We’re thrilled to be talking to Emmaline Cagney from Andra Watkins’ historical paranormal suspense, To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis. She is coming to us all the way from the great state of Tennessee. It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!
BTB: Thank you for this interview, Emmaline. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?
Emmaline: Well, I’m nine in the book, and I sometimes feel like maybe I was too baby-fied. It makes me mad to see how many times I was scared. I look back on my adventure with Merry now, and I wish I could’ve held it closer, breathed it in more, without fear.
BTB: What do you believe is your strongest trait?
Emmaline: Everybody tells me I’m stubborn. Even Daddy says that, and I always tell him I was stubborn enough to find him.
BTB: Worst trait?
Emmaline: Um……..I worry. I wonder what happened to Aunt Bertie. To my mother. I’m afraid the Judge will find me again and take me away from a life I love. Kids shouldn’t have to worry. I tell myself I shouldn’t, but I’ve been through a lot in my life, more than some grown-ups, even.
BTB: If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?
Emmaline: Doesn’t my part usually go to an undiscovered kid? That’s what I see happening……unless Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s daughter played me.
Did I spell her name right?
BTB: Do you have a love interest in the book?
Emmaline: Ew! I’m nine! My mother always tried to introduce me to her men, and I had to serve them tea with my shirt unbuttoned and stuff, and they were really gross, the way they looked at me. All boys are gross. Except Merry. And Daddy. I love both of them.
BTB: At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?
Emmaline: Okay, you obviously haven’t read it, because I was nervous THE WHOLE TIME. I mean, you have a nasty man chasing you and saying he wants to marry you—and you’re NINE—and you run away from home with a stranger and tramp through the middle of nowhere. I was shot at and almost eaten by a wild animal and attacked by night monsters and even watched somebody die. I can’t believe I don’t have high blood pressure and stuff grown-ups get when they have problems.
BTB: If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?
Emmaline: I would not want to be the Judge. He’s got to be crazy to think I’m his dead wife. No matter how much I tell him I’m not her, he still comes after me. I wouldn’t want to be like him. Not ever.
BTB: How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?
Emmaline: It’s just like Merry said. It’s bittersweet. He taught me what that word means. What words of wisdom would you give your author if she decided to write another book with you in it?
Well, she’s already doing that, and I tell her all the time to listen to me more. I’m eleven in the new story—that’s two whole years older—and I know so much more than I did the first time around.
BTB: Thank you for this interview. Will we be seeing more of you in the future?
Emmaline: I’m just stubborn enough to make sure you do.
About the Book:
Is remembrance immortality? Nobody wants to be forgotten, least of all the famous.
Meriwether Lewis lived a memorable life. He and William Clark were the first white men to reach the Pacific in their failed attempt to discover a Northwest Passage. Much celebrated upon their return, Lewis was appointed governor of the vast Upper Louisiana Territory and began preparing his eagerly-anticipated journals for publication. But his re-entry into society proved as challenging as his journey. Battling financial and psychological demons and faced with mounting pressure from Washington, Lewis set out on a pivotal trip to the nation’s capital in September 1809. His mission: to publish his journals and salvage his political career. He never made it. He died in a roadside inn on the Natchez Trace in Tennessee from one gunshot to the head and another to the abdomen.
Was it suicide or murder? His mysterious death tainted his legacy and his fame quickly faded. Merry’s own memory of his death is fuzzy at best. All he knows is he’s fallen into Nowhere, where his only shot at redemption lies in the fate of rescuing another. An ill-suited “guardian angel,” Merry comes to in the same New Orleans bar after twelve straight failures. Now, with one drink and a two-dollar bill he is sent on his last assignment, his final shot at escape from the purgatory in which he’s been dwelling for almost 200 years. Merry still believes he can reverse his forgotten fortunes.
Nine-year-old Emmaline Cagney is the daughter of French Quarter madam and a Dixieland bass player. When her mother wins custody in a bitter divorce, Emmaline carves out her childhood among the ladies of Bourbon Street. Bounced between innocence and immorality, she struggles to find her safe haven, even while her mother makes her open her dress and serve tea to grown men.
It isn’t until Emmaline finds the strange cards hidden in her mother’s desk that she realizes why these men are visiting: her mother has offered to sell her to the highest bidder. To escape a life of prostitution, she slips away during a police raid on her mother’s bordello, desperate to find her father in Nashville.
Merry’s fateful two-dollar bill leads him to Emmaline as she is being chased by the winner of her mother’s sick card game: The Judge. A dangerous Nowhere Man convinced that Emmaline is the reincarnation of his long dead wife, Judge Wilkinson is determined to possess her, to tease out his wife’s spirit and marry her when she is ready. That Emmaline is now guarded by Meriwether Lewis, his bitter rival in life, further stokes his obsessive rage.
To elude the Judge, Em and Merry navigate the Mississippi River to Natchez. They set off on an adventure along the storied Natchez Trace, where they meet Cajun bird watchers, Elvis-crooning Siamese twins, War of 1812 re-enactors, Spanish wild boar hunters and ancient mound dwellers. Are these people their allies? Or pawns of the perverted, powerful Judge?
After a bloody confrontation with the Judge at Lewis’s grave, Merry and Em limp into Nashville and discover her father at the Parthenon. Just as Merry wrestles with the specter of success in his mission to deliver Em, The Judge intercedes with renewed determination to win Emmaline, waging a final battle for her soul. Merry vanquishes the Judge and earns his redemption. As his spirit fuses with the body of Em’s living father, Merry discovers that immortality lives within the salvation of another, not the remembrance of the multitude.
About the Author:
Andra Wakins is a native of Tennessee but calls Charleston, South Carolina, her home for the last 23 years. She is the author of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis from Word Hermit Press which is a mishmash of historical fiction, paranormal fiction and suspense that follows Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark fame) after his mysterious death on the Natchez Trace in 1809.