Following on from the review and trail yesterday, The Book Trail is very proud to introduce to you: Elaine Cougler: Time to pick her brains!
Hi Elaine. First of all thank you very much for agreeing to this interview on the Book Trail. The Loyalist’s Wife is an intriguing read. What made you want to write about this period of history and in particular from the point of view of a loyalist’s wife?
I am delighted to be your guest on the Book Trail and am overwhelmed by your support of The Loyalist’s Wife. Thank you so much. As for the choice of point of view, the story just seemed to demand that both John and Lucy get to show their respective sides as the story progressed. When John goes off into the trees to join Butler’s Rangers I could see that this was terribly difficult for both of them. The structure, then, of chapters from his point of view and chapters from her point of view allowed me to do that. And to add a lot of suspense, as well!
I felt such sadness at Lucy’s plight – did you find certain parts of her story hard to write?
I absolutely did and I sat at my computer with tears streaming down my face but I can’t tell you what they were as they are spoilers for new readers. But while they were hard to write, they were also the easiest as I just lost myself in the story. My fingers smacked the keys, only stopping to grab a tissue, as I stuggled to bring to life those scenes.
Can you tell us something about the literary devices you used to tell your story – such as the alternate storyline of Lucy’s plight and John’s role in the fighting?
I love words and word pictures and writing word pictures in such a way that the tumbling of the words in their sentences mirrors the action and, indeed, the meaning of the words. They are like a patchwork quilt which has been carefully constructed of various colours and designs in order to make the whole a bigger entity than just each square taken by itself. For me, the literary devices slide in unobtrusively because they just are part of that love of mine.
Did you visit Niagara-on-the-Lake as part of your research and can you tell us a little bit about what you found there?
Oh, yes, I visited Niagara-on-the-Lake several times. I love to walk where my characters might have walked and I click away on my camera so that I can have photos to remind me of what I saw. NOTL has Fort George, built after the American Revolution. It has many historical buildings built after the burning of the town by the Americans during the War of 1812. And it has a wonderful museum which keeps all of this history alive so that down through the generations we can see and remember. But the best thing I found was Fort Mississauga, which was built after the time of The Loyalist’s Wife but which is hidden on a golf course—you have to walk to get to it—and which shows exactly why Fort George had to be built. Fort Niagara is so close to Fort Mississauga that the Americans could easily have erased it with a steady bombardment. Of course today our countries are best friends but a couple of hundred years ago, not so much.
Do you think these battles and this period of history is something that is not well understood by many? Your book certainly lets us see them from the point of view of those involved!
Most of us are caught up in our daily lives and don’t pause to think too much of what or who came before and I was no different. When I did start to research for The Loyalist’s Wife, I found out a lot about my own personal history and that just made me ache for more. I knew I was from Loyalist stock but not much more than that. Now I absolutely treasure the stories of those who fought then so that I can be who and what and where I am now.
I’ve been following your blog On Becoming a Wordsmith. http://elainecougler.wordpress.com/
Congratulations on your first book! As the book is part of a planned series, are you able to tell us about what we should be looking forward to?
The Loyalist’s Luck (due out next year, I hope!) stands on its own as a novel but continues on with John and Lucy’s story. My research showed me there was much more about the history of these brave peoples and John and Lucy just had to be involved. The Loyalist’s Legacy will again stand on its own but have links to the first two books. And that’s all I can tell you at this point.
Do you have any words of wisdom or advice to anyone out there who is currently writing a book or thinking of doing so?
I am not sure there is any quick way to write a book or to learn how to write the kind of book you want. I wanted mine to be excellent for its story, its characters, and its correctness. As a former teacher of high school English I needed to do the best job I could. That meant taking a few years to learn about the industry, the process, the social media connected, and the people who were doing a great job. The short answer is just start. Write a set number of pages a day and stick to the schedule that suits you. Writing is mostly about being persistent.
Finally, who do you think would play Lucy and John in a TV adaptation or indeed a movie adaptation of your book?
OMG, you’ve done it! You’ve come up with a question I find impossible to answer. I am the one who watches a movie and afterwards says, “you know, the one with the purple shirt who sang that obnoxious song” when trying to give the actor’s name. I don’t even really take note of the characters’ names either. I love authors of long books who give a character list at the beginning so I can keep going back and refer to it.
So now you’ve managed to sneak into my head and steal my secret.
That being said, Lucy must be strong-willed to the point of being a bit of a pain, independent, forthright, intelligent, auburn-haired, clever, competent, and a loving wife. John must be tall, deep, strong and yet soft, clever, and a true friend, as well as quick to anger and able to forgive. Maybe I should have a contest on my blog for people to name actors to play my amazing characters.
Thanks Elaine for agreeing to feature on The Book Trail!
Elaine blogs at On Becoming a Wordsmith which may be found at www.elainecougler.com. She also is frequently found here: @ElaineCougler, Facebook/ElaineCouglerAuthor.