As a writer of historical fiction, my stories are merely my interpretations of actual events; however, I strive to avoid revisionism by undertaking thorough research and by consulting the foremost experts.
My new book, The Silver Soldier (an adult novel about Paul Revere) was thoroughly critiqued and then endorsed by Mr. Patrick Leehey, the Research Director of the Paul Revere House. Leehey summed up my book, saying: "[The Silver Soldier is a] psychological compelling view of pre-Revolutionary Boston as seen through the eyes of the eldest son of the famed silversmith and revolutionary Paul Revere. The description of such iconic events as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and Revere's Midnight Ride are vivid and convincing."
Additionally, Avery Revere, the Great-great-great-great Granddaughter of Paul Revere, reviewed and endorsed my book saying, "Sappey's retelling of Paul Revere's story honors my ancestor and reaffirms the creativity, compassion and vision of one of America's most legendary rebels."
Before the publication of Letters from Vinnie (an epistolary novel about the Civil War sculptress Vinnie Ream), I sent the manuscript to Mr. David Madden, the former Director of the United States Civil War Center, Louisiana State University. Upon his verification of my research, he endorsed my work, writing:
"Maureen Sappéy’s . . . Civil War fiction for young people has a critical purpose: to incorporate historical fact into fictional stories, appealing to students and teachers from the perspectives of multiple disciplines, including literature and the social sciences. This cross-curricular approach leaves the young reader with a more complete understanding of the Civil War era. As an interdisciplinary institution, the United States Civil War Center commends her efforts."
Before publishing my other books of Civil War fiction, I sent the manuscripts to the research departments of different Civil War National Parks.
Eliciting critical reviews from experts is a responsible part of writing historical fiction—after all, books of this sort are often used as teaching tools.
Product Description: Bibliography. American History. Published by Chester River Press, Kindred Spirits is a bibliocentric memoir chronicling the acquisition and restoration of seven rare books from Jefferson’s Retirement Library at Monticello. This is the remarkable story of the serendipitous discovery of a seven-volume set of Aeschylus’s Tragedies owned by Thomas Jefferson, and the many bibliophiles, Jeffersonians, historians, scholars, and yes, Ancient Greeks, who helped complete a journey of personal fulfillment and historical significance, all the while honoring one of our most accomplished Founding Fathers. Share Barry Buckley’s thoughts and emotions as he gazes for the first time on Jefferson’s personal book markings, oversees the book restoration process, and with renowned author Maureen Stack Sappéy, traces the connections from Ancient Greece up through the centuries to the fledgling United States.
Sell Sheet (PDF)
The Silver Soldier
Consumed by guilt over his part in the wrongful death of his closest friend, Paul Revere's oldest son is thrust into the drama unfolding on the streets of Boston in the 1770s. A senseless shooting, the Massacre on King Street, the dumping of tea in the harbor, the near-fatal ride by his father, and the slaughter of Patriots on Lexington Green all define the struggle for liberty for the younger Paul. Pitted against Andrew Carlton, a ruthless Tory and father of the girl he loves, Paul learns to forgive himself for the tragedy that has haunted him from an early age. In his unique position as Revere's son, Paul reveals the complexities of his courageous father who accomplished far more than a midnight ride on a borrowed horse. This novel centers on oppression and rebellion, and the selfless love between a son and his remarkable father, Paul Revere.
Excerpts from reviews:
"This is very powerful theme and in less skilled hands could easily pull the book down into the depths of psycho babble, but author develops this theme with a wordsmiths skill; it doesn't dominate the story, it adds depth and tension to it. It makes the character real and allows us to connect with them. This book also confirms an assertion made by the historical fiction writer, George MacDonald Fraser: "History is best told in fiction." The historical facts under-girding the story are spot on but by presenting them in this format and with such panache history comes alive. . . . This is a great read by a very talented writer! What a great book . . . couldn't lay it down. . . .using the character of Revere's son was a great idea. Learned a lot about Paul Revere . . . Sappey is very skillful in the way she blends fact and fiction. She takes us back to that time in history so well that it is almost like being there. I highly recommend this book. . . . This well-researched book makes history come alive and made me feel like I had a ringside seat to some of the most fascinating parts of the founding of our nation. . . . What better way to gain a love of history than by reading this exciting, heart-pounding book? . . . The author has done such an excellent job of bringing the reader into the world of pre-revolutionary Boston that I somehow feel I've just stepped out of the theater. Sappey's prose is highly readable; it just flows. Dialog is realistic. The momentum is there. Characters are three dimensional. . . . this book is highly recommended to anyone the least bit interested in American history--and to those who don't yet know that they're interested."
