Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Daughter of the Regiment by Stephanie Grace Whitson Author Q & A (Blog Tour)

Title: Daughter of the Regiment
Author: Stephanie Grace Whitson
Publisher: FaithWords
Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-1-4555-2903-2
Publication Date: March 24th, 2015

Synopsis:
Irish immigrant Maggie Malone wants no part of the war. She'd rather let "the Americans" settle their differences-until her brothers join Missouri's Union Irish Brigade, and one of their names appears on a list of injured soldiers. Desperate for news, Maggie heads for Boonville, where the Federal army is camped. There she captures the attention of Sergeant John Coulter. When circumstances force Maggie to remain with the brigade, she discovers how capable she is of helping the men she comes to think of as "her boys." And while she doesn't see herself as someone a man would court, John Coulter is determined to convince her otherwise.

As the mistress of her brother's Missouri plantation, Elizabeth Blair has learned to play her part as the perfect hostess-and not to question her brother Walker's business affairs. When Walker helps organize the Wildwood Guard for the Confederacy, and offers his plantation as the Center of Operations, Libbie must gracefully manage a house with officers in residence and soldiers camped on the lawn. As the war draws ever closer to her doorstep, she must also find a way to protect the people who depend on her.

Despite being neighbors, Maggie and Libbie have led such different lives that they barely know one another-until war brings them together, and each woman discovers that both friendship and love can come from the unlikeliest of places.
About the Author:
Stephanie Grace Whitson is the author of over 20 inspirational novels and two works of nonfiction. When she isn't writing, speaking, or trying to keep up with her five grown children and perfect grandchildren, Stephanie loves to take long distance rides aboard her Honda Magna motorcycle named Kitty. Her church and the International Quilt Study Center and Museum take up the rest of her free time. She received her Master of Arts degree in history in the spring of 2012. Her passionate interests in pioneer women's history, antique quilts, and French, Italian, and Hawaiian language and culture provide endless story-telling possibilities. Stephanie resides with her husband in Lincoln, NE.


Author Q & A:
Why did you pick Missouri as the setting for your book?
I've lived in Nebraska since 1975, but I have many connections to Missouri and have made the trip "home" to southern Illinois dozens of times. Finally, I took time to investigate one of those interstate signs. It mentioned a Confederate Cemetery in Missouri. The idea that there were plantations worked by slaves a short drive east of Kansas City astonished me when I first followed those signs. I had no idea that Missouri had been such a hotbed of division during the Civil War. As one author wrote, "The Civil War came early and stayed late" in Missouri—it was a slave state that never joined the Confederacy. Missouri had two separate governments at one time—one pro-Union, one pro-Confederacy.

Any interesting discoveries along the way?
Dozens. One that stands out resulted from an exhibit called “Missouri in the Civil War” at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis. The curators did a superb job of showing how integral women were in the conflict. They even included a period newspaper article seeking the identity of a deceased soldier—discovered to be a woman after her death in battle. Women loyal to the Confederacy and accused of helping "the enemy" were actually imprisoned in St. Louis. I discovered countless fascinating and diverse stories about women from all walks of life.

What inspired you to write this novel?
Reading about the real Daughters of the Regiment. Their heroism. One replaced a fallen color-bearer and stood throughout the battle with the colors held high so that her regiment knew who was where in the heat of battle. After a battle, one's skirt was riddled with bullet holes. She’d carried on, calmly tending the wounded with bullets whistling about her. Men wrote about these women with affection and respect. One earned a pension for her service, and another is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. They were extraordinary women, and they deserve to be remembered.

How did the cover shoot come about?
There is an original vivandièeres costume in the collection at the Smithsonian Institution. (The word vivandièeres comes from the women who were important in the French army during the Crimean war.)  FaithWords worked with a costume designer who used the original for inspiration and created a historically accurate garment for the cover model to wear during the cover shoot. It's a stunning piece made of soft, dark blue wool—very faithful to what a Daughter of the Regiment might actually have worn, complete with the shorter skirt that is pictured in so many period photographs and drawings (not all of these are military women, some are just in bloomers, but there are still some that are obviously military).

  


What about the timeliness of the book? 
On the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War and Women’s History Month, it is only fitting to laud the role women played. They worked in munitions factories, organized fundraising events to feed the hungry wives and children of soldiers who were off fighting, collected thousands of quilts to keep soldiers warm (neither government was prepare for the magnitude of the war and neither was able to supply their troops adequately), made countless shirts and "drawers," knitted socks and destroyed household towels and garments to make bandages. They took up the farm work in the men's absence, delivered clandestine letters (and were imprisoned for it), and supported "the cause" in every way imaginable.  Such rich stories from real history are better stories than anything I could ever make up!
Tell us about the crossover between your quilting experience and Civil War research.
Quilting is a multi-billion dollar industry in America, and many of those women do love the history and stories about the women who made antique quilts.

Antique textiles in general and quilts in particular have been a topic of personal study for decades. I've taken several classes in dating both antique quilts and fabric history from recognized experts in the field. I volunteer at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska. Researching the real stories behind antique quilts has inspired more than one of my historical novels, and I always enjoy being able to include some tidbit of quilt history in a story. The interest is high for this topic, as evidenced by the many Civil War exhibits at state history museums and historical societies, not the least of which is the American Textile History Museum’s Homefront and Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War, which premiered in June, 2012, and which tours across the U.S. through 2015.
I give a program titled “Women in the Civil War: From Homefront to Battlefield” that includes information about quilts gathered and made for soldiers, ladies' aid societies established to benefit the troops, and the Sanitary Fairs conducted to raise money for the cause. Women's production of textiles was a vital part of the war effort for both North and South.


Review for this book will be posted soon. An unexpected delay occurred, but will have it up soon!

Thank you to the Hachette Book Group, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.


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