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It’s been quite a while since we last visited with Tamera Lynn Kraft, and I am happy to have her back today! Her newest novel, Red Sky Over America tackles a heated era in American history. Before we visit with Tamera, let’s take a quick look at the story.
In 1857, America, the daughter of a slave owner, is an abolitionist and a student at Oberlin College, a school known for its radical ideas. America goes home to Kentucky during school break to confront her father about freeing his slaves.
America’s classmate, William, goes to Kentucky to preach abolition to churches that condone slavery. America and William find themselves in the center of the approaching storm sweeping the nation and may not make it home to Ohio or live through the struggle.
Red Sky Over America tackles the most turbulent time in history with thorough research and fascinating characters. Tamera Lynn Kraft has woven a tale about the evils of slavery that should never be forgotten. — Mary Ellis, author of The Quaker and the Rebel, The Lady and the Officer, and The Last Heiress.
Welcome back, Tamera! Do you have a favorite character from Red Sky Over America? Why is this character your favorite?
My favorite character is a secondary character, a slave named Joe. Joe is a humble slave on America’s father’s farm, but he has more courage and devotion to God than anyone I’ve ever known. The great thing about Joe is he doesn’t realize what a great Christian man he is. He is an inspiration. I can’t tell you why without ruining the story, but I hope as readers get to know Joe and discover his journey, they will come to love him as much as I do.
Joe sounds like a character (or person!) who would be wonderful to know. Did you do any traveling for research? If so, could you tell us about it?
I love to visit the sites where my stories take place. I learn so much. For Red Sky Over America, I did more research trips than for any other novel I’ve written. First, I visited Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. Oberlin College was the first college before the Civil War to allow blacks and women to earn college degrees with men. The students of that time were devoted to God, and the president of the college was Charles Finney, the fiery evangelist of the Second Great Awakening. It was awe inspiring standing in First Church, the largest church in the country in 1857 when the story was set. The college library archives director talked to me for hours about the history of the college and recommended books and research materials to help me research my story including the journal of a young abolitionist preacher who was a student at Oberlin. My male main character, William Wood, is loosely based on him.
Next, I visited Maysville and Dover, Kentucky towns bordering the Ohio River. I visited the Maysville Museum and the Harriet Tubman Museum and learned a lot. In Dover, I stood on the shore overlooking Ripley on the other side of the Ohio River. This was the spot where the Leighton Ranch stood and where most slaves crossed to freedom. After that, I visited Ripley, Ohio and the Rev. John Rankin house. This was one of the busiest stops on the Underground Railroad. It was estimated over a thousand escaped slaves went through this house on their way to freedom.
In Cincinnati, Ohio, the Underground Railroad Freedom Center helped me understand what it was like being a slave in Kentucky before the Civil War. At the Freedom Center, they feature a slave pen where slaves were kept until they were sold at the auctions in Maysville. I have that slave pen in my novel.
What awesome opportunities to see and imagine the history of those sites! Do you have personal experience with any of the events In your story, and if so, could you share about that?
Of course, I don’t know what it is like to be a slave or to live in a world where slavery is a fact of life, but I do relate to my main character, America Leighton. Even though America loved her family, she had a difficult time standing up to her family when her values and their values clashed. I became a Christian when I was thirteen years old. None of my family was saved. At times, it was difficult living out my Christianity in a family who thought I’d become too radical and at times, accused me of joining a cult. I put a bit of that tension in America’s relationship with her father.
I can’t imagine the challenge that would have been, especially as a teenager. We’d love to learn a little more about you. Would you share five fast favorites with us? What is your:
Favorite Color? Red
Favorite Writing Snack? Oreo Cookies
Favorite Movie? Sound of Music
Favorite Vacation Destination? Alaska
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor? Chocolate Marshmallow Ice Cream (yum)
If you could travel back in time to the general time period of your novel, which one person would you most like to meet?
I would love to meet Abraham Lincoln. I admire him greatly and believe he was one of the greatest presidents who ever lived. He understood slavery was wrong, and yet, with his homespun humor and wisdom, he would meet people where they were and influence them by first agreeing with them and then leading them to look at things differently. He also wasn’t afraid to make the difficult decisions that changed the world even though he was always ridiculed in a way no president, except maybe the current one, was. As an example, the Gettysburg Address was made fun of by newspapers at the time. He was called a bumbling simpleton. Nobody realized how great he was.
There’s certainly something about that simplicity that we seem to be lacking currently… Can you give any hints about what you’re working on now?
I am finishing up Book 2 of my Ladies of Oberlin Series. This story is about America’s roommate Lavena. Lavena is passionate about equal rights for everyone including women. During the war, she is a reporter who convinces her boss to let her become a war corespondant for the Ohio Seventh Regiment, considered the most heroic Union regiment in the war. The catch is she has to get an interview with an illusive heroic captain who doesn’t like reporters.
That sounds like a fun story, too! Thanks for taking the time to visit with us today, Tamera!
Your turn! If you could go back to the Underground Railroad/Civil War era, who would you most like to meet?
More about Tamera:
Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest and has other novels and novellas in print. She’s been married for 39 years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and three grandchildren.
Tamera has been a children’s pastor for over 20 years. She is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire for Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist and has written children’s church curriculum. She is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.
You can connect with Tamera online:
Word Sharpeners Blog: http://tameralynnkraft.com
Also by Tamera:
Red Sky Over America Giveaway:
Tamera has generously offered to give away an ebook of Red Sky Over America. We are going to try something different, though. To enter Tamera’s giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post. Tell us who you’d like to meet from the Underground Railroad/Civil War era! (Comments must be posted by the end of the day March 6th, 2018 CST to be included in the giveaway.)
Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy.