- Published: 22 February 2015 22 February 2015
Kathy and Becky Hepinstall, two sisters, collaborated on the book Sisters of Shiloh. Kathy Hepinstall is the author of Blue Asylum, The Absence of Nector, and Prince of Lost Places. Becky Hepinstall has a degree in History from the University of Texas and is married to a Navy fighter pilot. Both were born and raised outside of Houston, Texas.
Sisters of Shiloh is historical fiction about two sisters who disguise themselves as men to enlist in the Confederate Army. Libby, the youngest sister, lost her husband in one of the battles and swears vengeance on the Yankees. Josephine, the older sister, joins the army in order to protect her sister. While in the army, Josephine starts to fall in love with one of the other soldiers while Libby becomes more delusional with each battle fought.
When did the two of you decide you wanted to collaborate on a book together? And what inspired you to write Sisters of Shiloh?
Becky- It was in September 2002. Kathy said she wanted to write a book with me. When I was a history major in college, I had learned a bit about the real women who disguised themselves as men during the Civil War and was fascinated by them and what would have driven them to do something like that. When I told Kathy about some of those women, she was equally intrigued.
Why did you focus the setting of your book to be during the Civil War instead of during a different war time, such as the Vietnam War or World War I? How different would Sisters of Shiloh been if you had chosen to make the setting during a different war time?
Kathy- Becky has always loved the Civil War, so that was what was most compelling to her. We were so interested in the experiences of these female soldiers, who had left everything they knew to fight in a bloody, brutal war for one cause or another.
How is collaborating on a book with someone else different than writing a book by yourself?
Kathy- Having responsibility to another person, and wanting the book to measure up to their standards. We worked well together, always on the same page, and we could always agree on where we wanted the book to go.
Becky- Kathy’s spirit, and that she had already published several other novels, really helped. We were able to bounce ideas and characters off each other – it really brought us closer together.
Who is your favorite character in Sisters of Shiloh? Why?
Kathy - Eleanor and Floyd, because they each have a different, unique perspective.
What was the biggest challenge you two had in writing Sisters of Shiloh? How did the two of you work together to overcome that challenge?
Kathy & Becky- Our biggest challenge was getting people to read it and interested enough to publish it. That took us 12 years! Another was the amount of research that went into the book in order to get our story right. Also, on a personal level we had a big struggle with time zone differences since we lived far apart, and we had to talk on the phone to each other a lot in order to get it to work.
What do you hope your readers will get out of reading Sisters of Shiloh?
Kathy- Just a good story. I don’t particularly have an agenda.
Becky- The idea that love conquers all and love overcomes evil. Also I’d like readers to think about choices you make out of love and what you are willing to die for, the way the sisters are willing to die for each other. And I would be happy if someone learns something new about the history behind the story as well.
What advice would you give to someone interested in getting published?
Kathy- Embrace tenacity! And constantly ask yourself, “Is this really good enough?” There is always room to improve and I think people sometimes focus too much on how it is, not on what it could be.
Becky- There is always room for a story to evolve. Stories always go through change so be willing to opening yourself to that change, and to making room for improvement.