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Monday 11 April 2016

I is for... In Liberty's Wake


Throughout April I have invited 26 authors who had been selected as Editor's Choice by the Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews
 to help me out with the

2016 A-Z Blog Challenge...

Except to be a little different I interviewed 
their leading Character/s...

Today's Character is from :

HH: Hello! I believe you exist in Alexandra Norland’s novel – what is the title of the book, and would you like to introduce yourself - who you are, what you do etc?
It isn’t often I get out from between the covers of In Liberty’s Wake, so thank you for inviting me today. My name is Arabella Alden and I am a fourth generation Virginian.  As to your inquiry regarding what I do per se, it varies, depending upon the season and at what point during my twenty novel-years you visit me. In my youth my mother saw to it I was well educated and rarely idle, which, as it turned out, was a very good thing when the war started.

Colonial Williamsburg
HH: Where and when are you? Are you a real historical person or did your author create you?
My family, our people, and friends live in the British colony of Virginia in the years before and during the American Revolution, 1763 to 1783. My parents own Alden’s Hope, a plantation on the James River, as well as a prominent house in the colony’s capital of Williamsburg. Alas, I am not a real historical person but some of my acquaintances are.  For a week in 1766, as a guest at another plantation, I had the pleasure to become acquainted with Mr. Thomas Jefferson. One evening we provided impromptu musical entertainment for our friends; he jovially played his violin and I the harpsichord. Thomas is an excellent violinist, perhaps the best in the colony.

Photo Cathy Helms
HH: In a few brief sentences: what is the novel you feature in about?
Family, love, friendship and loyalty and what happens to those relationships and bonds when great change and conflict arise amongst us. It’s also about our daily lives in eighteenth-century Virginia, and the circumstances that contributed to some of us remaining loyal to the king, while others transformed into rebellious Americans. 

HH :  I ‘met’ my pirate, Jesamiah Acorne on a beach in Dorset, England -  how did your author meet up with you?
I, and all the characters in the book, waited in the wings of our author’s imagination for many years. When she was in elementary school, at the end of a library class, she needed to pick a book, any book, and a yellow one caught her eye. When she returned to her desk and opened it she discovered it was a biography of Martha Washington. The clothes, customs, and times it described touched her in a way nothing else had to that point igniting her interest in eighteenth-century history. Fast-forward three decades later. Our author began a graduate program in museum studies but health issues arose forcing her to withdraw from school. Being at home a good bit of the time she finally noticed me and several other characters and began writing. Our stories are the seed that grew into the book we’re discussing today, In Liberty’s Wake.

HH: Tell me about one or two of the other characters who feature with you - husband, wife, family? Who are some of the nice characters and who is the nastiest one?
My dear friend Callie and I have much in common. Like me, she is the daughter of a prominent Virginia plantation owner, and in our youth, we spent many happy hours in one another’s company. Unfortunately, circumstances prompted Callie’s father to depart for England taking her and her brother James with him. We correspond faithfully, and continue to do so despite the war between the thirteen colonies and Great Britain.
It’s questionable as to who’s the nastiest character, but the most calculating one, and my least favorite, is without a doubt Benedict Arnold.

photo:Cathy Helms
HH : What is your favourite scene in the book?
My wedding day! I won’t mention my betrothed by name in case some of your readers would eventually like to read the book, but I will say our nuptials were a simple yet elegant affair. We had a winter wedding and the scent of bayberry candles, combined with the pine, juniper, and holly boughs used to decorate the stairwell banister and mantle, smelled heavenly.  White wedding gowns were not the custom in my day, so my gown was a deep emerald-green velvet and silk ensemble, which set off beautifully the amethyst necklace my husband had given me as an engagement gift. We danced into the evening, and just as some of our guests bid us goodbye and were alighting their carriages for the in-town journey home it began to snow. It was the happiest and most enchanting of days.  
HH : What is your least favourite? Maybe a frightening or sad moment that your author wrote.
There are two fires in the book I found devastating. I had been to the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg on many occasions, as my father was a good friend of Governor Fauquier, so when the palace caught fire I did everything in my power to help. Afterward, most of the townspeople, myself included, believed the palace fire to have been an accident. The other fire, however, was no accident and was a direct result of British Brigadier General Benedict Arnold’s malice.  And to think I once viewed him as a hero!  How I despise that man.

