The books we read as children shape us. But for the majority of kids, those books don’t reflect them or even the realities of the historical times that they represent. A new series of books from Macmillan aims to correct that.
Nerdist: Did you have a connection or favorite memory of
Bethany C. Morrow: Like so many of my generation, I of course had an affinity for the 1994 adaptation starring Winona Ryder. But more than that, and in what seemed a very solitary growing aversion, I’d begun to recognize that this particular property had become one of those oft-adapted classics, all of which shared some variation on the same theme of white innocence. Just as imaginations don’t evolve in a vacuum, neither is it particularly useful to isolate a property and refuse to see its place and purpose among the canon. When taken with others, it became annoyingly obvious to me that
What were your main aims and inspirations when it came to how you were going to reimagine this story?
My singular aim was to tell a truer story of the United States in 1863. A truer story of the chaos, the community, the abolitionists, the Union, the recently and sometimes self emancipated. It was to keep only the universal elements of a story so often hailed as wholly universal. Keeping only the March family and Lorie (Laurie), and the abundant familial love, I wanted to tell the story of a Black quartet of sisters starting over in a country that claimed to be doing the same.
The real historical setting is key to your story, what went into the research and planning for telling it?
My answer will always begin with Patricia C Click’s
It felt necessary to disrupt the lionization.
What are you hoping that readers get from your reimagining of this story?
I hope they get a sense of reality, of actual history, and a corresponding skepticism and dismay at the curation and mythology to which they’re relentlessly exposed.
Is there a moment, page turn, or character beat you’re most excited about readers discovering when they pick up the book?
It would be impossible to choose. It is a new