Letters From Vinnie
The book I'm most proud of is Letters from Vinnie - the publisher, Stephen Roxburgh, and his associates, Nancy Hogan, Helen Robinson, and Joy Neaves, are professionals in every sense of the word. Mr. Roxburgh taught me an important lesson: in the writing of historical fiction, story must come before history. His advice has served me well.
From book to film . . .
Fall of 1999 Published in hardcover by Front Street Books. It earned six awards--including a Boxed Review in Booklist and mention in the New York Times Book Review.
Fall of 2007 Re-released in softcover by Calkins Creek Books, an imprint under Boyds Mills Press.
November of 2009 Optioned by producers in California for adaptation into film. Their goal is to make a television miniseries or feature film.
My blog updates the news about the film adaptation.
The same producers have been working on a documentary about Vinnie Ream--they mentioned I'll be interviewed as part of that production.
In addition, Ann and Dan Ashe have taken a poem/song from this novel to produce a cd of Vinnie Ream's music--that cd will be available soon through Asheworks. They have used, as well, Vinnie's actual sheet music in the making of their cd.
Letters from Vinnie tells the story of . . .
Vinnie Ream, an actual historical figure who was a teenager at the start of the Civil War. Through fictionalized letters spanning eight years, from the time the Ream family moves to Washington, D.C., to the eve of her departure for Italy, Vinnie chronicles her life to a friend named Regina . . . .
In 1861, Vinnie is 13 years old and already recognized as an accomplished painter, musician, and poet. Tiny in stature, she is noted for her beauty, but she refuses numerous suitors so as to find enough time to contribute to the war effort – using her mezzo–soprano voice, she sings to distract the soldiers who suffer in hospitals, and to raise funds to purchase clothes, food and medicine for Lincoln's army.
At the age of 16 Vinnie turns her talents toward sculpting. Within weeks, she makes known her "heart's fondest ambition" — to create a likeness of Abraham Lincoln. Although the President wonders why an artist would choose such a "plain subject" he allows the sixteen–year–old to work in a corner of his office for five months — a clay bust is finished on the very morning of Lincoln's assassination.
Soon after, Vinnie is commissioned to sculpt a life-size statue of the "Martyr President" in plaster, a sculpture that the Radical Republicans threaten to destroy if she doesn't support their plot to impeach President Johnson. Vinnie stands up to the Radicals, finishes the plaster image and sets sail for Italy where she will recast the statue in white marble.
If you should ever visit the Rotunda in the Capitol building in Washington, D. C., you will be greeted by Vinnie Ream's marble statue of President Abraham Lincoln.
1999 - Endorsed by Dr. David Madden, then-Director of the Civil War Center, Louisiana State University
2000 - Oklahoma Book Award Finalist
2000 - Books For The Teen Age – New York Public Library
2000 - Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People by both the National Council for The Social Studies and the Children's Book Council
2000 - 2001 South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominee
2001 - Best Children's Books of the Year Award Bank Street College of Education
2003 - First Place Winner for Juvenile Fiction National League of American Pen Women
2009 - an anthology of writings, music and art collected under the title, Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln: A Commemorative Collage, was published by the National League of American Pen Women. The anthology was endorsed by Congress through the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.
An excerpt from my novel was chosen as the first selection in the anthology. In 2009, the anthology received a prestigious honor: the George Washington Medal of Honor from the Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge.
This book was also endorsed by Mr. David Madden, then Director of the United States Civil War Center, Louisiana State University.
Letters from Vinnie received mention in the New York Times Book Review.
Some of the other reviews include:
"In this fine epistolary novel, Sappéy skillfully blends history and fiction. … Eager readers will wonder why it has taken so long for us to know Ream’s name."
—Booklist (Boxed Review)
"Sappéy gracefully blends fact and fiction in her chronicle of Vinnie Ream, the first sculptress to win a Government commission and the creator of the sculpture of Abraham Lincoln that graces the Capitol building. Using the fictional device of letters to a friend, Sappéy tells Vinnie’s story in textured language, interweaving historical and personal details about her life as she grows from a passionate but raw adolescent to an accomplished lady in Washington, D.C., during the Civil War and its aftermath. Vinnie begins to study sculpture at 16, and takes to it immediately, describing the clay as ‘bending and moving under my fingers as though it understood my intention and desired to please my creative touch.’"
