Author Interview: Jo Ann Butler
I would like to introduce Author Jo Ann Butler, the winner of the B.R.A.G Medallion.
Read the entire interview at:
Thank you Jo Ann for your time. I would like to first ask you about your reading interests. What was the last truly great book you’ve read?
I just finished “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power” by Jon Meacham, which will be published in November. I’m reviewing books for the Historical Novel Society, and one of the perks is seeing advance review copies. Meacham’s book is a thorough look at Jefferson’s life public and private life, and it is super!
What book are you currently reading?
I’m enjoying an advance copy of “The Plum Tree,” Ellen Marie Wiseman’s debut Holocaust story, and Daniel Defoe’s 1722 “Journal of the Plague Year,” about the bubonic plague epidemic which decimated London in 1665. I read “Plague Year” when I was researching “Rebel Puritan,” since Herodias Long survives an outbreak of plague. It’s also a great way to put the period’s language into my head as I prepare to publish “The Reputed Wife,” my “Rebel Puritan” sequel.
Where is your favorite reading spot in your home?
Reading in bed is even better than in the bathtub, and less hazardous if I let the book slip.
Which format do you prefer to read from? Paperback or e-book?
Paperback, definitely! I spend all day on the computer, so the last thing I want in the evening is to read on another screen. Plus, the book in my hands connects me to the story far better than words on the screen. I have hundreds of research books on PDF, but still prefer my hardcopies.
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
The short answer: Herodias Long’s life led me to writing.
The long answer: actually, I wanted to be an archeologist from when I was seven. National Geographic ran an article about Pompeii, and I read the magazine to tatters. However, digs are tough on the knees and I had to quit, but not until after I’d worked on several sites and fallen in love with colonial America.
I channeled my interest in the period into genealogy, which led me to Herodias. She is notorious in Rhode Island for separating from two unsuitable husbands and for defending Quakers in Puritan Massachusetts. Herodias walked sixty miles to protest Quakers being whipped, and was herself flogged in Boston’s public square with her infant in her arms. That woman absolutely refused to sit down and shut up! That story was irresistible, so I decided to write a novel about Herodias. “Rebel Puritan” is my first creative writing project, though I sold some natural history articles while I was querying the mss.
Please tell me about your book, “Rebel Puritan.”
It depicts the coming of age of Herodias and of Rhode Island, the first colony to truly practice freedom of religion. Herodias marries when she is thirteen to escape servitude after the death of her father. She and her new husband arrive in Boston, Massachusetts when that Puritan colony is locked in a power struggle. Anne Hutchinson leads the minority party, which is ejected and flees southward. Herodias and her husband follow them to Newport, but her marriage is coming apart as her husband slides into alcohol and jealousy-fueled abuse. She petitions for a divorce, so the third theme in “Rebel Puritan” is women seeking control of their lives in a society which regards them as their husbands’ property.