Meet M.K. Tilghman, author of Divided Loyalties.
1. Divided Loyalties is set in Sharpsburg, MD, during the time of the Civil War. What inspired you to write a story set in this time period?
Since I was a little girl, I have been a huge fan of Clara Barton. I think hers was the first biography I ever read. I was originally going to write a story based in Valley Forge — of ordinary people rubbing elbows with the people of history — but found myself thinking of Clara. I decided to change my focus from Valley Forge to Sharpsburg and from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War. Clara makes a cameo appearance, far smaller than I originally planned. As I did my research, facts got in the way and I found a new hero, Maria Hall, who has a key role in my story.
2. Given the chance, what part of the world would you most like to visit during this time period?
I have to say Sharpsburg. I’ve spent a lot of time here in my imagination (and in real life, too.) The countryside is beautiful, the town is charming. But it must have been such a difficult time for families who were proud of their boys and terrified for them, at the same time. The battle here was important, too. It set in motion President Lincoln’s plan to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Perhaps I should have chosen Washington, D.C. I would like to stand behind this great man and watch him write that important document.
3. Which would you least
like to visit?
Sharpsburg. It’s the same answer because the carnage on September 17, 1862, was so devastating. The number of casualties on this day and in this place was the worst in American history, worse even than D-Day. I can’t imagine walking through the battlefields, seeing so many dead and suffering young men.
4. Finally, what are you working on and where can readers find you?
I am nearly done my second historical novel. ROSALIND’S HEART tells the story of a young woman visiting Annapolis during the days when General Washington was coming to town to resign his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. It’s a little history, a little Cinderella story — Rosalind’s trunk has fallen into the harbor and she has nothing to wear to the upcoming festivities. She needs a fairy godmother when she learns every dressmaker in town is already too busy to make her new clothes. It’s a light-hearted story.
Next I will revise the first draft of my third book, FIRE, which follows the heroic exploits of a couple of teenagers fighting the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904. And I’ve outlined my fourth, ROOM AT THE INN, the story of an innkeeper during a hurricane in 1890s Ocean City, Md., a time when women ran the hotels there. I’m writing that during National Novel Writing Month in November. I have written all my first drafts during NaNoWriMo.
Readers can find news of my books on my website, MaryKTilghmanWrites.com and I’m on Facebook at MaryKTilghmanWrites.