Beppie Harrison has hopscotched across the world during her life. She spent her childhood in Hawaii, then first moved to California, and later New York. She married an Englishman and lived in London for the first ten years of her marriage, and spent considerable time in Ireland since. She has four children, two home-grown, one adopted from Thailand and another from Chile. She has published eight non-fiction books before she switched to fiction. Her latest release is The Divided Heart, a historical romance of Regency times, set in Ireland, the first book of her Heart Trilogy. The second book, The Broken Heart, will be available in June, 2014. She now lives in Michigan with her husband and two indignant cats.
Welcome to An Indie Adventure, Beppie. Tell us, what inspired you to write your book, The Divided Heart
Hi Leslie, thank you for having me as your guest today. I was inspired by a place. Ireland spoke to my heart the minute I set foot there. I’d always been interested in the country, but living in England during much of the recent Troubles, I’d come to the conclusion that all of them—Catholics (IRA) and Protestants (Loyalists)—were all nuts and unpleasantly so. It took going to Ireland after the peace has come that made me realize most of that happened in Northern Ireland, and that Ireland itself is a wonderful place, full of fascinating stories.
What were your experiences as a child that contributed to you becoming a writer?
I must have found reality less than gripping. I was writing stories as soon as I could write anything—illustrated stories. All that proved was that I had no artistic talent and placed my stories in wonderful and weird places I’d never been.
Do day-to-day life experiences influence your stories?
Oh yes. Where else can you learn about the human heart except your own experience of love and friendship and exasperation and reconciliation after conflict?
If you were a TV, film or book character, apart from one you've created, who would you be?
That’s easy. Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. She gets Mr. Darcy!
Give us a brief summary of The Divided Heart.
What is a girl to do when she loves two countries and they are deeply hostile to each other? Making Anne’s problems more difficult to deal with is the reality that she is Lady Anne Hawthorne and the year is 1810, when a young woman’s freedom of action is strictly limited, particularly when she is the daughter of an English earl whose estate lies in Ireland. Born and raised in that green and pleasant land, she loves it with all her heart. But she has been brought up as an English lady, and all her family’s traditions and power are derived from England.
Complicating her discovery of who she most truly is are two men: the enigmatic, red-headed Irishman she encounters unexpectedly and the handsome, responsible Englishman, whom she meets on the very same day when he comes to take over the title and estate he has inherited, which lies nearest her father’s. In 1810, the country is just recovering from a devastating Irish rebellion in 1798, another less overwhelming revolt in 1803, and the Irish hate of the English, and the English contempt for the Irish, well established already, are vivid and bloody.
So to which country does Anne most truly belong? She has to work her way through the temptations and opportunities to define herself, with each of the men claiming part of her heart and loyalty. Only when she has defined where her own fidelity lies—and how far into danger she is prepared to venture—can she truly give herself to the man she loves.