Friday, February 20, 2015

Sharing the Impetus to Write Ellie's Legacy by Ginger Simpson

The Courthouse
I lived in Sparta, TN when I first moved to the state.  I was so inspired by the old architecture and history that surrounded me, I was inspired to write Sparta Rose...which has  been renamed and re-released by Books We Love as Ellie's Legacy.

 It appears more and more authors are writing about the historical west,  because readers want more about
Cowboys and Indians...and even romance. There are some who consider TN to be on the wrong side of the Mississippi to be western, but the lifestyle was one and the same. To me...it's definitely a western historical romance, and a key factor in writing historical novels is to pepper enough history throughout  to help the reader learn something aside from your fictional story.

In Ellie's Legacy, my heroine, Ellie Fountain, lives in Sparta TN...actually an unincorporated area above called Bon Air, but Sparta was where the stores, churches, and civilization existed..  I've tried adding facts throughout the story to help describe the period.  Today, I'm adding some more that people from TN might not know.

Sparta became the county seat in 1809, and was the first capitol of Tennessee.  When state legislators decided to change the location, Sparta lost to Nashville by one point.

I loved living in Sparta.  It's a small community that really gave credence to "Southern Hospitality."  I think forming friendships is a main benefit of living in a place where the population isn't inflated.  Unfortunately, we were forced to move because the median wage there is just above poverty, and employment benefits died when most of the businesses went to Mexico.  Those who remain are employed by the retail stores and few business that stayed or residents farm the land.  I can't believe I made a whopping $7.55 per hour to be correction's officer at the local jail...but that conjures up a whole different story...one I wrote in another genre...and I'll blog about that another day.

The Rock House
Situated between, Knoxville and Nashville, Sparta was a hub for travelers. The historic Rock House, nestled in the incline to Bon Air,  was built as a stage stop to allow passengers a rest during a long  ride and still stands today as a monument and testament to the times.

Beautiful Fall in an Orchard in Sparta
The Calfkiller River was also something I mentioned in the book as it winds through Sparta and joins with the Caney Fork River.  The White Mountains provide a beautiful display of red, oranges, yellow, and green during the fall, when the trees display nature's pallet, and even more beautiful, nearby you can travel to a place called Fall Creek Falls..even camp is you wish.

Sometimes authors have an uncontrollable urge to respond to those less than favorable reviews left on Amazon.  I had one that questioned the accuracy of mining in Sparta...claimed she knew better.  To her, here...I offer this proof:

White County was the site of a very large saltpeter mining operation during the Civil War. The Cave Hill Saltpeter Pits (No. 1 and No. 2), located on Cave Hill near the mouth of England Cove, were intensively mined and still contain numerous relics from that operation. Saltpeter is the main ingredient of gunpowder and was obtained by leaching the earth from these caves.   Note: I used creative license to make the deserted caves old coal mines, instead of explaining saltpeter.  I should have stayed true to history and made sure readers understood what was mined and what it was used for.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_County,_Tennessee

Back to Sparta:  For those of you who are a fan of old country music, one of the first things you'll see when you enter the city, is a memorial to Lester Flatt of Flatt and Scruggs fame.

Anyhow, I'm doing an interview here...so let's get on with it.  But you can bet, I offer up historical tidbits throughout my novel...and doing accurate research to assure your facts are correct is essential...I made one faux pas as I mentioned.

INT – So, Ellie, tell the readers a little about Ginger's story.

 RF – *Smiles and smooths her hands down her pant leg.* Well, I can’t give away too much. Ginger would skin me alive, but I’m sure she won’t mind me tellin' you the story's got a little romance, a lot of western, and even more feistiness than her last historical romance. My problems begin when Pa hires Tyler Bishop as the ranch foreman. I kinda figured Pa always wanted a son, and Ty proves me right. Their relationship gets me pretty riled up. I have a bad temper at times… I think it comes from this red hair. *pulls a strand forward and grins*.

INT – So, besides your jealousy of Ty, is there any adventure involved.

 RF – Oh, you bet. *Squares herself in her chair*. The polecats livin' on the neighborin' ranch are aiming to get Fountainhead away from Pa. Dude Bryant and his twin boys are meaner than snakes… well at least Dude and Jeb are. Joshua comes across as quiet and a follower. But, *balls hands into fists* I’ll be danged if they’re gonna get my legacy. I actually bought a gun and taught myself to shoot.

 INT – A gun?  What for?

RF – Protect Fountainhead of course. I’m aim to show Pa he don’t need Tyler Bishop around when he has me. I just wish Ty wasn’t so dang good lookin’.

 INT – I haven’t heard you mention your mother. How does she feel about you owning a gun?

RF - *Lowers her eyes*. My ma died when I was very young. I suppose that’s why I took up with the ranch hands and spend so much time workin’ outdoors... and dress like this. *Raises a steely gaze*. But, now that Ty’s in the picture, Pa wants me to spend more time in the house doing womanly things and actually wear a bunch of petticoats under an ol' stiff, uncomfortable gingham.

 INT – Would that be such a bad thing?

 RF – Of course it would. I don’t much care for makin' vittles and cleanin’. We have Cook for that. I’d much rather brand a cow as fry one.  And wearin' dresses? *gives a dismissing wave*  Pshaw...that's for goin' to church and such.

 INT – So what about the romance part of the story?

 RF – *Chews her bottom lip for a moment* Well, I accompany Ty to a dance in Sparta, and as usual, he gets my dander up there, too. I never should have gone, but those eyes of his make my knees weak. My better judgment flew right out the window. *Takes a deep breath* What happens from then on, you’ll have to find out for yourself. I may look and act young and na├»ve, but I’m sure not silly enough to give away the whole story. Miz Ginger is countin' on sales to help pay for some sort of operation to make her look younger  *cocks head and wrinkles forehead*  Can they do that?

 INT – I don't know anything about that, so let's get back to story. I've read the book and know the dance holds a key to the suspenseful part of the story, but I certainly wouldn’t want you give away too much. You’ve already given us enough of a teaser to stir some interest. Hopefully we’ll see you on a best seller’s list somewhere.

 RF – That would be right nice. It just may happen cause remember, I have a gun. *Slaps hip and fakes a draw*.

 INT - Well, here’s hoping you don’t have to use it. *laughs*. Thank you so much, Ellie for being with us today. And good luck in the future.

 RF – Oh, yeah. I almost forgot to tell you that Ellie's Legacy is on something called the “Innernet” at, *reaches in pocket and pulls out a slip of paper; reads it* http://www.bookswelove.com/gingersimpson.php *looks up*.  Boy, ain't that a mouthful. *looks back a paper*.  Oh...and her publisher is called Books We Love *stuffs paper back into her pocket*.  Boy, I don't understand all this http stuff, but I'm hopin' everyone else does.

 INT – I've sure they do, Ellie. Thanks again for being here and sharing information about Sparta and your legacy.
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