I love connecting with authors in writers groups on social media, but every now and then I’ll meet an author in an unexpected place. Historical romance author Maggie Mooha is a fellow musician and graduate of Illinois State University, and on our Facebook group she recently announced the release of her new novel. A mutual friend assured me that Maggie’s stories are wonderful, so I contacted her and asked her to share the story behind this book. Please welcome Maggie!
I know this sounds hokey, but the idea for this book literally came to me in a dream. Just before I woke up, I saw two women in Victorian dress and a man behind them with the cap some of the troops wore in the Crimean War. Somehow, I knew that the women were sisters, so I got the idea that they were rivals for this man. From that germ of an idea came In the Eye of the Beholder, my third book.
All my novels incorporate historical figures and true events. So far, the events have been revolution or war. I joke with my sister that I never got over our dad’s PTSD. He was in WWII and Patton’s Airborne division, climbing the cliffs on Omaha Beach on D-Day and was wounded twice, finally ending up in a German POW camp where they had no anesthetic for wounded prisoners. Unlike a lot of men of that era, he could talk about his experiences. I suppose those war stories inspired my love of history and the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. Each of my books, in its own way, is the story of the growth and triumph.
My books are considered historical romance, and I know that many people look askance at romance novels. I believe they can be more than just a guilty pleasure. I like to think of my novels as love stories as well as romances. Romance fades quickly; love endures. Once one adds in the sweep of history, the story takes on depth and weight and hopefully becomes compelling and worth the reader’s time.
THE TRUE BEAUTY
Intellectual, frank, and outspoken, Eleanor Sherbrook is everything a Victorian lady should not be. Her sister Julia is a stunning beauty who can have anyone she sets her sights on – and she sets them on the man Eleanor loves: the gallant and handsome Lieutenant Joshua Griffiths Wentworth.
Brokenhearted, Eleanor leaves England to become a nurse at the infamous British Army hospital in Scutari, Turkey near where Joshua is mired in war. As a member of the ill-fated Light Brigade, he and his comrades make the charge into the Valley of Death.
Thrown together, and forced to face cruelty and loss in a war-torn land, Eleanor and Joshua’s bond grows deeper every day. The folly and glory of the Crimean War forever changes them as they struggle to find a love strong enough to emerge from the ashes of their shared ordeal.
Maggie began her career by writing a series of brilliant screenplays and teleplays which remain, stubbornly, unproduced. After taking yet another university extension course in screenwriting, she learned the most valuable lesson of her writing career: No one wants a screenplay from a screenwriter over 40 (maybe it was over 50 – anyway, too old). Books, however, can be written by anyone. I mean, who knows how old you are?
It took four years to give birth to the first one (novel, that is), but how to know if it is really as dazzling or even marketable as one thinks it is. So, after finally finishing Elizabeth in the New World, to answer that question for herself at least, she set about finding “publishers who take unsolicited manuscripts.” (It’s a thing – really.) One year and one large spreadsheet filled with “no, no, no, no, thank you, but no” later, it happened. Two, count them, TWO publishers wanted it in the same week. The rest is history, or really, historical fiction, which is what she writes. (Did I mention the Star Trek novel she wrote in the 80’s? Oh, never mind, got an agent, but didn’t get published.)
She also climbed Kilimanjaro, stood on The Great Wall of China, walked under Eiffel Tower in Paris and stood with Solidarity as they called an end to a strike in Warsaw. She also has a grown son, a very old dog and likes to cook. But can she write? Well, read some of her stuff and you decide.