Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of The Road to Deer Run, The Promise of Deer Run and The Legacy of Deer Run. She's also one of our bloggers here at Novel Pastimes. :-) Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ and the history of the American Revolution, a frequent subject of her historical fiction. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her novels. Elaine is a contributing writer to Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home by Edie Melson, and I Choose You, a romance Anthology. She is the proud “GiGi” of three-year-old triplets.
Welcome, Elaine, and congratulations on your brand new release, Fields of the Fatherless! We’d love to hear about the story and your main characters.
Thank you so much! Fields of the Fatherless is historical fiction based on fact that takes place in the early months of 1775 in the small village of Menotomy, Massachusetts. Although most have heard of Lexington and Concord and that first day of the Revolutionary War on April 19, little has been written about Menotomy, which was situated between Lexington and Boston. When the British soldiers were retreating back to Boston, a terrible battle broke out in Menotomy, and the death toll was higher there than anywhere else that day.
Most of the characters in Fields of the Fatherless are real—eighteen-year-old Betsy, her parents Jason and Elizabeth Russell, Betsy’s brother Thomas and her nephew, Josiah—are all taken from historical accounts and genealogies of the family. The entire story is told from Betsy’s point of view. The reader will experience her trepidation and fear as war is looming and her feeling that her future holds little in store except tragedy. She has no idea that an unexpected journey of forgiveness will help her survive.
That sounds fabulous – I always love when characters are based on actual people and when the story teaches me about something new. What’s the story behind Fields of the Fatherless? How did the idea germinate and grow?
Growing up in Arlington, Massachusetts (the current name of Menotomy Village), I was always fascinated by the Jason Russell House that I so frequently walked by. What was the history of “the blood on the floor?” I wondered. When I discovered the story, I wanted to give recognition to the valiant patriots from my hometown—a story long overshadowed in the history books by the more famous Lexington and Concord.
What a great tribute! And just the title – Fields of the Fatherless – grabs my attention. How did that title come to be?
As a daily reader of the Proverbs, I have long been enamored of the phrase “Fields of the Fatherless” from Proverbs 23:10. It so poetically speaks of the heavenly defender of those left without their fathers and God’s hand of protection upon them. It speaks of a marker to remind others of what took place—just as the Jason Russell House remains as a reminder to all who see it. Fields of the Fatherless was the first title that came to mind when I wrote this book. I was so pleased that my publisher liked it.
I love the story of how you were able to contribute to the book’s cover design. Will you share that with us here?
It is a long story, to be sure! Perhaps I should include the two links that explain the cover’s “birth.” I’m still so in awe of the way everything fell into place as though events were orchestrated by a Heavenly Hand!
When you visited with us late in 2012, you were celebrating the release of The Legacy of Deer Run, which completed your 3-book Deer Run Saga. How does it feel to spend so much time with characters (3 books!) and then move to a completely different story line? How do you make that shift?
I think what made the shift easier was that I felt that the Deer Run saga was complete. The bigger story arc of the Lowe family had accomplished what I had envisioned for it. So although I was saddened to bid “farewell” to my much-loved characters, I felt that I had completed their story. I also think that some series just go on too long and I didn’t want to have my much-cherished saga become one of those series struggling to remain alive while literary CPR is needed!
If a novel is a story from my heart, I can quickly adapt to new characters and story lines and then get emotionally wrapped up in their lives and circumstances. That’s what happened with Fields of the Fatherless. There were days when I would be writing chapters while crying my way through the word weaving process. My desk looked quite messy with used tissues on many a day!
If you could be any character from a favorite historical novel for a few days, who would it be and why?
Visitors, come back tomorrow for Elaine’s answer to this and other questions.
Plus, answer Elaine’s question for your chance to win a copy of Fields of the Fatherless: Have you ever visited the historical sites in Massachusetts and, if so, what was your favorite?
Leave your answer and email address in the comments (spelling out ‘at’ and ‘dot’ to help cut down on spam). The winner will be announced Friday morning.
See you tomorrow!