I do love a good genre-bender. Historical fiction meets paranormal romance in S.A. Bolich's latest book. She stopped by to tell us about In Heaven's Shadow and the research behind it.
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When should love end? The question behind In Heaven’s Shadow
by S.A. Bolich
How can you build a life with a ghost? I mean, really, why would you want to? On the other hand, who says you can’t? In the case of poor Lilith Stark, the heroine of In Heaven’s Shadow, just about everybody!
Who wouldn’t love a man who foreswears Heaven to be with you? Poor Joab found the love of his life a bit late, and only got two years with her before the war came along. He’s not ready to move on, and Lilith sees no particular reason why he should. But how would you react if your neighbor suddenly announced that her dead husband had come home from Gettysburg a ghost and had taken up residence? Suppose she was a little “odd” anyway, with a certifiably strange father? And suppose you thought you saw rainbows following her around on occasion, or caught her talking to people who weren’t there? How hard would she have to talk to convince you it was all true?
Yup. Even today, society would likely still commit her first and ask questions later. Just imagine how upset 19th century sensibilities would be.
The Civil War was an era when “community” meant people helped each other and knew everything about one another and got in each other’s business without question or qualm. The backdrop of the war just made it more essential for people on the home front to get along. With so many men off fighting, the burden on the women at home was truly remarkable as they fought to keep houses and families and farms together and food on the table while raiders from both sides stole everything in sight. I grew up on a farm (Lilith’s hatred of hoeing comes straight from my childhood of maintaining the kitchen garden), but before I wrote this book I really didn’t have a bedrock appreciation for the amount of sheer manual labor our ancestors put in every day. Lilith and her neighbors need to pull together—but she has tossed a rock into the pool of settled truths that are all they have left to depend upon. With the war already looming over this prim and proper corner of Virginia like the scythe of the Grim Reaper choosing another victim, they’re just not up to her overturning all the notions of life and death and faith that keep them going from day to day.
Yet how can she turn her back on the man she loves just because he’s dead? What a delicious dilemma.
I have always been fascinated by the Civil War, and I love fantasy. As a history major in college (yes, I’m one of those geeks!) I set out to write historical fiction, but there was always that fantasy element that kept drawing me away. At last, with In Heaven’s Shadow, I got a great chance to combine paranormal with “straight” history and magic and come up with a Civil War ghost story that is also a very different sort of love story.
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Learn More about S.A. Bolich on her website.