Hello Laurie. Welcome back to my blog. Oh, Say Can You See? is the fourth book in this series. Please tell us about this novel.
Our beloved Willows characters are in the thick of the action, so we get a tender, intimate view of how Britain’s campaign of terror affected families as well as the nation. For instance, the tender information I include about Key and his family helps us understand the reasons he was in a ship in the harbor the night Baltimore was bombarded, and the risks he assumed in undertaking his mission. But the most important thing I want readers to take away from this novel is an understanding of what stirred the passionate patriotism in this pacifist-religionist lawyer.
I set out seven years ago to celebrate the looming bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the 200th birthday of our national anthem with this series, but the parallels between our day and these events is staggering. Every American would benefit from the lessons this period has to offer. And though Oh, Say Can You See? is a continuation of my Free Men and Dreamers series, like volume four, Dawn’s Early Light, it was written as a stand-alone read as well. I hope readers will at least read these two volumes. They are packed with incredible, timely American history wrapped within a lovely, tender story.
While writing Oh, Say Can You See, tell us what touched your heart the most as you wrote about our beloved country and what we had to do to get our freedom.
I was on the phone speaking with the man who is probably the foremost authority on this battle, and he agrees with my assessment about what it was that not only caused Key--who was previously opposed to the war--to write his poem, but what seared it into the hearts of Americans, as it did. You have to look beyond what was happening in Baltimore. You have to consider what had happened in Washington . . . put yourself in the shoes of Americans who saw Washington City burned, their president’s home destroyed, their Capitol razed, their president and his cabinet forced into hiding. Once you relate to that despair and hopelessness, you can begin to understand why this previously insignificant red, white and blue banner suddenly became intensely revered. It wasn’t just a real estate marker anymore. It was the only remaining symbol of America. It meant hope. It said that as long as we could raise our colors, we were still a nation.
Thanks for sharing that with us. It helps us to realize why the patriots fought so valiantly for their country. What kind of research did you do for this book?
I’ve done everything but go on an archaeological dig! I’ve read books, traveled to forts and battlefields and museums. I maintained a two-year correspondence with one historian who raised the bar on my research and set me off on a path to study, study, study. I’ve added a shelf of research books and spent hours on the phone with docents, US Park Service people, and librarians searching for original documents. It’s been a blast, but I’m looking forward to spring when this project is finished and the characters are not constantly in my head any longer.
I totally understand. When you get close to your characters, they tend to be on your mind a lot. That's how it is with me, too. Out of all the books you’ve written, which one did you enjoy writing the most and why?
I think I enjoyed writing Awakening Avery the most because it was pure creative pleasure. It’s the story of a fifty-ish author who finds herself utterly unprepared when her husband dies suddenly after a lingering illness. She seeks a healing place for herself and her family through a summer house-swap that takes her to Anna Maria Island in Florida. The man with whom she swaps homes, and the quirky people she meets, help pull her from her malaise and reawaken her desire to live again.
I conducted research on the locales, but the characters were my own creations, and the dialogue was all original, meaning I didn’t have to match historical records this time. Also, the story was the most biographical of all my books. My father was the basis for one of the characters, and I wrote it after my husband suffered and survived a heart attack, so it was also a cathartic experience.
This interview was great. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot. Watch Laurie's book trailer below. I love it. Visit Laurie’s website or her blog.