The Governor's Palace
HH : What are you most proud of about your author?
I’m most proud of the way my author gave voice to me and the others around me. She seemed to know exactly what I was thinking even before I did. It was extraordinary.

Mistress Norland
HH : Has your author written  other books about you? If not, about other characters?
How do you feel about your author going off with someone else!
In Liberty’s Wake is my author’s first novel so as yet there are no other books about me. Goodness, I never thought about her going off with someone else! Hmm, I guess having spent a decade with her it would be unkind of me to begrudge her the joy of creating new characters and another adventure. Wouldn’t you agree?

photo: Cathy Helms
HH : As a character if you could travel to a time and place different to your own fictional setting  where and when would you go?

This may surprise you, coming from a daughter of the Old Dominion, but I would very much like to visit England in the early 1800’s and make the acquaintance of a particular lady and her sister Cassandra. I’d visit my friend Callie in London before setting off for Bath where I’d visit the pump room and take the waters. I imagine the Roman Baths would be quite invigorating. Heaven only knows what friendships and adventures await me across the Atlantic!

Thank you 

For readers, you can find out more here

Website Link: 

Amazon Book Link: UK

Here is the company we will be keeping on this 
A-Z Blog Challenge!

A 1st  Friday - Aurelia  - Alison Morton
B 2nd Saturday  - Bloodie Bones - Lucienne Boyce
C 4th Monday - Man in the Canary Waistcoat Susan Grossey
D 5th Tuesday - Dubh-Linn  - James Nelson
F 7th Thursday - Fortune’s Fool- David Blixt
H 9th Saturday - The Love Letter of John Henry Holliday - Mary Fancher
K 13th Wednesday - Khamsin- Inge Borg
L 14th Thursday - Luck Bringer   - Nick Brown
N 16th Saturday - A Newfound Land  - Anna Belfrage
O 18th Monday - Out Of Time  - Loretta Livingstone
P 19th Tuesday  - Pirate Code  - Helen Hollick
Q 20th Wednesday - To Be A Queen – Annie Whitehead
R 21st Thursday  - The Spirit Room - Marschel Paul
U 25th Monday  - A Just And Upright Man - John Lynch
X 28th Thursday – The FlaX flower – AmandaMaclean

So call back tomorrow 
To meet the next exciting Character! 
(unless it is Sunday - in which case, I'll have something different 

but just as interesting !)


  1. This sounds great. I love the idea of her accompanying Thomas Jefferson! Alexandra, are you a Virginian yourself?

    1. Thank you, Victoria.
      I'm from Maryland but have been partial to Virginia, where I currently live, ever since my grandmother took my sister and me to visit Williamsburg for the first time.

    2. I so wish I'd known you lived in Virginia when I was atv Williamsburg last July!

    3. I just moved back here in December but the next time you're in this neck of the woods let me know. It would be fun to meet up. : )

  2. You have a beautiful name, Arabella. As a sailor, I have to wonder if the famous John G. Alden (MIT Class of 1889 - yacht-builder) is your descendant. And to be living in that lovely city of Williamsburg when you are not on your plantation - it surely fires up the imagination. How nice of you to share your story with us.

    1. Thank you.
      I'm not sure I can claim John G. Alden as a descendant but he certainly sounds like someone I'd like to have known. : )

    2. I didn't know you had sailing connections Inge - I'll have to introduce you to my pirate if you haven't already met him... he'll be here for P next week! bHe too has Williamsburg connections - he was there in the third novel of the series.

    3. Alden Yawls are some of the most graceful classic boats. You get noticed when you sail one. You also get noticed when you put one on the rocks, as I did in St. Thomas...
      I am looking forward to "P" day, Helen.

  3. Great to meet you Arabella. I've always been a great fan (apologies, I should have said admirer and aficionado) of Thomas Jefferson. I appreciate that he was very much a "man of his times" and may therefore seem to be full of contradictions for a modern reader, but I was alarmed recently to see some very strange accusations made against him in another new novel, "Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings" - and I just wondered whether you have a view on Mister Jefferson's character?

