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Tea Party Winners: Carla Gade's winner is Becky Dempsey, Andrea Boeshaar's winner Caryl Kane, Gina Welborn's winner Jasmine A., Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners book copy -- Lynda Edwards, teacup and saucer -- Wendy Shoults

Friday, August 16, 2013

Interview with Lori Benton, debut author of Burning Sky


I’m so pleased to present this interview with Lori Benton, debut author of Burning Sky, featured in last week’s Tea Party. Lori was born and raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American and family history going back to the 1600s. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history, creating a melting pot of characters drawn from both sides of a turbulent and shifting frontier, brought together in the bonds of God's transforming grace.

When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching 18th century history, Lori enjoys exploring the mountains with her husband – often scouring the brush for huckleberries, which overflow the freezer and find their way into her signature huckleberry lemon pound cake.

What got you interested in the colonial time period?

Stumbling upon good fiction set during that time period, and the movie The Patriot, with Mel Gibson. Those two things collided at the right time, and made me determined to write a hero who wore knee breeches. I wish I could claim something more profound than that as the start of all this, but it certainly led to much less frivolous reasons for my continuing interest in the 18th century.

What inspired your latest colonial work?

Burning Sky, my first published novel, is set in 1784, right after the Revolutionary War. It’s a complicated answer, what inspired it. I’d been researching late 18th century American history for about four years before I began Burning Sky, working on a novel set in 1790s North Carolina. But my attention kept being drawn to the Mohawk Valley of New York. The conflict in that colony during the Revolutionary War was intense, with particular animosity raging between patriot and loyalist Americans. Along with the conflict European Americans were experiencing, the Haudenosaunee (the Six Nations of the Iroquois), who had lived on that land for generations, ended up drawn into the conflict as well—not all on the same side. For a time, the Iroquois Confederacy ceased to exist as brother fought against brother.

I saw this setting, and still see it, as fertile ground for the type of stories I love to tell, stories of men and women caught between worlds (races, cultures, upbringings, beliefs)—often with loved ones facing them across the divide. After I’d decided on the setting and time period, I simply had to wait until a character showed up. It wasn’t long before Willa Obenchain came striding over the mountains, heading home.

Do you have a favorite colonial place you like to visit and why?

Living in Oregon makes it hard to visit colonial places. I have a long wish list of them I’d like to visit. A few years ago I had the pleasure of touring the late 18th century home of General George Rogers Clark, Locust Grove, in Louisville, KY. I’ve also in recent years visited a historic home in North Carolina, the Alston House, which retains the bullet holes around its back door from a Revolutionary War skirmish that took place there.

I’m familiar with that skirmish from my own research! Do you have a favorite colonial recipe you enjoy and would like to share with readers?

I’d love to share my succotash recipe. The mixture of ingredients is far older than colonial, though. It’s the type of meal (with a few modern additions) the Iroquois often made of their three staple crops: corn, beans and squash.

Succotash
3-4 strips of bacon (more if you really like bacon)
About a Tbs. of cooking oil
½ cup chopped yellow onion
1 tsp. minced garlic (from a jar is fine)
1 c. frozen or fresh corn
½ c. chopped fresh tomato
1 c. each yellow squash and zucchini, chopped
¾ c. lima beans, cooked tender (don’t overcook), or canned
¾ c. pinto beans, cooked tender (don’t overcook), or canned
salt & pepper to taste
a pinch or two of basil, fresh or dried

Fry bacon. Preserve drippings in pan (up to about a Tbs., more if you love bacon, as this will flavor the vegetables and beans). Set bacon strips aside. Add about a Tbs. of cooking oil to the pan, if needed. Sauté chopped onion and minced garlic until onion is tender. Add corn and tomatoes. Sauté a few minutes. Add chopped zucchini and yellow squash.* Sauté until tender. Add beans, salt, pepper, and basil to taste. Stir until heated through and mixture is cooked to your satisfaction. Crumble the bacon and sprinkle on top, or stir it in too. Serve warm. Makes 3-4 servings

* Feel free to modify ingredients/portions. Substitute different types of beans and squash, or something else entirely. Add a bit of vegetable broth. You can even make it sans bacon, though I never shall. Enjoy!

