Frequently Asked Questions

About Angel of Mercy

I’ve always loved the classics. My favorite author is Edith Wharton. But lately, I’ve been reading mostly research books.

I enjoy Edith Wharton because she wrote about hypocrisy during Gilded Age New York City. Wharton was born in the 1860s and she grew up in New York high society, so she wrote based on first-hand experience and observation.

As for the reference books, even though they are part of my work, I don’t think of them as work. I geek out on that stuff. I enjoy learning something I never knew before, or learning more about a subject, especially when it relates to Angel of Mercy.

Historical fiction. Everything I’ve written with one exception has been historical fiction. The one exception was speculative fiction. I began it when I was 17 and tried rewriting it probably four times and could never make it work. I still think sometimes, though, about the characters and world I created.

Historical fiction seamlessly blends two of my loves – fiction and history. Angel of Mercy is the first novel I’ve loved and felt strongly enough about to see through to publication. It has become an obsession and turned me into a workaholic, but it’s a story I believe is worth fighting for.

I can’t reveal too much without spoiling the plot. Much of the conflict revolves around World War One and certain characters’ decisions to participate in it. Some revolves around self discovery. In addition, there is conflict occurring back home. That part of the story will be told in novel two, Those Left Behind.

The initial reason is because the United States wasn’t in the war long enough to tell the type of story I wanted to tell. However, after doing research, a new reason emerged. Canada has such a fascinating history, especially during the 1910s. I wanted to bring part of that story to Americans who otherwise think of Mounties and hockey when they think of Canada.

In addition, it’s been enlightening to learn the other side of the story for events like the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Neither side was evil or blameless. Those wars don’t appear in Angel of Mercy, but they are part of Hettie’s family history.

It began with a dream I had as a teenager where I was a soldier being bayonetted to death. It was very real. My father said the uniforms I described could have been from World War One. Then I saw a PBS documentary called “The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century” about how the events of 1914-1918 still effect us today. I was hooked. It also was the first time battlefield photos made me cry. Only World War One photos have that effect on me.

 

That’s perhaps a more complicated question that you think. Henrietta “Hettie” Steward was born in 1892. That makes her a member of the Lost Generation, a generation that earned that moniker because so many had died or become disillusioned.

Her childhood was happy, however, and I use those happy memories to juxtapose the misery of the war with the pre-war years when everyone was innocent of the disaster that was about to befall them. She is the fourth of eight children and grew up upper middle class, both her grandfathers having been successful businessmen.

Hettie is not only a member of a large immediately family, but she has a large number of maternal relatives. Angel of Mercy is actually designed to be the first in a series about her family.

Hettie is highly educated. In a day in age when sixth grade was the highest grade the law required people to complete, she not only graduated high school, but completed a three-year nursing school program. All of her siblings are highly educated. She is dedicated to her job and believes women can have both a career and a family.

Hettie rebels against her mother and, although she is close to two of her sisters, seems better understood by males. At the beginning of the novel, Hettie has three men in her life – her father Benjamin, her fiancé Geoffrey and her brother Frederick.

It’s from Benjamin that Hettie gets many of her ideas. He is the one who drilled into his children’s heads the importance of education, changing the world where there is injustice and being progressive politically.

From Geoffrey, she learns about class difference and how society’s expectations are counter to her own wishes. As for Frederick, Freddie and Hettie are close in age and close emotionally. He also is rebellious against their parents and highly protective of his sister.

 

The nursing sisters serving the Canadian Army Nursing Service earned the respect of the soldiers they helped save. The solders gave them the nickname “angels of mercy”. They also gave them the nickname “bluebirds” because the nurses wore light blue dresses.

Believe it or not, my novel, set during World War One, is inspired by a rock song called “Mama” by My Chemical Romance. World War One is a war that deserves a hard rock soundtrack because many hard rock songs talk about great change, fear and lost youth. I find many contemporary songs remind me of the Great War and the sacrifices that were made.

“Mama” is about soldiers and its imagery was the inspiration for what later became the characters of Henrietta Steward, Geoffrey Bartlette and Frederick Steward.

