To Whisper Her Name, Belle Meade Plantation Series #1To Whisper Her Name, Belle Meade Plantation Series #1
Tamera Alexander
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Olivia Aberdeen finds herself widowed and destitute; her husband murdered. She's been extended an invitation to come live with "Aunt" Elizabeth Harding, her mother's best friend and the mistress of the renowned Belle Meade Plantation. Olivia wonders what role she's expected to take once she arrives. Although she expects to be the housekeeper, she instead finds herself caring for "Aunt" Elizabeth. While on the plantation she runs into a southern born son, Ridley Adam, who secretly fought in the Union. Why does Olivia feel so attracted to Ridley Adam and will he ever really notice her?
     

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Tamera AlexanderAward-winning, bestselling author, Tamera Alexander, well-known for her deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots, and poignant prose have earned her devoted readers—and multiple industry awards which  include the 2008 and 2009 Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, and the 2007 and 2010 RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance. Her books have also garnered the 2010 HOLT Medallion, the 2010 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, the Bookseller’s Best Award, the International Readers Choice Award, and top praise from the Library Journal, 2011 Christy Award finalist and most recently, 2012 Christy Award Finalist.

Favorite Verse: Hebrews 12:1(NLT) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish 


 

 Our Interview with Tamera Alexander


 

What inspired your interest in writing To Whisper Her Name?

Growing up in Atlanta and visiting antebellum mansions, I developed an early appreciation for the postbellum era of our nation’s history. Through the years, that appreciation matured into a deeper love and respect for the people and events of that time. And I’m grateful for the opportunity to write about that part of our nation’s history.

How did you come up with the concept for To Whisper Her Name?

To Whisper Her Name is the first in the three-book BELLE MEADE PLANTATION. After writing numerous novels set in the Colorado Territory, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to write Southern historicals. I'm a daughter of the South, born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, so the stories in the Belle Meade Plantation series––the people, history, events, and settings––are extra special to me.

The three novels in the Belle Meade Plantation series will be stand-alones, meaning that while the stories are loosely woven together, each is a complete story in itself and the books can be read independent of each other. I’ve written the Belmont Mansion novels and the Belle Meade Plantation novels to be read together. Adelicia Acklen from Belmont Mansion and William and Elizabeth Harding from the Belle Meade Plantation knew each other, so you might just happen to see some familiar “crossover” characters in these novels.

Is any part of To Whisper Her Name factual?  Explain.

Most of this novel is fictional, though there are threads of actual history and people woven throughout. For instance, there really is a Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville that still welcomes visitors today. The Harding family, characters in To Whisper Her Name, lived at Belle Meade and many of the events included in this story were drawn from their personal history and were then fleshed out in my imagination.

In addition to the Harding family, many of the former slaves who served at Belle Meade inspired characters of this story--Robert Green, Susanna Carter, and many others. In nearly every instance, I used the real names of the former slaves and the positions they held at Belle Meade.


How long did To Whisper Her Name take you to complete?

Researching and writing To Whisper Her Name took two years. Writing Southern historical fiction, and not just Southern fiction, but “real” Southern historical fiction (writing about real people and real mansions and real events with accuracy), and then weaving that “real” history with a fictional story takes time. I hope my readers consider it worth it!

Do you have a favorite character in To Whisper Her Name? Why?

I'm always partial to the two main protagonists in the novel I'm writing. In this instance, Lieutenant Ridley Adam Cooper and Olivia Aberdeen. But I've grown especially close to a real character in this novel. That is, a character based upon someone who truly lived––Robert Green, or "Uncle Bob" as he was known, a former slave and the head hostler for the Belle Meade Plantation for many years.

You can watch a two-minute video vignette (one of six filmed on location at Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville) on Bob Green on the CBD site here: http://tinyurl.com/95g9tqn (if the link isn’t live, just cut and paste into your browser)


In To Whisper Her Name, you portray Belle Meade Plantation as a thoroughbred farm. Is that historically accurate?
Ever heard of Secretariat? Or the 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another? These and so many other Kentucky Derby winners trace their bloodlines to Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville, Tennessee.
Belle Meade Plantation is the most influential thoroughbred stud farm in America's history. Most of the current day Kentucky Derby winners trace their lineage directly back to thoroughbreds that stood at stud at the Belle Meade Plantation in the 1840s - 70s.

