Historical Fiction Novel too Closely Resembles Modern Day Politics, Corporate Corruption, Economic Greed

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9781627873765-Perfect.inddSometimes, we don’t always get what we want. At least, not right away. Meet a heroine who lost it all – family, friends and her life at she knew it. However, she decides to do battle against her enemy for a chance to regain what was once hers.

Book Synopsis – The Northeast Quarter  

Do you want revenge or do you want your land back?”

Winfield, Iowa. 1918. Colonel Wallace Carson, the ruler of a vast agricultural empire, asks Ann Hardy, his ten-year-old granddaughter, and eventual heir, to promise she will safeguard The Northeast Quarter, the choice piece of land from which the empire was founded.  Ann readily accepts – little knowing what awaits her.  When The Colonel is killed unexpectedly the same afternoon, the world around Ann and her family begins to fall apart.

Against the background of America sliding from a post-war boom into The Great Depression, The Northeast Quarter tells the story of Ann’s struggle to keep a promise no matter what. She witnesses the remarriage of her grandmother to Royce Chamberlin, the seemingly humble banker who institutes a reign of terror over the household and proceeds to corrupt the entire town.

Over the next ten years, she matches wits with Chamberlin, enduring betrayal, banishment and even physical violence.  She grows from a precocious child into a tough-minded young woman – watching, observing her enemy and waiting for the moment to make her move.

And when the moment comes in July 1929,  life in Winfield will never be the same.

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Interview with S.M Harris

Q:  Why is The Northeast Quarter the title of the book?

It’s a colloquial farm expression. It refers to a portion of land on a larger piece of property.  Since The Northeast Quarter is set on a large agricultural empire, the title seemed right.

Q:  What are the themes in The Northeast Quarter?

The book is about perseverance. About staying true to yourself – even when you are alone.

There is also the theme of Justice vs Revenge. Ann is faced with that duality for most of the narrative.

Q:  What are the key messages in The Northeast Quarter?

Never give up.  Sometimes you find your purpose in life in the most unexpected places.  By the end of the book Ann has decided to become a lawyer.

Q:  Your family roots are in Iowa? How have you been able to incorporate your Midwestern/Western roots into The Northeast Quarter?

My father came from Illinois and I was born in Southern California, so my roots are more small town vs big city than Iowan.  I was definitely able to incorporate that into the book.

Our family has owned property in Audubon since after The Civil War. Back in the 1880’s and early 1900’s, this amounted to twenty farms. As the years passed (which takes us through two world wars and The Depression) there is only one farm left.

Q:  How does the economy of 1918 to the Great depression resemble our economy today and how does this impact the book?

In both cases, the country is coming out of a successful economy and sliding into a precarious one. We see a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots.  One difference is that in the book we have a group of characters who are plotting and double-crossing each other and their neighbors – completely unaware that they are heading into chaos when The Depression hits.  Today the future is undecided.


Author Bio

stuart-harris-author-of-the-northeast-quarterStuart M. Harris began writing for the theater professionally in 1991 when he was invited by the Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York to attend a summer conference.  The experience led the native Californian to move to New York to become a playwright.  Several of his plays have been produced Off Broadway and around the country, among them. Oona Field produced by Diverse City Theater Company and Colleen Ireland, about a 90-year-old retirement home resident and her great granddaughter, that played in New York, Spokane and other cities, including Hamilton, OH, where it won ‘Best Play’ at The Fitton Center One-Act Playwriting Contest. A follow-up to Colleen was Spindrift Way, the first of ten more plays in the series.  The Northeast Quarter began as a full-length play developed by the Works in Progress Theatre Lab at Manhattan Theatre Club Studios.  Harris put playwriting on hold in order to weave the story of generations of Iowan farmers into his new historical novel. He lives in Brooklyn.

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