What genre(s) do your write? Historical Romance. I’ve always been intrigued with the concept of reincarnation and simply by definition, this theme lends itself to going back in time, back to historical eras.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I’m retired from a subsidiary of Microsoft specializing in custom software development. Widowed, surprisingly soon to re-marry. I retired in 2004.
How long have you been writing and what inspired you to begin writing? The story of Yesterday has been in my head for many years. After I retired in 2004, I began researching details for the story, specifically grandfather clock chimes. The story involves a woman being intrigued by this sound and I wanted to have an understanding of the different types of clock chimes. This research led me to the story of the bells in St. Michael’s Church in Charleston, SC during the American Civil War. Most grandfather clocks have three types of chimes, one of these is St. Michael’s. These originated at St. Michael’s Church in the 1700s. Although I don’t want to give away key elements of the story, part of it has to do with the fact that the bells of St. Michael’s Church were hidden from the Confederacy during the American Civil War. They were using the iron from church bells for creation of armaments. These bells are also named for angels and archangels. I found this bit of history fascinating and Yesterday was born.
What is the last book you read? J. R. R. Tolkien – The Hobbit
Which writers inspire you? Wow. So many. I’ve been a pretty heavy reader/listener for many years. Although most wouldn’t be familiar with him, I enjoyed Alan Drury. He won the Pulitzer for Advise & Consent. Modern day authors, I guess Nora Roberts, Nicholas Sparks, David Baldacci. Particularly like Ken Follet. I enjoy some of the mid 60s, 70s epic writers like John Jakes and James Michener, too.
What do you mean, listener? I’m a huge fan of audio books and have a collection of about 800, mostly novels. Yesterday is currently being produced and will be available in audio format soon. It will be on Amazon, simply another format option, directing you to Audible.com for purchase.
Where did you get the idea from for your novel, “Yesterday”? It’s been my head for so long I can’t remember where the idea came from. I’ve always been fascinated by clocks, so maybe the idea of a girl’s intrigue with a grandfather clock stems from that interest.
Can you tell us something about the story? Yesterday begins when Amanda Parker saves the life of a Chicago mounted policeman, Mark Callahan, during an elevated train accident in Chicago’s Loop. The two have a strange connection, mystical, that they don’t understand. As the story unfolds, we’re taken back to the American Civil War through The Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
Who do you think will like reading your book and what other novels do you think are similar to it? I imagine my primary audience to be women, from late teens through seniors. Also, anyone interested in the concept of reincarnation. Historical fact is woven into the story, so anyone interested in some history. People interested in the setting of Chicago will enjoy references to Lincoln Park, the Loop. Similar novels … the theme of reincarnation hasn’t been overworked, so there aren’t very many well-known novels out there in this area.
Are you working on a new book at the moment? Yes, it is titled What Goes Around. It is again Historical Romance, in the theme of reincarnation, this time to WWII.
Where can people go to read your work? I’ve a website and a Facebook author page. I’m a member of Goodreads, and there are listings on Amazon.com.
Do you have any tips for aspiring authors? Not to give up. And join a critique group. For me, at least, the most challenging aspect of writing has been to get someone to read what I’ve written, before it’s published … feedback. For many years this was limited to family and close friends who are not an objective source of opinion. Although critiques by strangers can be ego shattering, they are what you want. There is a plethora of critique sites out there now…join one.
Good reviews, mixed reviews, bad reviews – what are your thoughts on each of those? I want honest reviews. I’ve been pretty fortunate to receive all but ‘bad’.
If you review other’s books, what is your approach to reviewing those? It doesn’t take much effort to format a book well and put the text through a spell checker. So, spelling errors will have me closing the book. Tells me the author is simply lazy, the book has not been edited (even by the author), and I won’t even bother with a review. Beyond that, I’m primarily interested in the story. Writing style or technique takes second place for me, story trumps. I want to be told a good story. Reading a novel is an escape, I want to be absorbed, page turn, and be surprised when I look at the clock to see that hours have passed.
