Saturday, September 26, 2009

Author Interview: Laurie (L.C.) Lewis

I had the chance to do a delightful interview with author L.C. Lewis about her newest novel from her Free Men and Dreamers series, called "Dawn's Early Light". Here is what she said:

1. What made you decide to become an author and why did you decide to write historical fiction?
I've been a writer all my life, (though I've also been a singer, a furniture salesperson, a lab-assistant and I raised organisms for science classes all over my county), but I digress. . .

I was first published at age twelve, (poem in a local paper), and I wrote dozens of short stories in high school and college. After marrying Tom, I began writing plays and programs for church and the community, then when my sons went on missions, I wrote stories for them to use to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to their investigators. My oldest son suggested I submit my stories I did, and I was rejected.
We went through a long period of transitions and trials. I spent hour after hour in hotel rooms and by sick beds, and to pass the time I wrote a cathartic family drama about love and forgiveness on an old laptop. Covenant picked it up in 2004.

But during that time I visited Williamsburg, and I fell in love with the city, the Founding Fathers, and American history in general. I knew I wanted to write a historical novel. I picked up a book to use as research material, and one of the chapters drew from the personal history of a woman from the 1800's to illustrate life in that time period. The woman was Lucy Mack Smith!

I feared any attempt to write about early Church history so I set my series in 1850. About this time I was also asked to teach Early Morning Seminary, and the course? The Doctrine and Covenants and Early Church history. Thankfully, my editor asked me to expand the story. I decided then to back the book up a generation to pick up the wonderful rich history in my own back yard and I finally felt ready to illustrate how elements from the Restoration fit into this great American story.

2. What other books have you written?
Unspoken was my fist novel, the family drama that focused on love, and forgiveness. Then I began my historical series.

Dark Sky at Dawn
introduces our characters and their individual conflicts. Jed Pearson is a young heir to an expansive Maryland plantation troubled by the gossip his tainted grandfather also leaves him. Frannie is his adored sister, a headstrong woman raised with far more freedom than the gentry believes is proper. Hannah Stansbury is a spiritual-seeker with a gift to receive impressions, but her mother is raving mad and her father is unwilling to cross his wife in Hannah's defense. Jed assumes the role of Hannah's protector and eventually their childhood friendship they shared for twelve years develops into something far deeper. But social prejudice and the undercurrent of war complicate any chances for their happiness. When the citizenry rages over the issue of freedom of the press a deadly riot breaks out in Baltimore, Maryland, catching Jed and Hannah in the fray, sending the pair off on an mission that will change both their lives.

In Twilight's Last Gleaming, book two of the series, Hannah breaks free of her controlling parents and heads to the Connecticut Valley, to the home of Stephen Mack, with her sister Beatrice. Major Mack has offered his help in freeing Beatrice's husband from a British prison, but the women have a secret they are concealing from their family, and when they become affected by the typhoid epidemic they fall silent, and no one knows where they are of if they are even alive.

As the British Navy moves into the Chesapeake Bay, Jed and the dragoons are called up to active service. Jed makes an unsavory alliance with his rival for Hannah's affections, asking to be sent north on a mission to alert the forts in the hopes that he will also find Hannah.
There is a chilling bit of Virginia history in this book, as well as a two parallel love stories based on great American history.

Book three, Dawn's Early Light, will be out this October. It will tell the amazing stories about the siege of the Chesapeake that culminated in the burning of Washington and the events that led to the writing of the Star Spangled banner. Jed, Hannah, Frannie and the rest of our characters will be caught up in every detail.

3. Where do you write and how do you fit it in your busy schedule?
I have an office. It used to be the dining room, but it has a sunny window and all my files and reference books are nearby. As for my schedule, I'm an empty-nester now, but life is as busy as ever. With children and grandchildren flung all across the nation, keeping close requires more time and creativity than I would have ever imagined. I try to write in the mornings, but maintaining a regular writing time is probably my greatest creative hurdle.

4. What's the best writer's tip you've ever received?
Just write! Don't make excuses, don't pick at your ideas until they disappear. Just write!

5. Where can we buy the book?
Books one and two are available anywhere LDS books are sold. Book three will be available on Amazon. We're hoping to have them in Seagull Bookstores by December.

I read Dawn's Early Light and it was a wonderful read! Full of fascinating characters and edge of your seat suspense, Laurie's novel entertains, educates, and satisfies in a deep way. It will make you ponder your own values and how much you're willing to sacrifice for a way of life we take for granted. I felt the desperation of the characters and the times. In short, after reading Laurie's book you'll never be the same.

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