I was never a SEAL, but I was responsible for their medical care from time to time. I was the Director of the Intensive Care Unit at the Navy’s second largest hospital, which was next door to Dam Neck, one of two Navy SEAL training bases.
Several of my close friends are SEALS. I was inspired by every SEAL I ever met. We became bow hunting partners. I combined my own implausible life experiences with somewhat fictitious SEAL stories, using my farm as a backdrop.
Douglas Cobb: The Farm that Andy Carlson and his family live on becomes almost like a character in itself in “The Farm” series. There’s so much history and interesting features about the plantation that the Carlsons inhabit, it’s no wonder that you decided to name the novels in the series after the land.
How extensive is the tunnel and cave system underneath the Farm? Have you thoroughly explored all of the caves? Also, how many different uses have the caves and tunnels been put to, over the years?
Dr. Charles C. Anderson: I stumbled over one of the entrances when I was about five years old, and got a whooping for going inside. My father covered that entrance with large rocks and warned me never to go back. It took me several years to find the spot again. By then I understood the dangers. There are about 20,000 limestone caves in Virginia. Some are well-known and some, like mine, are less well known.
The area I live in is covered with Civil War relics. Somebody is always looking for an opportunity to go metal detecting and digging in the middle of the night. I can’t afford to show even my own children every cave access. My father did not reveal them to me until just before he died. I have sealed the most vulnerable entrance with concrete.
The cave system was used to store “canned goods,” “cider,” weapons, ammunition, family treasures, and, after the Civil War, almost anything of value. Important parts of the grist mill, the saw mill, the still, as well as valuable tools, were hidden here from Yankees and carpetbaggers. My ancestors hid in these caves during times of attack by Indians, Yankees, and scavengers.
Douglas Cobb: Charles, was a Civil War battle fought on your 4,000 acre plantation? You have written before that three different U.S. Presidents have visited your family’s plantation house — have your ancestors also gone to any of the residents of the three presidents?
Dr. Charles C. Anderson: A significant Civil War battle took place on my farm two days before the end of the war. Rain had fallen steadily for almost a week. The Confederates lost 7,500 men at Saylor’s Creek before retreating across High Bridge to Farmville.
After a skirmish at Cumberland Church, on the edge of my farm, the Confederates attempted to cross the Appomattox River at Sandy Ford, close to my own home, on my property. The river was too high. The ruts from their wagons cut deep grooves into the fields that are clearly visible today.
The Rebels discarded heavy items at the river, but were unable to get the wagons across. Some of these wagons were loaded with Confederate gold. Meanwhile, the Union cavalry attacked the Confederate cavalry at the entrance to my farm, near the intersection of Plank Road, Sandy Ford Road (now South Airport Road) and Pleasant Valley Road. This was a rear guard action to give R. E. Lee a chance to escape via Pleasant Valley Road and Plank Road, to New Store and on to Appomattox, where he surrendered.
My family recovered over 1,000 muskets, several cannon, and every type of edged weapon, button, and belt buckle. Many Confederates looked at the swollen river, threw down their muskets, and went home.
My ancestor was a Captain in the Revolutionary Army, an aide to General George Washington. I have no personal knowledge that my ancestor visited the homes of George Washington, James Madison, or James Monroe.
I lent a family book, Homer’s Iliad, to Mount Vernon library. This book is a simultaneous translation in Greek and Latin and was a present from Light Horse Harry Lee (R.E. Lee’s father) to George Washington. Both men signed the book, and George doodled chickens in the margins. The librarian at Mount Vernon said this book had been “missing.”
I also own a family picture of R.E. Lee, an oil painting done by an unknown artist at a famous sitting for a post-war photograph by Matthew Brady.
Douglas Cobb: In The Farm, Charles, Dr. Andrew Carlson enlists three people to help him defend his ancestral land and antebellum mansion.
Who are these people, and who are they fighting?
Charles C. Anderson: As a SEAL Andy’s skills were infiltrating and sniping. He had a gift for languages and spoke many Arabic dialects. He was knowledgeable about nuclear weapons. The CIA utilized him to eliminate terrorist targets in Middle Eastern countries. He also had a history of alcoholism.
After leaving the Navy, Andy worked as an emergency physician for four day cycles, then returned to his farm to drink for several days. The CIA decided he would make a perfect patsy to corroborate a plot to blame Saudi Arabia for a nuclear terrorist plot against the United States. Please recall that almost all of the 9/11 terrorist were Saudi.
