Elise Cooper interviews

A Rebel Heart by Beth White brings to light the Reconstruction Era. It is a valuable tale of love and forgiveness between the characters and as a nation. Readers will be sympathetic not to the brutal plantation slave owner, but to those who became collateral damage.The daughters, Selah, Joelle, and Aurora, want a roof over their head and food in their stomachs, while the freed slaves attempt to use their skills to make a living. The mystery involves Yankee, Levi Riggins, a retired Union officer, now a Pinkerton agent, who goes undercover as a hotel management agent, to investigate several train robberies and explosives. Selah agrees to his plan to develop the run-down plantation into a glamorous hotel, completely unaware that Levi only proposed the idea as a way to keep his cover. But it also allows him to remain close to Selah, able to investigate the plantation and his initial suspicions of her, while pursuing his attraction of her. The blending of the action and historical facts with well-developed characters make for a riveting story.

 

Elise Cooper:  How did you get the idea for the story?

Beth White:  I finished my other series and was looking for a brand-new setting, a new time period, and new characters.  Tucked away was an older idea I had, to write about post-Civil War reconstruction.  I thought to make the main heroine an improvised Southern belle who grew up on a plantation and now five years after the war’s end has a lot to lose.  I wanted to add tension to the story by making the hero a retired Union Officer who served in Mississippi. I also had the southern family depend on their freed slaves to help them survive.  

 

EC:  There is a very brutal scene where the Union officers rape and kill a Southern mother.  It reminds people of the scene from Gone with The Wind?

BW:  I actually based that scene on the memoirs of Benjamin Grierson. He commanded a cavalry brigade, raiding many Confederate railroad and military facilities throughout Mississippi. Grant used this to divert attention while he took Vicksburg. Throughout the memoir he wrote what his men did, some of it was very brutal.  

 

EC:  Please explain your book quote, ‘History always matters because it impacts the present and the future.’

BW:  As a writer I am trying to filter my own modern-day biases.  While reading true accounts of what people write, experience, and the actions they take, I became aware that these are also slanted.  They are tainted by their own beliefs and what they choose to reveal or choose not to reveal.  

 

EC:  Was Selah based on Scarlett O’Hara?

BW:  My mother loved the movie so we watched it once a year.  I always thought of Scarlett as spoiled and someone who wanted her own way.  I do not think of Selah like that at all.  What they both had in common was the Steel Magnolia backbone so I guess that is the influence.

 

EC:  Describe Selah?

BW:  The oldest of three sisters who is determined, courageous, independent, lady-like, cultured, and tender. I think practical is her middle name.  She is a woman of her era so she is bound by certain cultural aspects.  For example, she was at a southern boarding school where she took on Abolitionist views.  But when her father found out and told her to come home she did not argue.  As she grew into womanhood she chose to remain unmarried because she did not want to be bound by social morals, and never wanted to surrender her autonomy to another person. She figured out how to succeed without compromising her own moral values and personal integrity. I hope readers have some sympathy for her since she lost almost everything.

 

EC:  Describe Levi?

BW:  Courageous, brave, chivalrous, protective, and moralistic.  He fought in the Union army to abolish slavery.  But he has another side, a romanticist.  This comes out in his appreciation of music, able to play classical music on the piano. 

 

EC:  You mention the Reparation Laws?

BW:  Anyone who knows the history realizes it is all over the map.  They changed about every six months.  At first the laws were hard and the South was put under military law.  Because of the war the Daughtry family became destitute and unable to sustain themselves. Eventually the Northerners got tired of devoting money and personnel so they pulled out the military and allowed Southerners to govern themselves.

 

EC:  It is interesting how it appeared that the slaves became surrogate mothers but not afterward?

BW:  I tried to put what I hope would be the dynamics of the relationship between the Daughtry daughters and the freed slaves.  I think I gave Selah some moral backbone by hiring them and putting some in charge. I am an arm chair psychologist. The older slaves were more cynical of Selah’s intentions because, as with most people, the older you get the more cynical you become.  As a storyteller, I want my readers to identify with all the characters and wonder what will happen to them.  The question I explored, ‘Is there anything we can draw from history where we can proceed with grace, forgiveness, and faith.’ Even though terrible things happened to all the characters I wanted it to be possible to show they could come through with reconciliation.

