Christian fiction author Elizabeth Camden is best known for her historical novels set in Gilded Age America featuring clever heroines and richly layered story lines. In this interview, she shares her thoughts and inspirations behind the characters and the inspiration behind her latest novel, Prince of Spies, the third book in her in her Hope and Glory Trilogy. Her novels have won the RITA and Christy Awards and have appeared on the CBA bestsellers list. She lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband, who graciously tolerates her intimidating stockpile of books.
FF: Can you describe the plot of The Prince of Spies?
The novel is set in 1902 among the political high society of Washington, D.C. It deals with two people who fall in love despite three generations of family conflict standing between them. Luke and Marianne initially decide family loyalty must take precedence over their feelings for each other and try to resist their attraction, because the stakes have never been higher. Marianne’s father is a congressman on the verge of important legislation that will affect the food industry for the entire nation, while Luke is equally determined to scuttle it.
FF: How does The Prince of Spies fit into the Hope and Glory Trilogy?
This is the last book of the trilogy, but it can easily be read as a stand-alone novel. The trilogy features three siblings, and each novel focuses on an important but little-known facet of American history. The first book, The Spice King, focuses on the Department of Agriculture and its role helping diversify crops, spices, and imported food. The second novel, A Gilded Lady, features the final year of the McKinley administration and internal drama at the White House following the president’s assassination. The Prince of Spies deals with the decades-long effort to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.
FF: What are some of the selling points of this novel?
This book delves into the little-known and fascinating history of the Poison Squad, a group of daring young men who risked their lives to test the safety of drugs and preservatives in the early 20th century.
It features a classic Romeo and Juliet type of conflict in which two people fall in love despite generations of family rivalry. It is far and away the most romantic novel I’ve ever written.
The Prince of Spies is the final book of a trilogy, and it features Luke Delacroix, the character readers have been intrigued with since he appeared in the first book. I have fielded more questions and requests about Luke Delacroix and his fate than all my previous characters combined!
FF: You are known for writing heroines with interesting professions. How did you accomplish this in The Prince of Spies?
Marianne is a photographer who works for the Department of the Interior. The U.S. government has a long history of employing women in professional capacities, and Marianne’s job is to document the changing physical landscape of the city as old government buildings are torn down in favor of the grand, classical monuments we see today. The novel also addresses the challenges presented by the creation of the National Mall, which required numerous government buildings and a major railroad to be removed to make way for the mall as we know it today.
FF: What role do spiritual themes play in this novel?
The novel focuses on a long-running family feud, which is still being fought among the older generation. As such, the younger characters must wrestle with the biblical commandment of honoring their mother and father while trying to hold true to their own values. Family dynamics play a major role in the book, leading into topics such as forgiveness, faithfulness, mercy, and love.
FF: What is the takeaway message you’d like readers to have from this novel?
With all my novels, I hope the reader feels like they’ve learned something about history while enjoying a complex and thrilling love story. In this novel I also address some of the joys and heartaches of family life. The takeaway message is about how to savor the blessings we have been given, while learning to stride through the darker times with fortitude and grace. FF
Prince of Spies
Hope and Glory # 3
Genres: Historical, Romance
Release Date: February 16, 2021
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