About Laurie "LC" Lewis
by Laurie LC Lewis
The books an author writes reveal a lot about them. Even writers of Sci-Fi and Fantasy will inevitably draw upon their own experiences, values, and priorities when choosing settings, themes, and when fleshing out characters. I’m currently working on a novel about two young cast-offs who think they are incapable of loving anyone, until they are drawn into the eccentric world of Agnes Devreaux Keller, a woman sliding into the rabbit-hole of dementia. It’s an exciting, deeply personal project based on events occurring in my own world.
Likewise, a 1998 trip to Williamsburg,Virgina was the catalyst for my Free Men and Dreamers series.
We were in the area, visiting historic plantations, battlefields, and of course, the historic city, and I fell in love with America in a new way. Despite the crush of tourists, there's a reverent spirit there. I felt I was in a sacred place. I've felt that same spirit in the historic city of Philadelphia and at Fort McHenry and Hampton.
Right then and there, I knew I needed to capture the spirit I was feeling by writing a book. On a subsequent visit, I went to the Visitor's Center and picked up a book about the culture of early America to use as a reference, and when I thumbed through it, I noticed the historian had referenced Lucy Mack Smith and her family as examples of the time period. I was astonished, and for the first time, I began to see the Smiths not only figures from LDS Church history, but as historical figures.
It sounds simplistic, but this was a huge shift in my thinking. It made perfect sense of course. Joseph Smith's family has been the subject of two hundred years worth of scrutiny, making them perhaps the most documented family of their day.
A year later I opened Lucy's biography of Joseph where I found a line about Lucy's brother Stephen Mack, who served as an officer in the War of 1812. Again, the connection to the Smiths amazed me. For the first time, I connected Joseph Smith and his family to the events of the War of 1812!
As a Marylander, I had been weaned on War of 1812 history, but I had never connected Joseph Smith and his family to this portion of America’s story. I began years of meticulous American history research and correspondence with some of the great historians in the region. It was fascinating. Among that research, I found references to typhoid outbreaks among the troops which were settled along the Canadian border and the Atlantic Coast. And who lived in the middle? The Smiths, whose own struggles with the disease, including a near-miraculous surgical story about Joseph's leg, have been well-documented and retold!
On and on, I found connection after connection between the Smiths, Book of Mormon prophecies, words of the Founding Fathers, and American history, until I could see God's continuous hand not only in America's founding, but in her preservation, and in her preparation to become the cradle of the Restoration.
This War of 1812 generation was a critical group. They were the first American-born generation, the generation in which the children of the Founding Fathers was raised. They were also the generation being prepared to receive the Restoration. It was not an accident.
I took great care in conducting the research behind the books which capture some of the most important, and sadly, the most neglected events in the nation’s history. I weave this great history through six fictional families—three American, two British, and one slave. It’s through their eyes that we experience the importance of such events as the Battle of Bladensburg, the burning of Washington, the Battle of Baltimore, and the writing of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
Over the next two years of the bicentennial, historians may debate certain aspects of the war, but on one point they all agree. These were the moments when America moved from being a loose confederation of states to “one nation under God.”
I’m grateful for the wonderful support I’ve received from readers, many of whom have said the series has changed them. I’m very pleased that individual books from the series have been finalists in four national competitions.
Free Men and Dreamers has been the hardest project of my career, and probably the most important. Thanks, Lexie, for allowing me to share this glimpse.
Walnut Springs Press Books
by Laurie LC Lewis