Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Get To Know: Laurie Alice Eakes, Writer and Historian

I am thrilled today to feature my friend and an amazing author, Laurie Alice Eakes! Friday, I'll be reviewing her newest book, Choices of the Heart, but today, Laurie stopped by our CCC blog to answer a few questions I had for her. 

Laurie, I find the basis of this series Sooooooooooo fascinating! Tell us how you became interested in the field of midwives and the history behind it?

 In the mid 90s, I was working for a chiropractor, who also rented space to a midwife. We’d chat sometimes because I have found women’s professions that go back for thousands of years, quite fascinating. Once when I had a bad cold, she brought me a bottle of herbs that cleared up my cold in record time, and I realized she was into healing, too. So I started reading about midwives.

Then I started graduate work at Virginia Tech, studying history and gender issues. When I had to write a major research paper, I chose midwives and their role in history, and was hooked. 

My paper is entitled, “Women of Power:  Midwives in Early Modern Europe and North America”. It’s not so much the study of what they did—deliver babies—but the role in society. They were respected and feared, independent and powerful. They were the only women who testified in court, for example. They were allowed to be out after curfew, and they made comfortable livings.

I’ll stop there, since I could go on for pages about their lives beyond the birthing chamber.

What type of research did you have to do to learn about it?

 A great deal of original research went into this project. I read books written by and for midwives dating back to the seventeenth century. Obituaries from period newspapers revealed a great deal of what their communities thought of them, and so did their own diaries. Midwives had a code of conduct and cleanliness that ranged far beyond that of physicians and apothecaries of the day. Fortunately, I was at a major university and had their resources at my disposal. I got books from as far away as Nottingham, England. This was, of course, before Google Books made this sort of research so much easier.

 Your books have a strong thread of romance and suspense... which portion do you enjoy writing the most, or is it equal?

 Three years ago, when I wrote the first midwife book, I’d say it was equal. Now, however, I think I enjoy the romance portion more. The suspense part is fun and also difficult. The romance part seems to flow from my fingertips.

 You also write Regency... how do you keep your historical settings and facts straight ?

 Considering most of my other books take place during the same years as the English Regency, much of the history is similar. In truth, when I wrote my books set later in the nineteenth century, it was a tremendous challenge of research, as I kept finding things I didn’t know. I also learned American history first. The interest in the Regency came later. The part difficult to keep straight is the language. By the nineteenth century, British and American speech were diverging and words used in England weren’t used over here. Between me knowing this is a problem and my fabulous editors, we manage to keep it straight.

 If you could write about any historical period, setting, circumstance, etc and not worry about publisher or reader demands,  what would it be?

 Four years ago, I would have said The Regency. It wasn’t selling in the CBA. Then my agent said, X publisher wants to see a Regency series from you, so I worked up a proposal. That publisher didn’t buy it, but another one—Baker/Revell--did three months later. Now X publisher has bought a Regency series from me--Zondervan. J

 As for other time periods, I have to say that I am blessed to want to write in the era publishers are buying, which is pretty much anything from colonial America, to. . . Well, I don’t want to write post 1900, though it is getting quite popular.

How does your faith play into your writing?

 On a professional level, I started out writing secular fiction. Then the Lord gave me a clear call to write Christian fiction. I had read very little of it, but took a leap of faith and told a couple people of my switch. God reminded me of a woman with whom I had lost contact, but whom I knew wrote Christian fiction, so I contacted her again. . . And so it went, one step of faith after another led me to where I am.

On a personal level, when I began to sell books, I sold so many so quickly, and at the same time my personal life got rather topsy-turvy with my husband graduating from law school and taking a job across country, that has ended up having us move to different towns in Texas about five times in four years, and through it all, I had deadlines and marketing and. . . Well, it’s taken a lot of faith to get through and meet my obligations to my publishers, my fans, and my family.

 Without my faith, I could not—I would not—do this. I can’t imagine trying to do this work on my own strength.

Fun question : favorite historical figure you'd like to have coffee with and why?

 At different times, I answer this question with various people. Thomas Jefferson because he was just such a fascinating person, James Madison to ask him a few things about the Constitution and what he really meant, and maybe the Bronte sisters to ask them why they loved torturing the men in their books. In truth, however, I think I’d like to sit down with an ordinary woman of each time period that interests me—Colonial, Federalist, Regency periods—and ask them about their lives. From a twenty-first century perspective, we are sure they must have been miserable. I expect many of them were, and I doubt most of them were. The times were different, attitudes were different, and the human psyche hasn’t really changed significantly. Some wouldn’t be happy if, as my mother always says, they got hanged with a new rope. Some are happy because of their circumstances. Some are happy regardless of their circumstances.

 Thanks, Laurie!! I'm sure you're interviewed all the time, so thanks for answering our custom set of questions :) 

And in case you want to go to know Laurie, here's her Bio AND a teaser for Friday's review of her latest release! 

“Eakes has a charming way of making her novels come to life without being over the top,” writes Romantic times of  bestselling, award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes. Since she lay in bed as a child telling herself stories, she has fulfilled her dream of becoming a published author with a dozen books and novellas in print and more on the way. A graduate of Asbury University with a degree in English and French, and  Seton Hill University, with a masters degree in Writing Popular Fiction, she also teaches writing and gives inspirational talks to women’s groups. She lives in Texas with her husband, dogs, and cats, where she enjoys long walks, rainy days, and knitting—rather badly.

Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LaurieAEakes

Read excerpts from her books at: http://www.lauriealiceeakes.com
She thought she had left her old life behind . . .
Esther Cherrett comes from a proud line of midwives and was trained by her mother to take over the family calling. But when a terrible scandal threatens all she holds dear, Esther flees, taking a position as a teacher in the wild western mountains of Virginia. But instead of the refuge she was seeking, Esther finds herself in the midst of a deadly family feud—and courted by two men on opposite sides of the conflict. All she wants is to run away again. 
But could it be that her past holds the key to reconciliation—and love?
In this gripping story of trust, deception, and bittersweet loss, you’ll discover the true meaning of choices of the heart.
 “The gifted Laurie Alice Eakes has done it again with a page-turner romance. The wonderful period detail sucked me into 1840s Appalachia, while the realistic characters and tender romance kept me reading late into the night.”—Linda Goodnight, Carol and Rita Award–winning author


  1. What a great interview! Thanks so much for sharing, Laurie Alice. You know the first book I read by you was Lady in the Mist, and I've been hooked ever since. Can't wait to read Choices of the Heart!

    1. you'll love every page of Choices of the HEart!

  2. Thanks, this was great. A new author to add to my list :)

  3. Thank you, Jocelyn. Lady is really special to me; it's a book I wanted to write for ten years, so was really glad I got to do it.


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