"Powerful" - A MOTHER'S PROMISE by K.D. Alden - Interview
“A Mother’s Promise is a powerful, heart-wrenching, ultimately uplifting novel about the bonds of family and one woman’s courage in the face of adversity. K.D. Alden brings history to life with rich storytelling and deep emotion.“―V.S. Alexander, author of The Magdalen Girls
A Mother's Promise
Based on the true story behind a landmark U.S. Supreme Court Decision, K.D. Alden’s debut is a rich and moving story of one woman’s courage and strength at a pivotal point in America’s history.
Virginia, 1927. A chance to have a family. That’s all Ruth Ann Riley wants. But because she was unwed and pregnant, she was sent away and her baby given to another woman. Now they’re trying to take Ruth Ann’s right to have another child. But she can’t stand the thought of never seeing little Annabel’s face again, never snuggling up to her warmth or watching her blue eyes crinkle with laughter. Good thing she has a plan.
All the rich and fancy folks may call her feeble-minded, but Ruth Ann is smarter than any of them have bargained for. Because no matter how high the odds are stacked against her, she is going to overcome the scandals in her past and get her child back—and along the way, she just may find unexpected friendships and the possibility of love in the most unlikely of places.
In the author's words . . .
Q&A with K.D. Alden
First, thank you so much for featuring me on Books & Benches! I’m honored to be here.
Now, a little something about the book . . .
A Mother’s Promise is set in 1920’s Virginia. It’s based on the true, heart-wrenching story of a pregnant, unwed teen mother: Carrie Buck. (In my novel I rename her Ruth Ann Riley.) Though she is not pregnant by choice, she is desperate to keep her child and have a family of her own. Instead, her baby is taken away and given to another woman.
Ruth Ann is falsely declared “feebleminded” and sent to live in an institution, the Virginia State Colony for the Epileptic and Feebleminded. Worse, the doctor in charge wishes to sterilize her—and other “fallen” girls like her, so that she can’t have any more children.
Ruth Ann, a simple country girl with only a 6th grade education, vows to fight for not only her baby, but her rights. She just never dreams that her battle will go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, or that she’ll find unexpected friendships … and the possibility of love along the way.
What do you hope readers will take away from A Mother's Promise?
It’s my hope that readers will understand that we have not always had the rights and freedoms we take for granted today. Women couldn’t even vote until the 19th Amendment was passed in 1919 and then ratified in 1920.
I also hope that readers will realize that the law does not always stand for justice.
Eugenics, or the “science of good breeding” that led to Buck v. Bell, the 1927 Supreme Court case that A Mother’s Promise is based upon, was a progressive and well-intentioned movement that ultimately led to disastrous consequences for hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. and in Nazi Germany.
Eugenics was supported by well-respected historical figures and luminaries such as Alexander Graham Bell, Andrew Carnegie, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., John D. Rockefeller, and Theodore Roosevelt. It’s not at all my intention to make these gentlemen (or others who supported the idea) look bad. What’s important to me is to show that ‘benevolent’ grand theory can devastate the lives of hapless, innocent individuals when put into practice. It’s for that reason that I wrote A Mother’s Promise from Ruth Ann’s simple point of view.
What appeals to you about historical writing?
This is a funny question to me, because I never set out to write a historical novel! I came across the concept for A Mother’s Promise quite accidentally, but had such a powerful, instantaneous reaction to it that I began writing it immediately, emotionally—tumultuously.
It was only after I’d spontaneously spilled out the first three chapters that I began to research in earnest. I’ve never viewed myself as a historian. But oddly enough, the research is what fascinates me … diving into the past and then bringing history alive in the most compelling way that I can. I love this process! And I’m very grateful to the non-fiction authors who’ve documented so many colorful, intriguing people who are sadly no longer with us.
I now research before, during and even after the developmental and writing process. There are so many small gifts from the past to be discovered!
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
I was lucky enough to sell my first book (in 1999, under a different pen name) in a sort of accident that would take too long to explain. In those days, you packaged up a hard copy and mailed the manuscript off to New York. You’d then receive back the same stack of paper and words with edits and suggestions written upon it in pen by your acquiring editor.
I rushed to open my package … only to find so much red ink all over the pages that they looked bloody! I was certain that someone had been murdered upon my manuscript.
But no. This was my first real, honest-to-God, brutal—and necessary—set of line edits. My ego shriveled. Tears sprang to my inexperienced eyes, washing out the stars that had been there. And I ran away from the horrible sight. For three days, I couldn’t go near my butchered prose.
And then I had to, because I had a deadline for the first time, too. I began paging through the bloody mess that had been made of my precious, ‘perfect’ words. And I had a horrible revelation: my editor was RIGHT in her corrections and suggestions. The text would be cleaner. The dialogue would be clearer. The characters wouldn’t be chained down by cheap adverbs.
So to finally answer the question: I learned the value and necessity of the editing process.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character(s) from A Mother’s Promise?
This is a fun question! I’d love to see Jennifer Lawrence in the role of Ruth Ann. And Eddie Redmayne in the role of Clarence. (Hey, God? Can you make this happen for real?) 😊
Thanks again for hosting me today! Please sign up for my newsletter at www.kdalden.com and follow me on social media @kdaldenauthor.
Books & Benches: Thank you, K.D., for sharing insight into A Mother's Promise and your writing.
Meet the Author
K.D. Alden is the pseudonym of an award-winning author who has written more than twenty novels in various genres. She has been the recipient of the Maggie Award, the Book Buyer’s Best Award, and an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award. A Mother’s Promise is her first historical novel.
K.D. is a graduate of Smith College, grew up in Austin, Texas, and resides in South Florida with her husband and two rescue greyhounds.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Forever/Grand Central
Publication Date: Jan 19, 2021
Content Rating: PG-13
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