May 5, 2015
Hello everybody, and welcome to our Tour Stop for
The Revelation of Louisa May by Michaela MacColl!
We are thrilled to have Michaela on the blog today!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
Louisa May Alcott can’t believe it—her mother is leaving for the summer to earn money for the family and Louisa is to be in charge of the household. How will she find the time to write her stories, much less have any adventures of her own? But before long, Louisa finds herself juggling her temperamental father, a mysterious murder, a fugitive seeking refuge along the Underground Railroad, and blossoming love. Intertwining fact, fiction, and quotes from Little Women, Michaela MacColl has crafted another spunky heroine whose story will keep readers turning pages until the very end.
CxC: Hi Michaela! Thanks so much for taking the time and spending time with us here at Chapter by Chapter!
MM: Hi Maryann, Gabrielle! It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for celebrating the release of The Revelation of Louisa May.
CxC: Describe The Revelation of Louisa May in 140 characters or less (like a Tweet)
MM: Louisa May Alcott solves a murder, rescues a fugitive slave and falls in love.
CxC: What was your inspiration in writing The Revelation of Louisa May? Was it in a dream? A thought while taking a walk?
MM: It was a little more practical than that, I’m afraid. I’d rather like inspiration to strike on a walk – but my editor and I decided together. This is the third author mystery we’ve done. The first was Emily Dickinson in Nobody’s Secret (Chronicle 2012) and the next was Always Emily about the Bronte sisters (Chronicle 2013). We wanted to return to the United States and find a beloved writer with a GREAT backstory. Louisa fit the bill! Despite being related to a very wealthy family, she grew up in terrible poverty. Her philosopher father felt that working for someone else would violate his principles. They were vegetarians and if he had his way they would never have worn wool or leather – imagine surviving a New England winter wearing clothes made of flax! Her mother was tough and smart. She went to work to support the family but apparently never stopped loving her husband passionately. Louisa based Little Women on her own family, including her three beloved sisters.
CxC: Tell us about the main character(s) in The Revelation of Louisa May.
MM: Sixteen year-old Louisa is front and center from the very beginning. Since she channelled so much of herself in Jo, I took the liberty of channelling Jo into Louisa! Her father, Bronson, is infuriating and pompous. Ralph Waldo Emerson is a close friend and neighbor, as is Henry David Thoreau. There’s a mysterious lady in town with her eye on Bronson and a hidden agenda. And lets not forget Fred. Fred is a childhood friend who left for college the year before. He’s returned, handsome and grownup, and he’s got his eye on Louisa.
CxC: Do you have a favorite quote or is there a specific part in the book that you really love?
MM: I always put quotes from the author’s work at the top of each chapter. The quote relates to what happens. It’s one way I bridge the gap between Louisa the author and my character. One of my favorite quotes was ‘“I don’t think secrets agree with me. I feel rumpled up in my mind since you told me that,” said Jo rather ungratefully.
CxC: Was there a specific part in The Revelation of Louisa May that you had an especially difficult time writing? If so, why?
MM: The first scene was tricky because it’s a huge argument between Bronson and Marmee, Louisa’s mother. I wanted to have the scene unfold naturally as a fight between aggrieved spouses, but also communicate a fair amount of background. But there was no way that they would have this conversation in front of Louisa. So she was eavesdropping. And anyone will tell you – those eavesdropping scenes are tricky to write because my main character can’t see what’s happening. But Louisa, being Louisa, doesn’t like what she hears and bursts into the room. Problem solved!
CxC: What sort of projects do you have going on right now. Any new books coming out?
MM: I’m just finishing the next entry in the author mystery series. It’s about Jane Austen and will come out next year. I’m glad I didn’t start with her – reading and rereading Pride and Prejudice has been like going to a masterclass in dialogue. It’s been great fun though!
CxC: It was great having you on the blog today, Michaela! We hope you’ll decide to stop by again someday, and we wish you much success in your writing future!!
MM: Thanks so much! If your readers would like to check out the first chapter of The Revelation of Louisa May you can visit www.michaelamaccoll.com.
Michaela attended Vassar College and Yale University earning degrees in multi-disciplinary history. Unfortunately, it took her 20 years before she realized she was learning how to write historical fiction. Her favorite stories are the ones she finds about the childhood experiences of famous people. She has written about a teenaged Queen Victoria (Prisoners in the Palace, Chronicle 2010) and Beryl Markham’s childhood (Promise the Night, Chronicle 2011). She is writing a literary mystery series for teens featuring so far a young Emily Dickinson in Nobody’s Secret (2013) and the Bronte sisters in Always Emily (2014). She has recently begun a new series with Boyd’s Mill/Highlights called Hidden Histories about odd events in America’s past. The first entry in the series is Rory’s Promise and will be published in September 2014. She frequently visits high schools and has taught at the Graduate Institute in Bethel, CT. She lives in Westport CT with her husband, two teenaged daughters and three extremely large cats.
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