McDowell, Virginia — 1862
John Lexington twitched the reins and pulled back on the brake handle. The wagon came to a stop next to a gray barn, its doors and windows the gaping, empty eyes of a skull in the long evening shadows. Moon and Saffron stamped nervously in the long grass. John climbed down from the wagon, swatted dust from his cassock, and called toward the ruined house, “Anthony? Clarissa? Hello! Is anybody here?”
All that remained of Jack’s home was a pair of chimneys and part of a wall. The place had been deserted for some time, and weeds had begun to take over the space between the chimneys where a family had once lived. John turned back toward the frightened faces in the wagon. “Jack, I don’t know what’s happened here, but we can’t stay.”
At that moment, a bearded scarecrow emerged from the dark doorway of the barn and stood defiantly, a rusty shotgun across his forearm. “You all need to leave, parson. This here is our place now, and they ain’t room for anybody else.” Two ragamuffin children, barefoot and dressed only in long shirts, peeped around his legs.
John moved between the barn and the wagon and held his arms away from his sides. “We don’t mean to stay. I’m looking for the family that lived here, the Wellingtons. Can you tell me where I might find them?”
The man gestured with his gun toward the chimneys. “Can’t say you’ll like what you see, but I reckon they’re still in there somewhere. They was all kinds of sojers through here back in the spring, and I heard tell that Wellington feller tried to keep them from stealin’ his property. Dang lot a’ good it did ‘im. Might a’ been Stonewall’s brigade, might a’ been the Yankees; they was both about equal when it come to stealin’. Anyways, we’re here now, so I’ll thank you to turn them hosses around and skedaddle.” He raised the barrel of his shotgun.
John turned back toward the wagon. He tried to meet Jack’s eyes, but the boy’s face was buried in the folds of Magdalene’s dress, his shoulders silently heaving. “We have to leave now, Jack. We’re not safe here. We will all say a prayer together for your mother and father when we stop for the night.”
* * * *
Ben’s eyes reflected the dim light of lingering flames from the campfire. He whispered, “Dey’s somebody out dah. Stay here, Magdalene. Hold on tight to dem chirrens.” Ben dropped down from the wagon and disappeared from Bonnie’s view.
The sour-sweet scent of animal manure mixed with wet hay and horsehair. Dense smoke from the dying fire burned Bonnie’s eyes. She fisted both hands into her eyes and started to cry, chin quivering as Magdalene pulled her into her lap. “Shh, baby girl. Hush.” Magdalene whispered, “Jack, you come set here by me.” She held out an arm to him. “Come heah, now.”
Bonnie whimpered, “I wanna go be with Papa.”
“Shh. Papa comin’, baby. He jes’ gone to see whah we should go. You be still, now.”
Jack settled beside Magdalene and leaned back against the wagon slats. Bonnie saw fear in his brown eyes. Smoke and dense fog rolled through the dark forest. Moss-draped oaks muffled the pop of distant gunfire. The acrid scent of gunpowder carried on a gust of damp air. Bonnie shivered at the rumble of a deep and thunderous explosion in the distance and Magdalene’s arms tightened around her. Moon whinnied and bucked, the wagon hitched and inched forward. The wagon brake squeaked in protest.
“Well, lookee what we got here.” The soldier’s words slurred. “Got me a nigger woman and two little white boys.”
Bonnie looked up into the sunburned face of a soldier grinning broadly at Magdalene, sandy beard stained with tobacco juice. From the tattered homespun uniform, her eyes went to his mud caked bare feet, and back to his wicked leer. He pushed his butternut cap to the back of his shaggy head. “We are all gonna have us some fun, an’ that’s a fact.”
The man scrambled up into the wagon and to his feet. He grinned down at Bonnie. “You’ll be next, lil’ fella.” He pulled her out of Magdalene’s arms and shoved her at Jack.
He yanked Magdalene to her feet and into a clumsy embrace. She struggled as he tugged at her dress and buttons rattled on the wagon floor. The man pushed his whiskered face into her bosom and she yelped.
Jack pulled Bonnie behind him and retreated into a corner in the wagon. The soldier struck Magdalene across the mouth, and her head flew back. She cried out as the man shoved her off the wagon. He wiped the back of his hand over his mouth, looked at it, and grinned widely down at her. “Got me a bitch that bites.”