~ ~ ~ ~Welcome to my blog, Lori! I’m thrilled to have you visit for the first time and talk about your newest release, The Wood’s Edge.
Thank you, Gabrielle. I’m so pleased to chat with you.
I can’t wait a moment longer to start discussing The Wood’s Edge! I was given an advanced reader’s copy to review, and I was mesmerized by the story. Truly, it is now in my top five favorite! I couldn’t put the book down and I fell in love with Two-Hawks, Anna, Reginald, Lydia, William, Good Voice, and Stone Thrower.
The story explores the collision of British Colonial and Oneida cultures in the second half of the 18th century. How did your passion develop for this time period and subject?
I stumbled upon a passion for the 18th century and the particular types of conflicts it encompasses on something of a whim. After a season away from writing due to illness, I decided to try my hand at historical fiction. This was 2004, and by then I’d seen the movie The Patriot (with Heath Ledger and Mel Gibson), and knew I wanted my male characters clad in knee breeches. A little research told me I’d better choose the 1700s for that. I know, how utterly profound! Little did I know what awaited me in the pages of the now hundreds of research books that fill my bookshelves.
I'm thinking Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger have inspired many a writer. :) Our daughter Maryn is actually named after William Wallace's wife (Murron) from Brave Heart with Mel.
Your writing is beautiful and filled with depth and emotion. Which authors have influenced your writing the most?
There are so many, but at the top of the list are James Alexander Thom, Diana Gabaldon, Susanna Kearsley, and Ellis Peters/Edith Pargeter.
I love discovering new authors, especially ones that inspire other writers. I'll have to look into some of these.
The Wood’s Edge is rich with historical detail and a vibrant setting. How long did it take you to research this story? And what research tools did you use? Did you visit the setting?
I wrote the first draft of The Wood’s Edge in 2012; safe to say I was researching for a few months prior. A lot of the research for this novel happened while I was writing Burning Sky in 2009. Much of what happens in The Wood’s Edge and especially its sequel, A Flight of Arrows (spring 2016), forms the back story of Burning Sky. So it’s accurate to say I began research for The Wood’s Edge as early as 2008, though of course I didn’t know then that’s what I was doing.
I didn’t do any traveling for research this time around, unless you count multiple visits to the Mohawk Valley and points westward via Google Earth and other people’s YouTube videos. Amazing what you can find online these days.
It is amazing what research tools we have at the tips of our fingers!
If one of the characters from The Wood’s Edge could come to life, and you could spend the day with him/her, which one would you choose? And why?
I’m sure I’ve wished to be able to do this at some point with every single character in this book. But now that I have a little distance from it I’d say Two Hawks, because he’s the one most caught between two worlds in this book—a theme that continually draws me to write novels—and even more so in A Flight of Arrows.
I really enjoyed Two Hawk's character. He is caught between two worlds, and as a reader, you feel the pull. I can't wait to see where his story goes in Flight of Arrows.
For readers meeting you here for the first time, could you give us an overview of your writing and publication story?
It was long and winding. I began writing as a child, but didn’t get serious about it until my early 20s. 1991 to be exact. I wrote several novels and submitted them to publishers in the mid to late 1990s, but met with rejection. Then I faced cancer at age 30 (1999), and while I came through the treatment relatively unscathed (and have been in remission since) for the next 4-5 years I suffered a long term side effect called chemo fog. I wasn’t able to write much at all during that time. When my brain began to clear is when I decided to try writing historical fiction. That was 2004. I was very rusty, so it took a while—nearly four more years—to finish another novel and then edit into shape for submission. I was in no hurry however, and still discovering who I was as a writer, and all the changes God had worked in me through that cancer and non-writing experience. Around 2008 I felt I was again ready to submit my work to agents (the publishing scene had changed during my hiatus and a writer now needed an agent). It wasn’t until 2010 that I finally signed with my agent and not until 2012 that I signed a contract with WaterBrook Press for my first novel, Burning Sky. Which of course wasn’t really my first novel. Or second, or sixth. Some of those early attempts will never see the light of day, and rightly so. But maybe some of them will. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
I'm so thankful you answered God's call to be a writer, and continued to pursue the call even through the difficult seasons of life. Your writing has a great impact on me, and I'm looking forward to many more of your novels to come. Thank you for visiting my blog, Lori! I’ve had fun interviewing you.
Thank you very much, Gabrielle. My pleasure!
Lori has kindly agreed to give away a copy of The Wood's Edge to a reader. Please see the Rafflecopter below.
YOUR TURN, READER: Have you read any of Lori's books? What authors and/or stories have had the greatest impact on you?
Lori Benton’s novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of Burning Sky, recipient of three Christy Awards, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, an ECPA 2015 Christian Book Award finalist, and The Wood’s Edge.
The Wood's Edge:
At the wood’s edge cultures collide. Can two families survive the impact?
The 1757 New York frontier is home to the Oneida tribe and to British colonists, yet their feet rarely walk the same paths.
On the day Fort William Henry falls, Major Reginald Aubrey is beside himself with grief. His son, born that day, has died in the arms of his sleeping wife. When Reginald comes across an Oneida mother with newborn twins, one white, one brown, he makes a choice that will haunt the lives of all involved. He steals the white baby and leaves his own child behind. Reginald’s wife and foundling daughter, Anna, never suspect the truth about the boy they call William, but Reginald is wracked by regret that only intensifies with time, as his secret spreads its devastating ripples.
When the long buried truth comes to light, can an unlikely friendship forged at the wood’s edge provide a way forward? For a father tormented by fear of judgment, another by lust for vengeance. For a mother still grieving her lost child. For a brother who feels his twin’s absence, another unaware of his twin’s existence. And for Anna, who loves them both—Two Hawks, the mysterious Oneida boy she meets in secret, and William, her brother. As paths long divided collide, how will God direct the feet of those who follow Him?
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