Q&A: Dorothy Love (Carolina Gold)
Dorothy Love's newest novel Carolina Gold (Thomas Nelson) is set during The Reconstruction and follows the little-known story of female rice farmer striving to restore what was lost during the war. Dorothy answered our questions about the true story behind her novel.
THIS NOVEL IS BASED ON THE REAL LIFE STORY OF A FEMALE RICE FARMER. HOW DID YOU HEAR THIS STORY AND WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO START WRITING ABOUT IT?
I first discovered the story of Elizabeth Allston Pringle on a visit to South Carolina fifteen years ago. Mrs. Pringle, who is the model for my character Charlotte Fraser, was the daughter of RFW Allston, governor of South Carolina just before the war. Mr. Allston owned several rice plantations in Georgetown District including Chicora Wood. After the war and the deaths of her husband and her father, Mrs. Pringle returned to Chicora Wood to try to restore the fields and the rice trade. She wrote articles about her experiences for the New York Sun which were later compiled into a book called A Woman Rice Planter, written under the pseudonym Patience Pennington. I read that book and was impressed by her bravery, her faith and her determination, and wanted to write a novel inspired by her life. Last year I made a research trip to Chicora Wood and the other plantations still standing on the Waccamaw and Pee Dee rivers. For purposes of the story I set my fictional plantation, Fairhaven, on the Waccamaw, but Chicora Wood, on the Pee Dee, was the inspiration. Mrs. Pringle is one of so many 19th century women who accomplished great things against all odds and whose stories are rarely mentioned in the history books. Even though my books are fiction, with each one I try to pay tribute to those real life women who went before us. They were remarkably resilient, resourceful, and courageous. I feel great affection for them and I hope that comes across in my novels.
ONE THEME IN THE BOOK IS RESTORATION. WE SEE THIS IDEA PRESENT AS CHARLOTTE TRIES TO MAKE HER FATHER’S AILING FARM THRIVE AGAIN. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS THEME?
The hunger for restoration, whether it's physical or spiritual or physical is a universal human need. Restoration often comes to us in a form other than what we are expecting. I wanted to show how we can often be surprised by joy, as C. S. Lewis once wrote.
THIS IS YOUR FOURTH PUBLISHED BOOK. HOW HAS YOUR WRITING PROCESS CHANGED SINCE YOUR VERY FIRST PROJECT?
This is my fourth novel for adult readers but the sixteenth of my career. I began writing for young adults and preteens in the general fiction market in the 1990s and moved to writing for adult readers in 2010. After so many books, my process has become consistent. I conduct the majority of my research before beginning the story, then the book goes through numerous drafts before my editor ever sees it. After that are more revisions and then still more revisions when the line editor sees it. This process hasn't really changed much from my first book till now.
YOUR BOOKS ARE KNOWN TO HAVE ELEMENTS OF ROMANCE, MYSTERY AS WELL AS BEING HISTORICAL. DO YOU DO THIS INTENTIONALLY?
Oh absolutely intentionally. There are many writers who can focus only on the romance between the two major characters and create fabulous stories but I'm more interested in the intersection of history and human drama and how the meeting of those two forces affects my characters. I've found that readers who want mostly romance also enjoy solving a mystery or uncovering a truth or a family secret related to the story and I always give them that extra reason to read the book. My novels are all inspired by historical events and my mystery elements usually relate somehow to something that really happened.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM YOU IN THE FUTURE?
The next novel, tentatively titled The Bracelet is set in antebellum Savannah, Georgia and is inspired by a famous and still unsolved death in the carriage house of a mansion on Madison Square. My heroine, Celia Browning is about to marry her childhood sweetheart, Sutton Mackay. But then an unscrupulous newspaper reporter arrives in Savannah, stirring up old questions about what happened in the carriage house fifteen years before. As Celia attempts to find out what really happened, she receives an anonymous gift—a bracelet that spells out a deadly message. Is it merely coincidence, or is someone out to do her harm? The Bracelet comes out next year.