Allegra Jordan is an author and innovation consultant. She led marketing at USAToday.com, handled crisis communications for the Enron investigation, co-developed a Google Glass app and has taught innovation in 16 countries on five continents. Her articles, cases and book reviews have appeared in USA Today, TEDx, and in publications by Duke, Harvard and UT-Austin. She curates a top-ranked reconciliation poetry website. A graduate with honors of Harvard Business School, she has been named a top executive under 40 in Austin, Texas, and Birmingham, Ala. The End of Innocence is her debut novel. (Formerly HARVARD 1914, the work was acquired by Sourcebooks, edited, and new material was added.)
On the eve of WWI, two students fall in love in Harvard’s hallowed halls and must face a world at war from opposing sides
Helen Windship Brooks is struggling to find herself at the world-renowned Harvard-Radcliffe University when brooding German poet Wils bursts into her life. As they fall deeply in love on the brink of WWI, anti-German sentiments mount and Wils’ future at Harvard-and in America-is in increasing danger. When Wils is called to fight for the Kaiser, Helen must decide if she is ready to fight her own battle for what she loves most.
From Harvard’s hallowed halls to Belgium’s war-ravaged battlefields, The End of Innocence is a powerful new vision of finding love and hope in a violent, broken world.
Who is you favorite character in your book and why?
I like Charles T. