Category: The Civil War

A Sound Among the Trees – It’s HERE!

On a historic Fredericksburg street, Holly Oak stands in quiet elegance. The cannonball wedged between stone and timber is a silent reminder of what the house endured in the War Between the States; and a dot on the timeline of the women who lived there then and live there still.

When Marielle Bishop, an Arizona native, marries into the Holly Oak family she soon hears rumors that the ghost of Susannah Page, a Yankee spy, haunts Holly Oak’s halls, longing for pardon. But Holly Oak’s 83-year-old matriarch, Adelaide, tells Marielle that it is not her great-grandmother that is the ghost, but the house itself that is caught in a limbo of regret, like a needle on a scratched record, unable to reinvent itself as a place of refuge.

As Marielle struggles to fit into her new role as wife and stepmother, far from the desert she loves, she must reconcile her belief that it is people – not houses – that hang onto the past, with the strange aura of sorrow she feels inside Holly Oak’s walls and within the rustling of the trees that surround it.

The Civil War comprises four years of intense human drama and human drama is always the backdrop of a compelling story. I chose to set this book in Fredericksburg because of the particular events that occurred there, including its occupation and the insanely horrific battle in December 1862. We often talk about what houses would say if the walls could talk, and In A Sound Among the Trees, one of the main characters imagines that the house she lives in, which was her great-grandmother’s house during the Civil War, is aware of its past, that it aches over what happened inside it. Houses are supposed to be places of safety and refuge. This house was unable to be what it was designed to be. And in that respect, the house is its own ghost, at least to my main character and everyone she comes into contact with. What I hope to convey to readers is that the house is not the one unable to accept the past for what it was, it is the people inside it, namely my main character. She, though alive haunts the house, insomuch that she is tethered to the past.

Everyone in this house needs to be reminded, or perhaps told for the first time, that your past is not just what happened TO you, it is also what you responded to. You made choices, you made adjustments, you survived. And sometimes you do not see the whole picture until many years later. You were meant to see the whole picture. It is part of the picture of your changed life.

Read the first chapter here:
Buy A Sound Among the Trees here:
Tell me what you think so far right here!

Monday Marvels

If you are one to be mindful of dates and anniversaries then you will no doubt be aware that 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

As you may recall from your junior year American History class, the first shots were fired before dawn upon Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861.

From Eyewitness to History: “The firing of the mortar woke the echoes from every nook and corner of the harbor, and in this the dead hour of the night, before dawn, that shot was a sound of alarm that brought every soldier in the harbor to his feet, and every man, woman and child in the city of Charleston from their beds. A thrill went through the whole city. It was felt that the Rubicon was passed. No one thought of going home; unused as their ears were to the appalling sounds, or the vivid flashes from the batteries, they stood for hours fascinated with horror.”

Having just finished the fourth rounds of edits on my next book, A Sound Among the Trees – which has its historical thread this terrible War Between the States – this anniversary is especially haunting to me. If I had $125 to toss around, I’d buy hese bookends, pictured above – the Monday Marvel for this week.  

Look for more musings on the Civil War throughout this year, especially as the release date for A Sound Among the Trees draws near.

And for a great article on the subject, check out this week’s Time Magazine and this thoughtful piece by David Von Drehle.  The photographs created for this article need to be seen to be appreciated. Using reenactors in period uniforms and contemporary city scapes, the photographer captured an eerie sense of what it must’ve been like to be in a war in your own backyard.

“History is not just about the past. It also reveals the present.” – David Von Drehle