Abducted by Mohawk Indians at fourteen and renamed Burning Sky, Willa Obenchain is driven to return to her family’s New York frontier homestead twelve years later. At the boundary of her father’s property, Willa discovers a wounded Scotsman lying in her path, and is obliged to nurse his injuries. The two quickly find much has changed during Willa’s absence—her childhood home is in disrepair, her missing parents are rumored to be Tories, and the young Richard Waring she once admired is now grown into a man twisted by the horrors of war and claiming ownership of the Obenchain land.

When her Mohawk brother arrives and questions her place in the white world, the cultural divide blurs Willa’s vision. Can she follow Tames-His-Horse back to the People now that she is no longer Burning Sky? And what about Neil MacGregor, the kind and loyal Scottish botanist who does not fit into her plan for a solitary life, yet is now helping her revive her farm? In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, strong feelings against “savages” abound in the nearby village of Shiloh, leaving Willa’s safety unsure. As tensions rise, challenging her shielded heart, the woman once called Burning Sky must find a new courage—the courage to again risk embracing the blessings the Almighty wants to bestow. Is she brave enough to love again?

GIVEAWAY! Please leave a comment, including your email address, to win a copy of this most excellent story.

42 comments:

  1. Oh my Carrie. and hello to my OWG girls. I want this book so bad. Been chasing it around, but no win yet. Great interview. Please put my name in the drawing pot.
    MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

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    1. Hi Maxie, this is the CQ blog, but we love you over here, too! Yes, you really must read this book--I think you will love it!!!

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  2. Great interview and congratulations, Lori, on your new debut! Sounds like a lovely story.

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  3. I've heard a lot about this book and look forward to reading it!

    Crandallberries at gmail dot com

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  4. Good morning Ladies. Thanks for being here when I woke up (over on the far left coast). It's 5:22am and I am in need of caffeine and some me and God time to start my day. But I'll be back later!

    Have questions about something you read in the interview? Please ask.

    Thanks you Shannon, for your great interview questions. :)

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  5. It was a great interview, Shannon, and nice to find out more about Lori's debut novel. My copy arrived from Amazon yesterday and I'm looking forward to getting into it.

    Thanks also for the succotash recipe. It's very different from the one I have so it will be fun to have something new to try.

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  6. Wonderful interview, Shannon. Congratulations on your debut, Lori. It sounds like such an incredible story, and I'm hearing nothing but raves about it. Blessings for much success!

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  7. Thanks for the interview ladies! I'm really looking forward to reading this book. Might have to break down and buy it, at least the Kindle version. But would love to have a PB copy to add to my shelves.

    pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  8. I'm like Maxie - chasing the book all over! It sounds spectacular!

    I've had pemmican, but never succotash. Having just acquired a rather large quantity of beans, I shall have to try it!

    rdalquis(at)css(dot)edu

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    1. Rachael, I hope you catch a copy soon! :)

      Did you like pemmican? I've never tried that. Would love to though. I think!

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  9. Thanks for the great interview Shannon and Lori! So nice to see a recipe up here on CQ, again! We used to do those on Saturdays but they've fallen by the toll roadside lol. Loved Lori's debut book and can't wait to see what awards it will win! Blessings!

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    1. That's right. It has been awhile since there was a recipe up. To see a photo of it, visit Joanne Bischof's website. This is the direct link: http://www.joannebischof.com/from-story-to-table/

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  10. I created that succotash recipe when author Joanne Bischof invited me to share a recipe inspired by Burning Sky on her blog (along with author Mona Hodgson), last month. Here's the link if you'd like a photo of what it should look like. :)

    http://www.joannebischof.com/from-story-to-table/

    @Rachael I've never tried pemmican. What did you think of it?

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    1. Regarding pemmican: It's not bad - it is a solid choice on a vigorous hike, as it replenishes energy , is quite filling, and will definitely keep one alive - but I wouldn't want a full meal of it, or to eat it every day.

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  11. Everything about this book is right up my alley. Would love to win. Thanks for sharing a little bit of Burning Sky's journey with us!

    road_to_avonlea_17(at)yahoo.com

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    1. Have you checked your email today? :)

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    2. Yes, ma'am! :) I am very happy. :)

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  12. Thank you all for the kind comments! I was tickled to get to do this for my first CQ post. :-) And Lori did most of the work! I cannot wait for her next one--she's definitely one of my new favorite authors.

