Interview & Cover Reveal with Stephanie Dray!

Susan here. Today we're chatting with NYT bestselling author Stephanie Dray about her novels, the Hamilton musical phenomenon, and her forthcoming book about Lafayette, America’s so-called favorite fighting Frenchman and his legacy; you'll also find a link below to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win an advanced copy of the book. And DrayAuthorPhotobe sure to visit the blog again tomorrow for a special treat–a cover reveal of the beautiful new cover! 

Susan: Welcome to Word Wenches, Stephanie! I've read your novel My Dear Hamilton, co-authored with Laura Kamoie, and loved it–an impressive blend of natural characters, accurate history, and a fascinating plot based on actual events. You've said that the book was inspired in part by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s incredible musical. Tell us a little more about that.

MyDearHamilton_PBStephanie: Thank you for having me, and I’d be delighted to talk about that! In the wake of writing about Jefferson’s daughter in America's First Daughter, Laura and I were on the hunt for another founding mother to write about. Eliza Hamilton was on our shortlist when we were in NYC for a writer’s conference and to meet with our editor. Laura decided to take in the musical when it was new on Broadway, but I couldn’t go because I had preexisting dinner plans with dear friends (sorry friends, that was a mistake! I should have canceled. LOL). Anyway, Laura was blowing up my phone with texts from the musical and by the next morning she was telling me how amazing it was and that we had to write about Eliza Hamilton, and I agreed on the cab ride over to our publishers. That’s how fast My Dear Hamilton was born. And fortunately, I did eventually go with Laura to see it on Broadway with the original cast.

Susan: And what did you think?

Stephanie: I was blown away. At first I didn’t understand what I was seeing or hearing, it was so unexpected. But by the second number I was in tears because I understood right away that I was watching a transformative work of historical Hamilton onstagefiction.

Susan: Why do you think the musical has remained so popular and is experiencing a whole new level of enthusiasm?

Stephanie: A pandemic that has us housebound and cruising for content on Disney+ definitely helps! Just kidding. I think the musical was originally popular because it was written in an optimistic era. It was an open invitation for a whole new generation to see themselves in the American story and make it their own. I think now it's seeing a resurgence in popularity because we’re caught in a historical moment where we’re forced to ask ourselves: What is the American story really? The musical is layered enough to provide a couple of different answers as well as more questions!

Susan: How do Lafayette and the women in your new novel fit into that American story?

Marie_Adrienne_Francoise_de_Noailles _French_School_18th_century_copyStephanie: The scrappy American army made up of citizen farmers couldn’t win their independence without the help of the extremely powerful and professional French military. Full stop. That’s not so hard to understand or believe. But what is amazing and confounds historians to this day, is that a nineteen-year-old Frenchman is almost wholly responsible for the French-American alliance.

That was Lafayette–a knight-errant who fought one revolution and sparked Marquis de lafayetteanother, breaking the chains of monarchy, and transforming the world. He was an idealist who was a founding father to not one, but two nations and was ultimately abandoned by both in his darkest hour. The only person who could save him then was his wife Adrienne, his dear heart, and she risked everything. Not just for him, but for his philosophies of liberty and humanism. He was a general who could wield a sword. All Adrienne had were connections, cunning, and courage. She’s easily the bravest historical heroine I’ve ever written about and that’s really saying something. Adrienne was the starting point of my novel, but soon I discovered that she wasn’t the only woman to defend Lafayette’s legacy…

Susan: And so your book is titled The Women of Chateau Lafayette.

Stephanie: Exactly! Long after Lafayette’s death, his chateau was in disrepair, the luster of his name long gone from 0F5C9F95-FD1C-47A8-931C-77FB2B631953France. And then along came World War I and Beatrice Chanler. This was an era in which, much like our own, Americans had to decide who they really were. And if they could really stay neutral when European democracies were under attack. Beatrice almost single-handedly revived Lafayette’s legacy, waving his memory like a banner to remind Americans of their own story and their role in the world.

Minnie_Ashley _Famous_Prima_DonnasAnd this happened again, at his castle in Chavaniac, in the next generation. As if woman after woman was passing Lafayette’s torch. And I realized what an extraordinary legacy that is in itself. To have a story that extends beyond the confines of your own biography–to have a name that other people invoke when doing important work. And I wanted to be a part of that legacy too.

