Happy Monday, Reader Friends!
Today I’m sharing the interview I did with Tamera Lynn Kraft, author of the Red Sky Over America. Have you had a chance to read it yet? It sounds like a great book. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee) and chat with Tamera!
About the Book
The Blurb: “William and America confront evil, but will it costs them everything?
In 1857, America, the daughter of a slave owner, is an abolitionist and a student at Oberlin College, a school known for its radical ideas. America goes home to Kentucky during school break to confront her father about freeing his slaves.
America’s classmate, William, goes to Kentucky to preach abolition to churches that condone slavery. America and William find themselves in the center of the approaching storm sweeping the nation and may not make it home to Ohio or live through the struggle.
Red Sky Over America tackles the most turbulent time in history with thorough research and fascinating characters. Tamera Lynn Kraft has woven a tale about the evils of slavery that should never be forgotten. — Mary Ellis, author of The Quaker and the Rebel, The Lady and the Officer, and The Last Heiress.”
Toni: Welcome, Tamera! Thank you for joining me today. Before we talk about your latest release, let’s learn more about you. Are you a…
Coffee or tea drinker?
Tamera: Tea Drinker. I’m a bit of a tea snob, so get out the tealeaves and tea strainer tea pot, and I’m happy.
Toni: I can’t argue with that. Cat or dog lover?
Tamera: Dogs. Cats make my eyes water. I’m allergic.
Toni: Oh no! Book or movie person?
Tamera: Both. I love books, and I love classic movies for the 30s and 40s as well as an occasional good modern movie.
Toni: Classics are great! Facebook or Twitter fan?
Tamera: Facebook. I’m on Twitter, but I enjoy Facebook more and gravitate toward it.
Toni: Agreed. Tell us what kind of research you did for Red Sky Over America.
Tamera: First, I googled about Oberlin College and the women who graduated from there in the 1850s. I also checked out the Oberlin College History Site. Then I traveled to Oberlin. It’s only an hour from my house. It’s a beautiful college town. I went to Oberlin College and spent over an hour talking to the library archives director at the college and took a ton of notes. He recommended two books about the history of Oberlin College at that time which I devoured. I poked around there for another few hours then went back a couple of times to fill in certain details.
Then I researched slavery in Kentucky. I was surprised to learn more slaves were bought and sold in Kentucky than any other slave state. Maysville had the most slave trade. What I found fascinating was most escaped slaves crossed the Ohio River just a few miles from Maysville. It was the narrowest part of the river and often froze in the winter.
On the Kentucky side, it had a lot of brush that hid the river from view. On the Ohio side is the small town of Ripley. Ripley had two abolitionists on the Underground Railroad. One was a free black man, John Parker, who owned a business there and would travel across the river at night to rescue slaves. The other was Reverend John Parker who owned a house, clearly visible from the Kentucky side, with 100 steps up to it. It is believed over a thousand fugitive slaves hid in his house on their way to freedom.
Of course, I also visited all of these sites and learned as much as I could about them. I also visited the Cincinnati Freedom Center. There is a real historic slave pen at the center which I used in Red Sky Over America.
I also did research about the time period, culture, mode of dress, and a dozen other things. I’m very thorough in my research. I hope to immerse the reader in the culture and time period I’m writing about.
Toni: Wow! Your research sounds fascinating and time consuming. What made you decide to write about the abolitionist movement?
Tamera: It didn’t start out that way. I was reading about strong women who became preachers and missionaries in the mid-1800s. I started noticing a trend. Almost all of these women had a connection with Oberlin College. That’s when I started researching Oberlin. I found out that Charles Finney, the fiery Second Great Awakening preacher, was the president of the college at the time and that the students from the college went on to be involved in every social issue at the time and made significant changes for the Kingdom of God. I also found out it was the first college before the Civil War to allow blacks and women to get college degrees beside white men. I was intrigued. I used those social causes in my series, Ladies of Oberlin. Red Sky Over America deals with abolition and slavery. The second book, Lost in the Storm, will deal with women’s rights. The third in the series, The Aftermath, is about a woman involved in the prohibition movement.
Toni: Sounds like a series to make you think. If you had the opportunity to go to 1857, what do you think your life would look like and would you miss present day?
Tamera: I would hope I’d be one of those Oberlin women who bucked the trends and changed the world. I suspect I would be a housewife on a small farm raising 15 children and mourning the loss of a few others since the mortality rate was so high. It would be a difficult life whichever route my life took. On the other hand, it would be interesting to be around when all these pivotal events in history were happening, but I would rather live in the present time. I’m too spoiled by modern conveniences and the advances in medicine and other fields.
Toni: I feel the same. Lastly, can you tell us what you’re working on now?
Tamera: I am currently getting the next book in the Ladies of Oberlin Series, Lost in the Storm, ready for my editor. Here’s a blurb for the whole series.
“It’s the middle of the 18th century, a troubled time in American history, when strong women find it difficult to find their place in society. Three women dare to fight against social injustices, but when they fall in love, things get complicated.
Three women roommates, graduates of Oberlin College, challenge society norms to do what is right even though it may cost them everything, including love. Oberlin College, considered radical at the time, was the only co-education, multi-racial college before the Civil War, and its graduates were involved in many progressive era issues including abolition, women’s suffrage, prohibition, and the missionary movement.
In Red Sky over America, in a nation on the brink of war, America confronts slavery and risks being alienated from her slave owning father. In Lost in the Storm, during the Civil War, Lavena challenges a profession ruled by men to become a war correspondent, but will she keep her job by destroying the man she loves? In The Aftermath, when Betsy’s husband comes home from the war as an alcoholic, she uses unladylike tactics to fight against the evils of drink to save her marriage.
Meet the Ladies of Oberlin, the causes they’re willing to fight for, and the men who capture their hearts.”
Toni: Thank you so much for sharing! Readers, do you have any questions for Tamera?
About the Author
Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest and has other novels and novellas in print. She’s been married for 39 years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and three grandchildren.
Tamera has been a children’s pastor for over 20 years. She is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire for Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist and has written children’s church curriculum. She is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.
You can contact Tamera on her website at http://tameralynnkraft.net.