Hello from Tennessee!
I'm Michelle Shocklee, one of the regular bloggers here on the HHH blog. I'm a Rocky Mountain girl at heart---born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico--but I've also lived in Oklahoma and Texas. As empty-nesters, hubby and I moved to Nashville, Tennessee three years ago where we work as Estate Caretakers, a very unique and rewarding career. I enjoy reading, painting, traveling, and being out-of-doors in God's beautiful world, but admittedly, only if the temperature and humidity are just right. Ha!
I come from a family of book lovers. Mom was an elementary school teacher for 25 years, and Dad was an engineer with a love of history. I have fond memories of them relaxing in the evenings, each with a book in hand.
Yet despite growing up surrounded by books, it never occurred to me to write one of my own until I was in my late 20s. I wrote my first novel longhand in notebooks, scratching out so many words and lines, I eventually couldn't read the thing. I put aside my novel when my sons were born, but the writing bug bit again once they entered school. By then I realized I needed help learning the craft of writing, so I attended writing conferences as time and budget allowed. Publication was still many years away, but I've come to understand God has a plan and a timetable for everything.
Since we lived in Texas, I decided to set my first series, The Women of Rose Hill, on a Texas cotton plantation, before and after the Civil War. You'll remember I'm not a Texas girl, knowing very little about Texas history beyond the Alamo, so I enjoyed diving into the history of the Lone Star state. Imagine how surprised I was to discover that slaves toiled under the hot Texas sun in the very area where I was raising my family. I also read about the early Texas Rangers, slaves escaping to Mexico, and about Juneteenth--the day in June 1865 when the Union Army arrived on Texas' shores at Galveston, bearing a declaration that would ultimately bring freedom to the more than 200,000 slaves still in bondage. I've incorporated much of this fascinating history into Adella's and Natalie's stories.
Researching slavery is a heart-and-gut-wrenching endeavor, but I wanted my books to portray it honestly. I discovered a body of work known as the Slave Narratives--stories told by former slaves to employees of the Federal Writers' Project--that transformed my books. I shared a bit about the narratives yesterday in my post here on the HHH blog, so I won't repeat it now. But suffice it to say, I was so completely captivated by the narratives, I decided to write a novel based on the Federal Writers' Project Slave Narratives of 1936. That book, Under the Tulip Tree, released today--YAY!!--and is now available at your favorite online bookstore and in many brick-and-mortar stores as well.