Published by Willam Morrow
Published on March 1st 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction
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In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.
From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France.
It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter.
Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father's reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.
1.) Which do you find the hardest to write, the first or the last line of your novels? Why?
We both agree that ending hooks are the hardest. Whether it’s the last line of a scene, a chapter, or the book itself, finding that perfect ending line is a challenge, but so worth it!
2.) What 3 words would you use to describe America’s First Daughter?
Steph: Sweeping, Enlightening, Immersive
Laura: Epic, Compelling, Emotional
3.) What’s in your “Author Survival Kit”? (Pens, Caffeine, iPods, Prozac?)
Steph: Coffee and cats, of course. My laptop so I have Scrivener and Google Docs at the ready!
Laura: I’m pretty much, “have laptop, will write.” The only thing I need is music to provide white noise for writing, otherwise I can write anywhere.
4.) If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Steph: Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk Ice Cream. And that pretty much says it all.
Laura: OMG how can I pick just one? Probably bread!
5.) Let’s talk character names. How do you go about selecting names for characters in your books? Do the names you pick have any significance to you, or do you ever feel inspired by a name?
In America’s First Daughter, we let the history guide us for character names. Everyone in the book is based on a real person, so we didn’t have as much creating to do. The only thing we had to decide here was whether or not to go with “Patsy” which was our heroine’s childhood nickname, or let her mature into her given name “Martha.” We decided that she deserved an identity separate from her mother, and her father sometimes slipped up and called her Patsy long after she was grown, so we left it.
6.) What are the last 3 books you enjoyed reading?
Steph: Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, Sophie Perinot’s Medici’s Daughter, and Barbara Chase-Riboud’s Sally Hemings: A Novel.
Laura: Lauren Willig, That Summer, Heidi McLaughlin and LP Dover, Dark Room, and Kristen Ashley, Knight
7.) Do you have a favorite place to write? Tell us about it!
Steph: I pretty much write wherever I have to, though I prefer my own desk, incense lit, cat on the lap, for the difficult scenes. When Laura and I would write together in Panera, that was fun, but it was just as fun to turn on Skype and write together, remotely.
Laura: I spend most of my days at a Panera with another writer friend who lives nearby, so I do a lot of writing there. Otherwise, I have a dedicated office with a comfy chair at home where I write at night and on the weekends. While writing America’s First Daughter, it was great that Steph and I lived close enough to write together some days – that was especially useful during the revision process.
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