For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited Roseanna M. White. Roseanna is a bestselling, Christy Award winning author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at http://www.RoseannaMWhite.com.
Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!
Without further ado, please tell us interesting readers would enjoy learning about you.
Both my family and my husband’s vacationed yearly in the Outer Banks when we were kids. When we started dating, our families actually started joining our trips together, which was so much fun! It’s what led us to decide to get married there, actually. We said our vows on a deck overlooking the ocean on June 17, 2001, and then hiked across the dunes to take photos. We had a barefoot wedding party, no veil (hello, wind!), and the dolphins came out right after the ceremony to wish us well. That deep-seated love for the islands leads us back there every year and is without doubt what inspired this book!
Can you tell us about your latest novel?
In 1942, Evie Farrow is used to life on Ocracoke Island, where every day is the same–until the German U-boats haunting their waters begin to wreak havoc. And when special agent Sterling Bertrand is washed ashore at Evie’s inn, her life is turned upside down. While Sterling’s injuries keep him inn-bound for weeks, making him even more anxious about the man he’s tracking, he becomes increasingly intrigued by Evie, who seems to be hiding secrets of her own.
Decades earlier, in 1914, Englishman Remington Culbreth arrives at the Ocracoke Inn for the summer, but he doesn’t count on falling in love with Louisa Adair, the innkeeper’s daughter. When war breaks out in Europe, and their relationship is put in jeopardy, will their love survive?
As Evie and Sterling work to track down an elusive German agent, they unravel mysteries that go back a generation. The ripples from the Great War are still rocking their lives, and it seems yesterday’s tides may sweep them all into danger again today.
Bestselling and award-winning author Roseanna M. White whisks you away to two periods fraught with peril in this sweeping and romantic dual-time tale.
Without giving spoilers, how does Yesterday’s Tides connect to your other books? Which books does it connect to?
Oh, I had so much fun with this! Yesterday’s Tides actually combines ALL my historical romance worlds! We have tie-ins to the Culper Ring Series, and then all my English settings as well. Those were already related, but we see characters from Ladies of the Manor, Shadows Over England, and the Codebreakers on the page, and there’s even a nod to Lord Sheridan from the Secrets of the Isles. You don’t have to have read any of those for this story to make sense, but if you have, you’ll enjoy the literary Easter Egg hunt!
Your books of late have been set in Edwardian times. What made you choose to include a WWII timeline?
Quite simple: all the interesting things happened on Ocracoke during WW2 rather than WW1! I was bemoaning that fact one year on vacation—I mean, U-boats prowled the coast and British sailors washed ashore after they were torpedoed! So fascinating, so I decided to tell my island story in both timelines. Rem and Louisa would still be set during WW1, as I’d been planning for years (hence why I planted Remington Culbreth in Room 40 many books ago, mwa ha ha ha), but I would also feature the events on Ocracoke during the next war.
What I really loved about this was how it allowed to explore a theme I’ve noticed over and again in my world war research—that all the “big” events of the better known WW2 actually had their roots in the Great War of a generation before.
How did your research differ from past books?
I actually got to go and visit for once! I don’t get to England or Europe very often, ha ha, but this time my family could take a week on Ocracoke and really explore and do hands-on research. We wandered through the woods, explored the village, picked out houses, bought little booklets and pamphlets from the historical society, took photos and video at the British Cemetery, and just generally got a feel for the unique island life.
You include American Sign Language in your book. Can you tell us more about your research and how you went about having your characters use the language?
I did, yes! Because I tied this book in with the Culper Ring Series with the character of Elsie—who was a little girl, born deaf, during the Civil War in Circle of Spies—that meant that I needed to include the American Sign Language that Elsie was learning in that earlier book. In Yesterday’s Tides she’s a grandmother, certainly fluent in ASL, and has taught it to her whole family.
Honestly, this was a bit intimidating! In Circle of Spies, they had just gotten the first book on ASL and were exploring it, so there were only a few signs. In this one, she’s an adult having full conversations. I knew I was going to mess it up, LOL. I prayed, “Lord, send me some help with this!” and literally that afternoon, a member of my new Patrons and Peers group introduced herself and mentioned that she was an ASL teacher. THANK YOU, LORD! Deanna agreed to beta-read it for me and proved to be SUCH a huge help!
Were resources easy or difficult to find on these topics? Do you have a favorite resource?
There were no shortage of sources for the research for this one, thankfully! I think one of the hardest aspects for me was figuring out the European parts…but I totally cheated. I sent an email to my husband, who loves this sort of thing, and said, “I need a French village that…” and then listed my criteria. Within an hour, he came back to me with two solid options, gave me links to their history, and I could just pick which one would tie in my with climax.
In terms of favorite resources, I would have to say it was the Ocracoke Preservation Society! I visited, and they let me go up into their archives and dive in! I took photos of pages of books not available elsewhere, looked at historic records of where people lived, and had a blast chatting with the employees too.
What is one piece of your research that you couldn’t include in the book, but wish readers could know?
There’s a lot of island history I just couldn’t work in, including the fact that their most infamous resident was Blackbeard! He used Ocracoke as a base of operations for a while, and there’s still a lot of locations around the island that boast his name.
Do you have another book in the works? What can you tell us about that book?
Next up from me is my new series called The Imposters, which will launch summer 2023 with A Beautiful Disguise. This one combines an Edwardian circus theme with some fun investigator hijinks, aristocrats spying on their own to make a living, and yet another gorgeous English setting! I can’t wait for you all to meet the acrobatic Lady Marigold, her brother Yates, Earl of Fairfax, the cast of Romani and retired circus animals who call their estate home, and my noble-hearted hero, Sir Merritt, who calls on them when illness and injury demands he find help in an investigation surrounding the formation of MI5. SO MUCH FUN!!
The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Roseanna, thank you for joining us today!
If readers would like to purchase a copy of Yesterday’s Tides, where might they be able to do so?
It’s available at all major retailers, both online and in stores, and you can get signed copies directly from me at www.roseannamwhite.com/shop
If readers would like to learn about you or your other books, how might they find you online?
You can find me at www.roseannamwhite.com and @RoseannaMWhite on the main social media platforms! I always LOVE chatting with readers.
Over Sunday Dinner next week author Kathy Harris will be joining us. See you then!