    1. Hi David,
      Great question. I’m not familiar with the novel you mentioned so I can’t comment on it; however, having spent much of the past decade reading colonial history from several perspectives, I do have opinions regarding Mr. Jefferson and his contemporaries. I feel their contributions as Founding Fathers are inevitably intertwined with the women and slaves in their lives, whose labor and support provided them, in part, with the time and resources necessary to contemplate and nurture the enlightened republican ideals they espoused. Giving voice to those who were traditionally silenced, women and slaves, was one of the reasons I was inspired to write In Liberty’s Wake. As a writer, I take the responsibility of creating historical fiction seriously and did my best to honor the spirit of the age. As men they were intelligent, yet flawed; forward looking, yet men of their time. And while it’s easy to judge them, possessing as we do two centuries of hindsight and knowledge, I feel to attempt to understand them, their outlook, and contributions we must try to dispense with viewing them through a twenty-first century lens and attempt to understand the world as they saw it as best as we can.

    2. Arabella here — I’m not entirely sure what just happened but apparently my author decided to answer on my behalf.— As to your question David, I must say on initial acquaintance I found Thomas to be a quiet, erudite, and polite gentleman, and seemingly of sound character; although, when he became governor of Virginia and moved the colony’s capital from Williamsburg to Richmond I was none too pleased.

    3. I do wonder how much we tend to put present day morals and views on to past ways of life. Slavery, abuse (of women, children and animals) in all forms is disgraceful to us now but bit was a way of life then (the sad thing is that for some it still is!)

    4. Yes, I agree, Helen - for the most part. Slavery, for example, was reprehensible to many in society even when at its height, so no real excuse for those who continued to support it long after it became more generally unacceptable. But Jefferson is a better case for your argument. A brilliant mind, and scripted those wonderful sections of the US Constitution about all men being created equal - but then also drafted those sections of the same document supporting the retention of slaves. And, of course, his plantation at Monticello (fabulous place to visit, by the way) was worked by huge numbers of slaves. But then along comes the novel I mentioned, and Jefferson is accused of some exceptionally heinous abuse against Sally Hemings - and I can't find any source to support this. So, fabrication for the sake of being sensational? To sell a few more books?? Hmmm.

    5. You both make good points. And sadly, sensationalism is often divisive.

  4. What a clever idea. Arabella sounds like someone I would like to get to know. Jefferson is such an enigmatic figure.

    Meet My Imaginary Friends

  5. That's a lot of work, your theme, but you seem to be a very organized individual. Thanks for visiting today!

    Happy Monday of A to Z-ing :)
    Ninga Minion @YolandaRenee from
    Defending The Pen
    Murderous Imaginings

    1. Thanks Yolanda - the trick is to make it LOOK like I'm organised!

  6. Interesting idea for A-to-Z. Thanks for stopping by my blog

    1. Thanks Denise - hard work this A-Zeding isn't it!¬ LOL

  7. I like that idea of conflict of identity: at what point does a migrant start to identify more with the country of their arrival than of their original home? Still very relevant today.

    1. True, not to mention how migrants are treated once they arrive at their destination, which I imagine has a lot to do with when, or if, they decide to identify with a new culture.

  8. Hi Steven,
    Yes, very relevant and complicated. There are so many factors and influences at play when it comes to one's sense of identity.

  9. Wow - what an amazing April A to Z. I am just a bit of 'fluff and bubbles' in blogland in comparison, I'm impressed, and I always like that :) Great replies Alexandra, was great fun reading! Thank you to you both!
    Wren (Little Wandering Wren @LWWren)

    1. Thanks so much Wandering Wren.
      I just looked at your blog, which I might add is not just 'fluff and bubbles,' ;) and really like your seaside photography. A relative of mine lives in NSW so I enjoy learning about Australian culture. I look forward to viewing and reading your entries more closely. :)

  10. Thanks for visiting :) I like this character's intereview; she seemed to have had a grand wedding day!


    1. Thanks Betty - hope you're enjoying bthe A-Z!

  11. This is such a delightful series!

  12. Replies
    1. :-) - pirates will be invading this blog for the letter P!

  13. Hallo, this sounds fascinating - I like the idea of looking at the conflict from the point of view of a loyalist in America.

    1. There's a few Loyalists in the story and one in particular may surprise some readers.


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