 

EC:  How did the railroads play a role?

BW:  It became a huge economic and political football. I would compare it to the development of the Internet. It connected people from one side of the country to another. In the second book of the series I will explore whether the RR should be subsidized.  There are similar concerns with the Internet where government regulation is discussed.  

 

EC:  Was the Ithaca Plantation based on anything?

BW:  It is based on a plantation in West Point Mississippi called Waverley Mansion, formerly a plantation. I visited there a few years ago and realized how exquisitely beautiful it is.  It was built in the 1800s and a family restored it in the 1960s.  It used to have gardens, orchards, and livestock that included an ice house, swimming pool, and a bathhouse.

 

EC:  What about your next book?

BW:  It will highlight the middle sister Joelle and Schuyler Beaumont, titled A Reluctant Belle.  They have been lifelong friend-enemies who grew up together.  There are some things in their background that make them natural rivals.  Because I get attached to my characters I try to bring them back.  For example, Schuyler was the brother of the hero from an earlier series, the book Redeeming Gabriel. I have a big story world that spans 1704 Alabama to the present day in Tennessee and New Orleans. I enjoy interconnecting characters generationally all over the South.  Selah and Levi will be back, but as secondary characters.  What I might do, possibly for this Christmas, is write a novella that will have the two of them as central characters, a bridge between the first and second book in the series.

THANK YOU!!

The Otter of Death by Betty Webb is part cozy mystery and part thriller, with portions delving into the very relevant issue of sexual harassment.  This story combines current issues with information about zoo animals including some light amusing scenes that make for an interesting read. 

 

The plot has the main character, zookeeper Teddy Bentley contemplating her life changes that will happen once she marries Sheriff Rejas. Her thoughts are interrupted when she spots an otter swimming with a smart phone.  After taking the device she discovers a photograph of a murder-in-progress. Rumors swirl that the victim, Stuart Booth, PhD, a local Marine Biology instructor, is a notorious sexual harasser of young female students.  Teddy decides to become an amateur sleuth putting her own life at risk as the investigation progresses to find the killer.

 

Elise Cooper:  How did you get the idea for this “Gunn Zoo” series?

Betty Webb:  I was a journalist for twenty years. After I retired I did not know what to do with my time. Having grown up on a farm with a love for animals I decided to volunteer at the Phoenix zoo.  One day I was watching this giant anteater, Lucy, playing with her pup, and said to another volunteer ‘I am surprised no one has written anything about these animals.’  She looked at me and said, ‘I thought you were a writer.’  Right then the idea for my first zoo book was born. I knew I would make it into a series.

 

EC:  The cover of the otter with the cell phone is very cute?

BW:  It is actually based on a true story.  When I was in this little town, which is what I based Gunn Landing on, I was told to be careful with the otters. If I drop something they will grab it.  In fact, I saw this otter swimming around with a small video camera.  This image was stuck in my mind, but I changed the camera to a smart phone.  

 

EC:  Boats play a significant role in these stories? 

BW:  We have a close friend who owns a boat in Santa Barbara, which is the basis for the boat in this story.  After spending a couple of summers on it I realized there are many difficulties in owning one.  Everything develops mold so it is not as romantic as most people make it out to be.  

 

EC:  Because you delve into the topic of abuse the genre would not be considered a cozy mystery?

BW:  I wanted to write something that could tie everything together.  When I was in college I heard about this situation of sexual harassment from a friend of mine.  Those picked upon are usually a little withdrawn because they are easy victims.  I never experienced it personally since I was raised on a farm. What all farm girls have in common is that we are very quick to defend ourselves. After the Weinstein issue became public, I thought how this book is appropriate to the times.  

 

EC:  You refer to the bald eagle in your book?

