Hello and welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome back Elaine Cougler for an interview about her latest historical novel, The Loyalist’s Luck, Book 2 in her Loyalist Trilogy. She visited one year ago to talk about her first novel The Loyalist’s Wife.
Welcome Elaine. It’s been one year since you visited me to talk about writing. So let’s start with you as the writer. When were you first able to call yourself a “writer” or “author”?
What a great question! It’s one everyone seems to face and I am no exception. When I first started working on The Loyalist’s Wife, my first historical novel, I didn’t call myself anything. I didn’t even tell anyone what I was working on. Only my husband knew. The more I researched and wrote and got involved online, the more I realized that in some way I had to meet my writer self head-on and talk about what I was doing. Then the question for me was just what you’ve asked, P.C. I had in my mind that an author was a writer who had climbed the steep slope to publication. If I wasn’t published I was a writer, not an author. Funny thing is, though, once I was published, this question which had consumed so much of my time on my six-year journey to publication just went away. Now I call myself either writer or author. I guess the proof is in the doing and not the naming.
So true. I called myself a writer first thinking “author” sounded too presumptuous of me. Now I don’t hesitate to call myself either. In your two novels, which are a part of a series, have you tried to convey a common message?
The things that intrigue me about the Loyalists and others who find themselves trapped by circumstances over which they have no control are varied. Kings and presidents make decisions and we, the little people, have to find ways to survive because of those decisions. John and Lucy are on the side of the British in both the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. All they and their children want is to build their lives in safety on their property. This is impossible not once but many times over. The theme that is most interesting to me, then, is how ordinary people rise up against extraordinary circumstances and survive.
Why did you choose to write about the Loyalists?
I guess I have a great respect for the abilities of people once they decide to conquer their problems and just try. Here in Ontario, many of us are descended from Loyalists who wanted to stick with the King and fought to do just that. When their lands were confiscated with no recompense, they started again in different parts of Canada. I’ve focused on the Niagara Peninsula where my own people started out. The links between my own background and the fictional story of the Garner family in The Loyalist Trilogy have made this an eye-opening and delightful journey for me. I got so intrigued, I even did a photo book for my wee grandchildren showing them ten generations back. So, in a sense, writing about John and Lucy was writing about me and my family. Don’t get me wrong–these people are fictional. But what happens to them could have happened to my ancestors.
That is so interesting, and I love how you’re now providing something for the younger generation. Fiction is a wonderful way to educate while still entertaining, and you’ve managed to do that very well by bringing history alive. Talk about setting in your novels. It must play an extremely large role.
In historicals, setting is extremely important as wars can figure prominently, and they are most often about land. The first book in the trilogy sees John join Butler’s Rangers to fight for the British and leave Lucy behind on their farm in the wilds of New York State. Her job is to hold onto the land. His is to try to help the British keep their foothold in the thirteen colonies. Again, in the second book, land figures in the settling of the Niagara Peninsula and in the War of 1812. In many ways there would be no story in either book if not for the time period, the place and, indeed, the warring atmosphere.
What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?
I’m not sure this is the best thing, but it’s one of the things for which I’m most grateful. I had occasion to meet Terry Fallis (www.terryfallis.com) several times through my writing journey, and he kindly agreed to read my manuscript and write a back cover comment for me. (Terry is the winner of the prestigious Stephen Leacock medal here in Canada.) Here is what he said about the first book in the trilogy: “Elaine Cougler has written a page-turning novel of the American Revolution through the eyes of a conflicted loyalist soldier and his indomitable wife. You’ll feel the hardship of homesteading, the fear of the enemy, the blows of battle, and the pain of separation. You’ll be transported through history. This is not just a novel written about another time, it seems written in another time.”
That is a wonderful comment, Elaine. I thank you for stopping by today and sharing a bit of your writing life with us. I hope you’ll come back when the third 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. A prize-winning author, she loves to research both family history and history in general for the tales of real people that emanate from the dusty pages. Telling the ongoing stories of Loyalists from the American Revolution and the War of 1812 is very natural as her personal roots are thoroughly enmeshed in those early struggles out of which arose both Canada and United States.
Links – Click below
The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon http://amzn.to/1wNWN94
The Loyalist’s Luck on Amazon http://amzn.to/1tm6x6D