About Enterprising Women

Practical Advice for First Time Entrepreneurs contained nearly 40 interviews and multiple quotations.  Those do not appear in A Practical Guide to Starting Your First Business.  There are, however, links to resources, a glossary, and sample business and marketing plans.

Enterprising Women is a series of nonfiction, business books aimed at women who want to start their first business but have no idea where to begin.

About Melina Druga

I like to write about strong women. I really don’t like it when women fall into the age old stereotype of being weak and needy. Of course, even the strongest among us have those moments. Characters need to be multi-layered to be real. If you read my work and come away feeling as if you’ve just met a real person, I’ve done my job correctly.

I’d love to be able to work on fiction full time. There never seems to be enough hours in the day to work on it. Fiction is something that brings me joy, and job satisfaction is very important to me.

I’ve always loved the classics. My favorite author is Edith Wharton. But lately, I’ve been reading mostly research books.

I enjoy Edith Wharton because she wrote about hypocrisy during Gilded Age New York City. Wharton was born in the 1860s and she grew up in New York high society, so she wrote based on first-hand experience and observation.

As for the reference books, even though they are part of my work, I don’t think of them as work. I geek out on that stuff. I enjoy learning something I never knew before, or learning more about a subject, especially when it relates to Angel of Mercy.

I have done mostly journalism – articles, blog posts and newsletters. But I’ve done other things as well such as employee training manuals, web copy and marketing bios. In addition, I used to do line editing work and proofreading; that’s now handled by a subcontractor.

In 2013, I wrote Enterprising Women: Practical Advice for First Time Entrepreneurs.  In 2015, I contributed to When Women Become Business Owners.

 

I have a Bachelor’s degree in English and a certificate in social media for journalists from Poynter News University. The vast majority of the history I know – and I’m knowledgeable enough that I consider myself an amateur historian – has been self taught.

If writing can be called a decades-long passion, then history is a life-long passion that began when I was young. My mother read me the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I am most interested in the 19th and 20th century with a particular interest in 1890-1920. What fascinated me was the birth of the modern world, and I was appalled by the futility of World War One. I have done enough research over the years that I consider myself an amateur historian with my focus being WWI and how the war drastically affected ordinary people.

Within the last few years, I have become immersed in the history of Canada and found its history to be more complex and fascinating than Americans give it credit.

Historical fiction. Everything I’ve written with one exception has been historical fiction. The one exception was speculative fiction. I began it when I was 17 and tried rewriting it probably four times and could never make it work. I still think sometimes, though, about the characters and world I created.

Historical fiction seamlessly blends two of my loves – fiction and history. Angel of Mercy is the first novel I’ve loved and felt strongly enough about to see through to publication. It has become an obsession and turned me into a workaholic, but it’s a story I believe is worth fighting for.

It began as a child. I remember deciding to become a novelist when I was in fourth grade, but I believe I wrote my first “novel” earlier than that. It was about two sisters growing up in an 1840s canal town. It was mostly dialogue, but it was the first of many ideas I had in my youth. Before that, I wanted to be an astronomer. Astronomy, especially planetary science, still fascinates me, but I didn’t have the math aptitude to do it as a career, nor did I want to spend a decade in school to earn an PhD.

As far as nonfiction goes, I didn’t become interested in that until after I got my degree. I needed a way to earn a living, and journalism is at least a related field.

I began my professional writing career as a reporter and a copy editor at a daily newspaper, all the while writing fiction whenever I had spare time and perfecting my craft. As a child, I believed every draft was a masterpiece but by studying the classics – and by learning copy editing skills – I realized a great work of fiction takes pre-planning, editing and multiple drafts.

I’ve been self employed since 2011 and my specialties are blogs, newsletters and journalism. My largest client is ReportLinker, a market research search engine.

I didn’t really choose novelist as a profession. It chose me. I’ve tried to walk away from it and do other things, but it keeps pulling me back. I’m genetically predisposed to be creative. My paternal grandmother’s side of the family tree is filled with creative people. It’s in my blood.

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