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    1. I enjoy doing interviews. Thanks for such good questions! And congrats on your first CQ post! May there be many more. :)

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    2. To give credit where it's due ... I snagged the Q's from previous CQ interviews. And thanks, Lisa!!! <3

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  13. I would love to win a copy of this! If I don't win, I have a Barnes and Noble gift card that will be used to buy it anyway. But, why use it if I can get it for free? :) I figure it is worth a shot anyway. It sounds fabulous!

    emmamalissa(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks Emma! Love those book store gift cards. My favorite Christmas present. :)

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  14. Great interview! I'm going to have to try the succotash recipe. I love that kind of food but being a southerner, I would :)

    The Patriot is such an emotional movie. We watch it at least once a year.

    homesteading[at]charter[dot]net

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    1. Anne, hope you enjoy the recipe. I made it up as I went along but was very pleased with how it turned out. But it has bacon. How could it have gone wrong? ;)

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  15. I read Burning Sky and liked it so much I'm telling all my reader friends. It's a beautifully written, quality novel. I read it first for enjoyment, and now, as a writer, I'm going to read it again to discover why it's so excellent.

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    1. Thank you so much, Susan! What a sweet message to wake up to this Saturday morning!

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  16. Wonderful interview! I'm sure The Patriot must have inspired many to become interested in the colonial period. So glad it inspired you!

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  17. The book sounds wonderful plus there's the bonus of the recipe! Great job on the interview, Shannon!

    Blessings,
    Tammy
    tam[dot]gardening[at]yahoo[dot]com

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Tammy! :-D

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  18. Have read numerous reviews about this book - have commented on all, as I would love to read the book. Wonderful storyline, made even more interesting to me because I am the descendant of a man captured by Indians.

    Lori, I live near Locust Grove & have attended numerous events there - love it when they have mock battles; food & music from the era; people dressed in authentic clothing; items for sale (crafts, plants & flowers, etc.). Louisville has numerous beautiful, historic buildings.

    Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of your book!

    bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Bonnie, did you have the guide at Locust Grove who looks remarkably like the elderly GRC? When I visited he was our guide, and when he stopped beside the portrait of Clark in the downstairs hallway and talked for a while, I kept doing a double take. It was like having the man there himself telling us his story--which is why, I'm sure, he stops just there to talk. :)

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  19. I am looking forward to reading BURNING SKY. It sounds just wonderful.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  20. Wonderful interview!! I've read good things about this book and I believe it would be a great book. Thank you for sharing and please enter me in the giveaway.
    Barbara Thompson
    barbmaci61(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  21. Just what I needed - another book on my TBR list. :-)

    Sounds wonderful. If I'm not lucky enough to win a copy, I'll go scouting for it.

    jrlight620(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  22. I can't wait to get to this book. Oh My! The interview has my heart racing. I am using it as the carrot to finish my edits and send off one of my current manuscripts. Thanks so much, ladies!

    I think it's going to be one of those "I wish I wrote that" books on my shelf!

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  23. Great interview, Shannon and Lori! I loved Burning Sky, and have two copies (an Advanced Readers Copy and one hot off the press from Amazon!!) so don't need to be entered in the give away! I will try your recipe, Lori! I do have one, but yours sounds delicious!!

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  24. Very interesting interview. Thanks to both of you for your time and effort on this post. "Burning Sky" is on my must buy list right now. (Yes, I actually have a written list. :) It would be exciting to win a copy. I first heard about the book on a blog. Maybe Laura Frantrz's blog. As a lover of Christian fiction your blogs are a wonderful source to learn of new authors. I'm thankful for the love, encouragement and support you all show for each other...and your readers!

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  25. Thanks for the great interview! Would love to win this book.
    God bless, Betti
    bettimace(at)gmail(dot)com

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  26. I can't wait to read this one! Thank you for the chance to win!

    I'm wondering if I could pull of the succotash recipe, it sounds delicious! I'm a bit of a rookie when it comes to cooking ;)

    Thanks for the interview & giveaway!
    Beth
    bharbin07[at]gmail[dot]com

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  27. Congratulations to the winners. I just ordered my paper copy of "Burning Sky" from Barnes and Noble.com. Can't wait!!!

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  28. This sounds like a fun, unique read! I really like the title and the book cover is very neat. I love the colors and themes in the front.

    Congratulations on the release! That is so exciting, thanks so much for sharing with us!

    ks4readin(at)yahoo(dot)com

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