Today on Writer Wednesday we welcome Lori Benton, author of The King’s Mercy.
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Writer Wednesday with Lori Benton: Books Authors Read
What was your favorite book as a child?
That’s tricky to answer since it changed all through childhood. I can recall being passionately devoted to the Little House books very early on. A bit later it would have been the Narnia Chronicles. Smack in the middle of everything else though (in the fourth grade) I developed a passion for wolves (probably thanks to Disney’s The Jungle Book). At this point books about wolves, fiction and nonfiction, took precedence. I still have a copy of Dr. Michael Fox’s book The Wolf, beautifully illustrated by Charles Frace. That book had a huge impact on me, which leads me to your next question…
What book did you read that first made you want to be an author?
The Wolf by Dr. Michael Fox inspired fourth-grade me to start (but never finish) my first attempt at a chapter book. The story was intended to trace the first year in the life of a litter of pups born to a wolf pack. While I didn’t finish it, plotting the story taught me how to research. I read every book about wolves I could get my hands on in my school and public libraries, in order to get all the details right.
Apparently, my deep interest in wolves waned a bit before I finished writing the story. Perhaps that’s when the Narnia Chronicles entered the picture, because for many years after that all I wanted to write were stories set in fantasy worlds, right up to the time I decided in my early twenties to write a novel (inspired by a combination of Tolkien and Stephen Lawhead’s Celtic fantasy books) and see if I could get it published. I finished that one, set on a fictional island in the British Isles, but it’s no longer a genre I’m interested in writing.
What was the last book you read, just for fun?
I’m halfway through Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron for no other reason but that it’s Ireland (anything from the Celtic fringe still gets my attention) and it’s by Kristy Cambron (which also gets my attention). This is a time-slip novel with three strands, late 18th century, early 20th, and present day. I appreciate the skill it took to weave all three and look forward to seeing how it unfolds. The last audiobook I listened to for fun was Alexander McCall Smith’s The Colors of All the Cattle.
What books are currently on your nightstand?
I have stacks of books waiting to be read in various places around the house. On my nightstand is the already mentioned Castle on the Rise. Also in progress is Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes and Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes. Waiting under those are Murder in the City of Liberty by Rachel McMillan and The House Behind the Cedars by Charles Chesnutt. In progress research books: Birthing a Slave by Marie Jenkins Schwartz and The Nature of New York by David Stradling, with James Fenimore Cooper, The Early Years by Wayne Franklin and Rescuing the Gospel from The Cowboys by Richard Twiss waiting in the wings (among others). But I’m about to make a run to the library to pick up nearly 10 more titles, some fiction, some research, so things are bound to get switched up. Library books get shuffled to the top of stacks, as librarians do like to have them back eventually.
What upcoming release are you most looking forward to?
I’m about to dive into an early copy of Laura Frantz’s upcoming release, An Uncommon Woman, and eager to do so. I’m always looking forward to whatever Jocelyn Green has coming, and though I’ve already read it, Karen Barnett’s next National Parks book, Ever Faithful, set in Yellowstone, is not to be missed. Joanne Bischof is a favorite so no matter what she writes I want to read it.
Award-winning author Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back 300 years. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. She is the author of Burning Sky, recipient of three Christy Awards; The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn; Christy nominee The Wood’s Edge; A Flight of Arrows; and Christy nominee Many Sparrows. When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching, she enjoys exploring and photographing the Oregon wilderness with her husband.
More about The King’s Mercy:
Award-winning historical romance author, Lori Benton, takes readers back to the 18th-century colonial South to tell a story of exile, fateful love and freedom in her latest novel, The King’s Mercy.
After a failed uprising, Scotsman Alex MacKinnon’s life is spared and he is granted the king’s mercy—exile to the colony of North Carolina to be indentured as a blacksmith to Edmund Carey, owner of Severn Plantation. Though devastated by the loss of his former life, Alex becomes acquainted with Carey’s slaves, his stepdaughter Joanna, and the plantation’s overseer Phineas Reeves. Joanna is expected to wed Reeves but finds herself drawn instead to the new blacksmith.
The unlikely bond between Joanna and Alex deepens, but when tragedy strikes and the blame falls on Alex, he flees and finds himself living among the Cherokees. There, he encounters Reverend Pauling, a traveling preacher and friend of the Careys’. When circumstances thwart yet another attempt to forge his freedom, will Alex continue down his rebellious path or embrace the faith of a man like Pauling, even if it costs his life?
For readers of Lynn Austin and other historical fiction, Benton’s meticulous research helps bring to life early American history as well as the book’s many characters and landscapes—from rebel warriors on the Scottish battlefield to African slaves on the North Carolina frontier. Those familiar with the New Testament book of Philemon will appreciate Benton’s nod to its biblical figures in the development of her own storyline and characters.
“My hope is that [readers are] drawn closer to the Lord through Joanna and Alex’s story,” Benton says, “and that they turn that last page of The King’s Mercy more in love with our merciful Jesus than when they began.”