What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing To Whisper Her Name?
In researching and writing To Whisper Her Name, I was deeply moved when learning about the former slaves at Belle Meade. Their lives and contributions to Belle Meade, and to this nation, were extraordinary. I appreciate the opportunity to include some of their experiences in this novel.
Does To Whisper Her Name relate at all to The Belmont Mansion series?
The two Southern series (Belmont Mansion novels and Belle Meade Plantation novels) intertwine and show us different perspectives of Nashville during similar time periods. The Harding family (from Belle Meade) and Adelicia Acklen (the mistress of Belmont) knew one another in real life and moved in similar social circles. Belmont was the "summer villa" of the richest woman in America; Belle Meade was the most influential thoroughbred stud farm in American history. So you can imagine how different the settings are, as well as their histories. But both so interesting.

And a hint for readers… You might just catch a glimpse of someone from the Belmont books in the Belle Meade books (or visa versa), as well as glimpse a character from a past novel of mine in To Whisper Her Name.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author? And what aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

While I’m grateful to be writing and have moments where the words “flow,” by and large writing is just flat hard work. And not to be discouraging to aspiring writers, but it only gets harder with each book. Yet along with that comes a greater satisfaction when the books are published. It’s especially meaningful when readers join me on these journeys and then grow to love these characters as much as I do. That’s a great feeling.

What is your writing style?   (Do you outline?  Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants?   Or somewhere in-between?)

I’m actually somewhere in between. I plot to a certain extent but still enjoy those “ah ha” moments when the characters do things you weren’t expecting. That’s one of the most enjoyable things about writing. That, and connecting with readers through these journeys we take together.

What other new projects do you have on the horizon?  

I’m currently writing the second book in the Belmont Mansion series, and love being back in the Belmont Mansion again.

What message would you like your readers to take from To Whisper Her Name?

I never set out with a "message” in mind when I’m writing a book, and To Whisper Her Name is no exception. I prefer to leave it with the readers as to what they take away. For me, the faith element grows from the character’s struggles and how they grow in relation to the conflicts in their lives, and their responses to those conflicts. When my readers reference the Christian message in my books, they often use the word subtle when it comes to the faith plot, and I take that as a compliment. I believe in planting the seed of hope and in pointing others to Christ, and then trusting Him to do the drawing.

What is your greatest achievement?

I turned and asked my husband this question and he said to say that it was marrying him. LOL! Truly though, my family is my greatest blessing. Joe and I have two fabulous children, and we’re grateful for the ways God has stood in the gap for us as parents when we weren’t consistent or when we made mistakes. And boy, we made plenty. I’m so grateful for God’s faithfulness.

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

When I write, I take steps closer to Christ. And when my readers read, that’s what I pray they’ll do too… Take steps closer to Christ.

What do you do to get away from it all?

Antiquing! Whether I buy anything or not, it doesn’t matter. I love rummaging through old things. They were once someone’s treasures, and I love treasuring them too. I also take walks, watch movies, and of course I love to read! Baking is also a stress reliever for me too. I love to bake! Pies and cakes especially.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I enjoy keeping in touch with my readers and connecting with them. We can do that through many ways:
www.tameraalexander.com
www.tameraalexander.blogspot.com
https://twitter.com/tameraalexander
www.facebook.com/tamera.alexander
http://pinterest.com/tameraauthor/

I appreciate CBD and the community it fosters between readers and authors. If you haven’t visited Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville yet, let me be the first to say, “Welcome to Belle Meade.”  Watch all six of the Belle Meade Plantation 2-minute video vignettes filmed on location in Nashville here:
www.tameraalexander.com/bellemeadeplantationnovels.html


 

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