Where can I find out more about life in 19th-century America?

You’ll find lots of good information at the following websites: Old Sturbridge Village The Library of Congress U.S. History Primary Source Timeline Teacher Oz’s list of 19th-century weblinks US History Scene You might also take a look at some of the books that I used for my research: Daily Life in New England Carson, Gerald…. Read more »

Who are the two boys on the cover?

Well, that’s an unsolved mystery! Marc Tauss, who created the cover, used a photo that he found in an antique store. There was nothing to identify the boys in the photo, which probably dates from the late 1800s. He collaged the picture with a 19th-century account book and a horse silhouette to create the stunning… Read more »

Is Ivy based on a real horse you either owned or rode?

Ivy is based on a combination of real horses I’ve observed and fictitious ones that I’ve read about. When I took riding lessons, there was a girl who had taken care of one of the stable horses for so long that the two of them had formed a strong bond. She would run around the… Read more »

Do you speak Irish (Gaelic)?

No. I did consider learning Irish, but it’s such a complicated language that I found the prospect a bit intimidating. So I called on a couple of experts to help me out. Thomas Moriarty, a professor from Elms College (my alma mater) in Chicopee, Massachusetts, and George Bresnahan graciously translated all the Irish bits for… Read more »

How did you research the period?

My training at Old Sturbridge Village involved learning about almost every detail of life in a New England town of the 1830s. When I worked there, I did many of the chores Ethan and Daniel do, like milking cows, mucking out the barn, planting crops, turning the manure pile, etc. So I used that experience… Read more »

Is the story based on historical events? Were Ethan and Daniel real people?

No. Both the story and the setting are fictional. I couldn’t find a real town that was exactly the way I imagined Farmington, so I invented a town on the western edge of Hampden County, Massachusetts, near the Farmington River. Although Ethan isn’t a real person, his story was inspired by a document that I… Read more »

How long did it take you to write A Difficult Boy?

It took about ten years from the day I wrote the first scene to the day I had the published book in my hand, but the book went through at least five drafts in that time, and I didn’t write all day every day (I had to work for a living, too!). The first draft… Read more »