As a book bloggin’ and book luvin’ Princess, I’m always curious to find out how authors got the ideas for their books. Can you tell us how you got the idea to write your book?
The seed for UNDER A FULL MOON The Last Lynching in Kansas was planted by my grandmother as she warned me about ‘bad men’ when I was a child. Her story of a local kidnapping and murder of an eight-year-old girl from a nearby farming town and the subsequent hanging of the man on property owned by our relative stayed with me as I grew into adulthood. While doing research for the 1907 Shirley Opera House’s application to the Kansas Historical Society for placement on the register of historic places, which our family had purchased and was restoring, I found that this same man and the little girl were seen by the public in the Owl Café, a business in the Opera House in 1932, just before her brutal rape and death. The seed my grandmother had planted long ago sprouted into the idea of ‘unraveling the why’ behind the story.
Can you give us an excerpt?
CHAPTER 6: RICHARD READ - 1881 Prairie Dog Creek “One afternoon Mother is standing over the washing kettle, stirring our clothes with a heavy wooden paddle as the water steams above the fire. I can see she is busy and tired. Her hard belly juts out before her like a heavy stone. Sarah is crying hard, so I take her inside and lay her on the floor to clean her.
Father comes through the door just as I am lifting Sarah Lou’s warm, pale bottom with my hand to look at the places she and I are different. My finger had poked a little at her. His backhanded blow throws me into Mother’s square trunk and I feel something pop above my eye. Blood flies in an arc. I see red drops dot the bed quilt. Wet runs down my face; tears and blood and snot. My ears whistle and little sparks dance in the air. Father’s roar brings Mother running, one hand holding her skirts, one hand under her belly.
“You dirty little monster! You filthy little monster!” He rises as tall and hot as a wildfire over me. “If I ever see you touch your sister again, I’ll beat you senseless! God in Heaven, you’re already senseless! What kind of son do I have?!”
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would that be?
This book took nearly sixteen years to complete as I fit the research and writing into our busy lives. Even though I used a filing system I wish I had told myself to keep better records of my references to minimize duplication of effort.
What would you say is one of your interesting writing quirks?
The ‘story room’ in my brain has its door always open. I store snippets of thought, moments of observation, and sensations of life in that room, ready to be retrieved when needed.
Do you hear from your readers? What do they say?
I was concerned that readers who live in the area written about and who know the story of the Richard Read lynching would be critical of UNDER A FULL MOON. I was concerned that my interpretation of the story would offend some. I am pleased to say that there have only been positive responses at this time. Others, who are not from the area, appreciate learning about this time of history and the difficulties pioneer families faced. My greatest hope is that readers will view their world with a more sensitive eye and be ready to act if they see a child in danger or a person being ostracized.
What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
What has been your best accomplishment?
The restoration of the 1907 Shirley Opera House, Atwood, KS with its placement on the Kansas and National Registers of Historic Places. This is a lasting accomplishment that I am honored to have experienced.
Do you Google yourself?
I check for new reviews of my two published books periodically. My other book is called GROW TOPLESS A Modified High Tunnel Design for Headache Free Extended-Season Gardening.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Nothing at present, but I do have some ideas simmering in my ‘story room’.
Fun question – if you were princess or prince, what’s one thing you would do to make your kingdom a better place?
I would restore the small towns (1000 people or less) to be self-sustaining through a foundation of responsibly grown and processed local foods to eliminate the reliance on corporate ag and to stop the hemorrhage of money from the heartland of America.
Do you have anything specific that you would like to say to your readers?
I felt compelled to tell Pleasant Richardson Read’s story, a story of abuse and ostracism. I hope that after reading this book readers will act to protect and never intentionally do harm.
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Amazon → https://amzn.to/3kI18XG
WildBlue Press → https://wildbluepress.com/under-a-full-moon-alice-k-hill-true-crime/