Sunday, January 20, 2013

Interview with the author Joyce Blaylock!

Happy Sunday!

I got an interesting opportunity to make an interview with an author whose book is still work in progress. I usually reading the book before interviewing an author, but the settings of the book and the main character were fascinating, so I decided to find out more about it.

The author I am interviewing is Joyce Blaylock. She had deep contacts in the literary world in Nashville in beyond and was even a founding force in the building of the Southern Festival of Books. Her novels are based on the real life of Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham, a woman who made a rather bold life for herself in New Orleans and Nashville, as well as several European countries.

After I did some research about the heroine of the book - Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham, I wanted to do this interview badly.

Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to the author Joyce Blaylock!


 

Part I
Please describe yourself with few sentences. Who are you?  

A lover of life.  A lover of animals, have always had a dog.  A lover of all things good.  I like romance.  I like giving gifts to those who do not expect one.   I like supporting my favorite charities. I love libraries.  I love books.   Perhaps, I am a country girl at heart.   I like philosophy.   I am a Nashville native.

2.      What inspired you to want to become writer?  

I wrote a song when I was six.  I listened to my brother and his friends play music.  I wanted to write them a song.  My mother read to me.  I read biographies, poetry and short stories as a child.  It was Dickens in the 9th grade. Wow! 

3.      Who did you want to become when you were a kid? What did you dream about?

I wanted to be on the stage!  I loved playing make believe…was like writing your own script in your head. I wanted to be a newspaper reporter.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I read, then write, then read. I love our farm in Giles County…to go there and think.  I research, visit antique shops, enjoy friends and family.   Do you have any hobbies?  Genealogy, researching, studying…a former rider of quarter horses, archery, skeet shooting and player of Bridge.   

Who or what is your Muse?

 I don’t know…BUT one exists.  On my writing desk, there is a small skier whose feet must remain balanced for him not to topple over.  I check him each morning.  There is also an owl on my desk, watching. I like balance. 

 

Part II
 
Let’s talk about your book!
 
Who was Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham? 

A charming girl with extraordinary wit and intellect, born in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1817.  Her parents were Sarah Hightower and Oliver Bliss Hayes.  Both Isaac Franklin and Joseph Acklen passed away.  She was separated from her third husband, Dr. Cheatham.  
Why did you decide to write about Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham? 

The novel began in graduate school at the University of South Carolina.   I needed a topic for a fifty page work in a creative writing class.  I remembered Adelicia.
Why does she fascinate you? 
She was not afraid of herself or of the world about her.  She bore much, but survived/ persevered without indulging in self-pity or blaming others.  She endured.

What kind of legacy did Adelicia leave for the area in which she lived?

The question remains controversial, however, each day the tower bell tolls atop the Downtown Presbyterian Church reminding us of the time, a hymn. Adelicia presented the bell to its members in 1867.

There are legends about how Adelicia contested the will of her first husband. Would you kindly give us a brief overview how she managed to do that? What factors influenced the decision and what made Adelicia the wealthiest woman in the South? 

The answer to the first question is revealed in my novel.  She was determined to have what she saw as rightfully hers.  She refused to accept ‘no’ as an answer and followed through.  Adelicia is most often said to be the wealthiest woman in America. This was 1846.  In todays’ market, she would have received somewhere between 21 and 27 million dollars.    
During the Civil War, Adelicia was about to lose all her fortune and cotton plantations. How did she survive the Civil War and come out of it alive?

It was never about Adelicia losing her fortune; however, it was necessary to make an overland trip during the war to make sure of the shipping of her cotton to England.  Her survival was never challenged.
Has your research given you any idea of Adelicia’s ideas and thoughts on slavery?

Yes.  She was very concerned with the issue of slavery. The idea of slavery. She was also aware there was nowhere for them to go after they were freed, that the Federal government could not keep its promises; that was proven in case after case. Most of the slaves and house servants stayed on at her Louisiana’ plantations.   She had no answers.  She was  pleased when slavery was abolished, but  greatly concerned about their welfare at the hands of the “new” government.    During Reconstruction, the former slaves who remained were paid wages for their work and had choices of continuing to live in their former dwellings or cutting timber on the plantations and building their own.        
Adelicia was wooed by Napoleon III. How did they meet? 

When she was invited to a ball, hosted by the Emperor and Empress at the Tuileries.  The Emperor was very taken by the American, Lady Acklen.  Her gown “manner of dress” was also mentioned in the Paris Courier.
The novel about Adelicia will be in three parts. Why did you decide to split her life specifically into these time sections?  

The novel automatically fell into three major parts that dealt with the natural flow of Adelicia’s life.  The first part is before and after her marriage to Isaac Franklin; the second concerns life before and after her marriage to Joseph Acklen;  the third consists of her traveling  overland during the war, the shipping of her cotton, her European tour, her return to Belle Monte and her marriage to Dr. Cheatham in 1867, where the present novel ends.  I am working on the sequel.
Please give us 3 reasons why readers should read a novel about Adelicia?

The novel is for anyone who likes a good story, who enjoys a novel of historical content and value, and for readers who discover themselves in some aspect of Adelicia’s life, an engaging life of a woman who endures.  Her appeal is universal in content.  It allows a woman to know she can succeed, no matter the age; that it is never too late to pursue her own quest. Adelicia is an inspiring character for the 21st century woman, to free her from the stereotypical “bonds” of society.  Male readers often enjoy Adelicia’s nemesis, Lona.          

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Thank you so much for taking time to answer my questions, Joyce! It is highly appreciated!

Joyce also sent some extra information about Adelicia. All the pictures are from Joyce.

More detail… The sculpture of Peri had been acquired by Adelicia and was at Belle Monte. It was eventually moved to the mausoleum. Here’s more background about Peri, the angel from Thomas Moore's Lalla Rookh.

 
 
In Thomas Moore's poem Paradise and the Peri, part of his Lalla-Rookh, a peri gains entrance to heaven after three attempts at giving an angel the gift most dear to God. The first attempt is "The last libation Liberty draws/From the heart that bleeds and breaks in her cause", to wit, a drop of blood from a young soldier killed for an attempt on the life of Mahmud of Ghazni. Next is a "Precious sigh/of pure, self-sacrificing love": a sigh stolen from the dying lips of a maiden who died with her lover of plague in the Ruwenzori rather than surviving in exile from the disease and the lover. The third gift, the one that gets the peri into heaven, is a "Tear that, warm and meek/Dew'd that repentant sinner's cheek": the tear of an evil old man who repented upon seeing a child praying in the ruins of the Temple of the Sun at Balbec, Syria. Robert Schumann set Moore's tale to music as a cantata, Paradise and the Peri, using an abridged German translation.


French composer Paul Dukas's last major work was the sumptuous ballet La Péri (1912). Described by the composer as a "poème dansé", it depicts a young Persian prince who travels to the ends of the Earth in a quest to find the lotus flower of immortality, finally encountering its guardian, the Péri.

The other photo of the small house structure is the mausoleum where Adelicia, two of her
husbands, and nine of her 10 children are entombed.

More information about the author:

FACEBOOK:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJoyceBlaylock
TWITTER: @JoyceBlaylock | https://twitter.com/JoyceBlaylock


You can read a full bio on Joyce here: http://joyceblaylock.com/about-the-author/
And also read more details on the book here: http://joyceblaylock.com/the-book/
 
Thanks for coming by!
Happy reading!
 
 

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