Message From The Author

Author's Message



Lots of people talk about wanting to get away to a tropical paradise. But Kathleen Eschenburg wanted to get away from one. The historical author's writing career began while she was running a resort in the Caribbean country of Belize. "I began writing as a
form of therapy a few years after my husband died," she says. "Looking back with some gained wisdom, I can admit that the resort in Belize was my first effort at finding the new me—or
rediscovering the old, single me. I was a few years into that before
I realized that although I love tropical beaches, I didn't love the
hospitality industry. Writing that book was much better therapy."

Her second manuscript was published in October 2001 as The Nightingale's Song (HarperTorch), and the old-fashioned saga set in the Civil Warera South captured readers' hearts. The novel won critical praise, as well as honors like the HOLT Medallion, the Golden Quill and a RITA nomination. This month, she returns with a sequel, SEEN BY MOONLIGHT, about an arranged marriage, beginning on the eve of the war.

Growing up with her grandparents—both children of Civil War veterans—in Virginia in the 1950s and '60s, Eschenburg heard many tales about the Old South. The latter years also brought the Civil War centennial, the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. "I was poised upon adulthood, when you are seeking answers to all the big questions," Eschenburg says. "How to reconcile those childhood stories of chivalry, glory and Southern honor with the nation's ongoing racial problems and the graphic pictures of men at war that appeared nightly on the news became one of those big questions—one that still intrigues me." To the author's credit, she weaves such issues and complexities into her novels. The secondary love story in SEEN BY MOONLIGHT features one of the author's favorite characters, a slave woman named Patsy. "She was the most difficult to create, and the one of whom I think I am most proud. She's a strong woman—one I'd love to have as a best friend."

It's the kind of description one might use for Eschenburg. This year, she was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. "Talk about a wake-up call!" she exclaims. "I was lucky; my cancer is curable. (Shameless plug: Mammograms save lives. Don't put it off and don't allow someone you love to put it off. Make an appointment now.) I believe my life has taught me something about surviving—or rather, what degree of strength and purpose is necessary to survive well. And it is, I think, the single character trait that all my characters share. They are survivors. Life has not always been kind to them, but because of their struggles, they change and grow—and come out on the other side as stronger, better people—people worthy of great love."

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