Today I’m delighted to host Samantha Wilcoxson on her blog tour for her fabulous new release, Luminous: The Story of a Radium Girl. I recall many years ago seeing a documentary about the girls who worked with radium. It was rather shocking, so I am delighted to see Samantha pick up the mantle to tell their story. The book is now on my Kindle and I am really looking forward to getting reacquainted with the story.
You are very welcome, Samantha, please introduce yourself:
Thank you, Pam. I am excited to be here to introduce my new novel, Luminous: The Story of a Radium Girl. Until I started writing this book, I had focused entirely upon 15th and 16th century history, so this has been a fascinating change. Researching Catherine Donohue was a very different experience from studying Tudor era historical figures. It has been an amazing experience to hold letters that Catherine wrote, visit her hometown, and even correspond with the son of her lawyer. Catherine’s story is one that I was surprised more people hadn’t heard of, and that was why I needed to write about it.
Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?
While I have recently jumped into a new era, historical fiction has always been my chosen genre. I was one of those weird kids who read history books for fun, and I have never grown out of it. Writing historical fiction allows me to explore the emotive side of the historical facts. When I am writing, I try to put myself and my reader in the mind of a historical figure and truly experience events as they did. Part of this includes digging into the mindset of other times and looking at events and beliefs from their point-of-view rather than my own. It is a very enriching process.
Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?
Reading might be the only activity that I love more than writing. I especially love biographies and other historical books, followed closely by late 19th and early 20th century literature. However, I am also happy to pick up an occasional mystery or dystopian novel. The work of my fellow independent authors is always high on my list, because they tend to have an intellectual facet that is not always present in mass marketed novels. I enjoy any book that encourages me to think critically.
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
I have several favorite authors who have each, in their own way, influenced my writing. CJ Sansom probably tops the list, because I greatly admire his ability to capture history in an accurate and interesting way while also compelling the reader to feel strongly for the characters. Writers like Edith Wharton and Charlotte Bronte also stir up that emotive feeling in their readers that I admire and strive for.
If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?
You will often find me distracted by my teenage children, home improvement projects, lake life, and volunteer work. As for another occupation, I can’t imagine doing anything besides writing and am blessed to spend my days doing something I love.
If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?
Had you asked me this question more than a year ago, I would have undoubtedly stated that I wished to visit the time of the Wars of the Roses, and I still would love to be able to witness a snippet of that history and answer some burning questions. However, now that I have begun writing early 20th century history, I find that I am enjoying it a great deal and am discovering a wonderful ease of connecting to those who lived lives that were in many ways quite similar to my own. While I had planned a medieval trilogy to work on next, I find that I am drawn instead to another 20th century protagonist. I would love to travel back and experience first-hand the differences in my own life compared to the women who lived a century ago.
You have been chosen as a member of the crew on the first one-way flight to Mars – you are allowed to bring 5 books with you. What would they be?
I hope I may cheat and include series!
CJ Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake series
Villette by Charlotte Bronte
Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis
Hillary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell series
Now I’ve left myself having to choose between Sharon K Penman’s Welsh and Henry II trilogies! Oh, and A Tale of Two Cities…. Can I just bring a Kindle? [Haha, OK!]
Please tell us about your latest published work.
Luminous is the story of Catherine Donohue and the hundreds of women like her who were dehumanized by the radium industry in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Catherine worked at Radium Dial in Ottawa, Illinois while in her twenties, and the radium paint she used there caused her to suffer a multitude of serious health problems before dying at a tragically young age. In this biographical novel, I explore her life, her relationships, and her legal battle against Radium Dial. My hope is that more people will learn about the women’s struggle, not only to sympathize with those in the past, but to encourage us all to think more about workplace exploitation and human rights violations that continue in our own time.
Luminous on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52288751
Samantha’s blog: https://samanthawilcoxson.blogspot.com/