Susan: The new books sounds amazing! When will it be released? We're getting a peek at the new cover tomorrow, here on the Wenches blog!

Stephanie: Yes! The book will be released from Penguin Random House on March 30, 2021, and the cover reveal is set for Tuesday, July 14–Bastille Day!

You can click here to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win an ARC of the book and see the cover there tomorrow. It will also be posted here on the Wenches blog.  

Q mark profile commonsSusan: Thank you, Stephanie, it's a pleasure to chat with you, and what a treat to have an early look at the new cover tomorrow. Best of luck with the new book and all your books! 

Please help us welcome Stephanie to the blog with your comments and questions for her — and check back tomorrow to see the new cover!   

85 thoughts on “Interview & Cover Reveal with Stephanie Dray!”

  1. Stephanie, welcome to the Word Wenches! THE WOMEN OF CHATEAU LAFAYETTe sounds amazing. In fact, all the stories you’ve found in history and launched into the present day are amazing. (“Lafayette, we are here!”) Please keep doing what you’re doing. *G*

    Reply
  2. Stephanie, welcome to the Word Wenches! THE WOMEN OF CHATEAU LAFAYETTe sounds amazing. In fact, all the stories you’ve found in history and launched into the present day are amazing. (“Lafayette, we are here!”) Please keep doing what you’re doing. *G*

    Reply
  3. Stephanie, welcome to the Word Wenches! THE WOMEN OF CHATEAU LAFAYETTe sounds amazing. In fact, all the stories you’ve found in history and launched into the present day are amazing. (“Lafayette, we are here!”) Please keep doing what you’re doing. *G*

    Reply
  4. Stephanie, welcome to the Word Wenches! THE WOMEN OF CHATEAU LAFAYETTe sounds amazing. In fact, all the stories you’ve found in history and launched into the present day are amazing. (“Lafayette, we are here!”) Please keep doing what you’re doing. *G*

    Reply
  5. Stephanie, welcome to the Word Wenches! THE WOMEN OF CHATEAU LAFAYETTe sounds amazing. In fact, all the stories you’ve found in history and launched into the present day are amazing. (“Lafayette, we are here!”) Please keep doing what you’re doing. *G*

    Reply
  6. xoxo Thank you Mary Jo, especially for brining up “Lafayette, we are here!” It’s a very moving moment in the history of our two countries, and it comes up in the novel too. In World War II, Lafayette’s chateau in Chavaniac served to shelter Jewish children from the Nazis. It’s just amazing how these stories connect us all, generation after generation.

    Reply
  7. xoxo Thank you Mary Jo, especially for brining up “Lafayette, we are here!” It’s a very moving moment in the history of our two countries, and it comes up in the novel too. In World War II, Lafayette’s chateau in Chavaniac served to shelter Jewish children from the Nazis. It’s just amazing how these stories connect us all, generation after generation.

    Reply
  8. xoxo Thank you Mary Jo, especially for brining up “Lafayette, we are here!” It’s a very moving moment in the history of our two countries, and it comes up in the novel too. In World War II, Lafayette’s chateau in Chavaniac served to shelter Jewish children from the Nazis. It’s just amazing how these stories connect us all, generation after generation.

    Reply
  9. xoxo Thank you Mary Jo, especially for brining up “Lafayette, we are here!” It’s a very moving moment in the history of our two countries, and it comes up in the novel too. In World War II, Lafayette’s chateau in Chavaniac served to shelter Jewish children from the Nazis. It’s just amazing how these stories connect us all, generation after generation.

    Reply
  10. xoxo Thank you Mary Jo, especially for brining up “Lafayette, we are here!” It’s a very moving moment in the history of our two countries, and it comes up in the novel too. In World War II, Lafayette’s chateau in Chavaniac served to shelter Jewish children from the Nazis. It’s just amazing how these stories connect us all, generation after generation.

    Reply
  11. Welcome, Stephanie! The Women of Chateau Lafayette sounds fascinating. If you could ask Lafayette or one of the three women a question, what would it be?

    Reply
  12. Welcome, Stephanie! The Women of Chateau Lafayette sounds fascinating. If you could ask Lafayette or one of the three women a question, what would it be?

    Reply
  13. Welcome, Stephanie! The Women of Chateau Lafayette sounds fascinating. If you could ask Lafayette or one of the three women a question, what would it be?