BW:  I based it on the two bald eagles in the Phoenix zoo.  One hurt by a car; a zoo visitor hurt the other one.  It was in a cage, recuperating from a broken wing, and they shook its cage.  It caused the eagle to break its beak.  Unfortunately, there are not a lot of laws that protect zoo animals and wildlife.  For example, a tiger attacked two boys, after they kept slinging rocks at it.  Unbelievable that one of the boys got a $50,000 settlement from the zoo for the fright suffered.  There was another time when a little boy got away from his mom and went into the gorilla enclosure. The guards were afraid for the boy’s safety so they shot the gorilla.  I wrote something similar in this book but with an overall happy ending and the vicious animal was changed to a swan.

 

EC: Please describe Teddy? 

BW:  I based her on a younger version of myself. She is very independent, forms strong bonds, and loves animals. We both had to deal with our parents’ grief.  I centered it around my parents actions and multiplied it by seven times. My mother was a Beauty Queen, quite the clotheshorse, and was married seven times. The difference is that Teddy’s mom is protective of her and my mom was not.  Because I wished my mom was more protective, I made Teddy’s mom that way.

 

EC:  Do you have a favorite zoo animal?

BW: Lucy the anteater. 

 

EC:  What do you want readers to get out of it? 

BW:  I wanted to show that a lot of things that harm animals are not done on purpose.  In this book, I wrote about the Feral Cat and how their urine has this parasite that kills otters.  Then there is the flushable kitty litter, which empties out into the ocean that kills sea life. Wildlife has problems due to the interference of human beings; even though sometimes it is not on purpose.  Something that seems harmless to us is actually fatal to animals as they come in contact with it.  I try to bring out examples of how we harm wildlife without ever meaning too.

 

EC:  Can you give a heads up about your next books?

BW:  There will be a Lena Jones book, the final one in the series.  I will be writing a new series about the art scene in Paris.  I thought this book would be the final one in the zoo series.  But was told that I need to keep writing more books, so I will probably continue to write this series.

 

THANK YOU!!

The Gray Ghost by Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell takes readers on a thrilling car ride as they race to find a valuable antique car before the bad guys find it.  Amateur sleuths Sam and Remi Fargo, smart and philanthropic self-made multimillionaires, find adventure at every turn.

 

The authors brilliantly explain the backstory through a journal, that becomes almost a secondary character.  The back and forth between 1906 and the current time makes the story even more riveting.  A distant relative of theirs seeks their help in finding a rare 1906 Rolls Royce prototype, The Gray Ghost to clear his uncle’s name.  In the course of their investigation they find that it might contain a rare treasure of money stolen in a train robbery more than a century ago. Much to their detriment they find others are also looking for the car, and are willing to do whatever it takes to recover the car and the treasure. The body count mounts up as Sam and Remi search for the auto, while trying to avoid getting killed.

 

Elise Cooper:  How did you become a co-author with Clive?

 Robin Burcell:  I was told Clive wants to talk. Need-less-to-say I was thrilled because I considered myself a mid-level author.  When he asked me to come on board I thought to myself I am getting paid to take a Master’s Course on writing.  He is paying me and yet I get to learn.  It is great fun to write with him because he is a wonderful storyteller that has a great sense of humor.  

 

EC:  Was it hard to write someone else’s characters and series?

 RB:  I first thought that as a mystery writer how hard could it be to write adventure stories.  Boy was I wrong.  It was very challenging.  Finding my way is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be.  I had to change from writing the dark police procedurals to writing a “G” rated book, without swear words and sex.  

 

EC:  You appear to have found your groove with this book?

 RB:  This is the third book we have written together.  It took me a few books to find my stride.  We hash out the synopsis that usually takes a few days. Because he is a ‘hands on writer’ we go back and forth.  I hope readers can’t tell where one of us left off and the other begins.  I also hope that I complement the way he writes.

 

EC:  Do you have an example?

