An Interview with Emma Malcolm from Heidi Chiavaroli’s The Tea Chest

Novel PASTimes:Welcome to Novel Pastimes, Emma. I see you had a hand in participating in the Boston Tea Party?

Emma: Party? I’m afraid I don’t understand.

Novel PASTimes: You know, the dumping of the tea on the night of December 16, 1773?

Emma: Oh, the dumping of the tea! Aye, though I can’t think of a more tension-filled party to be at. True, there was quite a crowd that night, but the silence while the men dumped the tea was almost eerie, so secretive—nothing at all fitting for a party. I remember the cracking and splitting of the chests echoing off the water. ’Twas so quiet we could hear the tea leaves falling into the frigid harbor. We could inhale their exotic scent. An odd party, indeed.

Novel PASTimes:Wow. Sounds like quite an experience. And yet, I’m confused, for it appears you are the daughter of feared customs official John Malcolm. How did you come to be a part of such a treasonous event?

Emma:Please know I didn’t enter into any of this lightly. My father is a man of the Crown, but after befriending the Fultons and a printer’s apprentice named Noah, I came to see their side of things. My own father stifled my voice much like the Crown attempted to do with the colonies. He wanted me to marry Samuel Clarke, a dreadful man. I suppose it only natural that I fell on the side of liberty. Still, it doesn’t make what some of the Patriots did to my father right. Tarring and feathering is a brutal business and I will never forget the horror of that night.

Novel PASTimes: I am so sorry, and what a difficult place to be caught in. Tell us, what part did you play in the dumping of the tea?

Emma:I came up with the idea of using Mohawk disguises. Most who participated adopted this, and I aided Noah in his masquerade. If only we had taken more care with the oath . . .

Novel PASTimes: Oath?

Emma: ’Twas a round robin to which the men signed their names. An oath of honor and secrecy. I was careless with it—I should have burned it the minute I realized Noah had left it behind. But I feared he had need of it. If only Samuel hadn’t found me with it! After that, I had no choice but to protect those I loved, even if it meant giving up the life I longed for, even if it meant marrying Samuel.

Novel PASTimes: How horrible for you. How did you bear it?

Emma: Mayhap we should save some of the enticing parts for the story?

Novel PASTimes: Oh, forgive me. You’re absolutely right. Maybe instead you could tell us of the tea chest handed down in your family over the generations?

Emma: Was it? That does make my heart merry. I found that chest the morning after the dumping of the tea. For me, it symbolized what I shared with Noah and the Fultons, something I could no longer embrace in a marriage to Samuel. ’Tis still very painful to speak of.

Novel PASTimes:Of course. Perhaps you could talk of your time at Bunker Hill, instead? Or your daring mission into enemy-occupied Boston?

Emma: None of these topics are for the faint of heart, I’m afraid. I will never forget how I worked alongside Sarah Fulton to nurse the men in that field in Medford after Bunker Hill. My eyes have never seen such horror, and I pray they never do again. And Noah . . . the remembrance of it is still too much to bear. Yet time has eased the pain in some ways as well. Looking back, I can see the Lord’s hand in the midst of our darkness. He never did leave us. And when freedom finally came for our country, I felt it mirrored the eternal freedom stirring in my soul as well.

Novel PASTimes: That is beautiful. Thank you so much for spending some time with us. We look forward to reading more of your story!

Heidi Chiavaroli writes women’s fiction, exploring places that whisper of historical secrets. Her debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, was a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist, a Romantic TimesTop Pick and a BooklistTop Ten Romance Debut. She makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and her two sons.

Interview with Nathan Hale’s Fiancé (from The Hidden Side)

The Hidden Side CoverToday we welcome Mercy from Heidi Chiavaroli’s The Hidden Side.

Novel PASTimes: I’ve always been inspired by the late Revolutionary Spy Nathan Hale, but I never realized he planned to marry! Please, tell me your name and how you met the late Mr. Hale.

