Monday, March 9, 2015

Interview with Peni Jo Renner, author of Letters to Kezia

Author interviews are one of my favorite things to post which is why I am super excited to welcome author Peni Jo Renner to Flashlight Commentary to discuss Letters to Kezia.

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Welcome back to Flashlight Commentary Peni. It’s great to have you with us. To start things off, please tell us a bit about Letters to Kezia.
Letters to Kezia is the sequel to Puritan Witch, opening shortly after Puritan Witch leaves off. It’s the result of my answering the question most readers asked me after reading Puritan Witch—“What happened to Daniel?” 

As an author, did you enjoy revisiting the characters from your previous work? 
Oh yes I did. I did have a fan of PW say she hoped I would bring back poor abused Dorcas Good, but I couldn’t find a way to work her into this new plot. It was fun to bring back the villains, and show even more despicable sides to them, and of course it was a joy to revisit Rebecca and her son John, whom I am off of! 

Daniel and Mary take refuge among the Algonquins. Can you tell us a little about the tribe and their role in the book? 
I intentionally used the term Algonquians because it addresses a number of Northeastern tribes of that region. According to my research, the Algonquin tribes were enemies with the Iroquois, another First Nations cluster of tribes. I didn’t want to have to get too specific in identifying the Indians because there is so much diversity among them I didn’t want to get any details wrong.

Daniel Eames plays an important role in Letters to Kezia. What exactly does Mary see in him? 
He’s the quintessential bad boy! She’s the dutiful minister’s daughter, and he represents wildness and sexuality—something she’s never had to face before. Of course she is smitten with him! And Daniel isn’t all bad, mind you. He’s crude and maybe goes about things the wrong way, but in his heart he means well.

You probably have many, but is there a scene you particularly enjoyed writing? 
I loved bringing Rebecca back! I admire her so much, everything she went through, and still lived on to the ripe old age of 82! Writing scenes with Rebecca in them seemed to be the most fun because during the writing of PW it really felt like was channeling her. I couldn’t not bring her back, to show again her undying motherly love.

What scene posed the greatest challenge for you as an author? Why was it troublesome and how did you work through it?
As with Puritan Witch, the court scenes were difficult to write because I am not that familiar with how the Colonial system worked. So I tried to focus on the emotions and the people rather than the legalities and formalities.

Historical novelists frequently have to adjust facts to make their stories work. Did you have to invent or change anything while writing Letters to Kezia and if so, what did you alter?  
I created an entire town! In reality, Daniel turns up in Hartford, CT, but I changed the name to Hereford because, like I said, most of the characters were fictional anyway.  That was the big fact-tweaking, but I think I populated Hereford pretty well. 

If you could sit down and talk with one of your characters, maybe meet and discuss things over drinks, who would you choose and why?
Oh, Rebecca, hands down! How did you survive what you went through? That’s what I’d ask her. She was, after all, flesh and blood—my flesh and blood. I’m honored to have someone with so much endurance in my family tree.

Just because I’m curious, if you could pick a fantasy cast to play the leads in a screen adaptation of Letters to Kezia, who would you hire? 
Wow. That’s tough. When I first pictured Daniel,  I imagined him as a young Clint Eastwood. I would have to have a casting call to see if I could find my characters. I really can’t think who I’d want to play the leads.

Finally, what's next for you? Do you have a new project in the works? 
Well, I allude to a third book when Absalom Hart recalls his witnessing the Cocheco Massacre. That incident occurred in 1689 New Hampshire, and I am descended from at least 5 families who were impacted by that massacre. So…I am currently researching that event, with forty percent of the characters being my own ancestors. It should be fun!

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“In the tradition of author Peni Jo Renner’s gripping debut novel, Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames, Letters to Kezia recounts the tale of courageous, compassionate, and relatable Mary, whose connection to Rebecca and her family is unforeseen and profound. The reader is captivated at the very first page, as Letters to Kezia is a story of forbidden love, deep family secrets, intrigue, murder, and atonement. Another beautifully written triumph for this author, whose immense gift for story-telling transports the reader into each scene so deftly, one can almost smell the wood smoke and hear the crackling of the fire in the hearth.” – Kelly Z. Conrad, award-winning author of Shaman

“Peni Jo Renner enthralled readers with Puritan Witch, the ordeal of Rebecca Eames, who was condemned to hang from Salem’s gallows as a witch. Now the Eames saga continues as Peni uses her special brand of witchery to bring Mary Case and Daniel Eames to vivid life, and shows us just how much a young woman will risk for love. Letters to Kezia is a poignant, true-life tale from colonial New England’s heartland which will captivate you, and keep you guessing until the end.” - JoAnn Butler, author of Rebel Puritan and The Reputed Wife

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PENI JO RENNER is the author of the IPPY award-winning novel, Puritan Witch: the Redemption of Rebecca Eames. Originally from North Dakota, Peni now lives with her husband in Maryland where she is currently researching for the third book in the Puritan Chronicles series.

Website ❧  Facebook ❧  Twitter

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Format: Print & eBook
Publication Date: January 14, 2015
Released by: iUniverse
ISBN-13: 978-1491755365
Length: 208 pages
Series: Book Two, The Puritan Chronicles
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Check Out All The Stops on Peni Jo Renner's Letters to Kezia Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 9
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, March 10
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Wednesday, March 11
Guest Post at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Thursday, March 12
Guest Post at Mythical Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Friday, March 13
Review at Just One More Chapter
Review at Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, March 16
Interview at Becky on Books
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Tuesday, March 17
Review at Deal Sharing Aunt

Wednesday, March 18
Review at Quirky Book Reviews

Thursday, March 19
Review at Book Nerd
Interview at Dianne Ascroft Blog

Friday, March 20
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Monday, March 23
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Friday, March 27
Review at Book Babe

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