Genre: Christian, Fiction, Historical
Publisher: WestBow Press (Author)
Publication date: September 27, 2016
Number of pages: 277
Set in 1773 Charles Town, Surround Me takes the reader into the lives of colonists confronting imminent change and unpredictable circumstances binding them together to become a formidable force.
I’m editing Bring Me Near: Revolutionary Faith Book Three. I hope to have it released in June, 2017. The novel continues the journey of Louis and Elizabeth as they enter the hoovering revolution. Their lives entwine with real historical characters trying to make sense of the turmoil.
Also, I have completed two of the four novels in my Gardens in Time series. Labor of Love takes place in 1550 Florence and Promise of Purity,1660 Hampton Court. I’m hoping for a home for these soon.
2. Have you ever traveled for research? If so, where did you visit? If not, where would you like to visit?
I travel for every book. In fact, that is where I find my story and inspiration. For the Revolutionary Faith series, I traveled to Charleston four times to obtain a feel for the town as well as in depth research in libraries and museums. On the same note, I’ve been to Florence, Italy four times and fell in love with the Boboli Gardens. I lived in England for two years and have been back five times since. Hampton Court is one of my favorite haunts. I continue to travel and find unique people and places to spark my writing. Too many ideas and not enough time.
3. What does your writing process look like?
Once I formulate an idea for a story, I search for the books and resources to develop a deep historical foundation for my characters. For the first book in the Revolutionary Faith series I researched 25 books that I purchased because I must highlight and mark the books for my use. I’ve added a few more sources to the next books. After the research, I develop my characters’ basic characteristics leaving them room to grow and change. I plot out my chapters loosely giving the characters the opportunity to rearrange, delete and add to the overall plot. Then I write and write. Since I am a teacher I have the summer and breaks to write many hours a day. During the school year, I reserve one hour a day for writing.
My books go through a critique group and multiple editing phases.
4. What inspired the idea for Surround Me? What do you want readers to take away from reading this novel?
Surround Me is the sequel to Hold Me Close. The series is inspired by my family history. Louis Lestarjette, the hero, is my eight times great grandfather. My father has his candlesticks, locket, portrait and papers. As an adult I started really listening to his stories and was fascinated. I wanted to know about the lives of these prerevolutionary and revolutionary citizens.
My genre is historical Christian fiction and my slogan is Entertain. Educate. Encourage. I want my readers to be entertained by the fiction, educated by the history, and encourage by the Christian worldview.
The cover for Surround Me is very special. I wanted it to show my character Elizabeth as an ordinary citizen going about her daily routine. Therefore, the lady in the straw hat appears to be content and purposeful.
I worked hard to find the perfect art for the sense of home and family. The artwork is a drawing by my father, F. Lestarjette Martin, that he drew while in Charleston, S.C. in the 1970s. The house is the original Lestarjette home on Church Street in Charleston. There is a modern-day picture of it in the book. By using this print, I brought the past and the present together just as my father and my several times great grandfather have a connection even today. I love that about history—the historical people and events had to exist in order for us to be here now.
Historical characters in book
Using historical characters brings the book into reality. The American Revolution has so many all over the colonies. The problem is which ones to use. I chose characters from Charleston. I had no idea until I did my research how many there were. I honed in on Christopher Gadsden, founder of the Sons of Liberty in Charleston. I made him a favorite friend of Louis and Elizabeth. Robert Cochran, a ship captain and later in the Navy, is really Louis’s brother-in-law. The minister of St. Philip’s Church, the Rev. Robert Smith, took a strong stand with the Patriots even fighting in battle. I added John and Abigail Adams and Silas Deane when Louis and Elizabeth traveled to Boston. It feels strange giving these historical figures fictional words, but of course they spoke to ordinary citizens, too.
Why historical fiction?
I write what I love to read. I was introduced to historical fiction as a senior in high school when my teacher challenged his students to read an historical novel. I chose James A. Michener’s The Source. I never looked back. With historical Christian fiction, I began with Lori Wick with knights and castles. I am a student by heart and love the research. I love to learn and study. I do venture out of historical fiction when I read, occasionally, but I always have a good historical ready.
Research for the series
Research was intense. I found books in Charleston and local bookstores that dealt with history, national characters, 1800s, the colonies, money, clothing, houses, and furniture. I read children’s books and biographies as well as young adult and adult fiction. Some of my unique research materials were cookbooks and paper dolls. In all I used 25 sources and listed some of them in my first book. Here are a few of my favorites: Patriots, Pistols, and Petticoats (Walter Fraser), Everyday Life in Colonial America (Dale Taylor), Christopher Gadsden and the American Revolution (Godbold and Woody), A Colonial Plantation Cookbook (Richard Hooker), The Huguenots of Colonial South Carolina (Arthur Hirsch), and Founders (Ray Raphael).
January 24–Fiction Aficionado
January 25–Katie’s Clean Book Collection
January 26–Cordially Barbara
January 28–Reading Is My SuperPower
January 29–Toni Shiloh Soulfully Romantic
January 30–Paulette’s Papers
January 31–Smiling Book Reviews
February 1–Singing Librarian Books
February 2–Mel’s Shelves
February 3–Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen
February 4–Henry Happens