 RB:  There was this scene I wrote in our first collaboration, The Pirate. Clive re-wrote this scene and had the main character, Sam, shoot this guy in the head after he exits a warehouse.  I guess my police background came into play because I said Sam needs probable cause.  Then I looked at him and knew he wanted it this way.  I made it work by having Sam peering into the warehouse and seeing everyone armed.

 

EC:  So are you a fan of antique cars?

 RB:  No, that would be Clive.  He actually has a museum in Colorado full of his collector cars.  I saw him bid on two different cars including the Ahrens-Fox fire-engine, the one written about in this story. While watching him bidding on it I thought it would be cool if we wrote it into the plot.  As I was doing the research the idea of writing a plot around something that has been lost was formulated.  We decided on having the artifact a prototype to the Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.  This story takes real history, tweeks it, and has a ‘what if’ aspect:  what if it is about a car that never made it to the car show.

 

EC:  Throughout the plot you put in some fun facts about cars, but it is never over the top?

 RB:  We must balance what we find interesting with what is necessary for the story. Clive likes to be a little sparse with the detail.  Writers must always decide how much detail is put in because we never want the story to be weighed down.  

 

EC:  Does each of the books mention Clive Cussler, something similar to what Alfred Hitchcock did?

 RB:  Yes, there are shout-outs to Clive. I noticed in reading the previous Fargo books before I started writing with him that he makes cameo appearances.  He will come in and help the protagonist with the investigation.  In this book there are two references, one where his name is mentioned outright and one with a cameo appearance where readers have to figure out by the description.  

 

EC:  Two issues explored are memory loss and abuse?

 RB:  I want to get the information out for people to know about and be aware. But we do not make it graphic. These books will never have gore but issues like these can be dealt with without hammering a point home.

 

EC:  Can you describe Sam and Remi Fargo?

 RB:  People have referred to them as a modern Nick and Nora Charles from the “Thin Man Series.”  For me, I think they are more like the couple that was in the “Hart to Hart” TV shows.  I think the Fargos are the vehicle for the plot.  They are able to be sleuths because of their background.  Sam is a CIA type who knows hand-to-hand combat, while Remi is a linguist and an expert marksman.  Together they are a forced to be reckoned with.

 

EC: Can you give a heads up about your next Fargo book?

RB:  It will start off in Africa and explore human trafficking a bit.  As with this book, there will be a tangible artifact, a lost library from Parmenides, the Greek founder of philosophy.

 

THANK YOU!!

Love & War by Melissa De La Cruz is the second book of the Alex and Eliza love story.  The Revolutionary War still looms prominently although it is coming to an end.  This story shows the struggles of early married life as Alexander Hamilton is trying to make a name for himself to prove himself worthy, while Eliza is trying to make her way into high society.  

 

The story delves into the same problem many young couples face, even today, how Alexander Hamilton has a burning ambition, and Eliza is trying to find her place in this world.  At first, he was off to war, leaving his newly wed bride with her family, and then at the war’s conclusion he starts up his law practice, spending long hours, and basically neglecting his wife.  

 

Unlike the first book, this one does have more of a balance between romance and history. It delves into the topics of unemployment, financial crises, and the political divide. As a lawyer, he took on many loyalist clients, arguing for reconciliation and challenged the laws that penalized them. The story touches on the three views of political thought for this young nation:  Hamilton believes in a strong central government; Jefferson’s belief is a middle ground of limited government except for national security, and those like Governor George Clinton who wants each state to have absolute control.  With a quote that is relevant today, the author shows the divide among Americans, “We will only stand if we learn to accept and even embrace each other’s differences rather than allow them to divide us.”

 

Readers get a glimpse into the real personality of Eliza. Hamilton is growing to depend on her as his psychological anchor, where she views his enemies as hers.  There is a fictional scene in the book where she calls out Governor Clinton as she defends her husband, “This man whose hand I hold and whose ring I share put his life on the line for this country over and over…” This is a very similar tone to what actually happened when she told former President James Monroe, “If you come to tell me you repent, that you are sorry, very sorry, for the misrepresentations and the slanders and the stories you circulated against my dear husband…”

 

The dialogue in this novel creates an atmosphere that fluctuates between joy and anger whether between husband and wife, or between the three Schuyler sisters.  It delves into how each must face their trials and tribulations.  This story is very captivating and entertaining.

