Risking their lives and reputations, Anna and Julia set out to defy the restrictions placed on women in their male-dominated society. They find themselves embroiled in controversy and violence as they preach anti-slavery and suffrage in the small towns of America …

   - THE WORLD BELONGS TO THOSE WHO TAKE IT by Joan Koster
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In keeping with its mission to serve as an ongoing bridge between its aspiring author members and professionals in the business, Author Salon has been actively reaching out to major New York publishing editors as well as literary agents on both coasts to promote a variety of projects each and every month. In other words, we've been querying on behalf of our writers, providing them with the visibility and promotion they need to become published. One of our writers below, Joan Koster, has received several requests for fulls and partials from major literary agencies and New York publishers.  Below she talks to Author Salon.


A Dialogue With Historical Fiction Writer Joan Koster

Joan Koster is a published author of books and articles in the fields of ethnography, racism, education, textile history, and the arts. She attended the Algonkian Writers Workshop, New York Pitch and Shop, and studied creative writing at Binghamton University. Her blog, "American Civil War Voices" features information gleaned from first hand sources during research for her novel. 

1. What inspired you to write your story? What do you love about the genre?

Anna Dickinson, the subject of my novel, is a fascinating woman. When I read Matthew Gallman’s 2006 biography of Dickinson, I was struck by how this brilliant and gifted young girl, only sixteen at the start of her career as a public speaker, became the most celebrated woman during the Civil War. Dickinson stood head and shoulders above other women of her time. She was the first woman to give a political address to Congress, wrote books and plays and even had a mountain, Mount Dickinson, in the Rockies named after her, and yet today, is relegated to the sidelines of history.
As I dug deeper into Dickinson’s life and explored her papers and albums in the Library of Congress, I became intrigued by her relentless pursuit of personal fame and wealth while calling for justice for the poor and downtrodden, and by her recently uncovered sexual relationship with Susan B. Anthony. Here, I thought, is a story waiting to be told.

2. What do you love about the genre?

I love history. I love reading old letters and diaries and studying ancient artifacts and imagining the lives of the people who created them. Historical fiction allows me to bring events and truths about the past to life and make them accessible and meaningful to contemporary readers. Unlike a biographer or historian, I can recreate not only the dramatic events of the time, but also those quiet soul searching moments that are often left out of the history books, and weave them together into a strong story that draws the reader into that world. I believe that when you get done reading a historical novel, you should feel like you have lived in the past, and yet absorbed ideas relevant to the present.

3. Prior to being included in the Author Salon Literary Showcase, how did your project and your writing evolve here at Author Salon? What did you learn?

When I finished my novel The World Belongs To Those That Take It, I was at a complete loss as to how to find other writers who could look at it and give me strong focused feedback. I live on a farm in a very rural area so finding groups of writers doing historical fiction is just about impossible. So for me an online critique group was critical. Luckily I found Author Salon.

Through the Author Salon highly-focused critique process, I was able to get feedback on the important elements of my novel. Was it structured so all plot points are clear? Was the prose comparable to other books in the genre? Were characters, action, and setting developed in sufficient depth and with the level of conflict needed to draw in the reader and never let go? And most importantly, was the concept unique and marketable?

Based on the feedback I have received from peers and professionals on the Author Salon site I've been able to hone the strongest elements of my novel, and  improve all areas that needed revision.

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