Roswell Redemption is a story of two women whose stories come together in Greyson Manor, a plantation home in Roswell, Georgia.
In 1838, Jade Hawkins is the thirteen year old daughter of a prominent Cherokee family who own one of the most successful plantations in the Cherokee Nation. But the Hawkins plantation is taken over by force as a result of the Georgia Land Lottery and Andrew Jackson’s insistence on the Cherokee removal to the west. Jade’s family is destroyed and she is forced to stay with the new white owner. Her strength and sacrifices change the history of several families for many years to come.
In 2010, Carolyn Kane searches for a property where she can open a restaurant and event facility in Roswell, Georgia. Carolyn finds Greyson Manor, one of the only original plantations remaining. The owners are unwilling to renovate or sell. As Carolyn strives to persuade the Greyson clan, she uncovers the story of an Indian girl that will change the town of Roswell forever.
What inspired you to write this story?
I was inspired to write this story after struggling with uncovering my husband’s genealogy. My husband’s grandparents died very young (39 and 42) and their 6 children were orphaned – the family records were lost. However, I was fascinated by my husband’s grandmother’s Cherokee background. I discovered that it was difficult to prove. In my research I learned that many Cherokee would note on the census that they were white or black in fear that the government would take their land – even still today. I realized that I didn’t know as much about Georgia as I had thought and my mother bought me the book, The Trail of Tears, by John Ehle. My heart broke reading about the tales of the Cherokees’ attempts to integrate into the white man’s world. They dressed like the white men and women. They learned to speak, read and write the English language. They worked farms and even married into the white race. It wasn’t enough. When gold was discovered in Northwest Georgia, part of the Cherokee Nation, Andrew Jackson stepped in. He defied the Supreme Court, who had ruled that the land should remain with the Cherokee, and asked Governor Lumpkin to conduct the Land Lottery of 1832. And in 1838 the Cherokee were removed to the west along the Trail of Tears.
What fascinates you the most of the time period this story takes place in?
At the same time I was working through my husband’s genealogy, I became fascinated with the beautiful historical plantation homes and quant shops and restaurants in Roswell, Georgia.
I absolutely love that town! I even toyed with the idea of opening a plantation home as an events facility and looked into what it would take. I decided I was better suited staying in the technology industry I have worked in for over 25 years, but again it was a time of my life that really opened my eyes to the history and the culture of this area. The idea came to me one day that I should write about what I had learned. I wanted it to be a novel versus a non-fiction book hoping to capture the hearts and minds of the many fiction readers and book club members. I think historical novels are a great way to educate readers and I hope that I portrayed the beauty and sorrows of the area and events. Roswell King and the other “Founding Fathers” began building their homes in the late 1830’s – shortly after the removal. Apparently, Roswell has more plantation homes and other historical buildings still standing than almost any other town in the South. Some of the homes were spared because they had Mason symbols on them (Sherman was a Mason himself) so the Union used them for hospitals and to rest in prior to taking over Atlanta. I take my story from The Trail of Tears (1838) through the Civil War (1865).
I had to do my research and write on the weekends because I work full time during the week. Some places I would have liked to go in person to see and research, I was unable to because of the timing. Most of my research was done through reading many books about the Cherokee, Roswell, and the Civil War. One of the fun and fascinating books I read was Dianna Avena’s book, Roswell, History, Haunts and Legends. Dianna runs the Ghost Tour in Roswell – she really knows the history of the homes!
How long did it take you to write Roswell Redemption?
I wrote my first draft of Roswell Redemption in 21 Sundays! That’s not really something to brag about – whipping out a novel isn’t really the best way to go about it, but I was on a mission! I of course then edited it 16 times and had my book club read it and edit it as well as many family and friends. At the same time I was learning about the publishing business. After writing a bunch of query letters to agents, I decided to go with Outskirts Press. They are a hybrid type of publisher. You pay a little up front, but then they take it from there just like a traditional publisher. It’s exciting to see all of the book stores and on line retailers pick it up. It’s even available in Australia and Croatia! It’s really exciting to see the finished product. It’s also available in Kindle and Nook and within a few weeks it will be available on the iPad Bookstore.
What is your next book project?
I have gotten emails and letters from people all over the country telling me how they loved the story; that they either have Cherokee ancestry or learned something about the area they were unaware of. Most people really like Jade, my protagonist in the 1800’s. Some have asked for a sequel so I decided to start one! I can’t wait to see where this story takes me. I’ll be writing about the 1860’s through the 1920’s – can’t wait to learn all about that era and will of course intertwine Jade’s fictitious family into the historical facts. I love going from current day back to the past. It’s almost like getting two books in one!
My most exciting project however is that I am working with the City of Roswell, the Roswell Historical Society, the Trail of Tears Association and the Cherokee to build a monument to the Cherokee in Roswell. We hope to unveil it in 2013, the 175th anniversary of the Trail of Tears. When I approached the mayor, Jere Wood, about the idea, he was all for it and has been supportive as well as the organizations that I will be working with to build a memorial to the Cherokee – to honor those who came before us.
Who or what inspired you to become an author?
My college English professors used to tell me they liked my style of writing and I should try to work it into my career. I do write technical papers, proposals, etc. with my job – but truly, my husband inspired me to write what I had learned. He had the faith in me that it would get done. He even helped me rewrite the last chapter and gave me feedback as I worked through the story line. His support, as well as my family and friends’ support, helped bring this story to reality.
What is your favorite quote?
I love this quote from Benjamin Franklin – If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Just Start! I found that you have to pick a day and time that you will write and make it a priority. The good news is, once you start, it will flow! I found writing my novel was like reading a book that you can’t put down. Once the story starts to flow, you just go! And it doesn’t have to be perfect out of the gate – just start – you can always change it later – but not until you start! The other very helpful activity for me was to join the Georgia Writers Association and the Atlanta Writers Club. I am sure most towns have writers groups. You meet other people that are at different stages of the publishing process and I learned a lot from them. Another tip – find out who your local authors are, recommend their books to your book club and invite them to attend your meeting. Most authors really appreciate your support and love to attend the book club meetings to talk about their stories and what inspired them. They will then be great mentors for you. I did that with Wendy Wax, Karen White and Sandy Weaver Carmen and they have been so inspiring and supportive of me!
Cindi Crane is a member of the Georgia Writers Association, the Atlanta Writers Club, the Roswell Historical Society, the Trail of Tears Association and the Georgia Trust. She has a BS degree in Marketing and has worked for 25 years in the technology industry. She is the Southeast Consulting Sales Director for Oracle Corporation. Cindi is a Georgia Author of the Year, First Novel Nominee for 2012 and is an IndieB.R.A.G. Medallion recipient. Visit her website at http://outskirtspress.com/roswellredemption.
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Cindi Crane who is the author of Roswell Redemption, one of our medallion honorees at http://www.bragmedallion.com. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as Roswell Redemption merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.
Thank you Cindi for this wonderful interview and to IndieBRAG.