 

Elise Cooper:  Through Eliza and her sisters you show the domination of certain New York families?

Melissa De La Cruz:  Her mother, Catherine Van Rensselaer, is from the richest family in New York. There were five rich families in New York that intermarried each other to keep the money.  Yet, Alexander Hamilton was able to win Eliza’s hand.  He set out to prove himself to her and her family.  Because of all the prestige and wealth, he had to show he was worthy and just as good as them, if not better.

 

EC:  This story compares the Schuyler sisters.  Can you describe the eldest, Angelica?

MC:  If I had written this five years ago I would have been drawn more to her than Eliza.  She was wicked, smart, very sophisticated, able to dazzle ballrooms, and even advised men.  She married her husband, John Church, for money, not love. I had him worshipping her and as a congenial, loveable kind of guy.  

 

EC:  Can you describe Eliza?

MC:  Practical, sensible, kind, modest, and loving.  She is very American. I became interested in her because I was tired of writing about villains and was drawn to her for being a decent person. 

 

EC:  How did she interact with Alex?

MC: It was hard to find stuff about her. What we know is through him, mainly his letters. She was very loyal to Hamilton and became his confidant, actually helping him with his career. She became the power behind the throne, but from the sidelines.  She was a very private person.

 

EC:  Can you describe the third sister, Peggy?

MC:  Unconventional, beautiful, a gossip.  She is the most indulged, materialistic, and a little spoiled.  The romance between her and her future husband, Stephan Van Rensselaer, was interesting to write.  He is younger than her and she is very sweet to him.  I think her older sisters made fun of him because of his awkwardness.  I also think she enjoyed the relationship because she was able to boss him around a little. 

 

EC:  The Hamilton play implies an attraction between Angelica and Alexander.  Do you agree?

MC:  I definitely had my own vision. I have a sister and thought ‘no way would she like him in a romantic way.’  They were sisters who loved one another.  Angelica adored Eliza.  In this story, I do not have Angelica and Hamilton attracted to each other in that way.  I remember telling people that Lin-Manuel is not a girl with a sister or he would know it just would not happen.  I do not think Angelica would ever do that because she took the role of older sister seriously. Of course, he was close to the sisters, but in a brotherly sort of way.

 

EC:  Interestingly she had her portrait painted in a prison.  Is that true?

MC:  Yes.  I tried to stick to the timeline as much as possible. This portrait captures her liveliness, directness, and how she was unpretentious.   In this book, all the people are real and many of the anecdotes are also real. She did have her portrait painted by Ralph Earl while he was in Debtor’s Prison.  Hamilton had asked her to do it figuring if she did it other society figures would follow. When Earl left prison, he did live with them.  We do not know who offered him to stay but if I had to guess I think it would have been Hamilton not Eliza.  I also do not think she was that excited to venture into Debtor’s Prison to have her portrait painted.

 

EC:  Did Hamilton really defend the Loyalist woman?

MC:  I made up the case he argues but is based on many similar cases.  He became known after the Revolution as someone who defended those loyal to the Crown.  After the War, many wanted to take the Loyalists’ property and position.  He had the foresight to know that to be the United States of America everyone had to be a part of this country.  This is why I put in the book quote, ‘We will only stand if we learn to accept and even embrace each other’s differences.’

 

EC:  It seemed Aaron Burr came in and out of their lives?

MC:  Yes.  We know him as the person who killed Alexander Hamilton, but he was also their neighbor and he did spar on legal cases.  I think he saw himself as the runner up to Alexander Hamilton’s charm.  He was not quite as handsome, and not quite as dashing.

 

EC:  What do you want readers to get out of the stories? 

