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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Author Interview--Elizabeth Ludwig

Anne: This morning's interviewee? Elizabeth Ludwig, whose latest book, Dark Road Home, is wonderfully uplifting. If you'd like to read a review, click HERE.

Elizabeth, what inspired Dark Road Home?

Elizabeth: Hey, Anne! First, let me start by saying I’m so thrilled to be on your blog! I can’t wait to get to know your readers.

Now, to business.

Though many of my ancestors emigrated from Europe, I am not Irish. I am part Spaniard, part Mexican, and 100% American! LOL! My husband’s family, however, does have some Irish blood, as well as German and Dutch. I guess that’s why I wanted to write a story about immigrants—to do both our ancestors justice and make them proud!

Anne: I'll bet your husband is your greatest fan, then. So why did you choose to write about the conflict between different factions in Ireland?

Elizabeth: My very first question when I decided to write a story about Irish immigrants was “Why is Ireland divided?” You can imagine, I got all sorts of answers, but the one thing that kept cropping up was the Fenian struggle for Home Rule. I knew very little about the Fenians when I first started researching, but the more I read, the more I wanted to include their history in this story. It just felt too important to leave out.

Anne: And why did you choose this time period?

Elizabeth: When I set out to write a historical, I try to find one real-life historical event that hopefully spark some interest. For me, that event was the fire that occurred on Ellis Island on June 15, 1897. I just knew I had to work that event into the plot, but it also served to set the timetable for the subsequent books. Here are some excellent websites if you’d like to learn more about the Ellis Island fire: 

Anne: I'll bet that's the tip of the iceberg. How did you do the rest of your research?

Elizabeth: By far, this series has involved more research than any I have ever had to do. Part of that was simply because the saga carries across two continents. Not only was I researching New York City in 1897, I was researching Ireland and everything that was happening there during the same time period. Fortunately, I stumbled across the Ellis Island Foundation’s website, which helped me immensely. I also found and studied a wonderful PBS production called Forgotten Ellis Island, which provided such an interesting look into America’s history. After that, it was a lot of Googling and reading.

Anne: Did you use any real people and/or other events? Who and/or what in particular?

Elizabeth: I always try to include real events in my stories (see above), but it’s a little trickier to include real people. Authors have to take into consideration living descendants, and the possibility of a lawsuit if they do not like the way their ancestor is cast. For that reason, I’m very careful to include names of real people, but not give them actual dialogue. I’m a little too leery for that. I did mention a founding member of the Fenian Brotherhood in the United States, John Francis O'Mahony, as well as popular New York politician, Alfred Smith.

Anne: Okay, what is your favorite scene in this book?

Elizabeth: There’s in a scene in Chapter 25 that always makes me laugh. Eoghan is trying to make Ana forget her troubles, and so he decides to surprise her and take her ice skating in the park. There’s lots of flirting and laughter, especially when Ana is horrified by the suggestion that she show her ankles, but the part I love is when Ana starts to slip on the ice and winds up falling on top of Eoghan:

    A second later, she was gliding along, the wind tugging at her hair, her hands grasping for an arm she could no longer see. Stopping was impossible, and the bank was approaching far faster than she found comfortable. She flailed her arms, but only for a second, and then Eoghan was at her side, laughing as he caught her to his chest and brought them whirling to a stop.
    “You. . .you said you wouldn’t let go,” she accused, breathless.
    “And you said you couldn’t do it, yet you did fine until you lost your confidence and started flailing like a bird.”
    “Aye, and what a sight that must have been.” Suddenly, picturing it made her giggle, then laugh. “I bet I looked like one of Sister Agnes’s chickens.”
    “Much prettier than a chicken.” His eyes gleamed merrily and he lifted the edge of her gray cloak. “More like a pigeon.”
    She gave an unladylike snort and slapped his shoulder, realizing too late that neither of them was prepared for the sudden motion. Her feet slipped out from beneath her. For a split-second, a look of surprise flashed across Eoghan’s face, and then determination as he grabbed her and swung her around so that he lay beneath her as they both crashed to the ice.
    Her landing was much softer than his. Eoghan gave an “oomph” like all of the air rushing from his lungs and still, he held her cradled on top of him. Brushing a lock of hair from her eyes, Ana scrambled off of him to her knees.
    “I’m so sorry! Eoghan, are you all right?” She ripped of her mitten and laid her palm to his cheek. “Did I hurt you?”
    He was looking at her in a way that truly concerned her. His hazel eyes were slightly narrowed, almost. . .dazed.
    “Aye,” he whispered. “You hurt me.”
    Her stomach plummeted. She scanned the length of him for sign of a broken bone. “Where?”
    Her hands fluttered uselessly for a moment, and then he grabbed her unmittened hand and held it to his chest. “Here. I wasn’t ready to let go of you yet.”

Anne: I loved that scene, too. Would you like to tell us about your next in this series (assuming there will be one—otherwise just tell us about your next book).

Elizabeth: The third and final book in the series, Tide and Tempest, releases in February, 2014. Originally, I had intended for Edge of Freedom to be a two book series, so this was the only story that wasn’t planned. It has turned out to be my favorite. I love, love, love this hero and heroine—Keondric and Tillie. Their story amazed me, and their love was just phenomenal to write.

Also, I share a common grief with Tillie—the loss of a child. I think that’s why she resonated with me so deeply. I really hope her triumph over guilt and grief speaks to readers.

Anne: Oh, no. I'm dribbling tears already. Which means, I guess, that I hope you'll also let me be an influencer this one! Thanks for sharing with us today, and I hope to chat with you again soon---say, in February.

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