Thank you for willing to be interviewed!
1. Can you tell us what was it about the Culper Ring that drew you to write a series?
Well, when I first heard of the Culper Ring, it was in the show Brad Meltzer’s Decoded, and the investigators interviewed experts who said they really couldn’t say what became of the Ring after the Revolution. Maybe they had totally ceased operation. Or, for all they knew, maybe they were still around today! Naturally, I liked that last “maybe.” 😉 What really sealed it for me is that Benjamin Tallmadge, head of the Ring, was a congressman during the War of 1812. It didn’t make any sense to me at all that he wouldn’t have called friends up again.
So when I set out the series and pitched it to Harvest House, I intended to make it generational—to follow the Culpers from their historically recorded dealings in the Revolution through the next two major wars, where I’d explore those super-fun what-ifs. =)
2. When you were writing book one of the Culper Ring series (Ring of Secrets), were you also planning for Whispers From the Shadows?
I knew as I wrote Ring of Secrets that the next book would be about Winter’s son, Thad, and Fairchild’s daughter, Gwyneth. That was enough for the premise—a hero and heroine yet again on different sides of the war, but this time Gwyn would be sent to America for her own safety. The particulars of the plot I developed after I’d finished the first one, though I had it well under way by the time Ring of Secrets was in edits, and when there was room in the back of the book, they asked to include the first chapter. =)
3. How much research do you have to do for each novel in the Culper Ring series?
Oh my, LOL. I’d already done a lot of the basic research on the Colonial era before beginning Ring of Secrets, for my Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland, but I did spend a week or two reading the super-fabulous Washington’s Spies by Alexander Rose. He compiled some amazing original research for form the most complete view of the Culpers ever.
For Whispers from the Shadows, I got to pull in some of the research I’d done before on the Regency era (for clothing and mannerisms, etc), and then I turned to a book written by a good friend’s college professor for the particulars: Battle for Baltimore: 1814 by Joseph Whitehorne.
Having a main, well-respected book I use for research is my usual method, and then I supplement as needed with other sources to answer questions that come up as I write. Thank heavens for the internet!
4. I found Thad to be one of my favorite characters in Whispers From the Shadows. Who/what inspired him?
He’s one of mine too. =) Thad isn’t based entirely on any one person I know, but I guess certain aspects of him are inspired by some of the spiritual fathers in my life. His personality I created by necessity—I needed a character who was personable and friendly enough to be the go-to for the privateer fleet, who were the primary sources of intelligence in this war.
Then as Thad began to take shape in my mind, I realized he was a lot more than personable. I wanted him to be a very faithful character, one who turned to the Lord in his Culper work…and that’s where his spiritual side came in. There’s an older gent in my church who is so in tune with the Spirit it just touches me anew all the time. I wanted to bring that sort of faith alive in this novel, the kind that we all can have, if we just train ourselves to listen.
5. Can you tell us what you’re working on now?
Sure! I just turned in the third book in the series, Circle of Spies, a month ago, and finished a second free novella to come between books 2 and 3, A Hero’s Promise (about the little boy Jack from Whispers, and Thad and Gwyn’s daughter, Julienne, who Jack calls Lenna).
So now I’m taking some time to jump back to my biblical books and work on a sequel to my debut novel, A Stray Drop of Blood. This next one is called A Soft Breath of Wind, and where the first focused on the saving power of the blood Jesus shed upon the cross (heroine was at the crucifixion), the second will focus on the indwelling of the Spirit in the early church, all through the eyes of someone with an amazing gift of the Spirit…that has left her physically scarred.