I am on cloud 9 today! I have been looking forward to our visit with Lori Benton for weeks! I am totally over here fangirling right now! I’ve been a huge fan of Lori’s since her first book “Burning Sky” was released in 2013.
Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of Burning Sky, recipient of three Christy Awards, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, and The Wood’s Edge.
Today Lori has joined us to talk about her latest book release Many Sparrows. I had the honor to receive an ARC of this captivating story (you can read my full review here). Trust me when I say that you will not want to miss this story!
Either she and her children would emerge from that wilderness together, or none of them would…In 1774, the Ohio-Kentucky frontier pulses with rising tension and brutal conflicts as Colonists push westward and encroach upon Native American territories. The young Inglesby family is making the perilous journey west when an accident sends Philip back to Redstone Fort for help, forcing him to leave his pregnant wife Clare and their four-year old son Jacob on a remote mountain trail.
When Philip does not return and Jacob disappears from the wagon under the cover of darkness, Clare awakens the next morning to find herself utterly alone, in labor and wondering how she can recover her son…especially when her second child is moments away from being born.
Clare will face the greatest fight of her life, as she struggles to reclaim her son from the Shawnee Indians now holding him captive. But with the battle lines sharply drawn, Jacob’s life might not be the only one at stake. When frontiersman Jeremiah Ring comes to her aid, can the stranger convince Clare that recovering her son will require the very thing her anguished heart is unwilling to do—be still, wait and let God fight this battle for them?
Q: What is your favorite season, and why?
Lori: Oh, hands down, it’s autumn. I love the woodland colors (brown is my favorite color), though of course, they aren’t as spectacular where I live, in Oregon, as they are in the eastern states. I love the invigoration of cooler air after our long hot summer. I love the fog! It never depresses me. I find it cozy and good writing weather. I also love the mood it gives my landscape photos. I love fall clothes, chunky sweaters and hooded jackets and boots and flannel. I love the smell of wood fires on the air. Oh my, is it fall yet?
Trisha: Fall is a beautiful time of year and such a welcome after a hot summer.
Q: What is the best part of your day?
Lori: I like the morning—early, mid, late, all of it. It’s my quiet time, then my writing time. My best “brain” hours are morning hours.
Trisha: I love watching the sun come up, every day it’s different. No two are alike.
Q: What are some of your favorite CF reads from 10 years ago, or further?
Lori: Looking back I’d say Francine Rivers’ early works, especially The Mark of the Lion—they had a huge influence on me when I began writing CF, they broadened the scope. And of course Christy by Catherine Marshall, and Julie, which never seems to get as much attention but which I enjoyed nearly as much. Liz Curtis Higgs’ Scottish series which starts with A Thorn in My Heart were favorites. The early fantasy works of Stephen Lawhead, his Pendragon Cycle, awakened my love of all things Celtic and my interest in Welsh history. The first novel I wrote, back in my early twenties, was in that genre.
Trisha: Those are some fantastic books. I’m a huge fan of Liz Curtis Higgs also!
Q: If we took a peek at your “recently played” music, who would we find?
Lori: You’d find a fairly eclectic mix of traditional Celtic (Scottish mostly) music including songs in Gaelic, to songs by Apologetix (a Christian parody band) to Mark Knopfler (formerly of Dire Straits) to bands like Of Monsters and Men, Lumineers, Lord Huron, The Frozen Ocean, Oh Hellos, Wailing Jennys, and some worship music. There’d be some Josh Groban and Mary Fahl and Peter Hollens in there too. And sound tracks to movies like Last of the Mohicans.
Trisha: I enjoy listening to Celtic music also, and love Last of the Mohicans!
Q: Did the plotline or the characters come first?
Lori: Neither. Both. It’s an organic process and a little different with each book. For Many Sparrows, I’m pretty sure it was the historical backdrop, Dunmore’s War, that started it all. Then came characters, Jeremiah Ring first. My earliest working title for this book was The Frontiersman since I had to call the file something! But story development is a long process (years sometimes) with plenty of time for plot ideas to start slipping in while I’m daydreaming character. And vice versa.
Q: Which character took you by surprise?
Lori: A secondary character, Rain Crow. For the longest time, I didn’t see her as a real person, I will confess. She was my villain. My bad guy. But at some point, I realized that wasn’t fair—to her or to the story. So I took some time to really delve into her past, her heart—why it was so important for her to hold onto Clare’s son—and came out the other side absolutely in sympathy with her, even though her heart’s desire stands in opposition to my main character, Clare’s. Which made it tougher for me as a writer to resolve their issues satisfactorily. I got stretched and readers got a far more compelling story than if I’d taken the easy way.
Trisha: I really liked the direction you took with Rain Crow. I admit, I didn’t like her at first, but then I began to see that she carried a history of deep hurt. Seeing Clare with Rain Crow made me appreciate the strength of Clare’s character even more.
Q: What was the latest you stayed up working on this story?
Lori: I don’t work at night (my writing brain is pretty much fried by 3 pm), so I’ve never stayed up late. I’m an early riser, so by 8 pm most nights I’m starting to think about sleep. Better to ask what’s the earliest I ever got up to work on this story? That answer would be 3-4am.
Trisha: I don’t believe that I’ve ever willingly gotten up that early. I’m impressed!
Q: What is something that didn’t make it into the final copy?
Lori: Nearly 40,000 words all told! While most of that was trimmed in bits and pieces from all over the place, there was one large chunk that hit the cutting room floor, a much longer version of Clare and Jeremiah’s stay in Wheeling Settlement, in which I introduced a group of female settlers that Clare falls in with during her attempt to locate Jacob, and an older woman who offered her counsel. But since we never saw these characters again after Clare leaves Wheeling, it was decided they slowed the story down at that point so they remain nameless women doing their washing at the creek.
Thank you Lori for visiting with us today, it was a pleasure to get to know you better and to chat about ‘Many Sparrows’. Please feel free to come back any time and visit with us again!
Friends, Lori is giving away 1 autographed, printed copy of her latest book ‘Many Sparrows’. The giveaway is only open to those in the continental USA. Please review the policies here. The giveaway will be open for one week. At the close of the giveaway period the winner will be contacted via email and announced on this page.
To Enter the Giveaway:
1.) Leave a blog post comment answering the following question:
“What is the best part of your day?”
2.) CLICK HERE to enter the Rafflecopter entry form.
Winner is: Trixi