    Reply
  14. Welcome, Stephanie! The Women of Chateau Lafayette sounds fascinating. If you could ask Lafayette or one of the three women a question, what would it be?

    Reply
  15. Welcome, Stephanie! The Women of Chateau Lafayette sounds fascinating. If you could ask Lafayette or one of the three women a question, what would it be?

    Reply
  16. I found this post very fascinating too. I’ve been interested in Lafayette since I read Alcott’s Old Fashioned Girl when I was in grade school. The grandmother in that book rememebers meeting him and the story enthralled me. (Later I learned that this was one of the true bits if history from Louisa’s May relatives).

    Reply
  17. I found this post very fascinating too. I’ve been interested in Lafayette since I read Alcott’s Old Fashioned Girl when I was in grade school. The grandmother in that book rememebers meeting him and the story enthralled me. (Later I learned that this was one of the true bits if history from Louisa’s May relatives).

    Reply
  18. I found this post very fascinating too. I’ve been interested in Lafayette since I read Alcott’s Old Fashioned Girl when I was in grade school. The grandmother in that book rememebers meeting him and the story enthralled me. (Later I learned that this was one of the true bits if history from Louisa’s May relatives).

    Reply
  19. I found this post very fascinating too. I’ve been interested in Lafayette since I read Alcott’s Old Fashioned Girl when I was in grade school. The grandmother in that book rememebers meeting him and the story enthralled me. (Later I learned that this was one of the true bits if history from Louisa’s May relatives).

    Reply
  20. I found this post very fascinating too. I’ve been interested in Lafayette since I read Alcott’s Old Fashioned Girl when I was in grade school. The grandmother in that book rememebers meeting him and the story enthralled me. (Later I learned that this was one of the true bits if history from Louisa’s May relatives).

    Reply
  21. Those sound like amazing stories, Stephanie! I had no idea Lafayette was so young when he rallied everyone. And how wonderful to leave such a legacy and to have descendants who carry it on! I look forward to seeing your new cover tomorrow.

    Reply
  22. Those sound like amazing stories, Stephanie! I had no idea Lafayette was so young when he rallied everyone. And how wonderful to leave such a legacy and to have descendants who carry it on! I look forward to seeing your new cover tomorrow.

    Reply
  23. Those sound like amazing stories, Stephanie! I had no idea Lafayette was so young when he rallied everyone. And how wonderful to leave such a legacy and to have descendants who carry it on! I look forward to seeing your new cover tomorrow.

    Reply
  24. Those sound like amazing stories, Stephanie! I had no idea Lafayette was so young when he rallied everyone. And how wonderful to leave such a legacy and to have descendants who carry it on! I look forward to seeing your new cover tomorrow.

    Reply
  25. Those sound like amazing stories, Stephanie! I had no idea Lafayette was so young when he rallied everyone. And how wonderful to leave such a legacy and to have descendants who carry it on! I look forward to seeing your new cover tomorrow.

    Reply
  26. Stephanie, the fact that Lafayette’s chateau sheltered Jewish children during WWII makes the story all the more powerful. It truly is amazing how young Lafayette was when he volunteered his services to the American revolution. A mere teenager who helped change the world.

    Reply
  27. Stephanie, the fact that Lafayette’s chateau sheltered Jewish children during WWII makes the story all the more powerful. It truly is amazing how young Lafayette was when he volunteered his services to the American revolution. A mere teenager who helped change the world.

    Reply
  28. Stephanie, the fact that Lafayette’s chateau sheltered Jewish children during WWII makes the story all the more powerful. It truly is amazing how young Lafayette was when he volunteered his services to the American revolution. A mere teenager who helped change the world.

    Reply
  29. Stephanie, the fact that Lafayette’s chateau sheltered Jewish children during WWII makes the story all the more powerful. It truly is amazing how young Lafayette was when he volunteered his services to the American revolution. A mere teenager who helped change the world.

    Reply
  30. Stephanie, the fact that Lafayette’s chateau sheltered Jewish children during WWII makes the story all the more powerful. It truly is amazing how young Lafayette was when he volunteered his services to the American revolution. A mere teenager who helped change the world.

