Earlier this week over on Goodreads, I agreed to answer an interview question about my favorite fictional couple. And like most of the authors who were asked this question, I chose one of my own. The world of books is full of wonderful couples, but for my own writing purposes, my favorite couple has to be Jonathan and Susan Grenville. My answer now appears somewhere on Goodreads.com, but even I haven't managed to find it more than once. So here's the answer iIgave them, reprinted for your enjoyment.
"The Grenvilles came to life for the first time in "Damned Yankee." I wanted to tell a story that would show both sides of the Civil War conflict, and the Grenvilles served that purpose nicely. Jonathan was a Yankee, raised in New England, educated at Harvard, a practicing historian and teacher whose greatest love was the story of the American Revolution and the creation of the new United States. Susan was the privileged daughter of a fine old Southern family, slave-owners all, so used to being surrounded by slaves on their cotton plantations that slavery seemed a part of the natural order of things.
"When I started writing about them, I had in mind a single story, in which the couple would manage to hold their marriage and family together by rising above partisan politics and avoiding the horrors of the war. They did so, but the root problems that caused the war itself long outlasted the final battles. And the Grenvilles had more to tell us than I had planned. The result was a second volume, "Yankee Reconstructed," in which they were forced to confront the unsettled issues of the first civil rights struggle--an interracial marriage, the threat of the Ku Klux Klan, the horrors of lynchings, the on-going fight for the right to vote.
"I hoped to tie up their story with a happy ending to Book Two, but the Grenvilles were not through with me yet. "Yankee Daughters" came into existence when i realized that the problems facing Jonathan and Susan were not just theirs alone, but would carry over into the following generations. Their grandchildren might move to a different state, but they inherited a 20th-century world influenced, and tainted, by the same conflicts that had plagued Civil War South Carolina.
"I knew I had created a memorable fictional couple when an early reader of Book Three responded with an anguished cry of "No-o-o-o-o! You can't kill off Jonathan!"
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