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Talking Books with Historical Fiction Author Dot Ryan

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Dot Ryan, author of the historical novel, Corrigans’ Pool, lives in Corpus Christi, Texas with her husband, Sam, and in close vicinity to their sons and daughters and grandchildren. She is busy writing her second, third, and fourth works of historical fiction, one of which is the upcoming sequel to Corrigans’ Pool. To learn more about Dot and where to buy Corrigans’ Pool, and also to read Part One of the upcoming sequel, please visit her website at http://www.dotryanbooks.com.


Q. Thank you for this interview, Dot. Can we begin by having you tell us why you chose historical fiction?
A: I learned at a very early age that my Irish paternal great-great grandparents came to Texas from Pennsylvania in 1819 and to America long before that. Some years later, my maternal German grandfather was born in New York harbor. Stories passed down from generation to generation about the hazards they and others faced piqued my interest in history even before I was old enough to read and write. In time, my interests gravitated to novels, books with strong characters struggling to survive, in one way or another, through an era of American’s diverse history. I grew up knowing that someday I would write such a novel. Corrigans’ Pool’s characters popped into my head years before I actually wrote the book.


Q. Did you outline before you wrote your book or did you just go with the flow?
A: Early on, I did not outline. Then, as the book grew, I did a bit of rough planning for future chapters. More often than not, my characters balked at this and insisted on telling the story their way!

Q: Who was your favorite character in Corrigans’ Pool and why?
A: That is a hard question to answer! Besides the central character Ella Corrigan and her younger sister, Honor … I liked their domineering grandmother, Beatrice Corrigan. She is a contradiction of her time, extremely old fashioned in many of her beliefs but scandalously modern in her views of divorce. A sample of this is when she said to Ella, “There is a part of me that says scandal is to be avoided no matter what—the part of me that taught you all those unbendable rules that apply only to females.” She grasped Ella’s chin and studied her face. “And there is a better part of me that argues a woman should not have to hinge her well-being, her happiness, her value, on the decree of a callous husband or a pitiless society.” I don’t think Beatrice would have burned her bra in the ‘60s but she would have marched alongside the dissenters even as she tried to cover their bosoms with her shawl. Another favorite character was Timon Pledger, a guilt-ridden young preacher—a character that readers have told me they found fascinating. He fascinated me, too, as I wrote about him. I also liked the twin slave girls, Moonbeam and Sunbeam, along with Ella’s protector, Meshach. I’ll stop here before I tell you that I love all my characters.


Q. Who was your least favorite character?
A: An easy question! My least favorite was the cruel Victor Faircloth. My dislike intensified each time I had to put his unspeakable acts on paper.


Q. Can you tell us about the setting and why you chose it?
A: The setting is in and around Savannah, Georgia. As to why I chose that setting for Corrigans’ Pool … have you ever been thumbing absently through a picture book and came upon a page that brought your page-flipping to a standstill? Well, year ago, I was in a library thumbing through a book about historical Southern towns—I don’t recall the name of the book—but I was struck with by the beauty of Savannah and its handsome town squares. I began to read about the history of that fair city and knew right away that Corrigans’ Pool’s characters, already prowling around in my head at that time, would take up residence there. On page 83 in Corrigans’ Pool, I wrote the following line about nineteenth century Savannah: Compared with other Georgia cities, Savannah was the uppity rich relative—elegantly attired, richly endowed, and keenly aware of her unrivaled excellence.


Q. What was the hardest part to write?
A: The most difficult parts to write were the abuse scenes, and there are several in the book, either perpetrated by the vicious Victor Faircloth or his small gang of white-trash of regulators. My emotions often got the best of me when doing these scenes and, a time or two, I had to get up from my computer and walk away for a while.


Q. What was the inspiration behind the story?
A: I suppose my love of American history inspired the story. Early on, novels by Michener and other historical novelists inspired me. I had not yet reached my teens when I read Gone With The Wind: Recently a book reviewer complimented me by writing: “Corrigans’ Pool was a real treat for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the story. In the style of Gone With The Wind, Corrigans’ Pool gives us a glimpse into the tempestuous Civil War years of Savannah, Georgia and one of its wealthy families, the Corrigans.

To be mentioned in the same league with GWTW is the height of flattery! But for this highly regarded reviewer to consider that my much shorter 404 page novel is written in the same style that made GWTW’s outstanding story so appealing to the world is even more gratifying!


Q. Do you plan on writing more historical fiction?
A: Yes, I certainly do. It took me a while to get started writing but once I did, I can’t seem to stop! I am now working on the sequel to Corrigans’ Pool, which takes place in Texas immediately after the Civil War and during that state’s dangerous Reconstruction era. Many readers of Corrigans’ Pool have told me which characters they definitely want to see in the sequel, and I am paying close attention to everything my valued readers say. I have posted Part One of the sequel, which I have tentatively named Leaving Corrigans’ Pool, on my website. I hope to publish the actual book before the end of 2010.


I am also working on three additional novels, two of which take place in World War II America, in the South. The ideas keep rolling in; it seems that when I reached a certain age of maturity someone popped the cork on my creative urges! I have a lot to do, but writing is a joy that keeps me young at heart and mind—now if I could just get my body to follow suit …


Q. Thank you for the interview, Dot. Can you tell us where we can find out more about you and your wonderful new book?
A: Thank you for having me! I enjoyed answering your questions. If anyone would like to find out more about me and Corrigans’ Pool, please visit my website at http://www.dotryanbooks.com.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the readers of Corrigans’ Pool and invite them to contact me with any and all comments and questions.
 

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