Interview & Giveaway: Naked Truth by Carrie Hayes

Naked Truth or Equality, the Forbidden Fruit by Carrie Hayes

Publication Date: February 29, 2020
HTPH Press
Paperback & eBook; 322 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

From Washington Heights to Washington D.C. comes a true American Herstory. Filled with intrigue, lust, and betrayal, this is the fight for sexual equality.

1868, on the eve of the Gilded Age: Spiritualist TENNESSEE CLAFLIN is smart, sexy, and sometimes clairvoyant. But it’s her sister, VICTORIA WOODHULL, who is going to make history as the first woman to run for President of the United States.

It starts with the seduction of the richest man in America. Next, they'll take New York City and the suffragist movement by storm, because together, Tennessee and Victoria are a force of nature. Boldly ambitious, they stop at nothing, brushing shoulders with Harriet Beecher Stowe and Susan B. Anthony, using enough chutzpah to make a lady blush.

That is, until their backstabbing family takes them to court, and their carefully spun lives unravel, out in public and in the press.

“Unsexed!” – New York Herald, 1872

“Short Haired Women and Long Haired Men.” – New York World, 1872

“Nothing More Than A Shameless Prostitute and A Negro.” – The Guard, Eugene Oregon, 1872

Told from shifting points-of-view and using actual news reportage from the era, Naked Truth is a riveting inside look into the struggle for women’s rights after the Civil War.

"Sometimes it is not enough to be the news, sometimes you have to make the news as well." –James Gordon Bennett, Jr., Proprietor of the New York Herald

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"Divisiveness. Chutzpah. Seduction. Politics. Oppression. Spirituality. Gender relations. Betrayal. Healers -vs- scam artists. Fortitude. Dismay. Against-all-odds battles. Fighting the good fight. Just like the plight of humanity today, the historical and excellently well-crafted novel, NAKED TRUTH: OR EQUALITY THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT by Carrie Hayes has it all." ***** – INDIE READER

"Hayes writes with such care and authenticity that the reader will likely be unsure where the history ends and the fiction begins." – KIRKUS REVIEWS

"Naked Truth: Or Equality, the Forbidden Fruit is a rich, balanced, and deftly written story that is as moving as it is entertaining." ***** – Readers' Favorite

"(Hayes) has found a fascinating chapter in history to explore, and Victoria and Tennie are compelling protagonists: fiercely determined, morally ambiguous, and deeply complicated. Readers with an interest in first-wave feminism, New York history, and detailed storytelling will enjoy mining this debut, which nicely sets up a sequel." – Book Life

"I thought this novel was brilliant from start to finish. It is fresh, it is vibrant, and the story is one that has been waiting to be told." ***** – CoffeePot Book Club

Naked Truth is a smooth fast read. Carrie Hayes’ marvelous interlacing of history with the narrative sparks an American story as well as a woman story. She has made this pair of wily sisters and their slickster father vivid and timeless.” – Gail Godwin, three time National Book Award Finalist

Hello Carrie and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Naked Truth!

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

Well, I am a late beginner of sorts. Growing up, my dad worked with writers, and I was surrounded by writers, so I believed, as a kid, that one would never, ever grow up to do the same thing as the adults around them, so I didn’t…. Instead I was a bit of wild child, and dropped out of high school, dropped out of college and the like. I got married when all of my friends were still in school, and I had my daughter when everybody else I knew were not having babies. When my daughter was little, her dad and I were sort of rolling stones, and didn’t gather any moss, until we ended up living in Europe. We moved to Luxembourg of all places, which in those days, some people referred to as a sleeping beauty. It was super comfortable, and a little bit sophisticated, and while I was there, I started working in the movies. In production…. I was also a drama teacher in those days, and directed shows for the little theater groups in the anglophone community. Eventually, I started a theater company, called Easy Productions- the name of which was supposed to be ironic. About five years later, my husband and I broke up and I returned to the States with my daughter. I swore off showbusiness, and went after the workaday world as an executive admin…. Two years after that, I became a kitchen designer…. Go figure! By the time the economy tanked in 2008, I was working in interior design…. And five years after that (!) I started writing Naked Truth. Because all that time, from when I was a kid to this very moment, I was reading, almost compulsively. And sometimes writing, for no reason other than, it was an itch, that needed scratching.

What inspired you to write Naked Truth?

Barbara Goldsmith’s Other Powers, just took my breath away. At the time, I was working on a piece about my parents, but the spirit of Victoria and Tennessee’s story kept nudging me, as if to say, “Okay, now write about us. Put that other piece down. You can always go back to it. Write about us now.” And the thing about them and their story, was that it felt so familiar, because so much of their crazy background reminded me of my mom. Their sort of extreme carny- manufactured elegance was completely what my mother was like. She (like the sisters) was so poised and so graceful, and yet would never hesitate to walk into a theater, and just take an empty seat without paying for a ticket. She would never hesitate to spin a yarn, if she could get the senior discount- even if she wouldn’t be eligible for the discount for another ten years…. The moxie of the sisters, and the moxie of my mom, just made it a natural fit for me as a writer.

What research did you undertake when writing Naked Truth?

