Hi everyone. I know it is has been a while but a lot has been going on behind the scenes that I am hoping I will be able to tell you about soon. Also, I just got back from the Chanticleer Authors Conference and have lots to report on there as well.
But right now I wanted to share an interview that Biographers International, one of the organizations I belong to, did with me recently. It’s in the member-only newsletter but I figured it would be okay to share since it with me, not anyone else. And “new” is a relative term; I’ve been a member for a few years now.
|SPOTLIGHT ON NEW MEMBERS
What is your current project and at what stage is it?
My first biography, America’s Forgotten Suffragists: Virginia and Francis Minor, is currently in copy editing and will be published by Globe Pequot/Two Dot Press on March 1, 2023. Virginia was very important in the suffrage movement in St. Louis from the 1860s until her death in the 1890s. Her husband, Francis, was a strong male ally and used his position as a lawyer to help Virginia take the issue of women’s suffrage to the Supreme Court in 1875—the only time that ever happened. Both Minors were close friends with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and gained a fair amount of notoriety in their time, but have since been forgotten. This is the first biography ever written about them.
What person would you most like to write about?
I have several subjects in mind, but one I’m willing to talk about is Marie Rose Ferron, a Catholic mystic and the first stigmatist in the United States. (For non-Catholics, stigmata is when someone mystically receives the wounds of Christ in their body and suffers the crucifixion in union with Jesus.) Supernatural phenomenon like this is very controversial, but I feel like she should be declared a saint. Even if you take the stigmata and visions away, she was a woman of great virtue.
What have been your most satisfying moments as a biographer?
The moment I finally tracked down exactly where in St. Louis the Minors’ estate, Minoria, was located. It no longer exists, but using deeds, surveyor’s reports, and old maps, I was able to find the exact lot number and location and translate that to a modern address. There previously had been speculation about where it was located, but no one else had definitively identified it. While that is a small thing, it was very important in understanding their lives during the time they lived there. Unfortunately, today, that address is in a very bad neighborhood, so it isn’t safe to do more than drive by the empty lot.
What have been your most frustrating moments?
The Minors left precious few personal letters and no journals or other personal writings. We do have some public speeches, but those don’t give the insight that more intimate correspondence would have. It was very frustrating to not have these types of sources when I was trying to reconstruct their personalities and relationships.
If you weren’t a biographer, what dream profession would you be in, and why?
Well, I write historical fiction and history as well, and my day job is in marketing. If I could have another job, it would be as an historian who researches and publishes rather than teaches. But if you want something totally unrelated, I’d love to be a makeup artist. Makeup is a hobby for me (I seriously have more than 40 shades of eyeshadow), and I find it a great creative outlet. I’m not nearly as good as people you see on shows like Glow Up, but it is so much fun to play with.
What genre, besides biography, do you read for pleasure and who are some of your favorite writers?
Historical fiction and fantasy are my two favorites, but I also like gothic [fiction] and a good domestic suspense. Favorite historical fiction writers include Kate Quinn, M. J. Rose, and Susanna Kearsley. Favorite fantasy authors are Kim Harrison, Erin Morgenstern, and Seanan McGuire. Gothic: Ruth Ware, Diane Setterfield, and Carol Goodman. Domestic suspense: Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (they are co-authors), Liane Moriarty, and Kerry Lonsdale.