Shrapnel Blog Tour!

Today I am lucky to have the lovely Stephanie Lawton on the blog to celebrate her new book Shrapnel.

Here is a little bit about Shrapnel.

It’s been six years since Dylanie and her family visited a Civil War site and the place came alive with cannon fire. Problem was, no one could hear it but her.

Now she’s sixteen, her dad’s moved out, her mom’s come out of the closet and Dylan’s got a spot on Paranormal Teen, a reality TV show filming at historic Oakleigh Mansion. She’ll spend a weekend with two other psychic teens—Jake and Ashley—learning how to control her abilities.

None of them realized how much their emotional baggage would put them at the mercy of Oakleigh’s resident spirits, or that they’d find themselves pawns in the 150-year-old battle for the South’s legendary Confederate gold. Each must conquer their personal ghosts to face down Jackson, a seductive spirit who will do anything to protect the gold’s current location and avenge a heinous attack that destroyed his family.

1. What made you want to collide the Civil War, psychic teens, and reality television?

I don’t watch much TV, but my husband does and I sometimes get sucked into this shows. He was watching an episode of Brad Meltzer’s Decoded that featured the Knights of the Golden Circle and the fate of the legendary Confederate gold. Since we only moved to the South three years ago, things like this interest us Yankees! It’s certainly a different point of view and a part of history that we don’t know much about.

I’ve also had an interest in psychics since I was young. I always wished I had special abilities, but I’m afraid “mother’s intuition” is as far as my talents extend. I used to watch Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal on A&E (a reality TV show) and shake my head in awe of the kids (some still in early middle school, some as old as 19), who not only had to deal with the crap of growing up, but also had to deal with these abilities they didn’t know how to control. Many were scared to death of going to sleep, going to school and having an episode, etc. They either clung to their parents or felt rejected by them because they were different.

My husband and I are history nerds and have been delving into the history of Mobile, Alabama, since we moved here. My husband has always been a Civil War enthusiast, so moving down here from Ohio was quite an education. He’s had to rethink the whole war from the Confederate perspective. While dorking out, we learned that a woman had hung the Union Jack over the balcony of her home to ward off Union soldiers looking to take over and possibly destroy the beautiful homes in occupied Mobile. We originally thought it had taken place at the Bragg-Mitchell Mansion, but later learned it happened at Oakleigh.

On a long car ride, he and I put our heads together and plotted out the main storyline of Shrapnel. Later, I did more research and the characters came to me. The rest is history!

2. Have you visited any Civil War sites like Dylanie? Ever felt a connection to anything there?

I’ve visited a number of Civil War sites. In undergrad I went to Gettysburg, but didn’t have any unusual experiences. When we moved to Mobile, we toured the Bragg-Mitchell Mansion, and of course, Oakleigh Mansion. All the oak trees were cut down around the Bragg-Mitchell to give Confederates free range to bomb any approaching Union troops (it never happened) and all the furnishings were removed to Bragg’s plantation further north so they’d stay out of Union hands. Ironically, the plantation was burned by troops, but the Bragg-Mitchell was mostly untouched. We’ve also been to Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island, where Shrapnel opens. One of these days we want to head across Mobile Bay and tour Fort Morgan.

While researching Shrapnel, we also visited Fort Blakeley, which isn’t actually a fort and never really was. A number of earthen works still exist, and you can plainly see where the battles took place, but there aren’t any structures still standing. I also found old maps online that showed the location of the former Fort Jeb Stuart in Mobile. We drove around a couple neighborhoods trying to see where it may have stood. As far as we can tell, it’s now an empty corner lot.

Unfortunately, I’ve never had any cool psychic experiences, but my husband has. I’m so jealous!

3. How did your writing experience differ between SHRAPNEL and WANT?

The two experiences couldn’t have been more different! It took three years to write Want, which was character-based, but because I had a historical timeline to follow with Shrapnel, and it’s plot-based, I managed to write the first draft in just a few months. I took a few more months to revise, and revise again, but start to finish was less than a year. It’s much more fast-paced and much shorter than Want.

4. If you could go back and witness any event during the Civil War (doesn’t have to be a battle, can be anything) what would it be?
Hmm, I’m not big on the actual battles (I’m more interested in the social aspects), but it might be cool to witness the burning of Atlanta like in Gone with the Wind. It would be dramatic but scary.
I’d also love to see the exchange between Mary Irwin and the Union soldiers when they tried to take over Oakleigh (as mentioned in Shrapnel). Was she scared and meek, silently unfurling the flag over the porch and hoping for the best? Or was she a feisty Irishwoman who gave them the what-for? I like to think they got a kick out of her chutzpah and figured the house was more trouble than it was worth.

5. What made you choose to set the location of SHRAPNEL in Oakleigh Mansion?
As I mentioned before, I originally thought the Union flag incident happened at the Bragg-Mitchell Mansion because John Bragg was a politician and judge in Mobile. When I learned it was Oakleigh, my husband and I went on a tour of the house and fell in love with its history. It’s also located near Mobile Bay and the former site of Fort Jeb Stuart, which also lends plausibility to the storyline of the book. It makes the “what-if” more believable.

6. Any hints on future projects?
Certainly! The adult follow-up to Want, called Need, comes out in May. It picks up about two months after Want ends and is told from Isaac’s point-of-view. Right now I’m working on a WIP that’s been brewing for the better part of a year. I’ve started and stopped it several times, but I think the time is right to move forward on it. It’s set in rural Ohio (not the South!), kind of pre-apocalyptic, and will be New Adult. Of course, I could change my mind tomorrow … 

Thanks so much for the great questions and for having me! xoxo

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And here a link to the main tour page!