I contacted Joan when I saw her website featuring the strong women she writes about--I also write biographical novels about women in history who made a noise in the world, but we haven't written about the same women--yet.
I'm happy to have Joan as my guest. Read about her and her book about Anna Dickinson, THAT DICKINSON GIRL.
When she is not writing in her studio by the sea, Joan Koster lives in an 1860s farmhouse stacked to the ceiling with books. In a life full of adventures, she has scaled mountains, chased sheep, and been abandoned on an island for longer than she wants to remember.
An ethnographer, educator, artist, and award-winning author who loves mentoring writers, Joan blends her love of history and romance into historical novels about women who shouldn’t be forgotten and into romantic thrillers under the pen name, Zara West. She is the author of the award-winning romantic suspense series The Skin Quartet and the top-selling Write for Success series.
That Dickinson Girl, longlisted in the Mslexia Novel Competition, finaled for the Historical Fiction Company Award, and finished second in the Romance for the Ages Contest.
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Who Was Anna Dickinson?
In 1863, at the height of the Civil War, Anna Elizabeth Dickinson (1842-1932) was the most photographed woman in America. Her name a household word. Her image printed on teabag labels.
She stood nose to nose with the great men and women of her time and argued them down. She was the first woman to give a political address to Congress. A diminutive bundle of unflagging energy, with a passion for justice, she had the showmanship of Lady Gaga and the political astuteness of Rachel Maddow.
Known as America’s Joan of Arc, Anna Dickinson was sixteen years old when she stepped onto the world’s stage in 1860, rising to speak at a public debate on women’s rights and driving a man from the hall with the power of her words alone.
Scooped up by the abolitionists of the day and hired by the Republican party to campaign for them, the young girl found herself catapulted to the height of fame and fortune by the age of twenty-one. Click here to read more about her.
About THAT DICKINSON GIRL
Eighteen-year-old Anna Dickinson is nothing like the women around her, and she knows it. Gifted with a powerful voice, a razor-sharp wit, and unbounded energy, the diminutive curlyhead sets out to surpass the men of her day as she speaks out against slavery and for women’s rights. There are only two things that can bring her downfall—the entangling love she has for her devoted companion, Julia, and an assassin’s bullet.
Forced to accompany the fiery young orator on her speaking tour of New England, Julia Pennington fights her growing attraction to Anna while protecting her from the onslaught of the press. When a traitor sets out to assassinate Anna, Julia must risk her life to save the woman she loves.
Loosely based on the life of forgotten orator, feminist, and fighter for justice, Anna Dickinson, THAT DICKINSON GIRL is the story of one woman’s rise to fame and fortune at the expense of love during the political and social turmoil of the American Civil War.
Everyone loved her. Anna bowed low as two thousand admirers roared their approval, the sound filling the hall at Cooper Institute.
All of New York City had gathered to hear her and pay the twenty-five-cent admission. She looked out at her paying admirers. One thousand dollars. For one speech. Unheard-of income for a woman. And tomorrow, she’d speak again to the thousands who’d not been able to squeeze inside tonight.
She was going to be the richest woman in America. The most famous. Her name splashed across the headlines in every newspaper. And she deserved it. How could she not when Julia loved her, and her heroine, Susan Anthony, and her friend, Elizabeth Cady, sat in the first row, cheering her on? She had spoken for them and for women everywhere.
Imitating a homing pigeon, she swept past the smiling faces of the mayor of New York, George Opdyke, and Charles Gould, Henry Ward Beecher, Horace Greeley, Theodore Tilton, and the other dignitaries, and headed toward the two women who stood with their hands outstretched in womanly welcome.
“Friend Anthony, I’m so glad you came.” Anna held out her hand.
“My dear, dear Anna.” Anthony ignored the proffered hand and drew her face-first against her bosom. Anthony’s other hand crushed her curls.
Anna struggled to pull back, to gain a breath. Beneath her cheek, the grand lady’s chest vibrated with continued praise, the words no more than the cooing of a dove. She felt like a prodigal entrapped in the mothering she had left home to escape.
Just when she thought she would have to extract herself with unmannerly force, Anthony released her, and she fell back on tottering feet, the taste of black dye on her lips, her cheeks burning.
Stanton’s plump face peeked over Anthony’s shoulder. “A brilliant political speech on behalf of the Union, my heart. So young. So wise. What a credit to womanhood. The first of our new true women who will challenge men in their own domain. I’m so glad I was able to hear you again. You certainly have all those generals well-pegged.”
She patted Anna on the arm. “I wish I could talk politics with you all night, but I regret I must run back to the children before they run the nurse ragged. However, Susan’s promised to take you in hand. She’s going to talk you into attending our National Convention in May. So off with you, my girl.” She flicked her hand toward the newsmen streaming up the aisle toward her. “Go speak to your admiring press. Susan will await you at the side door.”
Anthony laid a hand on her arm. “Watch your words with those vultures. One misstep, and they will chew you up and spit you out.”
Anna nodded. “I don’t answer questions, merely smile and tell them to come to my next speech if they want to learn more. It doesn’t please them, but no matter what I say, they go back and write whatever idiocy pops into their heads, anyway.”
“Smart girl. Slip away as soon as you can. We’ll dine at Delmonico’s.”
With a last touch to her arm, Anthony whirled with the grace of a hawk in flight and escaped unnoticed as the men of the press, in their wrinkled black suits, crowded round their celebrated victim.
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