Getting to Know Molly Roe, author of Call Me Kate
1.) Where did you get the idea to write Call Me Kate?
Catharine McCafferty was born out of my excitement at finally learning the name of my great grandmother. The genealogy bug bit me back in the late 1990s when my son had to make a family tree for school. While I wasn't able to find out everything I wanted to know about Catharine, I learned that she lived through "interesting times." She survived the great potato famine in Ireland, came to America, and married twice. Her nephew was one of the hanged Molly Maguires, and she had a son who rose to some heights in the academic world. I wondered what she must have felt about all the good and bad events in her life. I decided she must have been torn about what was happening to the people she loved. Call Me Kate actually started out as a short story, basically chapter two of the book.
2.) How do you connect with your characters?
I go to reenactments of Civil War battles and to museums where some of the everyday tools and household appliances of the 1800s are displayed, and I imagine what it was like not to have all the conveniences we have today. I understand the indignation and pain my ancestors suffered at the injustice they experienced in the coal fields of Pennsylvania. I think their hope and faith must have sustained them.
3.) How much research did you put into your book?
I researched my family history first, without ever considering that the information would turn into a book. After about four years of US research, I headed off to Ireland with over a dozen family members in tow. We had a wonderful trip, and eventually located the tiny town land of Mollyroe, County Donegal, where one branch of the family began. What a great day that was!
4.) Have you ever visited Ireland yourself?
My trip in 2002 was my second visit to Ireland; my first was at age 17 when I was a college student. We spent five days in Ireland as part of a European tour. I highly recommend visiting. The people were fantastic, and the countryside is beautiful.
5.) Do you plan on writing more young adult books in the future?
I'm currently working on a sequel called Sarah's Story: the Curse on Centralia. It's also based on Molly Maguires lore and features the life of Sarah, Kate's younger sister. Legend has it that Father McDermott, parish priest in Centralia, PA cursed the Mollies for their violent activities and therefore that's why the town was devastated by a mine fire a hundred years later.
6.) Who is your favorite character and why?
Kate is my favorite because she is so spirited and independent. She reminds me of Jo March from Little Women, one of the heroines of my childhood.
7.) Which character can you relate to the most?
I'm personally more like Sarah, less spirited than Kate, more studious and into nature.
8.) What was the best part of writing your novel?
Probably seeing it all come together and having my family read it. I still feel a surge of excitement seeing the book on a store shelf.
9.) What was the worst part of the writing process?
The decision-making and editing were both hard for me. I wanted to use first person point of view, but it was difficult to give Kate access to all the information she needed at a time before phones, the internet, TV, or even radio. Kate had to see and hear the information herself or read it in letters or newspapers. That was a challenge.
10.) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I don't remember the exact moment. I drifted into writing as a natural extension of reading and researching.
11.) What made you pursue writing a novel?
My aunt Margaret must have said, "You should write a book" at least one hundred times before I took her seriously. I give her credit for motivating me. She has been my #1 fan throughout.
Call Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maguires
by Molly Roe
# of pages: 168
Age range: 12+
Published by: Tribute Books
Coming of age amidst the seething unrest of the Civil War era, feisty fourteen-year-old Katie McCafferty infiltrates the Molly Maguires, a secret Irish organization, to rescue a lifelong friend. Under the guise of Dominick, a draft resister, Katie volunteers for a dangerous mission in hopes of preventing bloodshed. Katie risks job, family, and ultimately her very life to intervene. A series of tragedies challenge Katie's strength and ingenuity, and she faces a crisis of conscience. Can she balance her sense of justice with the law?
I was interested in reading this book when I was asked to review it, for two reasons. 1.) I'm Irish myself (go pale skin, freckled, st. patty's day lovers!) and 2.) I usually find myself to enjoy young adult historical fiction novels. Under the pen name of Molly Roe, Mary Garity Slabby delivers a powerful young adult historical fiction novel that will make even reluctant history buffs give it a try.
The story starts off quick paced when Molly learns that her father has been a victim to a terrible accident and now she and her mother must support the family. Throughout the book we see Katie grow up from child to adult, take on responsibilities far beyond someone of her age, and actually grow from these experiences.
The writing was very fun as well as educational, the characters were deep and inspiring, and it was an overall good read. Short enough that people won't be scared, Molly definitely has some amazing writing talents and I can't wait to see more of her work in the future.
If you like this book be sure to check out:
Winds of L'Acadie: lois Donovan
Leigh Ann's Civil War (Great Episodes): Ann Rinaldi
Unclaimed Heart: Kim Wilkins
Sovay: Celia Rees
Shelter Me: Alex Mcaulay
Check out Molly Roe here