Monday, October 24, 2016

Authors To Watch: William Hazelgrove, author of 'Madam President: The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson'

William Elliott Hazelgrove is the best-selling author of thirteen novels, Ripples, Tobacco Sticks, Mica Highways, Rocket Man, The Pitcher, Real Santa, Jackpine and The Pitcher 2. His books have received starred reviews in Publisher Weekly and Booklist, Book of the Month Selections, Junior Library Guild Selections, ALA Editors Choice Awards and optioned for the movies. He was the Ernest Hemingway Writer in Residence where he wrote in the attic of Ernest Hemingway's birthplace. He has written articles and reviews for USA Today and other publications. He has been the subject of interviews in NPR's All Things Considered along with features in The New York Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Richmond Times Dispatch, USA Today, People, Channel 11, NBC, WBEZ, WGN. The Pitcher is a Junior Library Guild Selection and was chosen Book of the Year by Books and Authors. net. His next book Jackpine will be out Spring 2014 with Koehler Books. A follow up novel Real Santa will be out fall of 2014. Madam President The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson will be out Fall 2016. Storyline optioned the movie rights. Forging a President How the West Created Teddy Roosevelt will be out May 2017.
He runs a political cultural blog, The View From Hemingway's Attic.

For More Information

Title: Madam President: The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson
Author: William Hazelgrove
Publisher: Regnery
Pages: 352
Genre: Narrative Nonfiction

After President Woodrow Wilson suffered a paralyzing stroke in the fall of 1919, his wife, First Lady Edith Wilson, began to handle the day-to-day responsibilities of the Executive Office. Mrs. Wilson had had little formal education and had only been married to President Wilson for four years; yet, in the tenuous peace following the end of World War I, Mrs. Wilson dedicated herself to managing the office of the President, reading all correspondence intended for her bedridden husband. Though her Oval Office authority was acknowledged in Washington, D.C. circles at the time--one senator called her "the Presidentress who had fulfilled the dream of suffragettes by changing her title from First Lady to Acting First Man"--her legacy as "First Woman President" is now largely forgotten.

William Hazelgrove's Madam President is a vivid, engaging portrait of the woman who became the acting President of the
United States in 1919, months before women officially won the right to vote. Movie Rights Optioned by Storyline Entertainment.

For More Information

  • Madam President: The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a writer with thirteen novels and three narrative non fiction books. My  books have received starred reviews in Publisher Weekly and Booklist, Book of the Month Selections, ALA Editors Choice Awards Junior Library Guild Selections and optioned for the movies. I was the Ernest Hemingway Writer in Residence where I wrote in the attic of Ernest Hemingway’s birthplace. I have written articles and reviews for USA Today and other publications and have been featured on NPR All Things Considered. The New York Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today have all covered his books with features.  I run a cultural blog,The View From Hemingway’s Attic. I live in Chicago.
When did you begin writing?

I began writing right after college. I had received my Masters in History and I took the summer off to write a novel. I never stopped. 

Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write? 

I write with a notebook open and sketch out the next scene for the next day. This allows me to always know what I am going to write next.  Writing narrative nonfiction is different from fiction in that you have all these sources around you. With me I literally have six books open at once that I can consult and use. With fiction all you have is your scene. I write five days a week and take off the weekends and I knock off for dinner. Like everyone I am in the eternal struggle of not letting real life take over my time. It is a constant struggle.

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

Madam President The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson is about really our first woman president. When Woodrow Wilson had a massive stroke in 1919 his wife Edith took over the White House and ran it for two years while keeping her husband alive. They had only been married four years and Edith had two years of schooling, yet she was able to usher the United Sates through the closing days of World War I and keep the government running. It is nothing short of amazing that we are now considering the possibility of our first woman President when Edith Wilson broke that glass ceiling almost a hundred years ago. 

How did you get the idea for the book?

I was reading Scott Bergs biography Wilson and he mentioned Edith Wilsons role in the White House after the president had a stroke. I was intrigued and upon researching Wilson’s stroke I realized he was totally incapacitated and Vice President Marshall never took over. So who was running the country was the logical question and then I began to research Edith and it became very clear that she ran the United States for almost two years. 

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

Edith Wilson is my favorite character for the very reason that she was a woman who did an extraordinary thing. She had only two years of schooling and had only been married to the President for four years when she took over for him and ran the country. Normal people doing extraordinary things is a fascinating dynamic and we see it over and over. Edith Wilson was one of those people who did the extraordinary by running the United States when no one else stepped in. 

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

The research was challenging because no historians went so far as to say that Edith Wilson was the first woman president. Historians are conservative by nature so I had to piece together all the facts and come to my own thesis about what really happened from 1919 to 1921. What really happened was Edith Wilson ran the government and it is amazing that this has been a closely held secret all this time. Even Edith helped in the cover-up in her own memoir in 1939 where she said she was only  a “steward.” 

Which authors have inspired your writing?

F. Scott Fitzgerald. Richard  Russo. Hemingway. Many historians. 

What projects are you currently working on?

I have a book coming out in the spring, Forging a President How the Wild West Created Teddy Roosevelt and antoher out in the fall next year, Gangsters and Nymphs, The Fight For Chicago and the Worlds Fair of 1933. 

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Never give up. Write what you believe in. Don’t look at anyone else and envy their success. You are on your own track. Keep writing no matter what.

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