    Reply
  31. Oh goodness, I have so many questions it would be hard to narrow down. But I suppose the question I want to know the most, is probably for Beatrice Chanler, and I’d want to ask her precisely when her fascination with Lafayette began, and how it evolved into such a world-changing legacy of her own.

    Reply
  32. Oh goodness, I have so many questions it would be hard to narrow down. But I suppose the question I want to know the most, is probably for Beatrice Chanler, and I’d want to ask her precisely when her fascination with Lafayette began, and how it evolved into such a world-changing legacy of her own.

    Reply
  33. Oh goodness, I have so many questions it would be hard to narrow down. But I suppose the question I want to know the most, is probably for Beatrice Chanler, and I’d want to ask her precisely when her fascination with Lafayette began, and how it evolved into such a world-changing legacy of her own.

    Reply
  34. Oh goodness, I have so many questions it would be hard to narrow down. But I suppose the question I want to know the most, is probably for Beatrice Chanler, and I’d want to ask her precisely when her fascination with Lafayette began, and how it evolved into such a world-changing legacy of her own.

    Reply
  35. Oh goodness, I have so many questions it would be hard to narrow down. But I suppose the question I want to know the most, is probably for Beatrice Chanler, and I’d want to ask her precisely when her fascination with Lafayette began, and how it evolved into such a world-changing legacy of her own.

    Reply
  36. Books such as yours and the Hamilton show are bringing history into easier understanding and more personal. We all took history classes in high school and many of them were quite dry, mostly book learned and we had to remember facts for those surprise quizzes.
    I have not yet read any of your books but look forward to doing so. Thanks for the interview and all the best on your next book and adventure. I just saw the cover of the new book and it is lovely.

    Reply
  37. Books such as yours and the Hamilton show are bringing history into easier understanding and more personal. We all took history classes in high school and many of them were quite dry, mostly book learned and we had to remember facts for those surprise quizzes.
    I have not yet read any of your books but look forward to doing so. Thanks for the interview and all the best on your next book and adventure. I just saw the cover of the new book and it is lovely.

    Reply
  38. Books such as yours and the Hamilton show are bringing history into easier understanding and more personal. We all took history classes in high school and many of them were quite dry, mostly book learned and we had to remember facts for those surprise quizzes.
    I have not yet read any of your books but look forward to doing so. Thanks for the interview and all the best on your next book and adventure. I just saw the cover of the new book and it is lovely.

    Reply
  39. Books such as yours and the Hamilton show are bringing history into easier understanding and more personal. We all took history classes in high school and many of them were quite dry, mostly book learned and we had to remember facts for those surprise quizzes.
    I have not yet read any of your books but look forward to doing so. Thanks for the interview and all the best on your next book and adventure. I just saw the cover of the new book and it is lovely.

    Reply
  40. Books such as yours and the Hamilton show are bringing history into easier understanding and more personal. We all took history classes in high school and many of them were quite dry, mostly book learned and we had to remember facts for those surprise quizzes.
    I have not yet read any of your books but look forward to doing so. Thanks for the interview and all the best on your next book and adventure. I just saw the cover of the new book and it is lovely.

    Reply
  41. First of all, Welcome. I looked at the cover. It is quite evocative. For me it represents a sense of tenderness and passing the gauntlet at the same time.
    I have always been a fan of Lafayette. He was so intelligent and aware of how to understand people. And he was a boy. I don’t want to say only a boy, because now our country sends young men of 19 to war. But, of course they are not normally changing the future. Or maybe they are.
    I look forward to this book. And I thank you so much for this interview and being here with us.

    Reply
  42. First of all, Welcome. I looked at the cover. It is quite evocative. For me it represents a sense of tenderness and passing the gauntlet at the same time.
    I have always been a fan of Lafayette. He was so intelligent and aware of how to understand people. And he was a boy. I don’t want to say only a boy, because now our country sends young men of 19 to war. But, of course they are not normally changing the future. Or maybe they are.
    I look forward to this book. And I thank you so much for this interview and being here with us.

    Reply
  43. First of all, Welcome. I looked at the cover. It is quite evocative. For me it represents a sense of tenderness and passing the gauntlet at the same time.
    I have always been a fan of Lafayette. He was so intelligent and aware of how to understand people. And he was a boy. I don’t want to say only a boy, because now our country sends young men of 19 to war. But, of course they are not normally changing the future. Or maybe they are.
    I look forward to this book. And I thank you so much for this interview and being here with us.

