For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited Pegg Thomas. Whether in front of her computer or one of her antique spinning wheels, Pegg is a spinner of yarns. She’s here today to talk about her latest historical romance, Cobalt Skies, the second book in the historical romance series A More Perfect Union.

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.

My quirky hobby is rescuing and refurbishing antique spinning wheels. I have four wheels that I’ve returned to working order and spin yarn on. The oldest dates back to the American Revolution. Someone recently gave me another wheel that may be my 2024 project, it’s a small parlor wheel.

Can you tell us about your latest novel?

Cobalt Skies (book two of A More Perfect Union)

Samuel Hickman volunteered to fight for his country and talked his younger brother into joining him. They’d ridden for honor and glory. The realities of war, however, convinced Hick to avoid people and their entanglements.

Susannah Piper lost everyone she loved in the war, her Confederate father and brothers, and even her Yankee husband. Left with only her thick Georgia drawl and a contrary mule, her sights are set on the state of Oregon—as far from the battlefields and prejudices as she can get.

But when Susannah arrives in desperation at Hick’s camp one dark night, even he can’t turn her away. He’s heading to Wyoming, not Oregon, but it’s in the right direction, and Susannah doesn’t plan on being left behind. The resulting clash of North and South may spark another type of civil war.

Why did you choose to write a story set during the post-Civil War era?

I wanted to explore the lives of three ex-cavalrymen who needed to rebuild their lives after the war. My great-great-grandfather was in the Michigan 7th Cavalry, so that’s where the germ of the idea started. He even makes a cameo appearance in Emerald Fields (book one of A More Perfect Union). In Emerald Fields, the hero is physically scarred and deals with what we call PTSD today. In Cobalt Skies, the hero is emotionally scarred. And in the final book, Silver Prairies, the hero was financially ruined by the war.

Can you tell us more about Reconstruction on a larger scale? What is it and how did it look in the West?

Reconstruction, from 1865 to 1877, was the U.S. Government’s effort to reintegrate the Southern states and incorporate the freed ex-slaves. It started out rocky but gained a foothold with the passage of the Reconstruction Act of 1867 which saw Black Southerners elected to state houses and even the U.S. Congress. The movement was sabotaged by the Ku Klux Klan and those who backed them less than a decade later.

In Cobalt Skies, Hick and Susannah are both traveling West for a new start. Susannah is not treated well in Missouri—where she is when the story starts—because the state had flipped from one extreme to the other with the end of the war and a change of elected leadership. Many men displaced by the war—like Hick—headed West to find work and settle the newly opened lands, or became cowboys, while others turned outlaw.

What did Reconstruction look like on the individual level, particularly within the framework of your story?

Reconstruction happened in the Southern states—not really in the West—so once they leave Missouri early in the story, my characters ride out of it.

What research was required to write about the post-Civil War in the West?

The first-hand journals I found were from cowboys. But I also read some accounts of the forts on the prairie and of the men who, after fighting in the war, went to serve in those forts keeping control of the prairies. My great-great-grandfather was one of those soldiers. He served in Colorado after the Civil War.

Were resources easy or difficult to find on these topics? Do you have a favorite resource?

Whenever possible, I try to find firsthand accounts, usually journals. I have a friend who is a librarian—an invaluable friendship for any author to cultivate—who helps me find them. He’s located many of them online and they are free to read, but I’ve bought a few and borrowed them from the library as well.

What is one piece of your research that you couldn’t include in the book, but wish readers could know?

I skirted the issue of the Plains Indian wars. They were heating up at this time, but I didn’t feel I could do justice to the topic while staying on point of the story. The issue is there in the background, but it doesn’t really impact the story.

Do you have another book in the works? What can you tell us about that book?

Silver Prairies will release on May 16th, it’s the third and final book in A More Perfect Union. In this book, both the hero and heroine are Southern, but they don’t agree on much of anything! I’ve written more than half the story so far, and I’m enjoying the way the characters play off of each other.

Following A More Perfect Union, I’ll be going back into Colonial America—my favorite era—and releasing the Path to Freedom series, Freedom’s Price, Freedom’s Pride, and Freedom’s Promise. These stories are built around the Quaker migration from the slave-holding states to the Northwest Territories (Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois) in the early 1800s

I hope to release four novels in 2023!

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?

If anyone’s interested in following both my writing and spinning wheel adventures, they can subscribe to my monthly newsletter: With the release of each book, I give away one handspun, handknit wool shawl to a newsletter subscriber. It’s a fun way for me to blend my two passions.

The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Pegg, thank you for joining us today!

If readers would like to purchase a copy of Cobalt Skies, where might they be able to do so?

You can find Cobalt Skies on Amazon.

If readers would like to learn about you or your other books, how might they find you online?

If readers would like to learn about you or your other books, how might they find you online? | Facebook | Goodreads | BookBub | Amazon

Over Sunday Dinner next week, author Dana McNeely will join us. See you then!