Word Nerd

Book Review by Bethany Warner

This week’s special guest is historical fiction author Georgia Lowe. While a lot of authors look to grand periods of history (the Tudors, the Romans, etc.) Lowe looks to one of America’s less-than-proud moments, the Bonus march on Washington DC in the 1930s. Welcome, Georgia, and we here at Word Nerd are glad to see her canine co-editors sharing some of her spotlight.

WN: What’s “The Bonus” about and what kind of reader would be drawn to it?
GEORGIA: Against the backdrop of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, The Bonus tells the true story of what happened in 1932 when 22,000 American veterans march to Washington and peacefully petition Congress for early payment of their wartime service bonuses. But instead of supporting the veterans’ claim for payment of an honest debt, President Hoover orders General Douglas MacArthur, Army Chief of Staff to evict the veterans from the city. MacArthur does so with the cavalry, tanks, armed infantrymen and tear gas. Picture American soldiers attacking American veterans on the streets of our nation’s capitol. Not only is this a must read for all Americans concerned about the humane treatment of our veterans, The Bonus is also a cautionary story for those who believe we no longer need a government strong enough to provide safety nets for the most needy Americans. George Santayana’s quote seems most appropriate here: Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. In addition, I believe 20th century history buffs will be drawn to The Bonus for its honest account of a pivotal event that ushered in FDR and the New Deal.

WN: The story of is drawn, in part, from your parents lives. What was it like fictionalizing them?
GEORGIA: Oddly, the more I fictionalized my parents, the more I came to understand them. Although my father worked for a newspaper, he wasn’t a reporter. My mother was a redhead, sometimes, but she wasn’t 6 feet tall, nor was she a starlet. But my parents embodied many of their characteristics. They were brave and funny and patriotic.

WN: To tell this story, you had to do lots of research. How did you go about that process?
GEORGIA: The research was daunting, but absolutely necessary. I took four trips to Washington, spent hours in the Library of Congress, walked the streets where the Bonus Marchers walked, sat where they sat and experienced the heat and humidity they suffered. My research also included careful study of a number of existing historical accounts of the event.

What made you want to be a writer?
GEORGIA: I’ve been driven to write from the time I could pick up a pen and pencil and put my thoughts on paper.

WN: What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever received and how did it help you?
GEORGIA: In a writers’ workshop, James D. Houston, the author of Snow Mountain Passage and many other fine historical novels, urged us to write stories we cared deeply about, stories of consequence. I followed his advice.

WN: What’s next for you as a writer?
GEORGIA: I’m currently working on a prequel to The Bonus, a short novel titled An Ordinary Kid. And, I have an outline of the sequel.

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