Mercy: My name is Mercy Howard. I met my beloved Nathan through a mutual friend of ours, Benjamin Tallmadge. He and Nathan attended Yale together and when Nathan visited Ben on Long Island…well, I am not certain I believe in love at first sight, but ’twasn’t long before we were sending letters across the Sound and planning a future together.

Novel PASTimes: How sweet! You mentioned Benjamin Tallmadge. Wasn’t he the head of the Revolutionary CIA?

Mercy: CI—forgive me, I’m not familiar with that.

Novel PASTimes: The Central Intelligence Agency…you know, spies?

Mercy: Oh my! One does not openly talk of such things where I come from. Spying is a business best suited for blackguards and scoundrels. Cheats and cowards. Are you certain ’tis safe to mention here?

Novel PASTimes: I assure you it is.

Mercy: Very well, then. If you insist. I’ve been wanting to unburden myself with my secret for some time.

Novel PASTimes: Secret?

 Mercy: I suppose it all began with Nathan…nay, perhaps before that. My uncle, William Howard, betrayed the Patriots when he led General Howe through Jamaica Pass. If not for his disloyalty, General Washington may have stood a chance at the Battle of Brooklyn, and New York wouldn’t be occupied by the King’s Army as it is now. 

Novel PASTimes: Ouch. I can see why that would bother you. And what about Nathan? Did you know of his espionage activities?

Mercy: My, you are bold! What must people in the 21st century be like to speak so openly of such things! Do you promise you won’t think less of him?

Novel PASTimes: Dear Mercy, I think you would be happy to know that many look on your Nathan as a hero.

Mercy: Truly? That does lighten my heart! Very well, then. Though ’tis rather intimate, I will share some…. Nathan did not impart his mission to me, though I wish he had. I saw him two nights b-before he met his demise. He acted oddly, but I thought him only nervous. My poor Nathan. He should have never been behind enemy lines. He was too open, too honest to excel in a profession that requires dishonesty.

Novel PASTimes: And what about you, Miss Howard? How did you become involved in the Culper Spy Ring—General Washington’s intelligence circle, that is?

Mercy (lowering her voice): You see, when my childhood friend, Abraham Woodhull—

Novel PASTimes: Abraham Woodhull? I love watching him on AMC’s TURN: Washington’s Spies!

Mercy: I’m afraid I haven’t an inkling of what you speak. Nevertheless, when Abraham first asked me to be a part of his…endeavors, I refused. ’Twas only after my sister suffered at the hands of a soldier quartering in our house that I decided I simply must do something. First Uncle William’s betrayal, then Nathan’s death, then my sister’s suffering. ’Twas more than I could stand to watch! Beneath Abraham’s urging, I decided to pay my Aunt Beatrice an extended visit in York City.

Novel PASTimes: She is a loyalist, isn’t she?

Mercy: Aye. ’Tis…complicated. Yet Aunt Beatrice is in a position that is beneficial for my—uh, activities.

Novel PASTimes: And while in Manhattan, you met a certain Major in the King’s Army, is that right? 

Mercy: John Andre…yes. I do wish he was not quite so charming. In many ways, he reminds me of my Nathan. Yet I have business to do. General Washington depends upon me, as does my family, burdened by the presence of those redcoats. Why, even Nathan’s memory bids me to hasten forth for the sake of the Patriot cause. I absolutely refuse to disappoint them.

Thank you, Mercy, for sharing so openingly here on PASTimes. We do hope you aren’t fearing too much for the survival of the Revolution. (Yes, that’s a hint.)

Heidi's Author PhotoHeidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner and grace-clinger. She loves exploring places that whisper of historical secrets. Heidi’s debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, was a Romantic Times Top Pick and a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut. She makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle. Visit her online at heidichiavaroli.com

 

 

Introducing Lady Elisabeth from Laura Frantz’s The Lacemaker

 

The Lacemaker-Book CoverToday we welcome Lady Elisabeth from the novel The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz.

