About the Book:
Out Front the Following Sea is a historical epic of one woman’s survival in a time when the wilderness is still wild, heresy is publicly punishable, and being independent is worse than scorned–it is a death sentence. At the onset of King William’s War between French and English settlers in 1689 New England, Ruth Miner is accused of witchcraft for the murder of her parents and must flee the brutality of her town. She stows away on the ship of the only other person who knows her innocence: an audacious sailor–Owen–bound to her by years of attraction, friendship, and shared secrets. But when Owen’s French ancestry finds him at odds with a violent English commander, the turmoil becomes life-or-death for the sailor, the headstrong Ruth, and the cast of Quakers, Pequot Indians, soldiers, highwaymen, and townsfolk dragged into the fray. Now Ruth must choose between sending Owen to the gallows or keeping her own neck from the noose.
“From the squalor, prejudice, and violence of 17th-century America, Leah Angstman has summoned to life the most extraordinary young woman. Ruth Miner insists on surviving, building a life, and being true to her odd independent self, despite the whole world seeing her as worthless filth. Angstman creates a hypnotically real and brutal world and then manages to infuse it with humor and beauty and a moving tale of love. The reader will follow Ruth Miner anywhere, and be the richer for it.” —Heather O’Neill, author of The Lonely Hearts Hotel, Lullabies for Little Criminals, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, and Daydreams of Angels
“Lapidary in its research and lively in its voice, Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman is a rollicking story, racing along with wind in its sails. Though her tale unfolds hundreds of years in America’s past, Ruth Miner is the kind of high-spirited heroine whose high adventures haul you in and hold you fast.” —Kathleen Rooney, author of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk and Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey
“Rich in deeply researched detail, and peopled by complex characters, Out Front the Following Sea is a fascinating story that is bound to entrance readers of historical fiction.” —Kathleen Grissom, author of The Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything
“Out Front the Following Sea is a fascinating book, the kind of historical novel that evokes its time and place so vividly that the effect is just shy of hallucinogenic. I enjoyed it immensely.” —Scott Phillips, author of The Ice Harvest, The Walkaway, Cottonwood, Hop Alley, The Adjustment, and Rake
1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you into writing?
It never seems like there’s much about me to tell, but I can start by stating the obvious: I’m the founder and editor-in-chief of Alternating Current Press and The Coil magazine and the author of Out Front the Following Sea, my debut novel of a brutal seventeenth-century set against the backdrop of King William’s War. I love Broadway musicals, Bruce Springsteen, my German Shepherd, quirky and terrifying history stories, living-history war reenactments, myth-busting, watching old episodes of Unsolved Mysteries, and making elaborate spreadsheets that I’ll end up only using once.
The initial thing that got me into writing was the shocking death of my best friend in high school, followed by the zine culture that surrounded the punk scene I was part of. Copying and pasting together zines and chapbooks was all the rage in my teen years, most of which were inspired by revolutionary calls to action from a bunch of pre-adults who had big dreams about changing the world, but didn’t have a clue how actually to do it. When I lost my best friend, I turned insufferable to the human world, and the only thing that could tolerate me was a notebook and pen.
2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?
My favorite time to write is the very early morning, usually around 5 a.m. I’m most alive between 3 and 7 a.m., cup of coffee, huge picture window watching magnificent Colorado sunrises peeking over the Rockies. The house is quiet with no one else awake yet, not even the dog. That’s my time. Once we hit 8 or 9 a.m., the whole world seems to want a piece of me, and my personal creative time is over—time to be creative for everyone else.
My place is all over the place. I bounce between three couches, a standing desk, the kitchen table, two sitting desks, my outside patio table, pacing around the house, snuggled with my dog on the floor. I can never sit still for too long.
3: Where do your ideas come from?
The majority of my ideas are accidents. They come from some random sidebar tidbit that I happen to see or hear during research for something else. A lot of times I get curious about something I see in my Smithsonian or The Journal of the American Revolution email newsletters, or hear as an aside to some other story in an audiobook. I tend to be a Wikipedia rabbitholer and will click excessive links until I end up entirely somewhere else, arriving at some other conclusion, drinking the shrinking potion, following white rabbits. I cling to tidbits. I find something tiny, quirky, obscure that sparks my attention, and I stretch it into a whole story, a whole world.
4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?