Much like Dick Cheney and GW Bush sought to steal Iraqi oil under the subterfuge of WMDs and “freedom,” the CIA decided to frame Saudi Arabia for sponsoring a nuclear terrorist incident in Hampton Roads. They decided that Andy Carlson would recognize the plot, with a little help from their own female operative.
The CIA never had any intention of exploding a nuclear weapon in Hampton Roads, but they exposed enough of their plan to get the attention of Andy Carlson. Andy’s wife-to-be, Lindsey, almost kills him on the Farm, but ultimately becomes his ally. Lindsey is a nuclear threat analyst for the CIA, speaks Russian, and was involved in the disabling of thousands of old Soviet warheads after the Cold War ended.
Andy’s second ally was a young Saudi girl whom Andy had rescued from Saudi Arabia on his last mission as a SEAL. His third ally was a middle-aged light-skinned black male names Ben Carlson. Ben’s family had been slaves on the Carlson plantations for centuries, and employees after the Civil War. Andy and Ben shared a common male ancestor and were childhood buddies.
Although Andy was an alcoholic, he was smarter and more resilient than the CIA gave him credit. Smart enough to foil their plan to steal Saudi oil.
Ultimately, the CIA decided to use Andy’s language and tactical skills to buy loose Soviet warheads hidden in the United States since the Cold War.
These warheads were marketed by KGB agents to Iranians, and the exchange of warheads, by Andy’s design, occurred on the Farm.
As is standard CIA practice, operatives who know too much are eliminated. That included Lindsey and Andy. KGB agents, Iranians, and CIA agents had different ideas about how to kill Andy and Lindsey, but they never counted on his farm.
Douglas Cobb: Also in the first book of your series, The Farm, why does the U.S. government want to buy old Soviet tactical nuclear weapons?
Dr. Charles C. Anderson: The Soviets have plenty of warheads, more than the U.S., even after disabling over 7,000 under a treaty with the United States, a treaty discarded by President Obama. Almost all forty-year old nuclear warheads have been accounted for, but the Soviets admit that some were stolen or sold on the black market, and were never cataloged.
Since it is possible to determine the age and even the origin of a warhead after detonation, any uncatalogued forty year old warhead is priceless. The Russians can say that the weapon was stolen, denying any responsibility for it. The United States can use it and point a finger at almost anyone who could afford to buy it. If this never occurred to our CIA, it is the only despicable plot they have ever overlooked.
Douglas Cobb: The second book in “The Farm” series, Nuclear Farm, also deals with nuclear warheads. Would you tell our readers a bit more about this book, please?
Dr. Charles C. Anderson: Andy and Lindsey’s twins were born at the end of the first book in this series, The Farm. In Nuclear Farm, the twins are ten year old prodigies, trained to be warriors by their ex-SEAL dad, Andy Carlson.
Few people understand that fifty percent of all casualties in modern wars are children. That’s right. Fifty per cent. After seeing thousands of dead children in the streets of war-torn Middle Eastern villages and cities, Andy trained his twins to be warriors, not casualties.
The subject of nuclear warheads is a theme in the Farm series because Lindsey Carlson is a CIA trained expert on old Soviet warheads and Andy Carlson was involved in recovering old Soviet warheads, both as a SEAL and as a civilian. Andy and Lindsey have more hands-on experience with these old warheads–how they are armed, disarmed, updated, and recharged with tritium–than anyone in the U.S.
In Nuclear Farm Andy enlists the help of his twins in a cross country chase after a cache of warheads turned loose by an old KGB adversary of Andy and Lindsey’s, Aleksi Ivanov.
Douglas Cobb: How much are your grandchildren, Jack and Ava, like the fictional versions of Jack and Ava in your novels? Where did the character Peewee come from?
Dr. Charles C. Anderson: I do have two twin grandchildren named Jack and Ava. Jack’s picture is on the cover of Blue Farm, but this picture depicts his younger brother Peewee.
You will notice that Peewee has blue eyes—not the kind of blue eyes most people have. The white part of Peewee’s eyes, the sclera, are blue, not the iris. This is a physical characteristic of a child with osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic disease causing brittle bones and poor muscle tone.
