Today, we have the pleasure of having author Stephanie Lawton stop by for an interview! After collecting a couple English degrees in the Midwest, Stephanie Lawton suddenly awoke in the deepest reaches of the Deep South. Culture shock inspired her to write about Mobile, Alabama, her adopted city, and all the ways Southern culture, history and attitudes seduce the unsuspecting.
A lover of all things gothic, she can often be spotted photographing old cemeteries, historic buildings and, ironically, the beautiful beaches of the Gulf Coast. She also has a tendency to psychoanalyze people, which comes in handy when creating character profiles.
1. So, not being from the South, have you always had an interest in the Civil War?
Not so much, until I married a Civil War fanatic. It was a case of, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." But then we bought a house in Ohio that was built just on the brink of the Civil War, and when we were doing research while restoring it, I naturally learned a lot about the time period. When we moved to the Deep South, we had to relearn (or at least rethink) how Americans view the Civil War. For many, it's still a touchy subject and Southern Pride is alive and well. Without getting political, I'll just say that there's a ton of history in Mobile, and while the city didn't play a huge role in the Civil War, it very well could have, as I suggest in Shrapnel.
2. For a Civil War noob, such as myself, how much of the Knights of the Golden Circle story is true?
If so, how did you learn about it? It's impossible to say how much of the story of the Knights of the Golden Circle is true, but it absolutely existed (exists?) first as a group to preserve the Southern way of life -- and what they felt was a right to hold slaves -- but later to protect the Confederate treasury in order to eventually "rise again." They allegedly had "castles" throughout the South, and left coded maps and marking carves into trees to guide other members to the location of caches. I first heard about the KGC on an episode of Brad Meltzer's "Decoded" on the History Channel. It featured Bob Brewer, who also co-wrote Rebel Gold: One Man's Quest to Crack the Code Behind the Secret Treasure of the Confederacy (also co-written by Warren Getler). This book proved priceless in my research, as there's relatively little about the organization in mainstream history resources.
3. How did you create and develop Dylan, Jake and Ashley’s different abilities?
The psychic aspect of Shrapnel was also inspired by a TV show called "Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal." I've always been fascinated by those with psychic abilities and wished I had some (beyond mothers' intuition)! I've learned about the different kinds of psychic abilities over the years, but did extra research for the book and even talked to a couple psychics to get their input. I tried to keep their abilities realistic, but obviously I had to take some artistic liberties.
4. Speaking of them, since they’re such different characters, which POV was most fun to write?
I have a soft spot for Jake. I don't know why, but I love writing from the male POV! Sure, he's crude and hormonal, but he's also a really nice guy with a heart of gold. I think this describes a lot of teen boys. He and Dylanie are actually very similar, except she's got all the extra insecurities that go along with being a girl who doesn't quite fit in with the other girls. She was fun, too, mostly because of her tough attitude.
5. Now for some fun stuff. Between your schmexy lead male Isaac in Want and your schmexy ghosty lead male Jackson, who would win in a fight?
Jackson, hands down! Putting aside that he's got paranormal ghosty abilities, he's a scrappy guy who's fought in a war and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Isaac, while pretty darn tall and buff, is a lover not a fighter. He'd try to either reason his way out of a fight or possibly turn tail and run (although he might surprise you when we hear from him again ... )
6. And because I’m too curious, what about between Dave from Want and Jake? Now there’s a fight I’d pay good money to see.
Haha! They'd never get in a fight. Dave's nearly always in a good mood, and Jake (as an empath) would pick up on that, feed on it and give it back to him. They might kill each other with bad jokes, or accidentally trip each other while being polite. ("You first." "No, you first. I insist." "No, really, you first.") If, for some odd reason, they really did get in a physical fight, Dave would win. He's got about ten years on Jake and at least thirty pounds.
That was awesome! Thanks, Stephanie!
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