I’ve done both. For longer stories (novels, novellas), I usually have an idea of beginning, middle, end, and then I let the research I find fill in the rest of the surrounding conflicts. For one novel I’m writing, I discovered through real-life letters that there is a terrible drought going on during the timeline of the book, so that real-life historical drought became a central conflict to the story that I hadn’t initially planned on. Usually, I can only fully visualize very short things—like snippets of flash—while longer works unfold slowly sentence by sentence or chapter by chapter. I do take long pauses, though, sometimes weeks or months, in between “scenes” to assess what I think the next scene or conflict should be before I start writing it. That helps me keep a tidy word count and plot goal per chapter.
5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?
All of my writing is historical, though highly literary and uncommercial. Generally historical fiction, but I also write historical nonfiction and historical poetry, as well. I was raised a history nerd by a biography-devouring father, but I knew that scholarly nonfiction was never going to be my calling—I loved poetry too much. I loved heady language and the sound of purple prose and the songs found in colorful details. I wanted to tell stories, not just narratives. But I have no interest in contemporary themes, so my stories had to be historical, or they’d end up on the cutting-room floor.
6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?
After watching Dune, I’ll go with Timothée Chalamet to play Owen, but he’ll have to beef up a little bit. Owen is pretty tough, even if he is French (zing!). I’ll stick with my dream gal of Sophia Lillis to play Ruth. Sam has to be rather imposing, so maybe Tom Hardy? Gerard Butler? Jeremy Renner? Chris Evans?—of course, if Sam is too handsome, then we might end up with an entirely different story on our hands, so maybe not Chris Evans. For Askook, I’d go with Tatanka Means, and for Machk, I’d love David Midthunder, but my only golden rule would be: All the Pequot have to be portrayed by actual Native American actors. I’d be pretty heartsick if someone whitewashed the Native characters, who are so crucial to the story and whom we’ve already whitewashed enough in this country.
7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?
I read constantly. I have stacks and stacks of documents and books to get through, and I buy every book that looks good, even if I never end up reading it for lack of time. I’m also a huge audiobook junkie, and I get through an average audiobook in two days while walking my dog.
My favorite authors are Jack London, James Clavell, Elizabeth George Speare, Michael Chabon, Heather O’Neill, Kaitlyn Greenidge, Alexander Chee, Kathleen Rooney, oh my goodness, the list is endless.
8: What book/s are you reading at present?
On audiobook, I just finished Ashes of Glory: Richmond at War by Ernest B. Furgurson, which was a pretty solid read, and started Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon by Suzanne M. Desan, part of the Great Courses series. In print, I just finished Shaindel Beers’ Secure Your Own Mask, which is a great collection of poetry, and picked up The Predatory Animal Ball by Jennifer Fliss, an advance reader copy I received in the mail this morning. My Kindle is currently in the middle of The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray; she’s always an enjoyable read.
9: What is your favourite book and why?
Oooooh, this answer fluctuates by the day. Today it’s My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier because I recently picked it up again, so it’s fresh in my mind, and I’d forgotten how tremendous it truly was. Brutal and raw, it’s an excellent look through a young boy’s eyes at the gray-area conflicts of the American Revolution. It’s been a favorite for my whole life, and when I was a kid, it was the first time I really learned what a Tory was and that there were as many conflicts between sectors of Americans themselves as there were between Americans and British. I always loved how it didn’t shy away from anything ugly—from the “n” word to graphic death scenes, it’s been on every banned-book list since 1974.
10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?
Besides “don’t,” lol? I’d say my best advice is to ignore people who say “write what you know,” and instead, you should write what you want to know. Write what intrigues you and will make you dig deeper to research it. In this way, you can teach others while continuing to learn new things yourself. My other piece of advice is simply: take your time. A good book takes years to write, not days.
11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?
My website is at leahangstman.com, and you can find me as @leahangstman on Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, Patreon, Medium, Ello, and Pinterest, and as @authorleahangstman on Facebook.
About the Author:
Leah Angstman is a historian and transplanted Michigander living in Boulder. OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, her debut novel of King William’s War in 17th-century New England, is forthcoming from Regal House in January 2022. Her writing has been a finalist for the Saluda River Prize, Cowles Book Prize, Able Muse Book Award, Bevel Summers Fiction Prize, and Chaucer Book Award, and has appeared in Publishers Weekly, L.A. Review of Books, Nashville Review, Slice, and elsewhere. She serves as editor-in-chief for Alternating Current and The Coil magazine and copyeditor for Underscore News, which has included editing partnerships with ProPublica. She is an appointed vice chair of a Colorado historical commission and liaison to a Colorado historic preservation committee.