    Reply
  44. First of all, Welcome. I looked at the cover. It is quite evocative. For me it represents a sense of tenderness and passing the gauntlet at the same time.
    I have always been a fan of Lafayette. He was so intelligent and aware of how to understand people. And he was a boy. I don’t want to say only a boy, because now our country sends young men of 19 to war. But, of course they are not normally changing the future. Or maybe they are.
    I look forward to this book. And I thank you so much for this interview and being here with us.

    Reply
  45. First of all, Welcome. I looked at the cover. It is quite evocative. For me it represents a sense of tenderness and passing the gauntlet at the same time.
    I have always been a fan of Lafayette. He was so intelligent and aware of how to understand people. And he was a boy. I don’t want to say only a boy, because now our country sends young men of 19 to war. But, of course they are not normally changing the future. Or maybe they are.
    I look forward to this book. And I thank you so much for this interview and being here with us.

    Reply
  46. Thank you so much! To me, I think history classes teach it all wrong. The kids don’t need to memorize dates. They need to be told stories, and to realize that these are all human choices that led us to where we are today 🙂

    Reply
  47. Thank you so much! To me, I think history classes teach it all wrong. The kids don’t need to memorize dates. They need to be told stories, and to realize that these are all human choices that led us to where we are today 🙂

    Reply
  48. Thank you so much! To me, I think history classes teach it all wrong. The kids don’t need to memorize dates. They need to be told stories, and to realize that these are all human choices that led us to where we are today 🙂

    Reply
  49. Thank you so much! To me, I think history classes teach it all wrong. The kids don’t need to memorize dates. They need to be told stories, and to realize that these are all human choices that led us to where we are today 🙂

    Reply
  50. Thank you so much! To me, I think history classes teach it all wrong. The kids don’t need to memorize dates. They need to be told stories, and to realize that these are all human choices that led us to where we are today 🙂

    Reply
  51. Thank you! And I’m always glad to meet a fellow fan of Lafayette. He’s a lovable fellow, and he did so much when he was so young. He made many mistakes, of course. But he’s someone about whom you can always say, “His heart was in the right place.” And his wife, even more so.

    Reply
  52. Thank you! And I’m always glad to meet a fellow fan of Lafayette. He’s a lovable fellow, and he did so much when he was so young. He made many mistakes, of course. But he’s someone about whom you can always say, “His heart was in the right place.” And his wife, even more so.

    Reply
  53. Thank you! And I’m always glad to meet a fellow fan of Lafayette. He’s a lovable fellow, and he did so much when he was so young. He made many mistakes, of course. But he’s someone about whom you can always say, “His heart was in the right place.” And his wife, even more so.

    Reply
  54. Thank you! And I’m always glad to meet a fellow fan of Lafayette. He’s a lovable fellow, and he did so much when he was so young. He made many mistakes, of course. But he’s someone about whom you can always say, “His heart was in the right place.” And his wife, even more so.

    Reply
  55. Thank you! And I’m always glad to meet a fellow fan of Lafayette. He’s a lovable fellow, and he did so much when he was so young. He made many mistakes, of course. But he’s someone about whom you can always say, “His heart was in the right place.” And his wife, even more so.

    Reply
  56. Thank you, Stephanie, for bringing Lafayette back into focus. He did some truly marvelous things during our American Revolution. Would that his “can-do” attitude was more appreciated, since is was so sorely needed!

    Reply
  57. Thank you, Stephanie, for bringing Lafayette back into focus. He did some truly marvelous things during our American Revolution. Would that his “can-do” attitude was more appreciated, since is was so sorely needed!

    Reply
  58. Thank you, Stephanie, for bringing Lafayette back into focus. He did some truly marvelous things during our American Revolution. Would that his “can-do” attitude was more appreciated, since is was so sorely needed!

    Reply
  59. Thank you, Stephanie, for bringing Lafayette back into focus. He did some truly marvelous things during our American Revolution. Would that his “can-do” attitude was more appreciated, since is was so sorely needed!

    Reply
  60. Thank you, Stephanie, for bringing Lafayette back into focus. He did some truly marvelous things during our American Revolution. Would that his “can-do” attitude was more appreciated, since is was so sorely needed!

    Reply

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