I wish so badly that I had written The Witch of Blackbird Pond that I am currently writing a story to pay homage to it! (See A Scalp on the Moon discussion below.) Why? Because this is my favorite childhood book, and I re-read it every year! I even named one of my kids after Nathaniel Eaton, although I've never told him that. Luckily there is a Nathaniel on my family tree, so I had a good excuse to use that name without revealing to my son that he just might have been named for a romantic hero from a book I first read in 8th grade!)
What exotic setting would you like to visit and then use for a new book? Why?
The exotic settings I am interested in visiting and writing about are all in the past: a theater in Restoration England, small towns in 1675 Puritan Massachusetts or 1825 New Hampshire, family and military conflicts in 1777 Pennsylvania, etc. Although I have visited many countries, and lived in a couple outside the U.S. (Brazil and Holland), for some reason I find the past to be far more exotic, compelling, and inspiring as far as writing is concerned. Don't ask me why!
Who most influences your writing? Why?
This is tricky to answer, as the primary influencers on my writing are the authors of great books for young readers written years ago. That is hardly present tense influencing. Of course, on a nuts and bolts level, what influences my writing of historical fiction for kids are the tiny details I find in my research that speak to me and inspire me to find ways to weave them into my stories. I always tell students that I feel as if I am panning for gold. (As a fellow writer in this genre, I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about, Connie.)
What is your biggest problem in writing historical fiction for young readers at this point?
I used to be able to do research and keep the big picture, what I think of as the "virtual reality", of my historical setting pretty much in my head while I was writing a story. Now that I am in the "grandmother" stage of my life, I find it more difficult to do this. My short term memory is not quite what it used to be. I have come up with some coping strategies that enable me to work around this problem, however.
What projects do you have in the works for your readers? (We promise we’ll tell everyone!)
I am working on a story set in Massachusetts in 1675, during the outbreak of King Philip's War. My working title for this is A Scalp on the Moon. I got interested in this era when I moved back to New England and started doing genealogical research. In doing so, I discovered that this war, which based on percentage of the population killed, was the bloodiest in American history, was actually started by two men from my family tree, William and John Salisbury. They fired the opening shots and were the first two English casualties in that conflict. It will not be their story I will be telling, however. They were just the hook that engaged my interest.
Here's a quick description:
In 1675, a teenaged boy who has trained his entire life for a career as an actor in Restoration London finds himself accidentally transported to Massachusetts Colony, where he knows the Puritans consider the theater to be a terrible evil. It is a time of great unrest and fear, as the Wampanoag and other Native American tribes are realizing that the English settlers are an unsettling, permanent and growing presence in their midst. For their part, some of the superstitious colonists insist they keep seeing a scalp on the moon, a portent that something terrible is about to happen. With the outbreak of King Philip’s War this portent might turn out to be all too accurate.
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C.M. Huddleston's Review of A Buss from Lafayette
I love history and historical fiction, especially accurate work. A Buss from Lafayette is the kind of book I read, no devoured, as a child and loved every detail, every event, and every word while begging for more. At the end, I wanted to know what happened next, just as I did with this story. I highly recommend A Buss from Lafayette, a delightful story intertwined with very readable history.