On your nightstand now:
CB: I’m working on writing the third book in my American Revolution series, and when I’m writing, pretty much all my reading time is devoted to non-fiction research material. Right now I’m reading A Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens by Lawrence E. Babits. It’s a great read on a pivotal battle that I need to know more about.
Favorite book when you were a child:
CB: Other than a set of World Book Encyclopedia, my family didn’t own many books at all, but we did frequent the library. In the Chicago neighborhood I grew up in, a trip to the closest branch library required a bus trip with a transfer. Nonetheless, we went often, bookbags in hand, and there I was drawn into the wondrous world of fiction. I so often had my nose in a book, my mother would have to direct me to, ‘Put the book down!’ I loved classic fables and fairy tales, and novels like the Little House series, Charlotte’s Web, and The Hobbit that would transport me to times and places far from home. When I was in the fifth grade, my mother bought me a grade school world history textbook at a rummage sale. I loved this book! I would pour over the glossy pages, filled with images and timelines, moving from era to era, and civilization to civilization. I now recognize this is the book that sparked my
love for history, and research.
Your top five authors:
CB: In no particular order–
Charles Dickens for characters
John Steinbeck for story
Jane Austen for romance
Alexander Dumas for adventure
Raphael Sabatini for swashbuckling
Favorite line from a book:
CB: One of the first things I did when I began the deep research for this American Revolution series was to read a collection of Thomas Paine’s writing. There were so many lines within his work that spoke to me, I decided to use specific lines from Common Sense as epigraphs to each chapter in The Tory Widow. I continued the practice in this latest novel, beginning each chapter of The Turning of Anne Merrick with a relevant line from the American Crisis. “These are the times that try men’s souls…” or “Tis the business of little minds to shrink…” or “What we obtain to cheap, we esteem too lightly…” – these are the stirring words that forged a nation.
There is a line from Common Sense that so speaks to my personal life philosophy, that it has become a favorite quote of mine: “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”
Where/when is your favorite place to write:
CB: I have a great writing place. Our 100-year old home has a room we call the “library” – probably a grander name than the room deserves, but it is quipped with floor to ceiling bookshelves (where I keep my research materials at hand), a very comfortable ergonomic office chair, and a great big ol’ wooden desk with those side surfaces that slide in and out.
When you’re not researching, writing or reading:
CB: We have a second home on a small lake up north in Michigan. It is a quiet retreat, and a place where I can work with my hands gardening and such. I have recently developed a penchant for haunting antique and flea markets hunting for old cast iron cookware to refurbish. There is something very satisfying in taking a rusty old castaway skillet to clean and season, and bring back it to the point where a pair of over easy eggs slide out as if it were made of some space-age material. Nothing is better for cooking or baking than vintage cast iron.
Another joy in life is travel. I always am reenergized by a far-off trip, where I can tromp around and become inspired by great art, architecture, and culture all accompanied by good food and drink in the company of my best friend and husband, Brian Blevins.
Up north, on the road, or here in Elmhurst, I love spending time with my family. I have four grown kids, and two grandkids. Today my granddaughter Gloria is visiting and we made Valentines.