As much as I could from my home in New Jersey. I read the biographies- Mary Gabriel’s and Myra Macpherson’s are the best, I think. And I read as much contemporary material that I could get my hands on. The Internet of course has made so many things possible which would not have been easily accessible even a few years ago. But I poured over the correspondence of Susan b Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton on microfiches in the New York Public Library. I read issues of Hearth and Home which Harriet Beecher Stowe briefly edited. I went to the New York Historical Society and poured over Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly. I pondered over stuff. I thought about their social circle and their professional colleagues. I came across people I had NEVER heard nor dreamed of, I read treatises by these people that were just incredible, and I simply became consumed by it- sort of enthralled and lost in the possibility of that time. Ultimately, I came to recognize that research is fun, but writing is hard. What would you like readers to take away from reading Naked Truth? That anything is possible and that it is worth attempting to do extraordinary things, even if it’s a long shot, and people say it will never happen. It is worth making the effort. No matter what.

What was your favorite scene to write?

There are a couple. When Cornelius examines the gift from Tennessee before he wraps it up and puts it in his glove drawer. I think all of us have relics like that which we never throw away, and if found, no one would ever attach any significance to them. That and Buck’s magic trick with the little stone in his mouth. When our elders perform sleight of hand, there is something so fantastical about it, that is very special.

What was the most difficult scene to write? 

The scene with Sam in the prison. Victoria actually did undergo a very real religious conversion during their three nights in prison, and afterwards, she did claim that Jesus came to her. I struggled with what could possibly happen that would make a very shrewd, rational person be transformed like that. Ultimately, I felt it would only happen as a result of her doing the unthinkable (which is complete fiction, I might add).That and the fact she became such a fervent eugenicist (which is part of the sequel). It was a tough one. And I’ve been fascinated to see how little comment it generates.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? 

When I realized I couldn’t stop writing and that I needed to get better and better at it.

What does your daily writing routine look like? 

Lately, I seem to do a thousand different things before I sit down and am actually in a groove. I try and get to my desk in the morning, and to stay put for most of the day. Usually, the beginning of the day is spent doing obligations and stuff like laundry or calling the cable company or something…. Then my mind settles down just after lunch, and I start getting some writing done.

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

The greatest challenge was learning to live with the indifference of the world. That the world does not revolve around my book being picked up, or whether anyone who read it liked it or not… I realized that if I wasn’t going to go crazy from rejection, or into a spiral of despair because people weren’t enjoying it- it would be because the journey of servicing the material itself- ie actually writing, actually producing- actually realizing the book- is where the joy lies. Coming to terms with that has been very humbling. And that’s ok. 

 Who are your writing inspirations? 

My mentor, Gail Godwin who is probably closer to me than anyone in my metamorphosis as writer. Taffy Brodesser Akner is just amazing. I completely LOVE everything she writes. I so enjoy everything Elizabeth Gilbert writes, too. Bernardine Evaristo’s “Girl Woman Other” has been an absolute thrill to read. One of the things all of these writers share, is their wit. I really dig that. What was the first historical novel you read? Dragonwyck by Anya Seton. I think I was 11 at the time.

What is the last historical novel you read?

Bronte’s Mistress by Finola Austin

What are three things people may not know about you?

That I love reading grocery store, hard core gossipy magazines as much as the next guy. I am ashamed to admit it, but I do. That and that I wouldn’t mind a night of square dancing, if this social distancing thing ever lets up.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

That while circumstances were very different for folks living then, that they were still people, like you and me, with crazy ideas and passions and quirks.

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

I really love early 19th century…. I haven’t dipped into any lately… but I feel a run of 1805-1820 stories (Lewis and Clark anyone?) coming on…

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I love lolling about, reading five or six different books simultaneously, and just working my way through them… Eating really well, and then lolling about some more.

Lastly, what are you working on next? 

Tennessee and Victoria’s adventures in London and what happens to them there….

About the Author

Over the years, Carrie has tried a lot of things. She’s sold vacuum cleaners, annuities and sofas. She’s lived at the beach and lived in Europe. She’s taught school and worked in film. For a while, she was an aspiring librarian, but she fell in love and threw her life away instead. Back in the States, she started over, then met an architect who said, “Why don’t you become a kitchen designer?” So, she did. Eventually she designed interiors, too. And all that time, she was reading. What mattered was having something to read. Slowly, she realized her craving for books sprang from her need to know how things would turn out. Because in real life, you don’t know how things will turn out. But if you write it, you do. Naked Truth or Equality the Forbidden Fruit is her first book.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 19
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, October 20
Review at Bookworlder
Feature at I'm All About Books

Wednesday, October 21
Review at YA, it's Lit
Review at andreajanel_reads

Thursday, October 22
Review at Bitch Bookshelf

Friday, October 23
Review at Bri's Book Nook
Excerpt at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Saturday, October 24
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Sunday, October 25
Interview at Passages to the Past

Monday, October 26
Review at Books and Zebras
Review & Guest Post at Jorie Loves a Story

Tuesday, October 27
Review at Novels Alive

Wednesday, October 28
Interview at Novels Alive


During the Blog Tour, one lucky reader will win a copy of Naked Truth by Carrie Hayes!

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on October 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Naked Truth 

1 comment:

  1. I love Harriet Beecher Stowe. I would love to read a Mystery with her in to.


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