Normally I’m a full-on sci-fi/fantasy reader, but there’s a book that kind of opened up a new category for me—historical fiction. What book could pull me out of my literary comfort zone? That would be this book here:
Fortitude by Carrie Dalby.
Why did I like it so well? Sassy MC who rebels against the system in a time where doing so could actually be worse than death, plus a completely realistic feel! Yes, I will be reading more of these.
Recently, I was given an invitation to interview Carrie, and of course I jumped on it! A new book that I loved AND I get to interview the author! Awesome opportunity. Before I go straight into the interview, here’s a bit of info on Carrie Dalby:
Born and raised in California, but a resident of Mobile, Alabama since 1996, Carrie Dalby is a homeschooling mom with a love of literature for young adults and children. Some of Carrie’s favorite volunteer hours are with Mobile Writers Guild, SCBWI, and Metro Mobile Reading Council’s Young Author workshops.
And, for a look into the gem that sparked my new interest in historical fiction? Here’s a little bit about Carrie’s book, Fortitude:
Growing up with a Creole best friend, sixteen-year-old Claire O’Farrell held little regard for the Jim Crow laws and the consequences of befriending those of a different color. But once she leaves the haven of her home on Dauphin Island, the reality of racial intolerance can no longer be ignored. Though she’s underage, Claire makes the bold decision to serve alongside Loretta, her best friend, in the “colored camp” hospital tents during the Spanish-American War, but her idealistic attitude and choice of working location immediately puts her in danger. Claire gives her heart to a soldier in the camp, only to find herself caught in the racial violence besieging the area. When the intolerant attitudes and stigma follow her home, she clings to her faith to navigate through her social isolation and find the path she was meant to travel.
Well, I guess I should stop making you guys wait. Here’s what the lovely author had to say for herself:
MeLeesa: I understand that Fortitude is in the genre of historical fiction. What kinds of research did you have to do?
Carrie: I researched off and on for five years before the first draft was complete. I read non-fiction and fiction books, browsed Spanish-American War essay collections, searched the 1898 newspapers on microfilm at the local history library, and sorted through hundreds of photographs from the era to find visuals for my characters and settings. Even after it was accepted for publication I had to go back and find a few more details during the editing process to get all the facts accurate to try to please my editor. Not until line edits were in did I truly feel done. But now that I’m having to talk about the story, I feel the need to brush up on the facts, once again. It’s a vicious cycle.
Wow! That’s a lot of work. Do enjoy history?
Carrie: Not originally, but I’ve developed a fondness for it.
MeLeesa: [laughs] After all of those hours, I’m sure that’s a good thing. Can you give us a preview of some of the characters we’ll meet in the story?
Carrie: To help simplify, I’ll focus on the main Camp players:
Claire has a pure heart, naïve attitude, and a temper. Loretta is sophisticated, a romantic, and stubborn. Auntie is smart, joyful, and opinionatedly sassy. Samson, while noble and chivalrous, can be too single-minded when it comes to matters of the heart. Abe is knowledgeable, gentle, and has impeccable integrity. Dr. Christiansen is honest, protective, and permissive.
Nurse Hodges… well, I’ll just let you see her for yourself.
You can look at inspirations for characters and places on my Fortitude Pintest board: https://www.pinterest.com/wonderwegian/fortitude/
MeLeesa: Is there one character that you consider your baby, or favorite? Is there one you hate?
Carrie: My baby would have to be Kevin, Claire’s little brother. He was originally “Kevan” but his traditional Irish spelling was updated during developmental edits. He was the first character I focused on when writing the short story “Of Goats and Gators” that Fortitude spun out from. There’s an old picture of a goat in a tree on Dauphin Island and he was the keeper of that goat. (See my Pinterest board to catch a peek.)
One I hate? Oh, there are a few stories there. I’d say Nurse Hodges, but she’d do something sinister. Or I would say a certain guy that I had distaste for in the first draft—and plotted him into nothingness in my outline—but he won the hearts of my critique group and eventually showed me his worthy side during the first draft. No spoilers!
MeLeesa: Okay, no major spoilers. But I have a feeling I know who you’re talking about. [I whisper in her ear my suspicion.]
-At this, all I could get was a sideways glance and raised eyebrows. All writers have their secrets!
MeLeesa: When you were writing, was there a point where you were surprised by something that happened?
Carrie: Yes, many times! The dude mentioned above (he-who-shall-not-be-named) as well as someone else’s destiny, which indirectly affects the first, so I can’t name that person either. One ended with laughs and the other tears. I shouted “He has to—”
Are you trying to trip me up?
Do you want spoilers?
Those stains are difficult to remove from your blog, you know.
MeLeesa: [Laughs maniacally] I want all the juiciness! Okay, okay. What’s next for Carrie Dalby, author? Can we look forward to any more upcoming releases? Are you working on anything new?
Carrie: My second novel, Corroded, is a young adult contemporary scheduled to release April 12, 2016. I was blessed to work with the same editor, Sean Connell, on that book as well. He bristles at my improper use of commas and hacks away my adverbs. But since he tolerates my sarcastic remarks I like working with him. Sean talked me into trying gothic horror, so I’m currently working on a first draft in that genre. I also have three drafts of a contemporary middle grade novel shelved, for now.
MeLeesa: I thoroughly loved Fortitude, but I don’t have a lot of experience in choosing historical fiction pieces. What would you suggest for my next read?
Carrie: Teen or Middle Grade?
MeLeesa: Let’s be adventurous. Give me one of each. (Little secret here, MG is my genre of choice.)
Carrie: Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper (teen) is an incredibly moving story.
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi (MG) is my second favorite novel of all time, to date.
MeLeesa: Awesome! Well, now I have to stop by the library and pick up my next tale to devour. Thanks so much for giving me the chance to meet with you and to do the interview. I had a great time. Is there anything you would like to say to my readers before we’re done?
Carrie: Don’t be afraid to read outside of your typical genres. There’s good stuff out there–try it. [laughs]
Ouch. Schooled by the interviewee. I guess even I still have a few lessons to learn. Ha ha ha. So, readers, hope you enjoyed the interview. If any of you have the chance, pick up a copy of Fortitude by Carrie Dalby and let me know how you liked it! If you’d rather download her book, just click here to purchase it on Amazon.
I would have a thought for the day, but I’m going to let Carrie’s final comment speak for me. Goodness knows it was a great lesson for me!
For more stops on Carrie Dalby’s tour, click here: https://anaiahpress.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/follow-the-blog-tour-for-fortitude-by-carrie-dalby
UPDATE: If you want to check out one of Carrie Dalby’s book recommendations, check out this link to win a copy of Avi’s The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle! Talk about awesome timing!!