I have conducted an interview with Elaine Cougler, author of The Loyalist’s Wife, which I reviewed recently.
1- Your author bio on the back of your book tells readers that you have family roots connected to the Loyalists. Has family history always fascinated you?
I’d have to say no, Nassem. While my family has always been paramount, the history part of it didn’t really interest me unless one of my great aunts was telling a story. Then I was mesmerized imagining the story in my mind as they told it. My interest in family history has grown as I’ve had more time to give to it now that I’ve retired from teaching.
2- Where did writing this book give you a chance to travel to?
What a good question! The Loyalist’s Wife talks about places in New York State not that far from where I live in southern Ontario. We traveled to Fort Niagara on several occasions, and east along Lake Ontario’s southern shore. Fort Saratoga is magnificent for showing a living history and the French Castle at Fort Niagara is absolutely stunning. It was built by the French long before the Revolutionary War. Since The Loyalist’s Wife has scenes in the French Castle I was enchanted that I was walking where my characters might have walked. And, of course, Ontario’s Niagara-on-the-Lake is home to two forts, Butler’s Barracks, and a host of other historical sites all of which we visited quite often.
3- Your book exposes that both sides of the Revolutionary War committed horrid acts. Do you wish people would write more about the hypocrisy found in the patriots rather than only the King’s men?
Another great question! I wanted to show an evenly balanced look at the American Revolutionary War without the selective reporting that histories written at the behest of countries often have. There was and is good and bad in all of the factions: Loyalists, Patriots, and Natives or as we now call them in Canada, First Nations people. I particularly wanted to show that we little people are powerless against the might of countries; John and Lucy are driven by circumstances way beyond their control.
4- In The Loyalist’s Wife, you have a strong female protagonist. Why do the women left to take charge of the hard work of the homesteads during the War not get the credit they deserve?
Again this goes back to those writing the history, doesn’t it? There are stories of heroic women in history but they are few and far between. This could be for two reasons: their roles were not in the forefront usually and most often men are writing the histories. We tend to write about what we know. I think in many ways being left behind is every bit as dangerous and terrifying as going off to war. Lucy’s situation certainly shows that.
5- Will you spill any details about the second book in The Loyalist’s Trilogy, The Loyalist’s Luck?
I am having such a good time writing the second book because John and Lucy’s story is far from over at the end of The Loyalist’s Wife. SPOILER ALERT! Here is the teaser I added on the very last page of the first book, although I must warn those who haven’t read the first that this is a bit of a spoiler so you might want to skip this just now:
John and Lucy escape the Revolutionary War to the unsettled British territory across the Niagara River with almost nothing. In the untamed wilderness they must fight to survive, he, off on a secret mission for Colonel Butler and she, left behind with her young son and pregnant once again. In the camp full of distrust, hunger, and poverty, word has seeped out that John has gone over to the American side and only two people will associate with Lucy–her friend, Nellie, who delights in telling her all the current gossip , and Sergeant Crawford, who refuses to set the record straight and clear John’s name. To make matters worse, the sergeant has made improper advances toward Lucy. With John’s reputation besmirched, she must walk a thin line depending as she does on the British army, and Sergeant Crawford, for her family’s very survival.
Nassem, I am so thrilled to have been asked to do this interview with you about my writing. Thank you very much. Your enthusiasm for your work and your intriguing questions have made this a joy for me. I look forward to seeing what else you put on your blog.
A native of Southern Ontario, Elaine taught high school and with her husband raised 2 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.
(Credit To The Author For All Photos Here)