A warm welcome to Barbara Eppich Struna, author of the historical novel, The Old Cape House. Barbara and her husband, to continue their creative lives, moved from Ohio to Cape Cod 28 years ago. They opened an art gallery representing her husband’s artwork and Barbara wrote and published The Old Cape House, set on Cape Cod. The wonderful period house that graces the cover of her book was painted by her husband. That is what I call a team effort.
Barbara, please describe what THE OLD CAPE HOUSE is about.
The Old Cape House is historical fiction. It’s about a woman who relocates to an old house on Cape Cod with her husband and four children. In her backyard she finds an abandoned root cellar. At its bottom, a baby’s skull, gold coins, and other evidence that connect their land to the legend of Maria Hallett and the pirate Sam Bellamy. Using alternating chapters between the 18th and 21st centuries, the story uncovers a mystery that has had the old salts of Cape Cod guessing for almost 300 years.
How did you come up with the title?
The house that’s pictured on the cover is actually the house we live in. Because I found so many interesting things around and about the house when we moved in, I felt I could write a story using what I ’d discovered. Also, the fact that my meta data and tag words were important for people to find my novel, the word Cape was important. In fact the subsequent books in this series will all have the words, The Old Cape ….in their titles.
What is the reason you wrote this book?
I wrote this particular book and developed this series because I’m fascinated with history, especially on the Cape. You can drive down roads or walk the old fire trails catching glimpses of the past, sometimes actually touching the old houses or artifacts that still remain and surround us today. In fact, I found a layer of red bricks laid out in a pattern under ten inches of dirt behind our barn; it sparked my imagination of who put them there and why. Then I became aware of the Cape Cod legend of Sam Bellamy, Maria Hallett, and the pirate ship, The Whydah. According to legend, Sam was a real pirate and his ship the Whydah was discovered off the coast of Cape Cod. Sam’s body was never found after his ship’s wreck and Maria was never proven to exist. So I took these two unknown elements with the secrets of my 1880 house and wrote a new story about Maria.
What is your favorite part of writing?
Conjuring up plots, inventing characters, and telling a good story.
What is the most challenging aspect of writing?
Finding the time to write… uninterrupted. I have five children, living all over the country, ranging in ages from 22 to 44 and two grandchildren plus a wonderful husband that I love spending a lot of time with every day.
Who are your favorite authors?
That’s a difficult question. I read but not as much as I should. I do like mystery writers. I enjoy Dan Brown, Stephen King, and William Martin.
What authors or persons have influenced you?
When we moved to Cape Cod 28 years ago, I discovered historical fiction author, William Martin. At the time, he had written about Cape Cod and New England using alternating chapters from one century to another. I was fascinated with his stories because I was able to experience history and present day at the same time. I liked connecting the past with what surrounded me in present day. He was the major reason I chose to write using alternating chapters.
Do you have a favorite place to write?
I like to write in the front of our 1880 house in the parlor. I also need music (instrumental only–no vocals) I listen to the background music for video games and movies. Olafur Arnalds and Hans Zimmer are great.
Have there been any surprises or learning experiences with the writing and publishing process?
Yes! The most surprising aspect was how much actual work is involved with the completion of the book and the process of getting it into the hands of readers. Along the way, it became a labor of love and a task that I would do again in a heartbeat.
Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?
I never gave up on my dream of becoming a published author, even after 54 rejections and a span of three years of querying plus many rewrites.
Do you have any advice for writers looking to get published?
Submit as many queries as you can. They are all learning experiences. They will teach you, if you’re lucky, what you need more of or what you can get rid of in your manuscript. It will make you analyze your words and fine tune them. Out of all my rejections, I did receive four full requests. They all said the same thing: loved the story, the pacing, the writing, but not invested in the characters. So I rewrote it again for the umpteenth time and it finally worked.
I write a blog, have Facebook and Twitter pages, and am working on a website, Barbarastruna.blogspot.com
Where is THE OLD CAPE HOUSE available?
It’s available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, iTunes, Strunagalleries.com
Something personal about you…people may be surprised to know?
A few years ago I was an extra in a movie that was filmed here on the Cape. The Golden Boys! I worked two days alongside of David Carradine, Bruce Dern, and Rip Torn and was fortunate to be in several scenes and in a behind–the–scenes extra on the DVD. I got paid $30 a day!
Tell us about your second book?
The second in my historical fiction series is almost completed. It features my contemporary character Nancy Caldwell solving another mystery. The story takes place on Antigua in the West Indies and on Cape Cod. The reader follows the lives of the two survivors of the 1717 wreck of Sam’s pirate ship, The Whydah and Nancy in present day. I use alternating chapters again to tell the story. It’s called The Old Cape Teapot.
Thanks for joining us, Barbara! We enjoyed getting to know you and your novel, The Old Cape House.