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An Interview with L. E. Denton, Author of Riding With Forrest

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After storing it in a closet for forty years, the author of Riding With Forrest, L. E. Denton, decided it was time to share her obsession with military history and unconventional military leaders. A lifelong history buff with a degree from the University of Tennessee, researching historical topics and putting that research on paper is great fun! Her other interests include genealogy, education, and being a wife, mother, and grandmother.

You can buy Riding With Forrest here.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I’ve always been fascinated with the question—what would it have been like? I’m an avid history buff, and wanted to share my knowledge in a format so that others could share in my enthusiasm. I try to make history relatable, so that readers can put themselves in the same spot as the characters I create.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I once owned a store that specialized in handmade children’s clothing. I designed and sewed, and hired others to help with the sewing. I also was a sales representative for Procter & Gamble.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

It didn’t take me long to come up with the title of my book. I always believed that simple was best, so you can’t get much more simple than Riding with Forrest! My editor added a rather long subtitle to my work, which was fine.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

I waited forty years to see my book published! I wrote it when I was a young stay-at-home mom. I sent it off to four or five publishers, but it was rejected by all of them. My life grew more complicated—we made a move across the country, I had another baby, and had a major medical emergency—so I stored the manuscript in my closet. Then in January 2023 I suddenly remembered it! I still had the handwritten and typed pages. I went to work, self-editing it and putting it on the computer. I hired an editor who helped refine it, and then published. To hold that first copy in my hand was a pretty amazing feeling!

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I hope readers will gain a new respect for those who march off to war. This work is not an overview, but more of a bird’s eye view of a Civil War soldier, told in the form of a memoir. Anyone who enjoys learning about that tumultuous period of our history will enjoy it.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

My mother was the first person to ever read my book. She always encouraged me to go forward with it, and insisted it was good. She passed away in 1991. She would be proud that I finally followed through.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I like to study unconventional military leaders. I am currently working on a manuscript about King’s Mountain, a pivotal battle of the American Revolution. I still have a lot of research to do, which is a part of the writing process that I enjoy very much. I continue to work as a volunteer tutor at the South Baldwin Literacy Council, where I help prepare students for the GED.

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