Today p. m. terrell is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about her historical novel, A Struggle for Independence.
Welcome to the blog. Let’s get started, shall we?
What prompted you to write about this historical event?
I have been interested in Irish history since discovering my ancestors’ ties to the Emerald Isle. It is nearly impossible to research it without learning of the 1916 Easter Rising, the War for Independence and the Irish Civil War. In A Struggle for Independence, Lady Independence Mather must choose between remaining in a loveless marriage with a British loyalist or risk everything for the man she loves—an Irish rebel. I felt the Rising was an apt backdrop because it parallels her inner conflict. Every citizen had to choose whether to support the Rising and later, the two wars that officially stretched to 1923. In Ulster, the war still rages but under different names, because Ulster was partitioned away from the new Republic of Ireland and continues to remain under British rule as of this writing.
How closely did you stick to the historical facts? If you used them loosely, how did you decide whether to deviate from them?
I believe in adhering to the facts as much as possible. I began with Internet research, and because there is so much misinformation on the web, I stayed with university sites, historical societies, and non-profits formed to preserve Irish history. I watched documentaries and contacted historians, archaeologists, and university professors. I also visited the sites mentioned in the book, from Dublin Castle, where the first casualty occurred, to the General Post Office, where Patrick Pearse read the proclamation of independence and to Saint Stephen’s Green, where the British fired down upon the rebels that had dug in there. I also stood in the courtyard where the leaders were executed by firing squad and where bullet holes can still be seen to this day in the wall behind where they stood—and in James Connolly’s case, where he was strapped to a chair because he was unable to stand. I also toured the cells where the men were incarcerated.
The difference between A Struggle for Independence and a purely historical work is the events unfold through Lady Mather’s eyes, who happens to be only a block from the GPO when the rising began. Even seemingly anecdotal information is historically accurate, such as Michael Collins’ habit of riding his bicycle past British soldiers though he had a price on his head. They were looking for a ruffian, and he was dressed as a businessman.
Do you use a mixture of historic figures and invented characters in the novel? Which is more difficult to write? Which do you prefer to write and why?
I used several historical figures, including Roger Casement, who attempted to smuggle German weapons into Ireland but was caught by the British, Countess Markievicz, perhaps the highest-profile woman to participate in the rising, and several leaders, including Patrick Pearse, Michael Mallin, Sean MacDiarmada, and James Connolly. Others were invented, including Lord and Lady Mather and architect Nicky Bowers.
I enjoy writing about both historical figures and fictional ones. Historical is more difficult because I take great pains to get the facts straight, but it is more rewarding in the end. I use fictional characters because it provides me with literary license to place them where they need to be as events unfold.
In a historical novel, you must vividly re-create a place and people in a bygone era. How did you bring the place and people you are writing about to life?
This was very easy for me because I stood on the same ground they had walked a hundred years ago. Something happens when you stand in hallowed places, such as Kilmainham Gaol or the GPO. Time seems to turn backward, and I can feel the events that occurred there. I was also there in April when the Easter Rising took place so that I could make a note of the weather conditions and seasonal changes. Even the slightest nuance was noted.
There often seems to be more scope in historical novels for male characters rather than female characters. Do you prefer to write one sex or the other? And, if so, why?
I have written historical works in both the male and female voices. Which one I choose depends entirely on the storyline and how each would fit into it. I selected a female for A Struggle for Independence because it was also an era of suffragettes, of women discovering their voices and breaking out from traditionally silent roles, and of becoming unafraid to face a future without the protection of a male relative. The book begins with Lady Mather at Matherscourt, an estate that has become a prison to her. We learn that she is in an arranged marriage with a man that never loved her. But as events unfold, she becomes emboldened, much like the caterpillar morphing into the butterfly. The success of the Easter Rising is far from ensured, however, and if she chooses the side of her rebel lover and she is caught, she could be imprisoned or executed for treason.
Thanks for answering my questions.
p. m. terrell will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble Gift Card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. To enter the draw click here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f3330
You can find a list of the rest of p. m. terrell’s tour stops here: https://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2020/03/vbt-struggle-for-independence-by.html
Why not drop by some of the stops? You’ll have a chance to enter the draw again at each stop.
About p.m.terrell: p. m. terrell is the pen name for Patricia McClelland Terrell, the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 24 books in multiple genres, including contemporary suspense, historical suspense, computer instructional, non-fiction and children’s books.
Prior to writing full-time, she founded two computer companies in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area: McClelland Enterprises, Inc. and Continental Software Development Corporation. Among her clients were the Central Intelligence Agency, United States Secret Service, U.S. Information Agency, and Department of Defense. Her specialties were in the detection of white collar computer crimes and computer intelligence.
A full-time author since 2002, Black Swamp Mysteries was her first series, inspired by the success of Exit 22, released in 2008. Vicki’s Key was a top five finalist in the 2012 International Book Awards and 2012 USA Book Awards nominee, and The Pendulum Files was a national finalist for the Best Cover of the Year in 2014. Her second series, Ryan O’Clery Suspense, is also award-winning. The Tempest Murders (Book 1) was one of four finalists in the 2013 International Book Awards, cross-genre category. Her historical suspense, River Passage, was a 2010 Best Fiction and Drama Winner. It was determined to be so historically accurate that a copy of the book resides at the Nashville Government Metropolitan Archives in Nashville, Tennessee. Songbirds are Free is her bestselling book to date; it is inspired by the true story of Mary Neely, who was captured in 1780 by Shawnee warriors near Fort Nashborough (now Nashville, TN).
She was the co-founder of The Book ‘Em Foundation, an organization committed to raising public awareness of the correlation between high crime rates and high illiteracy rates. She was the founder of Book ‘Em North Carolina, an annual event held in the town of Lumberton, North Carolina, to raise funds to increase literacy and reduce crime and served as its chairperson and organizer for its first four years. She also served on the boards of the Friends of the Robeson County (NC) Public Library, the Robeson County (NC) Arts Council, Virginia Crime Stoppers and became the first female president of the Chesterfield County-Colonial Heights Crime Solvers in Virginia.