FORTITUDE by Carrie Dalby

Today on the blog, we have fellow Anaiah Press author Carrie Dalby, whose debut novel, Fortitude, recently released. Thank you, Carrie, for sharing a little about the process of researching and writing your Young Adult Historical Fiction novel.

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Thank you, Lisa, for having me on you blog today. I thoroughly enjoy the Chasmaria series. It’s an honor to be here to talk about my debut novel.

Fortitude is a historical YA that took five years of research and plotting for me to write the first draft. I was working on another manuscript for the first several years, but I devoted much of my reading and study time to researching 1898 and the Spanish-American War. Library trips, special book orders, reading microfilm—I did it all. And though I’m not a historian, I enjoyed every minute of it, even finding the historical facts that soured my stomach.

Learning about the deplorable conditions the American troops lived in throughout Florida while waiting to disembark for war was the spark that began Fortitude’s journey. Recently drained swamps for campsites, over-crowding, disease… more soldiers died in Florida that year than in battle on foreign soil.

The other killer in the Florida camps was deadly riots. Soldiers from around the country were squeezed into unhealthy camps in a racially divided state that lived by the post-Civil War Jim Crow laws. The locals and many of the other troops despised seeing African-American men in uniform, especially the decorated Buffalo Soldiers. Fresh volunteers didn’t like being outranked by people they considered inferior and the townspeople didn’t want to serve them when they were on leave.

The riot scene in Chapter Twenty-five is based on an actual riot that took place on June 6, 1898 after white volunteers from Ohio “decided to have some fun” by snatching a two-year-old African-American boy from his mother, spanking him, and then using him for target practice. It was sickening to read so many different accounts about it, but I had to use the scene to depict just how extreme the attitudes were.

As fate would have it, I wrote the first draft of that chapter in early July 2013, when the George Zimmerman trial was happening in Florida. Anger, fear, and screams of injustice on the news echoed the voices of the past as I wrote—often with tears in my eyes.

Art imitating life?

History repeating itself?

Not learning from mistakes?

Truth is stranger than fiction?

All these and more are possibilities. What I do know is that a friend loaned me something I never would have chosen to read—a biography about the founder of the Girl Scouts. Within that book there were a couple pages about the miserable conditions the troops lived in at the Spanish-American War camps in Florida, where Juliette Gordon Low and her family tried to relieve some of the suffering. The story of those soldiers shouted at me from the pages and sent me on a research journey that lasted years and uncovered many difficult truths from American history. Facts we can learn and grow from, hopefully preventing painful history from being repeated.

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Growing up with a Creole best friend, sixteen-year-old Claire O’Farrell held little regard for the Jim Crow laws and the consequences of befriending those of a different color. But once she leaves the haven of her home on Dauphin Island, the reality of racial intolerance can no longer be ignored. Though she’s underage, Claire makes the bold decision to serve alongside Loretta, her best friend, in the “colored camp” hospital tents during the Spanish-American War, but her idealistic attitude and choice of working location immediately puts her in danger. Claire gives her heart to a soldier in the camp, only to find herself caught in the racial violence besieging the area. When the intolerant attitudes and stigma follow her home, she clings to her faith to navigate through her social isolation and find the path she was meant to travel.

Release Date: December 8, 2015


Book Links


Anaiah Press: TBA




Author Bio:

Born and raised in California, but a resident of Mobile, Alabama since 1996, Carrie Dalby is a homeschooling mom with a love of literature for young adults and children. Some of Carrie’s favorite volunteer hours are with Mobile Writers Guild, SCBWI, and Metro Mobile Reading Council’s Young Author workshops.


Twitter: @Wonderwegian



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Guest Post by Robert A. Polk, Author of OPERATION TREE ROPER

Today I have the privilege of introducing you to Robert A. Polk, author of the Middle Grade novel, OPERATION TREE ROPER: AN EYE ABOVE. When asked what I’d like Robert to blog about, I remembered the pang of parental anguish – and ultimately triumph – I’d felt upon reading that Robert’s daughter had influenced the creation of his main character, Declan. I wanted to know more about his personal experiences and the message he hoped to deliver through this story. Thank you, Robert, for sharing a bit of your story.

Robert: Thank you so much for having me on your blog this week, Lisa. I’m going to get a little personal in this post in order to share a bit about the creation, or actually, the discovery, of my book’s main character. You see, OPERATION TREE ROPER would not exist without the influence of my children, especially my third child. She was born with only one eye.

When she was an infant and toddler and we’d be out in public, people would often come to see the cute little baby and then awkwardly hasten away when they saw her face. Those people weren’t trying to be mean, they simply didn’t know how to address us without focusing on her absent eye.

She’d never respond to people’s questions and comments which were frequently directed toward me anyway and often phrased something like “What’s wrong with her?” Can you imagine a child growing through early years of life and hearing and seeing those comments over and over? She’s learning about herself from the expressions on the faces of the people around her. So what if her parents always focused on her strengths and lovingly accepted her as a beautiful and strong young child. The larger world around her saw her differently. She noticed.

I noticed, too. She was still an infant, with two toddler siblings when it sank in much deeper, what an important role her mother and I should play in our children’s lives. We had to find that correct balance of sheltering, nurturing and supporting that each of our children required to grow into confident and capable individuals. When my first three children were very young, I began telling them, “It’s more important how you act, than how you look.” I still remind my children that.

In crafting Declan, I did not so much create him as I tried to hear him. And I tried to hear him through the experiences and emotions of my own children.

When I began writing the first draft, Declan was too shy and defensive. Although that was a necessary portion of his personality, its significance diminished as the story evolved. While this did fit his age and attitude, I began to see that it was only a small part of him.

As the book evolved through the revision stages, I heard more clearly Declan’s sense of humor, intelligence, and fortitude. I recognized his family devotion and fierce loyalty to his siblings in my own children, in particular, my third child. Declan was becoming more multidimensional, and I was seeing moments of stubborn strength and courage in the face of adversity.

I hope everyone who reads OPERATION TREE ROPER will have opportunities to consider that the value of other people might just be how they act, rather than how they look.

By Robert Polk
Adventures, Anaiah Press
Twelve-year-old Declan Parker was only born with one eye, but all he seems to have trouble seeing in proper perspective is himself. All he wants is for kids to see him as normal before he starts a new school in the fall. To that end, he sets out to make money helping with his dad’s tree care business.
Unfortunately, when his dad lands in the hospital after a climbing accident, Declan’s surgery hopes are wrecked. His only hope remains in a neighbor girl and her uncle, a wounded army veteran. Can they help him save his dad’s business, or will Declan’s once-courageous drive turn into total despair?
Operation Tree Roper: An Eye Above is a well-crafted story about a strong, dauntless young man who redefines the value of self-reflection. Declan is a character you won’t be able to forget.

Welcome to your new favorite book…

Release Date: October 7, 2014
Buy Now!

Author Bio:
Robert Polk lives in western Nebraska where he shares his love of books and the great outdoors with his wife and seven children. He is a former school counselor, business owner, and tree climbing arborist. Robert participates in his church and local community, currently serving on several non-profit boards. 
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