I have encountered three such children as an emergency physician, evaluating and treating each one multiple times for broken bones. I fell in love with these kids, who uniformly took their disease in stride, never complaining. All of the Carlson family are warriors, but Peewee can’t be a warrior. He breaks bones walking around.
Douglas Cobb: I’d like to ask you a couple of questions about your latest novel in “The Farm” series, if I may, Blue Farm.
First, why did you call this novel Blue Farm, and What happens when Jack and Ava take Peewee along with them to check out the University of Virginia?
Dr. Charles C. Anderson: The color blue is associated with sadness. There is plenty of sadness in the Carlson family in this novel. Jack and Ava are sixteen now. They have been homeschooled by their parents, who recognized that the twins were too smart for public schools.
The twins could have attended college earlier, but their mom didn’t believe they were socially mature enough to go to college. She was right. While on a routine pre-enrollment visit to the University of Virginia with Jack and Ava, five year old Peewee is kidnapped in the Rotunda in Charlottesville. Days later, after paying a ransom, the family finds Peewee’s body buried on their own farm.
Jack and Ava join forces with their formidable parents to find the murderer of Peewee. Along the way, Jack and Ava stumble into their first romances, their first broken hearts, and the murderer of Peewee. Revenge is not sweet.
Douglas Cobb: You write in Blue Farm that Dr. Andrew Carlson enjoys bow hunting, and that he makes his own bows and arrows. You also mention that he and Jack and Ava have killed record bucks and other animals, which are in a trophy room in their home.
Do you also like to bow hunt, and have you made your own bows and arrows? If so, what wood do you prefer to use, and do you chip your own arrowheads, as well?
Dr. Charles C. Anderson: I think an author is at his best when he is writing about subjects that he knows well. I have been a life-long bow hunter. Like Andy Carlson, I’m a weapons specialist. Neither of us see any challenge in shooting game with guns, since we can hit a tennis ball at 800 yards with a .308 sniper rifle.
The whole point of bow hunting is to hone stealthy skills that allow a human being to move within a few yards of any living thing. These are the same skills required of a warrior. If you can crouch in front of a bush in camouflage and hold your bow motionless in the face of a grizzly bear or a 1000 pound elk bull, then you’re a good candidate for the Special Forces.
I make all of my own arrows except the steel broad heads, which screw in place. I have used cedar arrows, but switched to an aluminum-carbon composition arrow about twenty years ago. Each broad head must be identical to be accurate.
The description of Andy Carlson’s home is my own home. I live three hundred yards from the plantation house. The description of this farm in my books is accurate. The largest whitetail deer in Virginia roam free on my farm. I shoot one buck yearly and I eat it. My son is an excellent marksman with a bow. Jack and Ava shoot tiny marshmallows with their bows, but they dress for the hunt. Ava is the sneakiest kid I’ve ever seen.
Douglas Cobb: Without giving too much away, Charles, who are the Ivanovs in Blue Farm?
Dr. Charles C. Anderson: The Ivanovs are a Russian family that settled in Wisconsin during the Cold War. At the time the Russians claimed to have accurate ICBMs, but their own records showed that these missiles routinely missed their targets by twenty-five miles. GPS was not available during the Cold War.
When Ronald Reagan threatened to build a “Star Wars” anti-ballistic missile system, the Russians were panicky. They decided to smuggle warheads across the Canadian border, which was wide open, and hide them in the U.S. Their intention was to place them in U.S. cities when necessary.
The Ivanovs were in charge of this plot. The patriarch of the family was Aleksi Ivanov. Aleksi hid the warheads in Wisconsin, and ultimately tried to sell them to terrorists.
Douglas Cobb: Finally, Charles, would you please tell the readers of The Guardian Liberty Voice if you are currently working on another novel in “The Farm” series, or some other novel?
Dr. Charles C. Anderson: I have completed Desperate Farm, the next novel in the Farm series. Jack and Ava are now eighteen. Currently this book is in the editorial stage. Give my publisher three-four months, then look for it along with my other books at http://amazon.com/author/thrillerguy. My next project is a historical novel, set in the Civil War.
Douglas Cobb: Thanks again, Dr. Anderson, for allowing me to interview you! It’s been a pleasure. I’m looking forward to reading more of your novels in the future, and I highly recommend “The Farm” series to the readers of The Guardian Liberty Voice!
Written by: Douglas Cobb