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Interview with Belinda Kroll, author of The Last April

Tell us a little bit about your book.

Spontaneous, fifteen-year-old Gretchen vows to help heal the nation from the recently ended Civil War. On the morning of President Lincoln’s death, Gretchen finds an amnesiac Confederate in her garden and believes this is her chance for civic goodwill.

But reconciliation is not as simple as Gretchen assumed. When her mother returns from the market with news that a Confederate murdered the president, Gretchen wonders if she caught the killer. Tensions between her aunt and mother rise as Gretchen nurses her Confederate prisoner, revealing secrets from their past that make Gretchen question everything she knows about loyalty, honor, and trust.

The Last April is an entertaining, thoughtful novella of Ohio after the Civil War, meant to encourage readers to reflect on themes of fear and hope in uncertain political times.

Have you published before?

Yes, I have two other historical novels under this name. I am also the author of non-fiction and children’s storybooks under the name Binaebi Akah. I am in nine publications, including short stories and contributions to non-fiction works.

  

Are you currently working on anything else?

My journal is filling with percolating ideas. Most seem to center around my first ever  sequel to my Victorian gothic comedy, Haunting Miss Trentwood. I’m also toying with another children’s story book.

 

What is your favorite writing snack?

Does tea count? If yes, then definitely a rooibos vanilla tea, no sugar, and make sure not to burn the tea leaves! If no, then probably… Cheez-its. Crunchy, salty, satisfying.

 

What gets you in the mood to write?

Reading is the quickest way to break a writer’s block for me. When I’m having trouble writing, I start reading books back-to-back. My suspicion is that writing drains the inkwell, and I need to read to replenish. Especially if I’ve spent too much time on the internet, I will read paperback books to step away from the screen. That’s a fantastic way to rekindle the feeling to write.

 

Who is your favorite character and why?

In The Last April, my favorite character is Tante Klegg. She’s pragmatic and knows who she is. She doesn’t let anyone take advantage of her, yet she lets others make their own mistakes in order to learn from them. She’s so much fun.

 

Across all the books I’ve ever read? That’s an impossible question, but I’m game to try answering anyway! Not to be cliche, but I love Elizabeth Bennet for her self-assuredness and willingness to admit when she’s wrong. She knows her own mind (a theme you’ll find with me), she doesn’t whine or pine after anyone, she’s loyal to her crazy family while admitting their faults… She’s just, well, really well-adjusted and clever!

 

Favorite book of all time?

I read Pride and Prejudice seventeen times between the ages of 9 and 18. Beyond that, I don’t think I’ve ever read any other book more than two or three times. I adore the dialogue between Elizabeth and Darcy because while they don’t really like each other from the start, there’s a grudging respect of each other’s intellect that I find really appealing and reasonable.

 

I also kind of love the fact that Elizabeth gets duped by a guy (we’ve all been there). It’s really interesting to watch Elizabeth grow up beyond the pretty boy with the charm and flattery, instead looking beyond first impressions (the original title, by the way) to realize this other guy is far more respectful, respectable, and uses his wealth responsibly. You want Darcy in your corner when the poo hits the fan, guys.

 

I think breakfast says a lot about a person, what is your perfect breakfast?

Egg-white scramble with spinach, tomato, avocado, and feta cheese, with a buttered english muffin on the side.

 

Do you have a favorite period of time that you like to write about or would like to live?

I like writing about English and American women living between 1860 and 1901 for a variety of reasons, but mainly, because this was the first time in the “modern” western world where women gained autonomy.

 

In the United States, the Civil War suddenly left women alone on the homefront, and they began taking the place of men in numbers far greater than even in WWII. I believe the Civil War killed more Americans than any other war before or since, so can you imagine what that did to those left behind?

 

In England, laws were passed in the 1870s granting property rights to married women. This meant that men could no longer assume their wives’ property and wealth upon marriage… should a scandalous divorce occur, the woman could keep her dowry or inheritance, essentially granting her freedom. It was a radical time, and certainly there were more rights to follow, such as access rights to their children should the marriage fall apart, and the right to vote. None of those progressions could have occurred without the right to own property. It’s super fascinating stuff!

 

Please tell us in one sentence why we should read your book!

The Last April is Civil War edutainment meant for all ages... but you don’t have to take my word for it!

Spontaneous, fifteen-year-old Gretchen vows to help heal the nation from the recently ended Civil War. On the morning of President Lincoln’s death, Gretchen finds an amnesiac Confederate in her garden and believes this is her chance for civic goodwill. But reconciliation is not as simple as Gretchen assumed. When her mother returns from the market with news that a Confederate murdered the president, Gretchen wonders if she caught the killer. Tensions between her aunt and mother rise as Gretchen nurses her Confederate prisoner, revealing secrets from their past that make Gretchen question everything she knows about loyalty, honor, and trust. The Last April is an entertaining, thoughtful novella of Ohio after the Civil War, meant to encourage readers to reflect on themes of fear and hope in uncertain political times.

Buy on Amazon

Belinda Kroll is the author of Victorian fiction for kids and teens. She grew up in a home where reading was encouraged and Jeopardy! was on every weeknight. Both activities fostered her love of history. Some of her titles include Catching the Rose, Haunting Miss Trentwood, short story Haunting Miss Trentwood: The Seance, and contemporary short story Mad Maxine. She lives in Central Ohio with her husband and two step-dogs. Go Bucks!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BelindaKrollFans Twitter: https://twitter.com/worderella Author Site: http://worderella.com/ Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4189553.Belinda_Kroll

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