Guest Post: Researching a Story

I am very pleased to have Mr. Stuart Harris on my blog today. He is the author of The Northeast Quarter, a wonderful piece of historical fiction. He will be discussing how he researches for his stories. Please enjoy!

Did you research for the backdrop of your story or any other part of it?

I researched for some of the technical or historical details, but most of it came from first person accounts of people who were alive at the time the story takes place. A major part of The Northeast Quarter came from a promise to my mother. My parents grew up between 1918 and 1929, the time in which the story takes place. This period, between the end of WW1 and The Great Depression were years of tremendous economic upheaval in the rural areas. In fact, one might say The Depression crept into these rural areas with foreclosures, poor harvest and high interest rates while city people were enjoying The Roaring Twenties and dancing the Charleston.  My mother saw these events up close and developed a fear of what would happen to her family if America ever went through a second depression.  How would they survive it?

We also had Huey Long’s rise to power in Louisiana and Hitler beginning to emerge in Germany. In both cases, governmental power was getting easily out of control. Mother began to consider various ways to protect her family in the future.  Right or wrong, she envisioned a second Depression and the possibility of an executive order, which declared that no person could own land unless he lived on it.  She focused on one piece of property, which I’ll call Section Ten. Throughout my life she would say,

“Never sell Ten.  Promise me you’ll never sell it.  Promise me you’ll keep Ten for you and your family.”

Her strategy was that if there were ever another economic collapse, I could always go to Iowa, rent a camper and live on the property until the crisis had passed. This request for re-affirmation of my promise continued repeatedly. The last one was on her deathbed.

Mother passed away in 2006 and I own Section Ten. The crisis she envisioned never occurred, but the story of keeping her promise provided the springboard for the plot of The Northeast Quarter.

About the Author

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Stuart M. Harris began writing for the theater professionally in 1991 when he was invited by the Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York to attend a summer conference. The experience led the native Californian to move to New York to become a playwright. Several of his plays have been produced Off Broadway and around the country, among them. Oona Field produced by Diverse City Theater Company and Colleen Ireland, about a 90-year-old retirement home resident and her great granddaughter, that played in New York, Spokane and other cities, including Hamilton, OH, where it won ‘Best Play’ at The Fitton Center One-Act Playwriting Contest. A follow-up to Colleen was Spindrift Way, the first of ten more plays in the series. The Northeast Quarter began as a full-length play developed by the Works in Progress Theatre Lab at Manhattan Theatre Club Studios. Harris put playwriting on hold in order to weave the story of generations of Iowan farmers into his new historical novel. He lives in Brooklyn.

9781627873765-Perfect.inddDo you want revenge or do you want your land back?”

Winfield, Iowa. 1918. Colonel Wallace Carson, the ruler of a vast agricultural empire, asks Ann Hardy, his ten year old granddaughter and eventual heir, to promise she will safeguard The Northeast Quarter, the choice piece of land from which the empire was founded.  Ann readily accepts – little knowing what awaits her.  When The Colonel is killed unexpectedly the same afternoon, the world around Ann and her family begins to fall apart.

Against the background of America sliding from a post-war boom into The Great Depression, The Northeast Quarter tells the story of Ann’s struggle to keep a promise no matter what. She witnesses the remarriage of her grandmother to Royce Chamberlin, the seemingly humble banker who institutes a reign of terror over the household and proceeds to corrupt the entire town.

Over the next ten years she matches wits with Chamberlin, enduring betrayal, banishment and even physical violence.  She grows from a precocious child into a tough-minded young woman – watching, observing her enemy and waiting for the moment to make her move.

And when the moment comes in July 1929,  life in Winfield will never be the same.

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Spotlight: Roma Amor

02_Roma AmorRoma Amor: A Novel of Caligula’s Rome
by Sherry Christie

Publication Date: April 15, 2016
Bexley House Books
Paperback; 496 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

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READ EXCERPT.

Marcus Carinna hears a voice whisper, “Your turn,” as he rides past his family tomb. An unseen presence also startles the Germanic priestess Aurima, whom he is bringing to Rome. But hardheaded Romans scoff at ghosts, and Marcus can’t believe it’s a warning from his brother, who killed himself three years earlier.

37 AD: To great acclaim, 25-year-old Caligula Caesar has become Rome’s new master. No one is more pleased than Senator Titus Carinna, who helped him succeed to the throne. It’s a shame the Senator’s older son–Caligula’s closest friend–committed suicide after being charged with treason. But that still leaves Marcus, his second son.

Headstrong and hot-tempered, Marcus would rather prove his courage by leading legions against Rome’s enemies than take his brother’s place. Yet when his father orders him to befriend Caligula, he has no choice.

Caught in a web of deceit, conspiracy, and betrayal, he will uncover a secret that threatens his family, the woman he desires, even his life… and may bring chaos to the young Roman Empire.

The first installment in a page-turning saga that revisits the heroes and villains of the grandest city of the ancient world…. Comes alive with the long gone characters who were its lifeblood” -Kirkus Reviews

‘Combines current political concerns, the wide lens of the serious historical novel, and emotional maturity and realism with an utterly splendid grasp of what it must have been like to live in Rome under Caligula’s reign.” -Sarah Smith, Agatha Award winner and New York Times Notable author

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

About the Author03_Sherry Christie

After earning a Phi Beta Kappa creative award in college for an early draft about a nobly born charioteer, Sherry Christie spent many years of research and revision developing ROMA AMOR into the story about fathers and sons that it wanted to be. It’s a joy to immerse myself in the lives of first-century Romans–and a distinct change from my day job as a . In addition to writing, Sherry is a professional copywriter. She lives on the coast of Maine with a native-born Viking and two cats.

For more information, please visit Sherry Christie’s website. You can also connect with her on Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 24
Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, October 25
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, October 26
Spotlight at Kinx’s Book Nook

Friday, October 28
Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Monday, October 31
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, November 1
Review at Bookfever

Wednesday, November 2
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, November 4
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, November 7
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, November 9
Review at Bookramblings
Review at The Book Junkie Reads
Interview at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, November 10
Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, November 11
Review at Beth’s Book Nook
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Guest Post at The True Book Addict

Giveaway

To win a paperback copy of Roma Amor: A Novel of Caligula’s Rome by Sherry Christie, please enter via the Gleam form below. 2 copies are up for grabs!

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 11th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Roma Amor

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Reveal: Muse Monthly

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I’m so excited to be getting my first box of Muse Monthly! Muse Monthly is a monthly subscription service where I receive a wonderful new book, some amazing tea and lots of other bookish goodies. I’ve received several book subscriptions, but Muse Monthly is my favorite by far!

Here is what I got in my October box. Beware it is pretty damn amazing!

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First, here is the box! I love their logo; so clean and simple!

I can’t decide! Should I show everything first or piece by piece? Such a hard question! I think I will keep everyone in suspense and show bit by bit; as I rub my evil hands together. When I opened my box, this is what I saw:

 

I wonder what’s inside!!

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OOHHH! Looks like a Shakespeare themed box! Let’s look further…

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When I finally dug further and found the book, I was totally blown away! And here’s why!

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It’s Margaret Atwood’s new release: Hag-Seed! Plus a signature card to put inside the book. How Muse Monthly was able to get this amazing book and the goodies inside is beyond me; but I love it!!

Here’s the complete box:

  • Soy Candle: Tempest (very fitting)
  • Teapigs: Morning Glory
  • Shakespeare Card
  • Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
  • Ms. Atwood’s Signature card
  • Bookmarks

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What do you think of this amazing box?!

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