A New Bedford firefighter writes a novel based on his experiences

NEW BEDFORD — When Tom Marginson started writing his first novel, his mantra was simple.

“If you can talk, you can write,” he said. “Just close your eyes and begin.”

Writing he did and now his self-published novel, “The Chariot: Quest to Find the River of Life.”

Set in New Bedford, the story revolves around Captain Jake Blackburn, commander of Engine 8 in 2020. After a particularly hectic fire, he builds a time machine out of one of the engines and ends up traveling to the time until the 1840s.

There, Blackburn and his grandson, Nate, encounter a runaway slave who later returns with them to the 21st century whaling town.

“They did DeLorean time travel, time travel in phone booths, why not do a steam pump?” said Marginson. “It’s basically Indiana Jones meets Back to the Future.”

The former New Bedford Fire Department district chief and New Bedford native said many of his own professional experiences went down in history.

“All the bad fires I’ve had,” he said, “I put them in this one fire.”

Former New Bedford District Chief Tom Marginson talks about the book he wrote about 1800s New Bedford. The book called The Chariot: Quest to Find the River of Life was released this week.

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It’s about the story

The inspiration for the book came from a conversation the Northbridge resident had with a history teacher from that area.

Former New Bedford District Chief Tom Marginson talks about the book he wrote in 1800s New Bedford. The book titled The Chariot: Quest to Find the River of Life is available for sale.

“I told him Frederick Douglass lived here and he said, I didn’t know that,” Marginson said. “No one outside of this area knows.

We have a great history here.”

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Marginson’s faith also played a role, as the title is derived from the Chariot of Fire that took the prophet Elijah to heaven in The Bible, the sacred text revered among Christians.

Even the mechanism used in the story to enable time travel, the river of life, is a biblical reference.

“It’s my faith,” he said, “but it’s also the captain’s faith.”

The book also explores how a person’s identity can be integrated into their work.

“For [the main character]”, firefighting is an escape.”

In “The Chariot”, the runaway slave returns with the Blackburns in 2020 and marvels at the extent of the upbringing.

“If there’s one thing I want people to take away from this, it’s the importance of education.”

Get a signed copy today

Marginson will be signing copies of “The Chariot: Quest to Find the River of Life” at the New Bedford Fire Museum on Saturday, July 9 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Books will be on sale for $25 and only cash payments will be accepted.

Contact Kevin G. Andrade at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter: @KevinGAndrade. Support local journalism and subscribe to the Standard-Times today!

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