"Welcome historical fiction about the sculptress. …Through [Vinnie’s] eyes, readers gain knowledge of the Civil War, Lincoln, and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson."
—School Library Journal
Hardcover: Front Street Books – 1999 – $16.95
Softcover: Boyds Mills Press – 2007 – $10.95
Books are available by calling toll–free: 877–512–8366
Schools are discounted 40% with orders of five or more books.
Copies are also available through Amazon by clicking the buy now link on the books page.
A Rose at Bull Run
My summary of the plot is unnecessary thanks to a detailed review by Mr. Herman Gay, an English and Journalism instructor in the Maryland Public Schools. Mr. Gay wrote:
"A Rose at Bull Run gives us another voice from the Civil War era....Through the voice of the fifteen-year-old Julia,...we move among the soldiers, and we see their wounds and feel their pain. We also see the devastating effects of war; powerfully in fact, through the eyes of a naïve, self–centered young woman. We sample the pain of growing up in a time when for Julia the stigma of spinsterhood loomed larger than even the war. From the opening chapter, when Julia meets the dying soldier, through after–battle struggles and medical assistance efforts, we are jolted by the realities of war. Best of all, Sappéy delivers to us a heroine who sees pain, suffering, cowardice and bravery on parade. One thing is certain about A Rose at Bull Run: we realistically travel with Julia, who is first a spectator and later an unlikely participant in one of America’s most gruesome dramas performed live on battlefields that many Americans called their backyards, their farms, their neighborhoods, and their hometowns. Maureen Stack Sappéy’s A Rose at Bull Run is definitely on my list of recommended novels for middle and high school students."
Dreams of Ships, Dreams of Julia
A review from School Library Journal explains this book:
Grade 5-8-In 1861, James Hamilton, a Harvard engineering student, has his dreams of building ships realized when he learns that the Confederates have resurrected an old Union ship, the Merrimack, and have converted it into a fortified vessel. He leaves school and offers his services to John Ericsson, a Swedish engineer charged with building an ironclad ship for the Union. Attending a meeting at the White House, James meets and falls in love with Julia Holmes, a young woman also involved with the war effort. When the Union orders the Monitor to Hampton Roads, VA, to protect federal ships against an inevitable attack by the Merrimack, Ericsson sends James onboard to record observations about the ironclad's performance. The young man is blinded in the final conflict of the battle and relinquishes his dreams for the future. Sappéy carefully describes the construction of the Monitor and graphically depicts the horrors of war. The book is carefully researched and includes a detailed author's note . . . . the first-person narrative is full of emotion . . . .
And Mr. William Blake, A Civil War re-enactor in films, a lecturer, writer,and radio personality, wrote:
"A historic favorite of mine as it is the first clash of iron ships in the world. Maureen Sappéy's treatment of this event was all the more interesting because she relates the personal dreams of the people, James, Julia, Mr. John Ericsson, and others that are central to this event. History buffs may find facts they didn't know, but all readers will stay with the story to the last page. Young readers will have their appetites whetted for more from Maureen Stack Sappéy."
In this book, Louisa Holmes, a lovely young woman living in Washington, D. C., is lured into the shady world of espionage by Dr. Gleason, a member of the infamous network of physician-spies. Innocently, she accepts a mission: to obtain information from a handsome Confederate officer, Major Robert Petrie. Louisa is smuggled into the Confederates' capital city, and while General George B. McClellan and the Army of the Potomac struggle towards Richmond, she falls under the suspicious eyes of Confederates Dr. Hugh Ryle and his strange sister, Charleen. At story's end, Louisa struggles to escape the same fate as that of Union spymaster, Timothy Webster: imprisonment in Castle Thunder and death on the gallows.
Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln
This hardcover anthology was published by the Pen Women Press in January of 2009. Nationwide, the members of the National League of American Pen Woman collaborated to create this anthology of writings, music and art to mark the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln.
Proceeds from book sales will be used to establish a Lincoln Legacy Scholarship award for students that produce literary works of merit that best exemplify one or more of Lincoln's contributions to the American ideals of freedom, equality, and opportunity. This book has been endorsed by the President and Congress as part of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. In September of 2009 this book was awarded The Valley Forge Freedoms Foundation George Washington Medal of Honor.
To order copies of this book please send your name, mailing address, and payment of $28.00 (shipping included) to:
NLAPW, 1300 17th Street NW