The House of Lincoln by Nancy Horan

INTERVIEW WITH nancy horan

July 1, 2023



How do you begin writing a new book?

Usually something snags my attention and I do a little research. If the huts Me as a great story, and if I keep going back to it, I know I am hooked.


What was your favorite childhood book?

My favorite book as a kid was The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy.


Do you listen to music while you write, or do you need complete silence?

II have to have complete silence.


Do you think being a writer isolates you or connects you to other people?

Writing is isolating for sure but I can fully enter a scene that way. To be distracted by a sound or lyric is counterproductive. I travel with other writers to talk writing and make sure I see local friends regularly.


What advice would you give to a new writer?

Be curious and follow your strongest interests until one story obsessed you! . If you are writing historical fiction, pickle yourself for a while in research. Notice details you knew nothing about. Have a trusted reader to give you honest feedback as you go along.

Interview with Nancy Horan



What was the thing that surprised you most when doing your research about Lincoln?

The thing that most surprised me in my research was discovering the amount of racism in the north. It was endemic, and I think Lincoln had to rid himself of the biases that existed around him, as well as encouraging others to do so. Many people disliked slavery but did not want free Black refugees coming to live in the north. Lincoln moved slowly, to the frustration of abolitionists. But he knew the electorate and knew they were hard to persuade. He found The lowest common denominator that his party could agree on: that slavery should not be allowed to expand into new territories. After the Emancipation Proclamation, he moved faster.


Being born and raised from Springfield, do you see it any differently now that you’ve done all this extensive research about it?

I came to see it not only as the adopted home of the Great Emancipator, but a place roiled by the effects of institutional racism just like the rest of America.


How would you describe Lincoln using just 3 words?

Open-minded. Eloquent. Persuasive.

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