MC: They are very romantic stories but I do like to have the political and historical backstory in as well. It does not matter what part I am writing, it always goes back to what happens between people, their emotions and actions. I think it’s just natural for readers to be attracted to this incredibly dynamic, charismatic, idealistic couple. In this book, I showed how the relationship, and they as people, weren’t perfect. The romance epitomizes American values, and reminds us of what our nation stands for. 

 

EC: Is this an adult book or a YA book?

MC:  60% of the YA readership is adults.  I write for my teenage self and what my teenage self would be interested in.  I want to entertain myself and allow readers to have a great story.

 

EC: Can you give a heads up about your next book projects?

MC:  There will definitely be a third Alex and Eliza book, but I cannot say anything more.  I am discussing it with the publisher. Coming out next year will be the fourth book in the Disney's Descendants series.  It is about the children of Disney’s greatest villains and their adventures.  They are trying to be good and it has the theme that children should not let their parents define who they are.  

 

THANK YOU!!

Alex and Eliza has taken the world by storm.  Whether the play by Lin-Manuel Miranda or the novel by Melissa De La Cruz people are craving for more information about the Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza Schuyler. The novel, Alex and Eliza, emphasizes the romance more than the historical, as the author brings to life the love story of these two Revolutionary figures.  

 

The plot spans the years from when they first met in 1777 to their marriage in 1780.  Because there is not much information about Eliza, the author had to take liberties to construct a story that was somewhat accurate, weaving together fact and fiction. 

 

Hamilton is seen as a smitten dashing knight who sweeps the princess, Eliza, off her feet. But it is also a Prince and the Pauper story since Hamilton was an orphan who did not have a name or financial means. The bright, ambitious, but penniless Hamilton is drawn to practical Eliza, falling deeply in love.  His prestige comes from being the aide-de-camp to General George Washington. 

 

Eliza is seen as a strong-willed, sharp-tongued, sarcastic, and intelligent woman. She wants to marry for love, not prestige and wealth, but will not go against her parent’s wishes. A book quote shows how powerless women were during those times, “It is a cliff, a drop into some unfathomably deep and foggy abyss… a shipwreck.”  Yet, in the end, love wins out, and her parents accept Hamilton as a suitable husband.  

 

Readers will get a glimpse of the time period: how they dress, eat, and live are described in great detail.  For example, a scene in the book has Eliza helping to inoculate Washington’s troops with a smallpox vaccine. Fiction, Eliza did not have a hand in it, while, the truth is that the soldiers were inoculated.  Another factual scene has a description of Eliza’s dress, with “skirt, underskirt, petticoat, slip, and ankle-length, form-fitting pantaloons.”

 

Overall, this book is charming and interesting.  These two characters have a voice and a personality that are engaging.  Hopefully, it will draw people to find out more about the early history of this great nation.

 

Below is the Q/A for the first book in the series.  A Q/A for the second book will be out next week.

 

Elise Cooper: Why did you decide to write this story?

Melissa De La Cruz:  I took my family to see the Hamilton play about two years ago.  It overwhelmed me and it helped me feel I too belonged to the American story.  My daughter, nine years old at the time, became obsessed with Eliza Schuyler Hamilton. She was drawing all of these pictures of Eliza, and writing all of these things. I was so excited she wanted to find out more about her so I researched to find answers to my daughter’s questions.  I got caught up in the love story, but the inspiration came from wanting to impress my child.

 

EC:  How did you want to convey their relationship?

MC:  It seemed like a perfect American fairy tale.  Elizabeth (Eliza) was the princess coming from one of the most prestigious and richest New York families.  Then there was Alexander Hamilton, a handsome, brilliant, brave, and charming war hero who had no name and no money.  I thought about how someone like him could marry someone like her.  

 

EC: Do you think the relationship was more formal than you describe?

MC:  Alex is a creation based on an historical figure.  I consider him someone I made up from the real person. These are characters. They may be historical figures, but they are also characters of my imagination. I think that Alexander Hamilton never went by the name ‘Alex.’ There is no way Eliza would call him ‘Alex’, and more likely called him Mr. Hamilton till the day he died.  I do put in the book that in public she referred to him as ‘Mr. Hamilton.’  They were very formal.

