by Sandra Merville Hart
I’m often asked where ideas for my stories originate. That answer varies because inspiration comes from unexpected sources. Searching for inspiration seems to make it more elusive. Story ideas usually happen when I’m doing something unrelated to my books, like visiting a museum or historical home while on vacation.
Ideas for this series stemmed from research for a “Civil War Women” series of articles I wrote for my blog. There are many women from the North and South featured in that series—and many more that deserve recognition. What surprised me was the number of known female spies from both sides. It’s likely that many others either didn’t seek praise after the war or feared retribution and never revealed their activities.
Rose Greenhow, a Confederate spy living in Washington DC (Washington City, as it was called at that time) in 1861, created an impressive spy network. Coded messages were sent on a “Secret Line.” Several couriers in a chain passed on messages in common places such as docks, taverns, and farmhouses.
Rose’s spy network from Boston to New Orleans was the largest in the war—48 women and 2 men.
Allan Pinkerton, head of Lincoln’s Intelligence Service, was tasked with finding Confederate spies and he placed Greenhow under surveillance.
She was arrested in August of 1861.
Though the series is about a fictional family, there are actual historical spies who touch the stories. Rose is one of them.
Avenue of Betrayal is set in Washington City (Washington DC) in 1861, where a surprising number of Confederate sympathizers and spies lived.
Through both real and fictional characters, this series will highlight activities spies were involved in and some of the motives behind their decisions.
I invite you to read Avenue of Betrayal and the rest of the series that will soon follow. I’d love to know what you think!
Back Cover Blurb for Avenue of Betrayal
Betrayed by her brother and the man she loves …
whom can she trust when tragedy strikes?
Soldiers are pouring into Washington City every day and have begun drilling in preparation for a battle with the Confederacy. Annie Swanson worries for her brother, whom she’s just discovered is a Confederate officer in his new home state of North Carolina. Even as Annie battles feelings of betrayal toward the big brother she’s always adored, her wealthy banker father swears her and her sister to secrecy about her brother’s actions. How could he forsake their mother’s abolitionist teachings?
Sergeant-Major John Finn camps within a mile of the Swansons’ mansion where his West Point pal once lived. Sweet Annie captured his heart at Will’s wedding last year and he looks forward to reestablishing their relationship—until he’s asked to spy on her father.
To prove her father’s loyalty to the Union, John agrees to spy on the Swanson family, though Annie must never know. Then the war strikes a blow that threatens to destroy them all—including the love that’s grown between them against all odds.
Available on Amazon and other retailers.