The Colonies lost the Revolutionary War. Now it's 1839 and the North American continent is divided into three territories: New Britannia, Nueva Espana, and Nouvelle France where seventeen-year-old Claire Poissant lives.
Claire has a magical way with words—literally. But a mystical power of persuasion isn't the only thing that makes her different. Half-French and half-Indian, Claire doesn't feel at home in either world. Maybe that's why she's bonded so tightly with her fellow outcasts and best friends: Phileas, a young man whose towering intellect and sexuality have always made him the target of bullies, and Sam, a descendant of George Washington who shares the disgraced general's terrible, secret curse.
But when Sam's family is murdered, these bonds are tested and Claire's special ability is strained to its limits as the three hunt the men responsible into dangerous lands. Along the way they cross paths with P.T. Barnum, William Frankenstein and other characters from both history and fantasy as they learn the hard way that man is often the most horrific monster and that growing up sometimes means learning to let go of the things you hold most dear.
Hi AshleyRose! Welcome to Let Them Read Books!
Can you tell us about your inspiration for Silver Tongue?
At some point in the last few years I remember reading about the Revolutionary War and how George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware was such a huge turning point. Of course, there’s the famous Leutze painting. I remember looking at the painting and thinking, “What if he just fell in?”
That was sort of the jumping off point for my alternate history novel, Silver Tongue, which actually takes place about fifty years after the failed revolution. At the novel’s opening America has been split into British, French, and Spanish territories. French-Indian Claire Poissant and her friends live in the French territory but, when tragedy strikes, they set out on a dangerous mission across The Colonies.
What are some of the rewards and challenges of creating an alternate history world?
In creating an alternate history, there’s a lot of research to be done. You can’t go around replacing threads in a tapestry until you’ve actually looked at/put your hands on the whole thing. In researching Silver Tongue I made a timeline of actual stuff—actual interesting things that really happened—and then set it aside as I figured out Claire’s plot. Once I’d figured that out, I came back to the timeline and thought about the stuff I could potentially change. Like, for instance:
Real life history: Napoleon was almost assassinated in 1800. He lived and went on to suck it up in Russia and then sold off his American property in the Louisiana purchase in 1803.
Silver Tongue history: Napoleon actually was assassinated in 1800. He was viewed as a martyr and his American colonies were viewed as a valuable asset. The colonies stayed French and Claire has a place in which to be born and grown up.
One of favorite things about writing alternate history, though, is coming up different ways technology and history can interconnect. In Claire’s world, the industrial revolution kicked up a little sooner than it did in ours and her best friend, Phileas, is at the forefront of this new, steam powered movement—of course he’s not the only one—as Claire learns when they encounter William Frankenstein. Obviously, another of my favorite things is combining literature and history. There are some great tropes and characters from gothic literature and I infused a few of them into Silver Tongue.
Of course, Alternate History can be challenging as well. You can’t just run amok in history, changing things willy-nilly, never thinking about the repercussions. In writing Silver Tongue, I felt I had to have a plan. I had to give Claire’s world a history that made sense and that means paying attention to all the little ripples that might have occurred if this or that happened. I made sure that I had a reason for everything I did—that I wasn’t ignoring the needs of my characters just because I wanted to have a scene where they run into PT Barnum. I always try to double or triple justify my weirdness—make sure that it informs the characters, advances the story, or provides some kind of thematic resonance for the reader. I want to satisfy my weird alternate history writing needs but, more importantly, I want to satisfy the reader. Hopefully, in paying attention to both the individual threads and the whole tapestry, I’ve done that in Silver Tongue.
Silver Tongue is on a blog tour!
About the Author:
About the Author: Born and raised in Appalachia, AshleyRose Sullivan now lives, writes, and paints in Los Angeles. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University and her first novel, Awesome Jones: A Superhero Fairy Tale is available from Seventh Star Press. She can be found at her website or her blog, My Year Of Star Trek.