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 be 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.
Stephanie: 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 fiction.
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?