If you go to a reading with local author Nancy Brewer, you are in for much more than readings of selected passages from a book.
You also get to meet her characters. Since Brewer writes historical fiction, you meet history personified.
Brewer said she has been writing for 10 years, seriously for four. She began with children's books and romance novels but discovered her passion when she turned to historical fiction.
She'd always been interested in history and especially liked period clothes. She owned a vintage clothing store that historical re-enactors frequented. When they encouraged her to join them, it was a perfect fit: She combined her love of history, antiques and clothes with her natural abilities as a storyteller.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
She was hooked, and she turned to writing stories from the past.
When researching her novels she looks for diaries, letters, census records and other primary sources. Many characters are her own ancestors, and her novels are full of historical details that bring those characters to life. In fact, she includes so much detail that it took her four years to write her first historical novel.
Her first historical novel, "Carolina Rain," opens in 1860 on a plantation north of Charleston. It tells the story of Theosodia Elizabeth "Lizzie" Sanders, a young woman "coming of age at the dawning of the Civil War."
Though she has written about characters as diverse as Anne Boleyn and Jane Austen, nowadays it is Lizzie whom audiences meet when they go to a Nancy Brewer author event.
The sequel to "Carolina Rain" sold out immediately when it was released last month. In "Beyond Sandy Ridge," Lizzie has fled to Stanly County, where Brewer has many relatives.
She said she loves to find interesting local historical figures, research them and include them in her books. Her goal is to give readers a story "we can swallow." She rejects all kinds of stereotypes, often associated with historical fiction set in the Civil War era, and is determined to include all kinds of people in her stories.
Though Brewer's initial intention in writing these novels was to sell them to her fellow Civil War re-enactors, she's thrilled with the success she's found.
Thanks to the internet and social media sites, she's discovered she has quite a following in Europe. Civil War history and re-enactment events are quite popular there, and so are Brewer's novels.
Brewer still writes children's books and has plans for more historical novels. You can learn more about all her books at www.nancybbrewer.com. You can also check her schedule of area appearances, read poetry, get a recipe for cobbler and watch a video of Brewer as Lizzie.
Seeing Nancy Brewer portray Lizzie, you believe she knows and loves her characters intimately and can't wait for you to come to love them, too.