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Words with a Wordsmith S. Lee Fisher

By Alina Rubin
July 28, 2023

The Women of Campbell County Saga

 

Paper Lantern Writers - Historical Fiction Author Collective

 

What period of history do you wish you knew more about?  

As a member of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) and 1812 Society, I think I am more knowledgeable than the average citizen when it comes to early US History. I am attracted to studying war. My contribution to Hooked on Historical Fiction FB group is as their Military expert. WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, and even the Korean War are vital to my storylines, and I have written and traveled extensively exploring the US Civil War.

That leaves a void during the Post-Civil War reconstruction period in the South. So much is documented and taught about the Civil War, its battles, generals, soldiers, and civilian and military loss. However, the time immediately following President Lincoln’s death is underserved in our schools, in non-fiction, and in fiction. The emphasis of that time seems to drift west, to pioneers, Indian conflicts, and settlers with the expansion of the nation. The industrial revolution occupies the lens when viewing the Northeast.

The reconstruction era is neglected. So many Southerners were exploited by northern carpetbaggers. Too many freed slaves were denied or delayed their freedoms, and the South struggled to rebuild and forgive. The politics of the time are complicated, conflicting, and confusing. Unlike the same time in Victorian England, which is widely glamorized and fictionalized, there is nothing ‘romantic’ about the reconstruction era.

To answer based on world history, there is much I need to learn. I choose the Franco-Prussian War, which is actually around the same time period as the US reconstruction. For whatever reason, the years of 1860 to 1880 in the US South are glazed over (at least by me) for sexier times elsewhere.

Paper Lantern Writers - Historical Fiction Author Collective

If you could write any other genre, what would it be?

I write historical fiction with an emphasis on strong women and relationships. I am currently skirring contemporary satire. It is an exploration of human relationships through the eyes of an animal. The target publish date is November 2023 or January 2024.

However, the one genre that I wish I could write, but probably never will attempt is the contemporary or military thriller, à la Brown, Grisham, or Clancy. My writing style is not conducive to fast-paced action whose plot is often completed in a matter of several days. Detail is not my problem. Rather, I tend to write sweeping, broadly stroked sagas as opposed to pin-point dotted scenes.

Paper Lantern Writers - Historical Fiction Author Collective

Do you tend to write about places you’ve been to, or places you wish you could go to?

Both. “They” say, ‘You write what you know.’ I say, ‘You write what you want.’ I mix both familiar with unknown in my writing. Example: Becoming Olive W. book 1 of The Women of Campbell County series, is set in rural western Pennsylvania, where I grew up. I am intimately familiar with the hills, train tracks, plants, animals, mores, and values of the area. However, there are two key chapters that occur at West Point Military Academy. I have never visited West Point, despite my interest in military history and a teenage desire to attend an Army-Navy football game played at West Point. (Unfortunately, the game is no longer played on either school campus). I love research and through modern technology and maps (current and archived) it is easy to be transported mentally to a different location. I was able to accurately capture the essence of West Point circa 1911.

Another example of writing a place never visited happens in Hill House Divided book 3 of The Women of Campbell County series. Eddy Kepler, my wayward antagonist, fulfills his military obligation in Trieste, Italy. All my descriptions of Trieste and the surrounding area were based on research. The book was published in February 2022. In March 2022, my husband Ralph and I cruised the Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas, embarking from Trieste. As we drove down the coastal road and once we arrived at the port, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I nailed it! The palazzos, the coastal road out of Trieste leading to Miramare Castle, and the barcola were exactly as I described them.

Contrastingly, in my next historical series work in progress, the conclusion occurs in Rhonda, Spain. Fortunately, I have already visited Rhonda, although I intend to enhance my personal knowledge and memories with additional research.

Paper Lantern Writers - Historical Fiction Author Collective

Is there another profession you would like to try?

I would love to study meteorology. I even went as far as requesting information about Penn State’s doctorate program in meteorology. I was newly married and working part-time as a retail pharmacist in the Pittsburgh area. I was unable to convince my new husband (current old husband) that we would both benefit if I became ‘Dr. Progar, the winter weather expert.’ I have been a fan of the Weather Channel since its inception, and I still can sit for hours watching repeated forecasts.

Last year I was witness to the capability of nature during Hurricane Ian. I knew we were in trouble when local rumors reported that Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel was seen in downtown Venice (Fl). Jim and Ian headed slightly south of Venice to the Ft. Myers, Port Charlotte/ North Port area of Florida’s Gulf coast, where Ian came ashore. Our home was ravaged by the northern eyewall for over 8 hours. It was a fascinating, frightening ordeal that I am grateful to have experienced. Thankfully, we suffered minimal damage. When asked if I intend to evacuate this summer, pending another direct hit. My answer is a qualified “no, I’ll stay.” Ian, labeled the hundred-year storm, came ashore at just under a category 5 on the Saffir Simpson scale. It would have to be an extremely powerful, directly hitting storm for me to miss Mother Nature in all her splendor and awe.

Paper Lantern Writers - Historical Fiction Author Collective

 Do you have another artistic outlet in addition to your writing?

Yes. Unfortunately, I do not have the floor space to accommodate all my interests. As prescribed for retirees, we downsized and condensed two homes when we moved to Florida permanently in 2019. I confiscated the smallest of our 3 bedrooms and converted it into my ‘studio.’ It is currently under renovation to provide adequate storage for my watercolor and acrylic painting supplies, canvases, paints, and papers, my writing business files, reference books and computer hardware, and my sewing supplies that alone can fill a 500 sq ft room. I subscribe to the adage ‘She who dies with the most fabric wins.’

During a previous life, in addition to my continual career as a pharmacist, I had my own Heirloom sewing business, specializing in English hand-smocking and French Heirloom sewing. I sold Christening gowns and Communion dresses to clients around the globe. Now, I only sew and design for my own use and pleasure, specializing in home décor and wearable art. So far, except for a project done with my grandmother at age 15, I have avoided quilting, at all costs. Not for a lack of interest, rather, I simply do not have the room to quilt!

Surprisingly, when I take aptitude tests to quantify left-brain vs right-brain strength, my results remain unvarying. 51% left brain. 49% right brain. I guess that left-side helps with all the details!

Multi-award-winning writing as a second career. S. Lee Fisher, aka Dr. “P.”, clinical pharmacist was born and raised in small-town Pennsylvania. After moving to Pittsburgh and working in retail pharmacy, she enjoyed a successful corporate career managing retrospective clinical programs for the PBM side of a Fortune 20 company.

Fisher began writing fiction in 2018 as a means of channeling the pain and grief of her father’s passing. Verbalizing emotions and human interaction helped her cope with his death. In the process, she discovered that she enjoys the creativity of telling relationship-based stories that center around strong women. Fisher creates well-developed quirky characters that the reader both loves and hates simultaneously,

Redefined as a full-time novelist, Fisher lives on the gulf coast of Florida with her husband of 39 years, Ralph. When she’s not writing, she enjoys painting watercolors, designing clothing & sewing, ballroom dancing, and swimming.

You can find out more about her books on her website or on her social and book blogging sites.

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Alina Rubin

Written by Alina Rubin

Alina Rubin loves writing historical fiction about heroines with strong voices and able hands. Her debut novel, A Girl with a Knife, won the Illinois Author Project competition. When not working or writing, Alina enjoys yoga, reading and traveling.

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