Thursday, May 2, 2024

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back Denise Weimer!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, Denise Weimer!

What was your inspiration for the story?

Reeling from the loss of over 600,000 men in the Civil War and the assassination of President Lincoln just the week prior, the nation hardly noticed when a steamer carrying a couple thousand U.S. prisoners of war exploded in the Mississippi River on April 27, 1865. Over eleven hundred perished in the icy waters that swelled several miles past the normal embankments at flood stage, making the sinking of the Sultana the most crippling maritime disaster in the nation’s history.

The former POWs on their way to muster out at Camp Chase, Ohio, were already emaciated and ill from imprisonment at infamous Andersonville and Cahaba prison camps. A number were badly burned when the boilers exploded, and many did not know how to swim. You can imagine the scene that ensued. While the steamboats docked at Memphis—which had been under Union occupation since the summer of 1862—got up steam, local citizens hurried to help, even those on the Arkansas shore who had fought for the Confederacy. The towns of Hopefield, Marion, and Mound City had suffered harsh reprisals for harboring Confederate guerillas. The area was well-known as a hotbed of spies and saboteurs intent on disrupting Union shipping on the Mississippi.

This tragedy became the inciting event for When Hope Sank, the third novel in Barbour’s multi-author A Day to Remember Series.

What sort of research did you do for your story, and was there an exceptionally interesting tidbit you knew you had to include?

When writing When Hope Sank, I started by watching a documentary, then delved into online research
Author Photo
while placing orders for some well-known books on the sinking of the Sultana. Finally, I got to take a research trip to the area! It was a great excuse for my daughter and me to enjoy a little adventure and stay in Memphis. We visited the Sultana museum in Marion, Arkansas, and took a paddlewheel steamer ride on the Mississippi. We even got soaked by a thunderstorm as we tried to run the mile back to our car afterward.

If you were to write a spin-off book about one of your secondary characters, which one would you choose and why?

For this novel, that’s an easy answer. Beth, my heroine Lily’s cousin. Lonely and longing for approval, Beth gets caught up with the wrong sort of characters and gets herself in a fair amount of trouble in When Hope Sank. A major life shift happens for her at the end. It would be interesting to explore her path to redemption.

What draws you to the time period about which you write?

I’m so excited to return to the mid-1800s with this novel. My writing journey truly started with my Georgia Gold Series set during this same period in North Georgia and Savannah. It was first published about ten years ago. Since then, I’ve written stories from the Rev War through contemporary times, but I have a wealth of knowledge and living history and dance experience to draw on from the mid-nineteenth century.

Why do you write in your particular genre?

I love the idea of bringing a little-known historical event or location back to life. There are so many natural plot builders to be found in the past that it’s easy to shape a fictional story around the real-life happenings.

How does/did your job prepare you for being a novelist?

Well, I became a novelist first, then I became an editor. I worked as a managing editor for the historical imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (later Iron Stream Media) before switching over to act as Acquisitions & Editorial Liaison for Wild Heart Books, Misty Beller’s company. We publish exclusively historical Christian romance in series. In that capacity, I get to work with a top-notch staff and some of the most amazing authors. It’s incredibly satisfying to help others reach their publishing dreams. And editing pairs perfectly with writing. It’s made me sharper and quicker with my own creative process, and when I’m actively writing a novel, I will often write in the morning and edit in the afternoon.

What is your advice to fledgling writers?

Remember that different people have different paths to publication, and that’s okay. Don’t assume it can only be someone in the publishing industry who can open an important door for you. It’s also likely that other authors will help you more than anyone. We’re co-workers, not competitors. Do your due diligence with educating yourself and putting in the hard work, then wait and see what God will do! His timing is always perfect.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?
  • Writing a book and sending it in without learning what editors, agents, and publishers truly expect in terms of craft, style (deep POV for fiction!), and presentation. 
  • Failing to engage a good editor, critique partner, or a team of beta readers who know industry requirements and CMOS style. 
  • Comparing themselves to other authors. 
  • Not developing an engaging and active online presence.  
  • Expecting to quickly make a living off writing alone.
What is your next project?

My agent has a couple of proposals floating out there. I’d love to work with Barbour again. But I’m also in the midst of releasing my Scouts of the Georgia Frontier Series with Wild Heart Books. Book four, A Conflicted Betrothal, arrives on my birthday, June 11! The series is packed with action, adventure, and romance on the Southern frontier between the 1760s and the 1810s.

About When Hope Sank

April 1865

The Civil War has taken everything from Lily Livingston—her parents, her twin brother, her home. Now she works at her uncle’s inn and keeps her head down. Speaking up for her beliefs proved too costly in a part of Arkansas split by conflicting loyalties and overrun by spies and bushwhackers. One of those partisans, her brother’s childhood friend, will soon return to claim her hand—whether she wants to grant it or not.

Emaciated in body but resilient in spirit, Lieutenant Cade Palmer is crowded onto the Sultana with other paroled Andersonville and Cahaba POWs for the journey north. But a fiery explosion rends the steamer and empties two thousand men into the frigid Mississippi River.

Recovering from wounds that might end his career as a surgeon but clinging to his faith, Cade threatens both Lily’s defenses and her heart. How can she tell him she might’ve prevented the tragedy if only she’d reported a suspected saboteur’s claims? And when the man returns to town and encoded messages pass through the hotel, Lily must follow her convictions to prevent another tragedy.

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