How long did it take you to write the Lazare Family Saga?
Twenty-nine years. Most of that time was taken up by research, reading the hundreds of sources you’ll find here. I read as many primary sources as I could, letters and diaries from the 18th and 19th centuries. I visited archives. I walked the grounds my characters walked, from the cobbled streets of Charleston to a fort on the Oregon Trail. I studied paintings from my era, clothing, furniture, architecture, food, transportation, medicine, horseback riding—you name it! If it was familiar to my characters, I had to know about it.
This saga has also been through dozens of drafts. I didn’t know what I was doing in the beginning, and I’m a perfectionist. The final drafts come to more than half a million words. School, work, and sleep had a habit of interrupting me as well. But I got there in the end!
Should the Lazare Family Saga be read in order?
Please do! The series is one continuous narrative with each book moving forward in time and building on the book before. I try to remind readers of major plot points and character relationships, but a great deal of meaning will be lost if you try to start in the middle.
How do you pronounce Lazare?
Lah-zahr. It rhymes with bazaar rather than laser. It’s the French form of Lazarus. I named my central family after Lazarus in the New Testament, whom Jesus raises from the dead, because the series has a motif of rebirth.
What genre are your novels?
Upmarket historical fiction / family saga with strong romantic elements. For a more detailed answer, please see this blog post.
If the Lazare Family Saga were a streaming series, what would the rating be?
TV-MA: Mature Audiences. My novels are for adults. The rating would be primarily for sexual content, which is most explicit in Books 2, 3, and 4 but is always necessary to the plot and character development. There is also violence and some vulgar words. In real life, I rarely curse, and I get light-headed at the sight of blood. Most of the violence happens “off-screen.” But I’m dealing with the infamously brutal Haitian Revolution, slavery, a mass hanging, and Victorian medicine, among other things. It’s not pretty, but it’s all based on true events. I believe a good historical novelist should not sanitize the past. (See also this page for trigger warnings.)
Is there a family tree for the Lazares?
Indeed there is! See below or click here for a high-resolution PDF. Please note: This family tree contains spoilers because it reveals who marries whom and whether they have children, but these are spoilers only for Book One of the Lazare Family Saga, Necessary Sins. Most of these Book One spoilers occur in the bottom two rows of the family tree. In order to minimize spoilers, I include no death dates, only birth dates. Trigger Warning: The Lazare Family Tree contains rape.
When you started this series, did you know how it would end?
Mostly. The final chapter at the mountain waterfall and Easter’s Epilogue have been in place for a couple of decades, but I didn’t write René’s Epilogue till my editor Jessica Cale suggested it. Because the characters’ lives are so interconnected, because I wanted to include both foreshadowing and callbacks and truly make the story satisfying, I waited till I’d written a complete draft of the whole series before launching Book 1.
Are these the first books you’ve written?
No. I have about a dozen “trunk” novellas and a couple trunk novels. All of which shall remain in the proverbial trunk. They’re imitative first drafts written by an adolescent, and they read like it.
What are your favorite novels?
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, most of Charles Dickens, and all of Jane Austen. Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds. M. T. Anderson’s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation (2 books); Sarah Bird’s Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen; Robyn Cadwallader’s The Anchoress; Jodi Daynard’s The Midwife’s Revolt; Sharon Ewell Foster’s The Resurrection of Nat Turner (2 books); Richard Harvell’s The Bells; Libbie Hawker’s Tidewater; Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s Wench; Jewell Parker Rhodes’s Douglass’ Women; Amanda Skenandore’s Between Earth and Sky; Peter Troy’s May the Road Rise Up to Meet You; and James Welch’s Fools Crow. I could go on! You’ll notice these novels share subjects and themes with my own work.
What are the trigger warnings / content warnings for your novels?
Please be advised that these will be SPOILERS to some extent, so I’ve created a separate page for them.
What are you working on next?
Marketing the new audiobooks of the Lazare Family Saga, narrated by the incomparable Dallin Bradford. See also this blog post.