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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Becoming Steeped in History: Author Interview with Marguerite Martin Gray

Your novels are based on the Revolutionary War. What made you choose that era? Your storyline is based in Charles Town, which is the early spelling for Charleston. What made you choose that city?
I love historical fiction and anything to do with research. Years ago I started researching my family which took me to 1770 when one of my ancestors, Louis Lestarjette, arrived in Charles Town from France. I started to wonder what he would have thought of a city, a colony facing drama with England. From there a storyline formed and became my Revolutionary Faith Series. 

What type of research do you do in writing a story with a historical base?
I start with a stack of non-fiction and fiction books about the era and the setting. For book one, I read and used 25 books. The research took me six to seven months before I even wrote the first word. In all of my writing endeavors so far, I always visit the setting, many times if possible. I love walking the streets that my characters would have walked.

How much “artistic license” do you use in creating your story locations? 
I try to stick to the historical elements of my locations and my historical characters as much as possible--dates, events, architecture, food, dress. But when it comes to dialogue and plot that is not of a historical nature, I use my artistic license to make the characters come alive. 

Did you ever want to give up writing your first book?
I don't think I ever wanted to give up, but it did take me a while to write it due to teaching and rearing two children and a husband. Once the children left the house, I taught part-time for two years and completed the rough drafts of four novels.

What was one of the more fascinating or surprising details that you discovered in your research?
As I read and researched, it finally connected that the majority of the citizens, colonists had no plans to separate from England. They were British citizens, loyal to their king and country. Asking them to turn against their origins and view Britain as an enemy was a huge, almost impossible step or scenario.

Many left this country to return to a homeland that most had never seen since they were born and reared in the colonies. Even when the war started, the act of killing or firing upon a British subject hurt to the core.

In their minds they knew that seeking independence was the right thing to do, but in their hearts the logic was broken and tragic. I have tried to understand the Loyalist side as I write my characters into the scenes. So much was sacrificed for our independence that wasn't just physical. Some never recovered from seeing their countrymen turn into enemies. 

Who publishes your book?
My publisher is Celebrate Lit. Sandy has done an excellent job choosing her staff and her editors. The covers are designs by Roseanna White. I love her creativity. I've been very pleased with the publishing experience.

What do you know now about writing/publishing now that you wished you had known sooner?
The writing process is a long one with many layers. I enjoy the research and writing the best. What I didn't know was how many times a work must be rewritten and edited. Now that I am published, I know to set aside many hours to accomplish the additional edits. I treat it like a job with scheduled office hours.

What other books do you have in the works?
I sent Labor of Love (Gardens in Time) to my publisher. It is set in 1560 Florence, Italy at Pitti Palace with the Boboli Gardens as the backdrop.

Promise of Purity (Gardens in Time) is being spruced up with a little rewriting. This one is set at Hampton Court in England, 1661.

I'm researching Wait For Me (Revolutionary Faith Book 5) this month and will begin writing the first chapters in August.

What is the best advice about writing you would like to pass along?
Enjoy the journey wherever it takes you. Although getting a book published is great, I write because I enjoy the process. Try not to get discouraged about the publication options. There are so many out there. Find the one that fits your goals.

Are there any other notes you’d like to add?
Social media is a must. I tried to rebel and say that I didn't have to do it all--Facebook, blog, website--but I started and entered the world of social media. Honestly, I enjoy so many parts of it, especially meeting the people, sometimes in person. I really like adding a blog to my website once a week. It keeps my mind hopping.

I love that Marguerite’s writing started with an ancestry search and flowed into a career in writing historical fiction. With all the research she does, it can take readers right into the era.  If you’d like to learn more about her writing and buying her books, here are some links to get you started.

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