Today I’d like to welcome Hallie Alexander to my Creekside Café.
Hallie: Thank you for having me. The view is gorgeous and there are no mosquitos. Amazing!
Sherri: The joys of a virtual café, though here on the Pamlico Sound, our mascot is the mosquito. I was surprised to learn you were also a North Carolina writer. Was it serendipity or something else that brought us together?
Hallie: For a brief time, we were both members of the same local RWA. Unfortunately, I worked most of the Saturdays they met. Also, it was before I chose my pen name so you might not have recognized me. As a side note, in my pre-pen name day, you helped me craft my query letter for this book, before it had the new title! So, thank you, Sherri, for offering a helping hand up.
Sherri: I’m so happy to hear that I was able to help. As y’all may have already surmised, Hallie and I met on Twitter.
I don’t often attend meetings due to work and travel distance, but I host the monthly writer challenge, Book in a Week.
Your debut novel is coming out soon, “A Widow’s Guide to Scandal,” I believe the launch date is July 22nd. That’s just in time for my birthday! I love historical romances and I’m so excited for you. Tell me a little about your story.
Hallie: This is a steamy, feminist historical romance that takes place in colonial New York on the brink of Revolution. A forced proximity romance, the themes that run through it are the caring and fixing of broken things, the value in a name, and what makes a family. While the H/H are white and presumably Christian, the secondary characters are very diverse.
It takes place in New York in 1776, a couple of months before the Colonies declared independence from England. I’ll let my blurb speak to the rest:
Henrietta Smith was fifteen when she stole a kiss from Marcus Hardwicke. Over a decade later, she’s still waiting to be kissed back…
Henrietta learned the hard way that when you get what you pay for you might end up with a British soldier quartering in your home threatening your friends, an enormous dog tracking mud through your house and stealing the chickens, and Marcus Hardwicke disrupting your uncomplicated life by trying to improve it. And to think she just wanted her roof fixed.
Marcus, wickedly handsome carpenter and rebel rogue, fell off Henrietta’s leaking roof. He can’t leave until his broken ankle heals, giving him plenty of time to consider his past mistakes, including Henrietta’s indelible kiss from a lifetime ago. But Henrietta could lose more than her home if she doesn’t encrypt British secrets, and the latest puts Marcus in the crosshairs.
Sherri: Are you self-publishing or are you with a traditional publisher?
Hallie: Traditional. Scandal is my debut with Soul Mate Publishing.
Sherri: From your blog I can tell you are a historian. How did you make the leap to historical romance?
Hallie: <laughs> Quite simply, the historical fiction I used to read didn’t have enough kissing, and then there was always the chance that something egregiously tragic might happen to the main character, or they might die by the end of the story. You won’t find that in historical romance. Bad things might happen, but you can count on redemption and a happy ending.
I do enjoy the research parts of writing. Online, you can pull up newspapers, journals, even PDFs of diaries written contemporarily. Through the library, I request materials from all over America, if what I need can’t be found locally or online. One time, I came across an account of an American privateer who wrote his secret missives in Yiddish in case the British intercepted them!
Sherri: Since this is your first novel, I assume you still work a 9 to 5. Tell me about your other job. (are you comfortable sharing this info. If not, ignore).
Hallie: I am a library assistant. It’s like working in a candy shop but with far fewer calories.
Sherri: Librarians are some of my favorite people. My best friend manages our local library and my sister-in-law works there, too.
After five novels I was hoping to be able to start planning my retirement. If sales continue as they are now, I’ll be working until I’m ninety.
Hallie: Like Barbara Cartland. But you have to dress like her if you keep writing into your 90’s. Those are the rules.
Sherri: Did you come across any interesting research that you were dying to use in this novel but have had to sit on?
Hallie: Well, the Yiddish-writing privateer will get his day! How can I resist? When the stories handed down as history center one population over another, you’ve got to question why that is and who that benefits. It doesn’t benefit me, that’s for sure. And it doesn’t benefit anyone else to continue the myth that only one kind of citizen gets to be celebrated as an American archetype.
Sherri: Have you started working on another novel? Will it be a sequel to your first or something different?
Hallie: I wrote a couple of novellas after I wrote Scandal, just to play around. One of which I am offering for free to my newsletter subscribers. It is called Rescuing Her Rebel and it is set in the same world, same friends as Scandal. It’s a second chance romance with smugglers. You can get it here: tiny.cc/halliealexander
As for full length novels, I’m in the middle of drafts on the next two books after Scandal. I never do things the easy way.
Sherri: What other plans do you have for your writing? Will you continue to write historicals? The same time period?
Hallie: I like writing historicals because I like learning how people lived before modern times. I suspect I’ll stick to American stories, but I’m not wedded to the 18th Century.
Sherri: What are you most excited about besides publishing your first book?
Hallie: Publishing the next one!
Sherri: What are you dreading most?
Hallie: Criticism. Every author gets them, but knowing that won’t make hearing/reading it any easier.
Sherri: Thank you Hallie for stopping by, if you are ever in eastern North Carolina, I can recommend some wonderful historic places in New Bern, Washington and Atlantic Beach. It would be lovely to get together and do a little research.
Hallie: I loved visiting New Bern with my kids a couple of years ago. In fact, it was a waaayyyy more positive experience than taking the family to my beloved Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. I don’t think I could ever get them to go back there. All five of us came down with fevers. Then there were storms and the hotel lost power. You know, typical family vacation.
Sherri: If you enjoyed my interview with Hallie Alexander be sure to check out her debut novel “A Widow’s Guide to Scandal,” and follow her on social media.
Blog: Historical Musings:https://halliealexanderauthor.com/blog/
I’m still playing with the wording, but here is my short blurb:
Henrietta Caldwell thought her biggest problem was a leaky roof until a wickedly handsome rebel from her past, Marcus Hardwicke, comes to fix it. Distracted, he falls off her roof and breaks his ankle—now he can’t leave until he heals. But Henrietta could lose her home if she doesn’t encrypt British secrets, and the latest puts Marcus in the crosshairs.
And long blurb:
Henrietta Smith was fifteen when she stole a kiss from Marcus Hardwicke. She’s still waiting to be kissed back…
When Henrietta’s roof leaks, the best she can afford is to fix it herself. She can’t expect Colonel Caldwell, the owner, to take care of it—he’s too busy dealing with rebel opposition. Once in the carpentry shop, Henrietta concludes she’s in over her head and flees, only to be stopped by a handsome carpenter for accidentally stealing a hammer.
Marcus is not only competent with his hammer, he can fix a roof. Recognizing Henrietta, he offers to fix it for free, never imagining he’d fall off her roof and break his ankle. Now, he’s recuperating in her steamy attic and making up for lost kisses. But figuring out their relationship will have to wait because he discovers that Henrietta enciphers secrets for the colonel, and Marcus and his rebel friends are the British army’s latest target.