Rebecca DeMarino lives in the Pacific Northwest, and inherited her love of baking and gardening from her mother, a love of horses, reading and writing from her dad, and a wanderlust gene from both parents. No one knows where she got her passion for jogging and hiking! A Place in His Heart, is a historical romance inspired by her ninth great-grandparents, Barnabas and Mary Horton, and is book one of The Southold Chronicles.
This week, Rebecca will be giving away a free copy of A Place in His Heart to one of our visitors! Just leave a comment with your name and email (spelling out ‘at’ and ‘dot’ to help cut down on spam) answering this question:
Where do you live and did you grow up there?
Welcome, Rebecca, and congratulations on your debut novel’s release, A Place in His Heart! We’d love to hear about the story and your main characters.
You share a bit about the story behind A Place in His Heart on your website. Will you share it with our readers, please?
I grew up listening to my mom’s stories about Barnabas Horton, my ninth great-grandfather and how he came across the pond from England on a ship called The Swallow, in the 1600’s. When my brother became interested in genealogy, we discovered there was a lighthouse named after Barnabas, located on Long Island. I asked my mom if she’d like to go there, and off we went. There was a lot of interesting information about Barnabas. He was a baker and a very recent widower with two young sons when he met my ninth great-grandmother, Mary, in Mowsley, England. But I could find very little about her, and I began to wonder about what dreams and motivation she had, and courage she must have possessed, when she married and then left her family behind for the wilds of Long Island. A few years later, I began writing my first novel in a quest to give her a voice
That’s a fabulous story! Readers know that historical fiction includes details accurate to the story’s era, and maybe even references to actual people, places or events. What challenges did you have in writing because of the real-life ties your story holds?
It was challenging blending the fact with fiction in the story about Mary and Barnabas Horton, my ninth great-grandparents. They lived in a turbulent time in England with politics and religion being both intertwined and at war. Although the exact date the Hortons left for the New World is not known, it is agreed they left during The Great Migration, a time when many Puritans left England, fleeing religious persecution. We do know they spent time in Massachusetts before joining Reverend John Youngs on Long Island, and that the colony they established was under the direction of New Haven. By not actually having an exact date it allowed me for story purposes to bring the Hortons over at the time Reverend John Davenport left England on the Hector—something that is entirely possible and worked well for the story.
On the flip side, how did those actual connections help you write the story?
Well, I really did have a sense of connection to my ancestors and tried to imagine their emotions, hopes and fears beyond the stereotypes we have in our view of history of the Puritans, the colonists and even marriages of convenience. I knew that Barnabas had wed Mary within months of the death of his first wife, Ann, and that he had two young sons. So many women died in childbirth leaving their husbands with very young children to care for, that marriage of convenience was common. And that was a practical solution, not necessarily one based on love. Another aspect of their marriage was the fact I could not find any record of children born to Barnabas and Mary in the years the spent in England. Most couples at that time desired large families, because of the mortality rate of babies and young children, and I imagine infertility at a time when medical knowledge lacked the ability to diagnose or cure it had a devastating impact on the marriage, just as it can today with all of our advances.
You’re busy celebrating the release of A Place in His Heart, but are also working on your next book. Can you give us a sneak peek of what it’ll be about?
Book two of the Southold Chronicles takes us up a generation of Hortons and I’m really enjoying seeing Joseph and Benjamin all grown up! A lot has happened since 1640 in Southold, Long Island when Barnabas took a big part in the governing of the town, and Mary gave birth to the first white child born on eastern Long Island. The Horton clan is growing, but if they thought they left trouble behind, the wars between England and Holland cannot help but affect life with the Dutch in control of western Long Island. Not to mention the fierce native people of the north who kidnap the Montauk Princess, Heather Flower, daughter of the Grand Sachem of Long Island, Wyandance.
Sounds like another great plot! 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 to learn Rebecca’s answer to this and other questions. And don’t forget to leave a comment answering her question so you’ll be entered to win a copy of A Place in His Heart. Here’s the question again:
Where do you live and did you grow up there?
See you tomorrow!