Martha Brockenbrough was nice enough to come talk about Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary!
1) What is the Twitter pitch?
Everyone’s favorite founding father was a genius. He could also be a fool. And what motivated him more than fame or power? Even he didn’t know until the last few days of his life. Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary: It’s Complicated.
2) What is the most surprising thing you learned about Hamilton?
It blows your mind to understand how much he did, how brave he was, and how huge his influence was—especially considering his humble start as an orphaned bastard. It sounds like a cruel world, and it does convey the bias people had and the shame he felt, and how much he wanted to prove himself. This might not be the most surprising thing. Nor would his fascination with small details, such as the color of buttons and locations of flowers in his garden. Most likely, it was his incredibly tender heart. He was a man who loved. Deeply, passionately, gently.
3) Why do you think everyone is so into him right now? Obviously the musical, but why?
The musical is an extraordinary work of genius. So that helps, of course. But his story is so dramatic and improbable. As I researched and wrote the book, I’d sometimes gasp to realize what was happening to him, and what role he was playing in history. I can’t speak to how everyone learned history, but my own experiences in school felt really rushed. We’d skim over everything, covering huge swaths of time, and it was hard to really wrap my mind and heart around anything in particular. The musical takes stuff we’re familiar with, but it shined the light on the remarkable human beings who risked everything for a set of untested ideas. I think where my book might be a bit different is it has the space to show how improbable and unlikely some of these things we take for granted really were.
The questions for everyone:
4) If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be?
I’d never do that. It’s not because there aren’t books I want everyone to love. But rather, the best book is the one you find just when you needed it. Making someone read more often than not strips away the magic. So I’ll cheat and say I will make it mandatory for people to carry books at all times. There is no better protection, no more powerful weapon, no more healing tool than the right book at the right time. If you always carry one, you’ll be in great shape.
5) What are you reading now?
I am reading a friend’s manuscript as well as a book by a German forester named Peter Wohlleben (which means well live). It’s called THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES and it is outstanding. I am living well within its pages.
6) What are your five favorite books? You can do authors if it’s easier.
OK. So I have so many friends who are writers, and so many books I love, that there is no easy way for me to answer this. It would be like saying who my favorite relatives are. But I can talk about books that influenced me. THE LORAX by Dr. Seuss. PASSING by Nelle Larson. The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander. CHARLOTTE’S WEB by E.B. White. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen.
7) What 2017 releases are you excited for?
I’ll know it when I see them! I have been so buried in work that I haven’t been following what’s coming out and when, but it’s a good thing because when I go to the bookstore, it will be like going to a reunion that I actually want to go to, and not something I just go to because I made a bad life choice.