I’d like to welcome Deb Hunter to Layered Pages today to talk with me about her writing. She writes fiction as Hunter S. Jones. She is a member of the prestigious Society of Authors founded by Lord Tennyson, Rivendell Writers Colony, Historical Writers’ Association, Historical Novel Society and the Atlanta Writer’s Club. Her Tudor History blog, Fear and Loathing in Tudor England, is a reader’s favorite. Originally from a Chattanooga, Tennessee, she currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her Scottish born husband. Her best seller, PHOENIX RISING, a fictional story of the last hour of Anne Boleyn is available on Amazon.com and at a bookstore near you.
SECRETS from a DANGEROUS TIME is a multi-dimensional series set in post-Civil War Reconstruction in Chattanooga, Tennessee and the north Georgia. This series is an Amazon Exclusive available via MadeGlobal Publishing.
Why do you write?
Is there really an answer for this? I’m not certain if writing is a compulsion or an art form. It feels as if it’s a bit of both, doesn’t it? Writing is something I have always done. As a child I made up stories and plays for my cousins and friends to ‘play’. Some people dance, some paint, some are musicians and some of us write. Writing has always been a major part of my life. Great question. Thank you for asking.
How has writing impacted your life?
You mean besides having no interaction with family or friends so you can research? Or, the part about chatting with strangers about imaginary people who you have created? Otherwise, I can’t say it’s impacted my life at all.
Actually, writing has had a wonderful impact on my life. Due to writing, I received a scholarship which assisted in paying for part of my undergrad degree, many moons ago. Along the way, I’ve worked with some incredible people and institutions. Writing and research have lead me to meet some of my best friends and helped in building friendships with quite a few people I admire greatly. Writing has shown me a path that I want to follow for the rest of my life. My own ‘Yellow Brick Road’, so to speak. I cannot wait to get to Oz, because the journey has been a revelation.
Let’s use my new series SECRETS from a DANGEROUS TIME and my novella PHOENIX RISING as an example. PHOENIX RISING is a story of Anne Boleyn. It introduced me to Claire Ridgway, Alison Weir, Susan Bordo, Elizabeth Fremantle and Nancy Bilyeau. I admire and respect these authors immensely. Working with them on my FEAR AND LOATHING IN TUDOR ENGLAND has been a dream come true.
Yet, after PHOENIX RISING and the success the book has brought, it would be expected that I follow with another Tudor era story, right? Well, it didn’t work that way for me. I was inundated with Tudor information and decided to write about something I knew little about, the post-Civil War era, known as Reconstruction. We all know the U.S. Civil War is documented and the stuff of legends. But, what secrets lie hidden in the Reconstruction Era?
In writing SECRETS from a DANGEROUS TIME, I took two family stories to build the series on; first my family was involved with the Cherokee Nation in the 1800s. Part of the family went to Oklahoma and part remained in Southeast Tennessee. The other fable is that we sold medicine in Chattanooga during the Reconstruction. So, I dive in head first and begin research, only to find out that little is documented for the era due to the volatile political and racial divide in the U.S. from 1867-1877. Not to be deterred, I have worked with the Chickamauga National Military Park, Chattanooga History Center, and the Atlanta History Center to better understand what everyday people experienced during this controversial period in U.S. History.
What I have discovered is that Chattanooga was a hospital center for the Confederacy at the first part of the Civil War. Due to the railroad system, wounded soldiers were shipped to Chattanooga to heal. As the tides of war turned, Chattanooga became a hospital center for the Union Army, again due to the railroads into the town.
As my research continued, I discovered that patented medicine at that time was a unique quantity. If you sold medicine after the war, you didn’t simply stand on a street corner and peddle your wares, nor did you mainly sell your medicine in a shop or pharmacy. Medicine companies or pharmacies would pay for medicine shows to tour parts of the Southeast to sell the medicine. These traveling medicine shows were the only entertainment everyday people in the rural South had at that time. When the musicians and entertainers came to a little town, it became a big event. These Southern medicine shows, and there were medicine shows in the Northern states as well, evolved into what we now call the Wild West shows of the late 1800s. In the early 20th century the traveling shows underwent another metamorphosis and became known as Vaudeville.
There’s much more but you will have to read my series to learn more. Although, SECRETS form a DANGEROUS TIME, it’s simply a history book. I’ve blended the drama of the era with the mystique of the South, tossed in romance and enough suspense to give the stories a contemporary feel. Who doesn’t love a steamy Victorian romance with enough history to make the story intriguing?
One more thing for you. When I decided to write a Victorian story, I looked into what was popular with Victorian readers. Serialized fiction was all the rage. Think Charles Dickens and The Pickwick Papers, Alexandre Dumas and The Three Musketeers. In America, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry James and Herman Melville wrote serialized stories.
Following their formats, I decided to write SECRETS form a DANGEROUS TIME and its stories in a series. I have even included photographs and maps which have never been published before, just as was done in Victorian series. All in all, this has been a labor of love and a dream project for someone who is both a literature and history proponent. I invite your readers to take this journey with me.
What advice would you give to beginner writers?
Follow your heart but don’t quite your day job!
Thank you so much for featuring me today!
Secrets from a Dangerous Time is listed as a fall 2015 featured release by Historical Magazine!
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