Welcome to My World!
First, let me say how thrilled and delighted I am to be attending the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend! Years ago, I lived in Shreveport and would occasionally come to Nacogdoches on an outing, so I’m excited to revisit the area and meet with this wonderful group of book lovers.
My books fall under the general category of “historical fiction,” so I’d like to give you some idea of what interests me about history and historical writing, what especially concerns and motivates me, and what I hope draws readers to my books. So welcome to my world!
I’m a native of Missouri, and that’s where my novels are set. Missouri has an oddly mixed history – part Yankee, part Southern; part British, part German; part urban, part rural – which makes it a useful microcosm for the country as a whole. The first novel in my series opens just before the beginning of the Civil War, which as we have seen lately, is a conflict that never seems to go away.
My special interest, though, is the utopian communities of the 19th century. A remarkable number of communes, alternative societies, and other sorts of alternative living arrangements sprouted up across the country during the first half of the century. I find these communities endlessly fascinating, not because of their strangeness, but because of their familiarity. Even in unorthodox living conditions, people had hopes, desires, prejudices, and shortcomings that look very familiar. My goal is to explore the things we have in common with each other, both the flaws and the virtues.
One of the main characters of my novels is a strong, resourceful woman named Charlotte Turner. We see her in the first book, Slant of Light, as a young newlywed, and by the time we reach the newest book, The Language of Trees, she’s in middle age but still surprised me in every chapter. I modeled Charlotte after any number of the powerful women I have had the good fortune to have known in my life, from childhood onward. Most of the people who read my books fall in love with Charlotte, despite her occasional lapses in judgment and her sometimes prickly personality. I know I did.
Some people think you have to be a history buff to enjoy historical fiction. I don’t think that’s true. Certainly, some people get a lot of pleasure from revisiting great historical events in their imagination, thinking about what it would have been like to be Joan of Arc or Catherine the Great. But I focus on everyday people caught up in historical moments. They’re not necessarily thinking about the great sweep of history; they’re trying to live through the day, find the one they love, and cope with the challenges that face them. They just happen to live in a different century.
So welcome to my world, and I hope to meet many of you face to face during the Girlfriend Weekend!
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