Editor’s Note: This exchange is part of a series of brief interviews with emerging writers of recent or forthcoming books. If you enjoyed it, please visit other interviews in the I’ve Got Questions feature.
· What’s the title of your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date?
Virginia’s Presidents: A History and Guide. Non-fiction. Published by The History Press and due out on January 30, 2023.
· In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about?
More U.S. presidents were born in Virginia than in any other state in the Union. (Trivia question: Can you name all eight?) This book is a guide to the homes and historic sites that tell their stories. Each chapter begins with a brief bio of one of the Virginia presidents, followed by write-ups on the related museums and sites. Most of the places mentioned are in Virginia, but there are a few in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. Also included are historical images of the presidents and current photos of the sites.
· What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?
History and travel.
· What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far?
My teenager said he liked the pictures.
· What book or books is yours comparable to or a cross between? [Is your book like Moby Dick or maybe it’s more like Frankenstein meets Peter Pan?]
The book is part of the History & Guide series published by The History Press, so is along the line of other books in that collection. It is intended to be an easy read and hopefully of interest to both the presidential history buff and the armchair traveler. Or perhaps something you can use to plan your next history-related vacation and check the sites off as you visit them. Plus it has pretty pictures.
· Why this book? Why now?
I was working as a very part-time tour guide at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum in Staunton, VA and kept meeting people who had bucket lists to visit all the presidential libraries or all the historical sites relating to Woodrow Wilson or all the presidential homes in Virginia. We’d talk about where they had been and where they might visit next. I did some research and discovered that there was no in-print guide to the historic sites relating to Virginia presidents. It seemed like a need and The History Press agreed!
· Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?
My day job is as an archivist for small non-profits, organizing and digitizing their records and figuring out ways to tell their histories. One of the places I work for is the National Radio Astronomy Observatory—as seen in the 1997 movie “Contact” with Jodie Foster—and one of the stories I get to tell is about the scientists who have worked to understand the beginnings of the universe while also keeping an eye out for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence. (For the record, there have been no messages from the aliens… at least not yet.)
· What do you want readers to take away from the book?
I’m hoping that now that Covid-19 is on the wane (HOPEFULLY!!) people feel more comfortable getting out and about and traveling. There are some wonderful museums and historic houses that barely made it through the pandemic, and I want readers go visit and show them some love.
· What food and/or music do you associate with the book?
If drink counts, then I suppose George Washington’s rye whiskey, made in a reconstructed distillery at Mount Vernon using Washington’s original recipe and methods would be a good answer. But I’ll confess that I’ve never actually tried it.
· What book(s) are you reading currently?
I’m currently reading all about the Ohio presidents. Candice Millard’s Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President about the assassination of James Garfield has been my favorite so far.
Learn more about Heather on her website.