Kentucky Girls Books Authors

Home  |  The Books  |  The Authors  |  The Readers    

We started as journalists but switched to writing historical fiction.

As sisters growing up in a small farming community in Iowa in the 1950’s and 60’s, long before globalization reached us via television and the Internet, we had few live role models and even fewer opportunities. Our grandparents had achieved only eighth grade educations, and our parents never finished high school. They were therefore limited to low-paying jobs.

Our outlook and our futures would have been very bleak if it hadn't been for a school library full of exciting books that opened our minds and our eyes. Through books, we learned about real and fictional women who helped us look beyond our own beginnings and imagine a successful life beyond our apparent limitations. These experiences are what convinced both of us while still young girls that we wanted to become writers.

And, so we did. We worked to pay our own ways through college and eventually graduated with communication degrees. Then we embarked on completely separate careers in public broadcasting (Marie in Kentucky, and Rebecca in Iowa). Over the years, we both garnered a wall-full of awards for writing, editing and producing news and fe ature stories that were completely accurate and limited to presenting only the facts.

It was coincidence that we both ended up in Kentucky, albeit in different parts of state, after our daughters were born.

While raising them there, we learned how Kentucky's school curriculum short-changed both state history and women’s history. Fortunately, we discovered American Girls books for our daughters -- and for ourselves! They're what ispired us to create a similar series of Kentucky Girls Books which we thought would be great to help Kentucky girls learn more about their home state and the roles they might play in the world as they grew up. These books wouldn't be limited to reporting just facts; they'd encourage readers to open their minds to all kinds of possibilities.

In addition to their shared interest in writing, Rebecca and Marie
both play Appalachian Mountain lap dulcimers.

Now we write books that we hope will excite and inspire young Kentucky girls.

More specifically, we write books that feature strong, young, and resourceful girls in historically accurate settings to encourage our readers to take a greater interest in their state and in women’s history nationally. We hope that our stories pique their interest in our rich Kentucky heritage and encourage them to be more proactive in securing their own places in today's world. That means helping them develop their own personal appreciation of how women’s issues have evolved through time.

We chose to start with a story set in an 1830’s Shaker Village because, unlike most places in those days, a Shaker Village was a place where women’s work was highly valued and where girls were recognized and rewarded for their talents and accomplishments. Shaker women participated in all the major decisions that affected the community because all members of the community were expected to work together for the common good. Life for the women there was probably as “perfect” as any Kentucky society was, or ever will be.

Happily, with the encouraging support of three successive grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, we were able to get on the Road to Pleasant Hill. We created our lead character, 10-year old Betsy, whose story begins almost immediately after her parents passed away. She and her younger brother were put on a stagecoach from their former home in Eastern Kentucky and taken to the Shaker Village just south of Lexington. That's when they (and our readers) begin learning about the wonderous, but sometimes strange, ways of this “perfect” communal society. Before we finished writing it, our Shaker story had turned into a three-book series.

We hope our readers will identify with Betsy, her little brother Tad, and other characters in this series as well as those in our other books. We want them to see that the problems they're facing today are similar to the problems our characters faced and overcame, even though those characters lived in different times, cultures, and places in Kentucky.

Kentucky - unbridled spirit logo   © 2008; 2020 Rebecca Mitchell Turney & Marie Mitchell  |  Contact Us  |  Kentucky Girls Books