Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Virtual Book Tour + #Giveaway: Brighter Than Her Fears by Lisa Ard @GoddessFish


Lisa Ard

GENRE: Historical Fiction


The 19th century women’s rights movement and the rise of public education intertwine with one woman’s story of struggle, perseverance, and love.

When her father dies and the family inn falls to ruin in 1882, western North Carolina, thirty-year-old Alice Harris is compelled to marry Jasper Carter, a Civil War veteran twice her age. Far from home and a stranger in a new family, Alice remakes herself. She learns to farm tobacco, mothers her stepson, and comes to love her husband.

However, Alice uncovers pending trouble with the family’s land holdings, which threatens their livelihood on the farm. The growth in Asheville promises a different future—one of manufacturing, transportation, tourism, and wealth. Alice believes this future demands an education and she rebels against the limited rural instruction. She joins forces with other women campaigning for Asheville’s first public schools. Her actions spark the rebuke of the Carter men.

Tragedy strikes and Alice’s newfound security is ripped away. The family challenges her property rights and files for guardianship of her stepson. Battered but determined, Alice turns to the law—and a friendly court clerk—to fight for her independence. Will Alice lose everything? Not if she can help it.

Lisa Ard’s debut historical fiction novel will resonate with readers for its parallels, between then and now, on women’s rights, inequality, and racism.


The dressmaker probably saw every kind of bride—joyful, nervous, excited, even frightened, yet rarely two sisters on the same day and seldom ones of our advanced age. At thirty years old, I’d long since abandoned the idea of marriage. The War had ended when I was thirteen and with battlefields turned to cemeteries, the marriage prospects in the South had dimmed considerably. I didn’t favor the title spinster, but I valued my independence. Especially now, as it slipped from my grasp.

Shorter, Miss Harris?” Miss Shackton asked. “You might wear it after the wedding.”

Yes, thank you. It’ll make a fine church dress.” My cheeks warmed at the suggestion for thrift. My thoughts thundered over my family’s losses. A hastily arranged marriage to a man I barely knew was my only option.

While Miss Shackton circled to pin the dress’s hem, my eyes swept the neatly kept shop. It was narrow, not two wagons’ breadth across with a front counter crafted from a rich, dark slab of wood laid on top of postmaster shelving. The many nooks and crannies held the dressmaker’s tools of the trade: threads, spools, pin cushions, bolts of fabric, scissors, and more. The orderliness soothed me.

I’m almost finished here. Be with you in a minute,” Miss Shackton announced to my sister.

Jennie slumped on a faded settee and dabbed her eyes with a damp handkerchief. She’d always been delicate and our rushed marriages, and that of our two sisters, Louise and Ina, didn’t help."

Interview with Lisa Ard

Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

I’m currently entranced by multiple point-of-view storytelling and the idea that the truth changes depending on who tells the story. One of my favorites (an oldie but a goodie) is The Lilac Bus, by Maeve Binchy. In it, six people share a bus ride home to the Irish countryside every Friday night from Dublin. Each tells their story–and then the reader gets a different impression of that person through the eyes of the other passengers.

How do you select the names of your characters?

Many of my characters in Brighter Than Her Fears are real people so that made it easy! For the fictional characters I picked names common to the era. For example, Elizabeth or Mary for a woman, but not Latifah or Tiffany.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

There are a lot of story lines readers might follow up on. I researched the political, economic and social conditions in 1880s Asheville, North Carolina. Readers may think ‘Wow, is that true?’ and I hope they google it to find out more.

What was your hardest scene to write?

The scenes with racism. I didn’t want to portray my great-great-grandmother as racist, but the story takes place a few years after the Civil War in North Carolina. She married into a family that had owned slaves. To stay historically accurate, I couldn’t ignore it.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I’d like to stay within the historical fiction genre as a writer. I am contemplating a sequel that would pick up with my great grandmother (whom I knew) and her great adventure moving west in the early 20th century.

What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

I started writing Brighter Than Her Fears to solve the mystery of why my great-great-grandmother, and her four sisters, were married within weeks of one another. I’m happy with the story that came out, that it’s based on historical fact, but carefully interspersed with fiction. After all, I had to invent the dialogue, imagine that wedding night, and envision Alice as the smart, capable woman who used the courts to maintain her independence.

What inspired you to write Brighter Than Her Fears?

Not only the mystery of Alice – married off at age thirty to a Civil War veteran twice her age – but something my son said. As far as African-American history, he’d learned about Emancipation and the Civil Rights Era, but nothing in between. I was writing Brighter Than Her Fears and it takes place in 1880s Asheville, North Carolina. My research had revealed an instrumental turn in Asheville’s history involving the Freedmen. It was the perfect opportunity to show the varied experience of African-Americans at that time and fill in a gap. That conversation changed the direction of the novel.

Can you tell us a little bit about your next book?

I’m working on a multiple point-of-view novel about a historic steamship wreck. Through the stories of the passengers and crew, readers will follow along with this battle between ship and sea, and wonder if anyone survives.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Brighter Than Her Fears?

The novel opens with Alice and her sister Jennie in the seamstress shop, readying their wedding gowns. They are not happy about their impending marriages. As the eldest child, Alice managed her family’s inn, until she couldn’t. She’s used to having her way, judgmental, opinionated, but also loving and generous. She worries over Jennie and who will take care of her sister once they’re separated by the miles that come with marrying and moving away.

Alice’s opinions will get her in trouble. However, her stoicism and strong sense of self lead her to achieve more than she ever imagined.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Traveling to Asheville and visiting the real places in the story, and meeting tremendous people that helped me with the research. While searching for Alice’s gravestone, I met a North Carolina man, who stopped picking pecans, walked me up the hill to the graveyard, then invited me to coffee with his wife, and drove me around town to see the sights. Talk about Southern hospitality!

I really enjoy hearing from readers and what they enjoyed about the novel. I’m offering free virtual author visits to book clubs. Find out more on my website and contact me for a visit.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Lisa Ard is the author of the new historical fiction novel Brighter Than Her Fears, which is based on her great-great-grandmother’s experience in 19th century western North Carolina. Her previously published children's books include Fright Flight, Dream Team, and the Kay Snow award finalist Saving Halloween. When not writing, Lisa enjoys reading, hiking, golfing and sharing her love of history as a bike tour docent with the Palm Springs Historical Society. She and her husband live (and golf) in both Palm Springs and Portland, Oregon.

Connect with Lisa Ard

Website ~ Shepherd ~ Goodreads 

Instagram ~ Facebook ~ YouTube


$10 Amazon/BN GC

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting today.

Marcy Meyer said...

I enjoyed the interview. Sounds like a good historical fiction book.

Lisa Ard said...

Thanks for hosting me today!

Sherry said...

Sounds like a good book.

Lisa Ard said...

Thanks Sherry!

Damaris Maidana said...

I would ask the author if he has any advice for new writers?