Author Q&A: Stephanie Dray

My Dear Hamilton was no joke. This beautiful and insightful novel about one of the most influential men in American history — from his wife’s perspective — ranks in the top three of books I’ve read this year, mainly because of the emotions it dug out of me.

“I actually think my body and mind morphed into Eliza Hamilton’s,” I wrote in my review.

Such an impactful book had me dying to know the authors who brought this creation to life. Thankfully Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie provided us with details about their writing process in the back of their book, including all of the research that went into writing this masterpiece. Plus, their love for Fraunces Tavern instilled an instant connection. (Stephanie and Laura, let’s get a drink sometime!)

I was lucky enough to learn more about these inspiring women after exchanging a few emails with Dray. Check out our conversation below.

Stephanie Dray

Courtesy of Stephanie Dray.

Big Little Literature: What, if any, specific challenges did you face while writing My Dear Hamilton that you didn’t experience with previous novels?

Stephanie Dray: My co-author Laura Kamoie and I had lots of technical challenges with working together on My Dear Hamilton. We love best to work on the editing process in a collaborative tool like Google Docs, but it was a meaty novel, and it kept breaking every kind of technology we tried. As we went back and forth, files would get corrupted, notes stripped out, on and on. We tried merging documents. It was a giant mess. I’m somewhat amazed that it all came together in the end.

BLL: How do you decide which characters to write about?

SD: Laura and I both love to write about women who have been unjustly consigned to the shadows of history, but I have a particular fondness for legacy builders like Patsy Jefferson and Eliza Hamilton; women who are trying to preserve a heritage out of the ashes, or invent one from whole cloth. They’re storytellers too, in their own way.

BLL: Besides Eliza Hamilton, what other famous females inspire you both professionally and personally?

SD: At present, I’m particularly inspired by Adrienne Lafayette who I would consider to be a Founding Mother of this nation even though she never stepped foot in America. The hardships she endured during the French Revolution dwarf those suffered by her American contemporaries, and what held her together, always, was love and faith.

BLL: Is there one historical period you haven’t tapped into yet but would like to in future books?

SD: Oh, so very many! My current project has sent me diving down into World War One, and I find it to be a really untapped source of amazing stories. The war itself is so confusing and complicated, and American women, on the verge of getting voting rights, were finding their place in the world. It was a turning point for everything, and I love that. Plus, the clothes! They’re to die for.

BLL: As a side note, I work one block from Fraunces Tavern, so it made me happy to read that you too love stopping by there when you visit NYC. 

SD: That’s amazing! We always do. It’s almost a necessity now.

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