Historical novelist M.L. Gardner is one of the most popular authors among Shelfbuzz readers and her novel 1929 ranks as one of our most downloaded books of 2015. We’re honored to have M.L. kick off the inaugural edition of the Shelfbuzz Book Club.
Welcome to Shelfbuzz, M.L. Let’s dive right in. Readers of 1929 seem captivated by your vivid cast of characters. Tell us about your main character.
My main character, Jonathan, loses everything on October 29th, 1929. He (until that moment) is a successful, brilliant businessman—he built his small empire from the ground up. With the loss of his wealth, his once lavish lifestyle is reduced to the basic necessities and his pride and self esteem are whittled away to nothing. Jonathan sinks into a hole of deep depression and with no real direction, relies on his wife and circle of friends to help him navigate his next steps. How can he provide for his wife and deal with the guilt he feels for taking his friends down with him?
All of the characters evolve, forcibly, when faced with trials and tribulations that didn’t exist in the Roaring Twenties. It’s a journey, and while helping each other, Jonathan and his friends rediscover the important things in life.
What made you want to tell Jonathan’s story?
I have always been interested in the Depression Era and the sturdy people that survived it. On September 29th, 2008 I watched the stock market drop 777 points. The largest one day drop in history. I knew the results of that were going to be horrific. I maintain that the only reason we do not currently see the resurgence of bread lines and (larger) shanties is because of the social programs that are in place today.
1929 started out as a non-fiction book on how to survive modern day lean times, using Jonathan as the narrator. It exploded from there with new characters and a deeper story-line. I rewrote the opening chapter as fiction.
Tell us more about the research that went into 1929.
I had already researched the lives of the people who survived the Great Depression. I did have to do more research into the financials behind it. That’s when I really became frightened, looking at mirror images of charts, then and now. I felt there were important things people needed to know about what was coming. We’re so out of touch with our roots and the basics of life.
After readers finish 1929, which novel of yours should they read next?
I have the books numbered one through six. Elizabeth’s Heart is next. There is always some confusion when people start reading Elizabeth’s Heart because it opens with new characters. I often tell people to rest assured, it’s all connected. We also have the boxed set with all six books at a large discount. Everything is available to read through Kindle Unlimited. After the six book series, I have Purling Road season one and two. The continuation of the story is in serial format, initially published weekly and now also in ten episode sets.
Tell us about an upcoming fiction project that you are working on…
I am currently working in unfamiliar territory under the pen name Elyse Richfield. My work-in-progress is a contemporary fiction story about a couple trying to deal with a drug addicted daughter and coming to terms with the fact that nothing in their life is how they planned it to be. They have to find their way back to the beginning in order to get it right. I am toggling between that and season three of Purling Road.
This has been great, M.L. Thank you so much for stopping by.