 Novel PASTimes: Welcome, Lady Elisabeth. If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

Lady Elisabeth: I would walk through the gardens of Ty Mawr and Ty Bryn and spend the day with my twins in the fresh Virginia air. We’d enjoy a picnic of my husband’s favorite Welsh bara brith and tea and the like. I’d pick flowers for the foyer and bedchambers of Ty Mawr.

Novel PASTimes: What impression do you make on people when they first meet you?

Lady Elisabeth: Hmm…my dear husband, Noble, told me he first thought me pretty in a pale sort of way. I think people once viewed me as the spoiled only daughter of an overbearing aristocrat and believed me to be timid and vapid. Appearances are deceiving!

Novel PASTimes: What’s your idea of a good marriage?

Lady Elisabeth: Trust. And friendship. Both make a firm foundation. Noble first noticed me when my life turned upside down. Though it was a terrible trial at the time, if that was what led to marriage, my downfall was worth the price if that was what brought us together. At first, with others questioning whether or not I was a Tory spy, he had to determine whether to trust me. His life was on the line. Mine, too. I knew I could trust him from the outset when so many proved false. I trusted him with my life when my own father and supposed friends failed me. Most importantly, a shared faith is paramount. That has helped us weather a war and far more.

Novel PASTimes: What are you most proud of about your life?

Lady Elisabeth: Using the skills as a lacemaker learned from my mother and grandmother to help me through a tumultuous time. Remaining a lady when my title and lifestyle were stripped from me. Remembering who I belong to as the daughter of an eternal king if not an earthly earl.

Novel PASTimes: What do you believe about God?

Lady Elisabeth: I believe He holds all the world and events of history in His mighty hands. People of my day often refer to God as a distant being and call Him ‘Providence’ but I believe in a personal God who has a plan for my life, always bringing good from evil, always giving me hope. Sometimes His protection and leading are best seen in hindsight.

Novel PASTimes: What’s the worst thing that’s happened in your life?

Lady Elisabeth: Losing my home and family at the start of the American Revolution. Yet God has brought tremendous good out of heartache. I mean, here I am with a true, happy family in a beautiful house of my own with children and a loving husband. Before I had an unhappy, estranged family always at odds.

Novel PASTimes: Tell me about your best friend.

Lady Elisabeth: Once upon a time I would have said my former friends in Williamsburg, but few have stayed true. My husband is my best friend. He was my best friend since first meeting though I didn’t know it back then. He proved his friendship time after time, standing by me even at the risk of losing his own friends and fellow Patriots who suspected me of being a spy.
Novel PASTimes: What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

Lady Elisabeth: I rather like my old friend’s, Mister Benjamin Franklin:

The body of B. Franklin,

Printer,

Like the cover of an old book

Its contents torn out,

And stripped of its lettering and gilding,

lies here, food for worms.

But the work shall not be wholly lost,

for it will, as he believed, appear once more,

in a new and more perfect edition,

corrected and amended

by the Author.

Novel PASTimes: What a unique and thought-provoking epitaph. What are you most afraid of?

Lady Elisabeth: Losing my children. So many young ones don’t live beyond childhood in this day and age. They’ve brought such joy to my life. I’d like to keep them little forever, but in health and prosperity. But I also know, if the Lord were to take them, that heaven is far better than here.

Novel PASTimes: What advice would you give to those in times of war?

Lady Elisabeth: Live as simply and gratefully as you can. Help in practical ways. Pray. Let no one who comes to you go away hungry or ill-clothed. Be the hands and feet of our Lord.

Thank you, Lady Elisabeth, for giving us that inspiration.

Frantz_LauraLaura Frantz is a Christy Award finalist and the ECPA bestselling author of several books, including The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, The Colonel’s Lady, The Mistress of Tall Acre, A Moonbow Night, and the Ballantyne Legacy series. She lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky. Learn more at www.laurafrantz.net.