Good morning everyone! Hope you are having a good start to your week – for me Monday mornings are always crazy. To kick off the week we have author Elle Marie joining us to tell us a little bit about her new novel, Chronicle of the Mound Builders.
How did you come across the idea of writing about the Mound Builders? I have never heard of the Mississippians before.
I live in St. Louis, which is also known as Mound City because of all the ancient mounds in the area. So I was familiar with the Mississippians in general, but didn’t really know much about their history. I got the idea to write about them from a newspaper article about an archaeological dig called Dampier Dig in my hometown of Chesterfield. Evidence of the long-lost civilization of the Mound Builders was found there, which piqued my curiosity. I thought it would be fun to develop a story around what might have happened to them.
I’m assuming that there isn’t a real wealth of knowledge about the Mound Builders, and that there would be a little more available about the Aztecs. Where did you get your information from?
You’re right, not a lot is known about the Mound Builders. I've tried to provide accurate information about the culture and lifestyles of both the Aztecs and the Mound Builders. Dr. Meredith Hawkins of Archaeological Research Center of St. Louis graciously showed me around the Dampier Dig site and shared her knowledge of the Mississippians. I also visited Cahokia Mounds to get a feel for the area. Of course, I read a lot of books and did online research to learn as much as I could about both societies.
How long have you been working on this book? Was it an idea that you always had to write or was it an idea that came about sometime later?
I love to write and always knew I wanted to write a novel, but it’s a part-time hobby for me so I have to fit it in on weekends and evenings. It took about 6 months to develop a workable outline for the story, and another 2 years to complete the writing. Before tackling Chronicle, I published a non-fiction book called Living the Thin Life about maintaining a healthy weight. I’m always writing something!
What has been the most challenging aspect of the writing process?
Since Chronicle of the Mound Builders has two main story lines, I had to mesh them together carefully. Interweaving the timelines so that Angela learns about the Indian family at the same time the reader is following their struggles and adventures was a tricky balancing act. I wanted to make sure just enough of each story was revealed in each chapter to keep the reader’s interest before switching gears to the other.
Why historical mystery? Did the original plan start out as a mystery?
I love mysteries - I’ve been hooked on them since reading Nancy Drew books as a ten-year-old. To me it’s exciting to wonder what will happen next and find out how the characters manage to get out of whatever situation they find themselves in. I wanted my readers to experience that same excitement. I like the historical fiction aspect because the reader actually learns about the ancient cultures while enjoying the adventure.
Do you have any future writing plans? Is Dr. Angela Hunter going to be a historical mystery series heroine?
Right now I have two more ideas for mysteries for Angela to tackle. One of them will be a prequel, which will shed some light on Angela’s prior relationship with Dr. Oettendorf. Stay tuned!
Coming from a large family of readers, Elle Marie grew up with a love of reading. Her passion for reading led to a desire to write. After first publishing a nonfiction book, Living the Thin Life, she turned to fiction.
A visit to Cahokia Mounds sparked a fascination with the mysterious Mound Builders, about whom so little is known. What was their culture like? How did ordinary people live in the 14th century? What caused the civilization to vanish, seemingly overnight? She put her imagination to work and came up with a story line that put it all together. Extensive research enabled her to create a believable, engrossing world.
By day, she works in the information technology field at a large financial services firm. She is a graduate of the Missouri University of Science & Technology and lives in the St. Louis area with her husband. Chronicle of the Mound Builders is her first novel.
You can find the author at the following sites: Website.
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