 

EC:  Do you think he married her for social climbing?

MC:  I don’t think it hurt that she had a name and money.  But I do think he was attracted to her for who she was.  I believe you cannot separate people from their background.  If she was from a poor family would she even be at those balls he was at, or if he wasn’t George Washington’s aide would she have even met him.  I think people fall into their own social circle.  

 

EC:  Were the letters real?

MC:  The only letters that were authentic are the quotes in the beginning of this book and book two.  I weaved the letters into the story for effect, but they are not his actual words.

 

EC:  Did you base your depiction of Eliza on anyone? 

MC:  I wanted the Pride and Prejudice sort of style, so that’s why I called it Alex & Eliza. She is portrayed as an Elizabeth Bennet type character, the sensible one. She was definitely a homage to Lizzie Bennett.

 

EC:  This story goes into the culture of the time?

MC:  I am fascinated with the time period including the architecture, dress, and what they ate. What I wanted to do is find the facts and then incorporate them into scenes of the books. I myself tried to understand who they were, how they lived, and how they partied.  I enjoyed finding the details that helps to bring this story to life.  For example, the balls would not end until the early morning hours and then they would shortly have to get up to go riding.

 

EC:  How did you do the research?

MC:  I read a lot of biographies about women during Revolutionary times.  I hired two research assistants, one of whom was an American history professor. One of the experts was more informed about the Revolution and politics, while the other was more knowledgeable about domestic matters, such as how they dressed and lived. They would put together dossiers of the characters, like here’s the letters, here’s the archives, here’s the source material. I could pick and choose, and I had an idea in my head of what I wanted the story to be, so we had to fit in what was happening in history at the time. We had Phillip Schuyler court martialed, so I said, ‘What if Alexander Hamilton was the one who brought that news to the family and that caused them to hate him?’ 

 

EC:  Was it true that John Andre, someone who turned out to be a British spy, was one of Eliza’s suitors?

MC:  She had a huge crush on him.  I wanted to make him a rival suitor for her hand, but the history experts told me, ‘no way, they are an American family.’ They said that a Schuyler would never marry a Redcoat, and I should not write this piece of the plot.  I asked, ‘then who?’  They recommended Henry Livingston who was from one of the wealthiest New York families. 

 

EC:  This book shows how women during those times had to acquiesce to their parent’s choices for a husband?

MC:  Books set in the 19th Century show how women have limited choices.  It makes for great conflict and drama.  Marrying was like a career for women as their social life, wealth, and prestige depended on who they would marry.  I hope if the parents loved their children they would want to pick someone who would make their daughters happy.  I put in this anecdote in the story to show how Eliza and Hamilton married for love.  It is actually based on history, and I’ve noticed people say, ‘Oh, this is so unreal. That would never happen.’ It is in the archives, it’s in the letters. One night Alex had a night walking with Eliza and he went back to the fort, and he couldn’t remember the password to get in because he was so love struck. I love that detail. We think of this brilliant man who is a Founding Father, but do not realize at one point he was a twenty-year-old soldier in love.

 

EC:  Book two, Love & War just came out.  What is it about?

MC:  The newlyweds adjusting to life as a married couple. It takes us through the first couple months of their marriage which is really fun. Alex, still General George Washington’s right-hand man, neglects to consult Eliza when he puts in for a battlefield command.  Then after the war he starts up his law practice. I wanted to show how she was alone a lot and the marriage had some ups and downs.

 

THANK YOU!

Latest comments

23.06 | 23:24

Great interview!

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27.05 | 23:23

Outraged, too! It is just getting coverage. This government is shameful under this leadership.

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26.03 | 16:01

At first I thought it said spa season. Either way it is a sign of rejuvenation! On a Kristin Hannah kick, loved Winter Garden. Happy reading!

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19.03 | 14:10

Cities are fun but exhausting. Like you the quiet is needed.

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