I was excited when I learned that I'd get to read and review Dawn's Early Light, Volume Three in the Free Men and Dreamers series by L.C. Lewis. I was a bit concerned about starting on volume three, but after I started reading it, I realized I was familiar with these characters. I previously read volume one Dark Sky at Dawn and loved it.
Lewis is an amazing writer! She crafts words in a way that draw you into the setting of the story. Characterization is definitely one of her strong points. The feelings of her characters are so well described that you feel as though you are there with them, watching them experience the various things that happen to them throughout the story. Dawn's Early Light, although a continuation of Lewis' previous stories, is also a stand alone novel. But I promise, once you read it, you'll want to read the others as well.
From the back cover:
In the spring of 1814, a temporary calm settles along the Patuxent. While the British Navy skulks in the Chesapeake Bay, the Willows families and their neighbors enjoy a brief season of peace.
That is until Napoleon is subdued. Britain's navy re-enters the Patuxent and now prepares to loose her triumphant European conquerors on America, even as peace negotiations commence in Belgium. But weeks of relentless British attacks along the waterfront soften the will of the American militia and citizenry, leaving the voracious British military confident that victory is within their grasp. And their primary target? Washington.
While attentions turn to the defense of the Capital, Sebastian Dupree and his band of mercenaries strike the Willows. Not everyone survives, despite former enemies becoming allies, fighting side-by-side with the Willows' freed slaves to defend their homes and families.
Mere miles away, the Capital lies in peril, its defense now resting primarily upon citizen soldiers like Jed Pearson, and a most unlikely naval force--Commodore Joshua Barney's rag-tag fleet of barges called the Chesepeak flotilla--and the courage of Markus O'Malley and the other men who built it.
But Britain's house is also divided over the war, and as the cost mounts in blood and money, rifts widen in her families and government, wearying the mind of the Earl of Whittington and threatening to destroy Arthur Ramsey.
Experience the pain and passion of five families--American, slave and British--as they endure three of the darkest days in American history--the week Washington burned.
I also got a chance to inteview Laurie. She's a delightful person and I hope you enjoy reading her responses as well. I'm also giving away a copy of Laurie's book, so leave a comment for a chance to win.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I always loved to write. My first published work was a poem titled “Time” which appeared in the local paper. But I think the moment I “felt” like a writer came during my junior year in high school when a creative writing teacher praised my work. Her interest in me was personal and caring. She actually seemed invested in me. After that I dared enter an essay contest which I won. Though I didn’t pursue a writing career at that time, I tucked those little benchmark moments away and nurtured that ambition for years.
Is your book based on a personal experience?
My first book, “Unspoken” (2004), encompassed many personal experiences and themes that are very tender to me. My current release, “Dawn’s Early Light,” is from my Free Men and Dreamers historical series set during the War of 1812. My ancestors lived in Maryland during that period. The men were in the militia and their families lived through many of the events I’m illustrating. In that way, the story is very personal to me. On a larger scale, stories of Founding Fathers and patriotism are themes that move me deeply.
How long did it take you to write the book?
It’s difficult to separate the research and writing time for one book since the research thread flows through the whole series. I began the groundwork for the project in 2003. Work specifically for “Dawn’s Early Light” began in March of 2008, and the last of the edits occurred in October of 2009, so about eighteen months. Whew! I’m glad I didn’t stop to realize that before!
What books or authors have most influenced your writing?
I love the way Nicholas Sparks can develop storylines that tug at the heart, but Jane Austin’s language style and depictions of nineteenth century morays greatly influenced my books.
What can we look for next? What current projects are you working on?
If “Dawn’s Early Light” is well-received, then book four will be titled either “The Morning Breaks” and will tell the story of the Battle of Baltimore, the real Star Spangled Banner story, and it will take us through America’s recovery and up to the First Vision.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The hardest thing for me is maintaining a balance between the history and the fiction. Some people want more of one, less of the other. It’s impossible to please everyone, but I can get completely lost while researching old obscure records and books. I have a wonderful editor who pulls me out of the dust and tells me, “No one else will care about that but you.” Most of the time, she’s right.
Do you have any advice for other authors?
I still feel too new at this to feel worthy of giving other people advice, but I try to tell budding authors just to get started and make a beginning. Load up on all the technical classes you can to hone your language and grammar skills. Read a broad variety of books so you can be exposed to many styles and lots of beautiful vocabulary. Find a skilled critique partner who will give you hard, educated feedback, and then be brave about listening to it. But mostly I’d say, go with your gut. If you love to read, then you probably know what works, so write well and critique often.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Most of my free time is invested in people. I try to have a weekly date with my mom, and I spend as much time as I can with dear friends and my sweet family. My husband travels to military bases for his work, and I enjoy going with him as much as possible so I can snoop amongst the old forts.
Any last words you want the reader to know?
These were great questions, Kimberly. Thanks! I’d just love for your readers to pick up a copy and let me know what they think. I LOVE reader feedback and I read and answer every letter and email. I good letter really helps the work move along. So thank you to everyone for allowing me to prattle on.
Where can your books be purchased?
Seagull Books, Deseret Books, and most other LDS stores have it in stock now. And it’s also available online. I won’t be holding many signings before Christmas, but personalized copies are available through bookstores near my hometown. They’ll ship them anywhere. Merry Christmas!
You can learn more about Laurie and her books at her blog and website.
Paperback: 338 pages
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (November 13, 2009)
Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
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