Listen to My Exclusive Interview
with My Haley on the Treason of Mary Louvestre
Clara Barton, Mary Boykin Chestnut, Elisha Hunt Rhodes—all these women will never be forgotten. Their great roles during the Civil War are immortalized for years to come. But then again, there are still plenty whose bravery and valor have never been honored, more so explored. A courageous woman of today decided to tell such a tale.
The literary industry has been graced by the likes of My Haley; born in South Charleston, West Virginia, she grew up to the stories and guidance of her grandmother. Then she later moved to Columbus, Ohio, where she finished college and eventually acquired her master’s and doctorate degrees, especially in African American Studies and Communications. It was during this time that she caught the attention of an up-and-coming prolific author Alex Haley. He had a deadline to beat, and he was not even halfway through. He therefore needed someone to help him out: My came to mind. She therefore spent a lot of days co-collaborating with Alex Haley on Roots, which catapulted him to fame and led to a mini-series.
They got married and became a formidable writing team, collaborating on more projects until his passing February 10, 1992. My was left to tackle her own work, and the result was just as magnificent as the Roots.
Mary Louvestre Brought to Life
Her biggest project to date is The Treason of Mary Louvestre. It is a new American saga that is based on the true story of a seamless slave from a Confederate town of Norfolk, Virginia. Mary Louvestre was living a life of servitude, sewing uniforms and other things the Confederate soldiers need until one day she learned of a plan that might have a huge impact on the war—and the ultimate downfall of the Union Army: her owner was planning to modify a powerful iron-clad steamship.
She knew she was going to die if found out of her treachery, but she copied the plans and trekked several miles, beating the harsh winters, to Gideon Welles, then-secretary of the navy.
The Challenge and the Victory
As brilliant as she is, My encountered many different challenges creating the book. How do you exactly marry fact and fiction? How do you make sure you can commemorate such a woman’s bravery without exaggeration? How do you make the most of the very little information available about her?
But no one can ever question My’s superior storytelling ability, research, and, most of all, credibility. Using all the knowledge and experience she had gained with Roots, My created a world that is full of grit and suppression for Mary. Along the way, she is able to give her life, dimension, and depth—a woman who was not just a seamstress or a slave but also a large dreamer, a woman of conflict, of reason, of character, and of substance.
My has successfully made The Treason of Mary Louvestre a fitting tribute to a woman hardly talked about in history, bringing her into the ranks of Barton, Chestnut, and Rhodes.