Interview with Claudia J. Severin, author of Her Side of History

Hey there, dear readers! I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy! Today on the blog I am talking with Author Claudia J. Severin who is currently on blog tour for her book, Her Side of History! I hope you enjoy the interview and be sure to enter the giveaway!

Hello Claudia and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Her Side of History!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I have always enjoyed writing, but most of my writing has either been news features or business writing during the time I was working. When I was young and getting my journalism degree, my fantasy job was writing soap operas, but I didn’t want to move to Hollywood. Today you could probably write for television anywhere in the world. Working full-time and married with three children didn’t give me a lot of time to indulge my writing muse. Once I retired, I got back into writing.

What inspired you to write Her Side of History?

I spent a year working on genealogy and uncovering interesting information about my ancestors and my husband’s ancestors. I felt like the heart and soul of their stories was missing. I decided to try to recreate some of their life histories based on the facts I had.

What research did you undertake when writing Her Side of History?

I traced family connections through and Family Search. I went to visit the places my “characters” lived to get a feel for the environment. The surprising source was small town newspapers that I could find on from one hundred years or more in the past. I researched not only the main characters I wanted to use but all of their siblings and parents. Obituaries can sometimes explain mysteries.

What would you like readers to take away from reading Her Side of History?

I hope it makes them wonder about their own ancestors. Writing about mine made them seem real to me. And I realized how many things I should have asked my mother and grandmother about. It may not be too late for some of the readers. I was lucky enough to reconnect with my husband’s aunt who was in her nineties, and she gave me some insight into her family history. She passed away shortly after that.

What was your favorite scene to write?

Because there are four different stories in this book, it is hard to pick just one. There are scenes in INA and KATIE that made me cry while writing it. But it was fun to write the scenes in NELLIE where her husband is just mean. Until I remembered that it was probably close to reality.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

Spoiler alert: It was hard to figure out how to write from a character’s point of view when I knew she would die at the end of the story. I had to introduce other points of view, so I picked the two people I thought would be most affected by her death. One of those was her mother, and since I have three daughters of my own, that was hard to put myself in her shoes.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I knew I enjoyed inventing stories of people’s lives when I was ten. My best friend and I imagined all of our classmate’s lives for them as entertainment. Then we started writing the stories down. I think of this more of recording stories than writing. The story reveals itself, I just type. I find it harder to write blogs or other types of writing. It’s more fun to let my imagination do the work.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

I could relate to Steven King, when he said that he wrote every day in On Writing—A Memoir of the Craft. I feel like once you get the urge to write burning inside, you want to satisfy it. On the days I write, I probably write an average of three hours a day, just because I have other things to do, but it is the best three hours of the day. If I go several days where writing doesn’t fit into my schedule, I am eager to get back to it.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

That being said, the hardest thing is to let the draft rest before editing. That’s where I am now with the next book. You have to resist fiddling with it for at least two weeks, and probably longer, so that you can look at it with fresh eyes. You can not only spot mistakes and dead weight easier that way, you can gain new inspiration. I think I am going to have to start writing the next book in order to keep my hands off the first draft of this one.

Who are your writing inspirations?

I know writing I like, I want it to be fun and easy to read. I am a fan of J.A. Jance and Sue Grafton. Their audio recordings of mysteries kept me entertained on the daily hour-long roundtrip commute to work over the years. I have gravitated more to romance lately, and like Nicholas Sparks and Nora Roberts but I am open to any storyline that sounds interesting. I bought more non-fiction books when I was working for a living, now I just want to have fun.

What was the first historical novel you read?

Probably Little Women, Anne of Green Gables or Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. The history was lost on me as a child, I just liked the stories. And I read every Nancy Drew Mystery written before 1965 multiple times. I guess that was historical since she sped around in a blue roadster.

What is the last historical novel you read?

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck. It’s a story about how four women survived in Germany after their husbands were executed for plotting to assassinate Adolph Hitler.

What are three things people may not know about you?

1. Five weeks after my husband and I married, we went into the Peace Corps and went to Bogota, Columbia in the 1970s.
2. Then President Richard Nixon came to the University of Nebraska campus to honor the National Champion football team at an assembly and I shook his hand. He’s the only president I have ever seen in person. So far.
3. I like heights. I worked at the local phone company for twenty-three plus years and the best thing was climbing up the four-story microwave tower that stood atop the nine-story building. I’ve also enjoyed riding in a hot air balloon and a helicopter.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

Especially after writing Her Side of History, I can relate to any time period that I can picture one of my not-so-distant ancestors living in, probably from the 1850s forward.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I am still trying to decide if this next project should be considered Historical Fiction. I decided to tackle a series of four books, since I enjoy reading about characters that exist over multiple books. The series is about four fictional girls who were twirlers in high school together in the late 1960s. Three out of four of them get pregnant before they graduate from high school and they all handle it differently. I am infusing many aspects from my high school and childhood experience, including the real locations, and occasionally a real person as a minor character. There will be common 1960s and 1970s themes such as race relations, the War in Vietnam, feminism, abortion, infertility, and closet homosexuality. At some point, I do want to do a volume two of Her Side of History with different ancestors.

That sounds like a fascinating read! Thank you so much for being with us today, Claudia!

Her Side of History by Claudia Severin

Publication Date: March 19, 2020
eBook & Paperback; 303 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Author Claudia J. Severin took things into her own hands when her genealogy research seemed limiting. Follow her foremothers, four mothers plucked from her family tree. She reimagines the lives of ancestral families in this anthology. Ina, the tragic suffragette, traded her college degree and teaching career for a loving husband and children in the 1910s, in the shadow of the Great War, but things did not work out as she planned. Mary, a German immigrant, finds love with an Iowa farmer, and crosses the state in a covered wagon with his entire family to become a homesteader on the Nebraska plains in 1869. She didn’t know that Indian encounters, prairie fires and locusts would threaten her and her rapidly growing family. Nellie fell for the bad boy, the Good Time Charley who didn’t let a little thing like Prohibition stand in his way. She tries to control his drinking and spending, while supporting her family in times of calamity in the 1920s and 1930s traveling from Nebraska to Kansas and back again. Katie finds herself the sole heir to her father’s farm in southeastern Nebraska decades after the Homestead Act took most of the land ownership out of play. She enjoys playing the flirtatious games learned from her older half-sisters. But are her suitors interested in her or her inheritance?

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Claudia Johnson Severin lives with her farmer husband on a southeastern Nebraska farm that was homesteaded in 1869 by her husband’s great-grandparents, a setting for a portion of her anthology. At one time, the farm was home to dairy cows and chickens, as well as children. The cows, chickens, and children have all moved on, along with her day job. She spent a year researching many branches of her family tree, but decided the facts she uncovered did not leave enough to the imagination. She applied imagination to the facts and came up with this book.

When she is not writing, she is constructing one-of-a-kind play structures for her grandchildren. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Journalism and a Cornhusker football fan.

Website | Facebook

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, March 31
Review at Nursebookie

Thursday, April 2
Review at Impressions In Ink

Saturday, April 4
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Sunday, April 5
Review at Historical Graffiti

Tuesday, April 7
Guest Post at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Thursday, April 9
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Friday, April 10
Interview at Passages to the Past


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 2 eBooks of Her Side of History! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on April 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Her Side of History

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