Elaine Marie Cooper’s story ROAD TO DEER RUN takes us to Massachusetts in 1777 after the Battle of Saratoga. Wounded British lieutenant Daniel Lowe has escaped his Continental Army guards and is hiding on the Thomsen property. Midwife Thomsen’s daughter, Mary, finds him and nurses him back to health.
In reading the author’s notes, we discover that the characters in your story are based on your ancestors. Please briefly share that with us.
When I was quite young, a relative informed me that one of my ancestors was a British soldier during the American Revolution. I was quite horrified! As I grew older, however, I began to wonder about that soldier—who he was, where he came from, how did he end up staying in America. Not all of my questions were answered but I learned quite a bit about him through research. It was like discovering a genealogical goldmine! I was so excited to learn about my heritage and I included as many facts in my story as I could. Obviously, much of the story is fictionalized because I don’t have any family diaries, but where I could, I incorporated true facts.
How much research was involved in telling this story? Do you have a particular method of searching for the facts? Did this involve traveling, interviews, searching library, or church records?
Since Road to Deer Run was my first historical novel set in this locale and time period, research was mind-boggling! I searched the internet, Google books from the town, records from the local doctor’s office, church record, maps, and book after book about life in Colonial America. But visiting the site where my ancestors lived and worked was the most inspiring part of research. And interviewing the local historian in Williamsburg, MA was incredibly helpful. There’s nothing like having an informative local historian to bring history to life!
The situation of an American patriot nursing a British soldier, the enemy, is compelling. How much of their story did you know about and how much did you create?
Since I did not have the details about how the real Daniel and Mary met, much of it is fiction. But I surmised that it was very possible the real Daniel could have sustained injury in the Battle of Saratoga. I knew the King’s Army had been starving during that time so Daniel’s weakened condition was plausible. And there is an excerpt in A History of Williamsburg in Massachusetts that reads thus: “One British soldier, worn out and tired of fighting for what seemed a lost cause, dropped out from the irregular line of march at Springfield and returned to Williamsburg. There, on an old road leading from Williamsburg to Goshen, he built a log cabin. Later this man, Daniel Prince, married a Miss Packard of the neighborhood and reared a family.” This excerpt leaves out much detail, but my writer’s imagination took this story and ran with it!
ROAD TO DEER RUN has timeless themes of romance, grief, anger, bitterness, and forgiveness and you pace the story very well. Did you plot out your story ahead of time or did you allow it to develop as you wrote it?
I guess you could call me a “seat of the pants writer” as I let the story develop as it went. I had spent numerous hours ahead of time forming a basic plot in my imagination. Then, when I could no longer keep it just in my head, I had to release it to the written page. It’s always interesting to me to “watch” the plot unfold and have the characters begin to speak. It’s the strangeness of being a writer. LOL
ROAD TO DEER RUN is the edited version of your earlier book THE ROAD TO DEER RUN. Why did you re-do the book? This is the first story in the DEER RUN series. Will you be editing and re-publishing the other stories in the series?
When I first wrote Road to Deer Run, I discovered the publishing industry was in a down turn. With many new writers being ignored and companies laying off editors, I decided to self publish. While self-publishing can be a good alternative for some, it was not a wise decision for my first novel. It lacked proper editing. When I pitched the series to CrossRiver Media, they immediately contracted all three books, much to my joy! They have an excellent editor (Debra Butterfield) and she has worked with me to improve the read. The book covers needed re-doing as well because they tend to make the book appear as if it is for children, although it is geared towards adults. Promise of Deer Run releases next June, 2016, and Legacy of Deer Run releases in December of 2016.
When you started writing the original story, did you know this would be a series, or was your initial intent for it to be one book?
I initially thought it would just be one book, but an editor suggested I turn it into a series. I followed his advice—and I’m glad I did.
What do you want your readers to take away from ROAD TO DEER RUN?
The belief that God is still there, even in the most desperate of circumstances. And that despite what others may do to hurt or offend us, God still expects us to forgive. It’s not usually easy, but it is necessary if we are to be freed of bitterness.
What has writing the original story or the edited one taught you?
When you write the personal thoughts of a character who is wrestling with a dilemma, you sort through the struggles in your own mind. I suppose the characters become an extension of the author and help bring clarity to our own thinking.
Please tell us about the sequel(s) and when they might be available.
Promise of Deer Run focuses on the now grown up Sarah Thomsen and follows characters who are impacted by the war with post traumatic stress. Legacy of Deer Run follows Mary and Daniel’s oldest son and his work in Springfield as he must leave Deer Run in order to make a living. Of course romance is a central theme in both of these books, and Mary and Daniel play a prominent role in the whole saga.
Thank you so much, Elaine, for being my guest. I know folks will enjoy the story.
Thank you so much for having me, Janet! I am honored to have been your guest.
Where can readers find your books?
Road to Deer Run is available at the CrossRiver site http://www.crossrivermedia.com/portfolio/road-to-deer-run/gallery/fiction/ and will be available at Amazon on December 10. The kindle version can be downloaded at http://www.amazon.com/Road-Deer-Run-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B0189AH21M
Bethany’s Calendar is available at http://www.amazon.com/Bethanys-Calendar-Elaine-Marie-Cooper-ebook/dp/B00QXY38F6
Fields of the Fatherless at http://www.amazon.com/Fields-Fatherless-Historical-Fiction-Elaine-ebook/dp/B00FYV5EOM
Elaine Marie Cooper is the award-winning author of Bethany’s Calendar and Fields of the Fatherless. Her re-release of the Deer Run Saga begins with Road to Deer Run this month and will be followed by Promise of Deer Run (June 2016) and Legacy of Deer Run (December 2016). Saratoga Letters will release in October 2016. Elaine’s passions are her faith, her family, and the history of the American Revolution, the era in which her historical fiction novels are set. You can read her blog on her website at: www.elainemariecooper.com