Friday, November 11, 2022

Q&A with Carol Rudy Ludwick




Carol Rudy Ludwick is the author, with her late father, Robert W. Rudy, of the new historical novel March to the Sea. She completed the manuscript after his death. An actor and storyteller, she lives in Evanston, Illinois.


Q: What inspired your father to write March to the Sea?


A: My dad enjoyed a lifelong passion for the Civil War that was ignited when he was a child and was able to meet and have several conversations with an old Union veteran.


As the years passed, he not only learned more about war in general, firsthand as a paratrooper in WW2, but his interest in the dynamics of a war between the states deepened. He devoured many books on the subject and became what I would call a citizen historian. It was during his retirement that he became inspired to tell a story of his own.


Q: Can you describe your role in writing the book?


A: I think my dad was reluctant to finish it as he both loved his characters and the process of writing itself, but was also a bit unsure how he was going to wrap it all up. This made me gently cajole him by saying he’d better finish it himself or I’d have to do it for him posthumously.


After he passed, I realized just what that would entail. I pored over his handwritten notes and computer files for clues as to the general direction of the different story arcs; I worked with an editor to clear out what she called the “history lessons,” sections where my dad would veer off and give his opinion on the events that were unfolding.

Also, with such a large number of characters initially, we had to sort out whose POV we were reading. I then decided how to wrap up each character’s story and bring the novel to a conclusion.


Q: How did he, and then you, research the book, and what did you learn that especially surprised you?


A: My dad was so well read on the subject that he already knew much of the mechanics of the march, but he relied on his fellow Civil War enthusiasts in the Mason Dixon chatroom to help him suss out the details of some of the campaigns. He also knew a lot about soldiering in general from firsthand experience and that colored some of those scenes on the ground.


As for me, since there was no Google when I began this project, I relied on the library, Dad’s notes, and his buddies from the chatroom to fill in the details.


What surprised me the most was less about the Civil War itself, but what goes into completing a novel! I learned so much from my editor about POV, pacing, and character development. This experience prompted me to take writing classes and pursue my own work.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: A sense of the trauma that ensues when citizens go to war with each other. What does it mean to be a patriot? The South was convinced they were holding onto cherished American values, while the North was equally steadfast in their opposition. 


It frightens me to think that we feel closer to another civil war than ever before. Many of us have taken our freedoms and our democracy for granted, but they have been in peril before and they could be again.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m engaged in another kind of storytelling! I’m a lifecycle celebrant and I’ve been creating custom ceremonies for people to celebrate milestones, support transitions, and honor lives.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: My publisher, publicist, and I are looking forward to forthcoming events in the near future. If you are interested, watch for events on The book will be available 11/11/22 where all fine books are sold.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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