I had so much fun interviewing author Ellen Roteman a few months ago, that I’ve decided to make author interviews a regular part of my blog. This time around, I’d like you to meet Tovah S. Yavin, author of “All-Star Season,” written as T.S. Yavin. Yavin’s new novel, “The Free and the Brave,” is a Jewish historical novel for kids set during the War of 1812.
Faygie: Hi Tovah, your new book looks great. Are you a history buff? What appealed to you about the time period?
Tova: I have no formal education in history , but I always loved visiting historical sites. Standing a few feet away from a desk used by Thomas Jefferson or running my hand on a stair rail that had been touched by George and Martha Washington always sent tingles up my spine.
One day, we visited Fort McHenry with our grandchildren and as we were leaving, I wondered if there was a Jewish connection to the battle fought there. So, I did a little research and the answer was ‘yes.’ I looked further and discovered more and more about that time and place and eventually, I wanted to tell the story. But beyond that, I had become interested in the question – is there a Jewish connection? And the answer is ‘yes.’ Pick any time period, any place in American history and the answer to the question of whether there is a Jewish connection is ‘yes.’ So, now I’m hooked. Everywhere I go, I look for stories and everywhere I go, I find them!
Faygie: Can you tell us a little about The Free and the Brave?
Tova: There were three young Jewish men (teens actually) who fought at Ft. McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore Harbor. For those who haven’t read the book yet, that is the battle that inspired the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner and it was a major turning point in the War of 1812. I discovered as I read more and more that those Jewish men played important roles in that battle but at the same time, ate kosher and maintained their lives as Jews. Learning about this war was interesting because it was very different from wars we know of now. This war took place in everyone’s backyard. The enemy and the fighting were all around the people who lived there. And the community had to pitch in and help or the war was going to be lost. But I won’t give out any more details – for that, you’ll have to read the book.
Faygie: Do you have any other books in the works? How can readers get in contact with you?
Tova: I have just finished another historical novel. This one follows a family who lives and works on the C and O Canal (Chesapeake and Ohio Canal) as they make the trip from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington, D.C. and back. They take along a young 12-year-old boy, who happens to be Jewish, to help bring home a badly injured mule much loved by their daughter. Everything that could happen on such a journey will happen – so it should be an exciting two-week ride. I can’t tell you the title of the book, yet, because we are still working on that.
The canal story is set in 1909, a time when the canal was still an important waterway. When we do have a title for this book and revisions are finished, I am going to move forward to 1940. My next work will be set in Abilene, Texas during World War II.
Readers can join me at my website and learn more about how I research and write stories from past times.