Beth White is the award-winning author of The Pelican Bride. A native Mississippian, she teaches music at an inner-city high school in historic Mobile, Alabama. Her novels have won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Carol Award, the RT Book Club Reviewers’ Choice Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. Learn more at www.bethwhite.net.
Savanna: Welcome to The Engrafted Word, Beth! Congratulations on your upcoming release, The Creole Princess. Can you tell us what first inspired the Gulf Coast Chronicles?
Beth: I conceived the Gulf Coast Chronicles as a series similar to Elswyth Thane’s classic Williamsburg series—which was written and published in the 1940’s and ‘50’s, but which still holds up as wonderful romantic historical adventure. The idea was to take a couple of central families and build a dynastic tale which would incorporate major historic events which took place on the Gulf Coast. Book 1, The Pelican Bride, launched the series with the establishment of the Lanier family and the city of Mobile, Louisiana Territory, during the French Colonial period (1704).
The Creole Princess, Book 2 of the series, skips a couple of generations and places the reader in Mobile at the outbreak of the American Revolution.
Savanna: Did you have a favorite scene from The Creole Princess? Without giving too much away, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Beth: The scene that was the most fun to write was sort of in the middle of the book when I knew that Rafa, the hero, would have to either ask Lyse to marry him and take her out of Mobile—or leave her there, vulnerable to prosecution as a traitor. When I began writing that scene, I honestly didn’t know which way it was going to go (and I’m not going to provide a spoiler here). But as the dialogue unfolded, it took on a life of its own, Rafa was so perfectly “himself”—funny, self-deprecating, and clever—and I couldn’t be happier with the plot twist that developed.
Savanna: Sounds like such a fun scene! 😉 How long did it take you to write this book?
Beth: I started reading and researching for The Creole Princess right after I turned in the first draft of The Pelican Bride to my editor. I always have good intentions of “starting early”…and I did write about a third of the manuscript during the summer of 2013. But once school started that fall (I’m a choral director in an inner-city high school), my writing schedule got very…unpredictable, let’s say. The last 2/3 of the book was written in a wild, panicked, marathon of two months. This “method,” by the way, is not recommended for stable mental health.
Savanna: That’s incredible determination! Way to go, Beth! 😉
You mentioned you teach choir and piano in an inner-city public high school. What is one of your favorite songs?
Beth: My musical taste is all over the map, and my favorite song changes nearly every week. Right now I’m listening to American Authors’ album Oh What a Life, and I love the song “Hit It” because of the percussion and the banjo. Call me shallow…
On a little more classical/spiritual note, I adore Christopher Tin’s “Baba Yetu,” recorded by the Sowetu Gospel Choir. It’s “The Lord’s Prayer” in Swahili.
Savanna: I LOVE “Baba Yetu”! I often play it on repeat. 😉 It’s amazing!
What is one of your most unforgettable moments from your writing career to date?
Beth: Well, it’s hard to beat that first phone call from an editor at Tyndale House, offering me a contract for a novella. But typing “The End” on The Creole Princess was amazing. The first part of the book was so hard, felt like pulling glass through my pores, then the ending gushed out almost as if it came from somebody dumping words into my brain. I felt literally giddy with elation when it was done.
Savanna: Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
Beth: I’m currently working on the third book in The Gulf Coast Chronicles, The Magnolia Duchess. It is set near the end of the War of 1812 and involves the British invasion of New Orleans. The lead characters are the children of protagonists of Creole Princess. It will release about this time next year. After that I’ll have a short break before I begin a brand-new three-book series set in Reconstruction Era Tupelo, Mississippi—The Daughtry House series.
I’m so grateful to have these books contracted by Revell. Deadlines force me to actually complete projects. I am a champion procrastinator.
Savanna: Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Beth. It’s been great having you! Hope you have a blessed and happy 2015!
Beth has graciously offered to give away a copy of The Creole Princess. Enter below and it could be YOU! 😉
Thanks for entering! Contest is open only in the U.S. and ends March 31, 2015. The winner will be notified by email. Happy Reading, everybody! 😉