Author Wednesday – Elaine Cougler

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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. The Loyalist's Wife_cover_Mar18.inddHere’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.

6203edit (2)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.

Links

http://www.facebook.com/ElaineCouglerAuthor

Book Review Friday – The Luck of the Weissensteiners (Book 1 of The Three Nations Trilogy)

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I interviewed Christoph Fischer in June on Author Wednesday. Today I review his novel The Luck of the Weissensteiners.542568_135806279903679_1569303214_n

 

History of the twentieth century was one of my major areas of study in college. However, the history I studied presented an ethnocentric view of World War II. Of course, I know about Hitler’s rise to power, and the major steps he took in Europe prior to our entry into the war. I understood the political and social ramifications. I understood the uneasy alliance of Germany, Italy, and Japan. But I only knew of these histories from the perspective of the first, isolationist United States, and then, as the full-speed ahead entry into the war heroes who saved the world from the evil Axis powers.

Reading Christoph Fischer’s The Luck of the Weissensteiners presented another view of that period through the camera lens of people living in Eastern Europe. The book shows people from all the different perspectives before, during, and after the war. It’s an eye-opening read to learn that the United States wasn’t the center of this war. In the lives of these ordinary folks, the United States played an almost peripheral role.

The Luck of the Weissensteiners exposes how the Eastern Europeans reacted with a wide range of attitudes and actions as the war tore apart families and friends and allowed no trust to exist in all the varied relationships. There may have been a world war taking place on the larger stage, but for the characters in Fischer’s novel, it is a civil war being fought, and the lines are blurred and often changing, depending on who’s in charge.

Jews and Gentiles fall in love and marry, which creates a problem when Hitler’s master plan begins to take effect, even in countries where he’s not invaded. . .yet. The propaganda used to smear the very genes of Jews causes one husband to question the moral integrity of his wife. He buys the line of inherently weak genes so much he even takes their son away – a son who is Aryan in looks, leaving behind his Jewish wife and their unborn child. The atmosphere of fear changes people, oftentimes not for the better.

Through it, all one family stands strong.

This book’s retelling of the history of this period in Europe is personalized through the characters that represent a cross section of the lives impacted by the atrocities of war. Jews, Gentiles, Germans, Slovakians, lesbians, and traitors all point to one direction. War never makes much sense when the individual lives of its victims are examined. Neither side wins when people are persecuted for their religion, political beliefs, nationality, or sexual orientations.

It’s a sad commentary on the human condition when a people are forced to hide their identities behind forged passports, and then forced to throw away the forgeries to appease the winning side. When it comes down to it in the aftermath of the war and the liberation of Europe, all individuals are suspect, and mankind is taken down a notch.

Christoph Fischer has written an important book for its historical perspective. He personified the vagaries of war through the fictional characters. At times, it reads like a history book, but before it bogs down into a lesson in civics, he comes back to the individuals experiencing the actual effects of the persecution.

As always, we study and examine the past so we don’t forget it. As long as genocide exists in the world, we must do as Fischer has done in his novel – remind us, and remind us again, that our faith, our color, our language, and our life choices should matter not a wit. In the end, it’s our integrity and how we treat others that matters the most.

Thank you, Christoph, for writing this important book to remind us never to repeat the mistakes of the past.