Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today, I welcome Elaine Cougler the author of The Loyalist’s Wife, an historical novel set during the Revolutionary War years. Here’s a blurb about the book taken from the back cover: “With vivid scenes of desperation, heroism, and personal angst, Elaine Cougler takes us back to the beginnings of one great country and the planting of Loyalist seeds for another. The Loyalist’s Wife transcends the fighting between nations to show us the individual cost of such battles.”
Welcome to Author Wednesday, Elaine. I’m intrigued with your book already. Before we delve into the specifics about The Loyalist’s Wife, I’d like to know more about you as a writer. When were you first able to call yourself a “writer” or “author?”
The term writer was easy to use as soon as I started writing for real. That means as soon as I set myself the goal to write a novel. Of course, my whole life I’ve been writing, but I was a student, a teacher, a mother, a singer, a friend, a wife, a lot of things that I easily called myself while never thinking of myself as a writer. The term author, however, was a harder label to give myself. In the spirit of fake it till you make it, I set up a Facebook Author page labeled ElaineCouglerAuthor a couple of years before publishing my first novel. Now author slips out really easily as in my own mind I’ve earned that label.
I am a firm believer in faking it until you make it. Good way to start visualizing your path. What’s going on with your current projects?
The Loyalist’s Wife was released in June; The Loyalist’s Luck is slated for next June (2014), and The Loyalist’s Legacy for the year following. Along with my research for my novels, I am creating a book of my own family’s history to leave for my grandchildren. This will be a photo book with pictures of tombstones and my ancestors themselves, where I have them, as well as anecdotal comments and explanations. This is taking way more time than I thought, but it is exciting as the research meshes very well with the research for my Loyalist series.
It’s so important to leave a record. Right now I’m in the process of formatting my great grandfather’s Civil War journal. It’s the only record I have of his life, and I’m very grateful to have it. You’ll have three historical novels when you’re finished. Why have you chosen to write about the beginnings of the United States and Canada?
I love reading historical fiction and have known of my own Loyalist background all my life so that writing a book about that just seemed natural. It has been a surprising journey of learning about the times of the American Revolution in general and then more specifically of my own family’s background in Canada.
That is very exciting and gives you even more motivation to share your family’s history with your grandchildren. Are you planning to continue writing in the same genre for your fiction?
Another book that is running around in my head is a memoir. This will be the story of a young girl growing up in a large family made up of way more boys than girls in rural Ontario with exceptional people for parents in a time of great growth and change in our world. And beyond that, I cannot think. Someday I may retire, I suppose. 🙂
We have a lot in common, except I grew up in Michigan. I’m curious about how you chose the title for the first book in the series. Has it been the title from the very beginning?
My working title, which I took to a writing conference, was Loyal to the Crown. I was dissatisfied with it, and my group of about twenty came up with another title, which just jumped out at me. The Loyalist’s Wife encompasses the Loyalist idea, the fact that there is a wife, and she’s pretty important, and the fact that there is a husband who is a Loyalist.
I like the current title. I also like that you asked for help in giving your “baby” its name. I’m sure you had to research quite a bit for The Loyalist’s Wife since it’s a historical novel. What type of research did you do?
My computer was a useful and convenient place to start researching with the library a close second. Then I visited local museums and bought books of the period. The best research, however, has been in visiting the actual places where many of the scenes in my novel take place. With my husband, I have taken day or two-three day trips to many forts in New York and the Niagara area, both on the American and the Canadian side of the border.
That makes the research much more interesting I’m sure. I did something similar this summer when we drove through many of the battle areas from my great grandfather’s journal. It made it all seem so much more real. You mention you took the trips with your husband. How does your immediate family feel about your writing life?
Support is what a writer needs, and that is what I get. My wonderful husband has been with me through all the ups and downs. My two adult children are clever and intuitive people to access when I want to ruminate about details or plot or history as they are both avid readers. The short answer is that they are appreciative and supportive, a pretty wonderful combination.
I agree. My grown daughter is one of my beta readers. I trust her because we read many of the same books and since she was very young we’ve discussed and shared our books with one another. My scientist husband thinks I’m the best writer he’s ever read. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t read novels very much – it’s the support that counts. You are a very fortunate woman indeed. I’m very pleased you stopped by for a visit today, and I wish you the best in your endeavors. I hope you’ll come back when the next Loyalist book is published.
About Elaine Cougler: A native of Southern Ontario, Elaine taught high school and with her husband raised two children until she finally had time to pursue her writing career. She loves to research both family history and history in general for the stories of real people that emanate from the dusty pages. These days writing is Elaine’s pleasure and her obsession. Telling the stories of Loyalists caught in the American Revolutionary War is very natural as her personal roots are thoroughly enmeshed in that struggle, out of which arose both Canada and the United States.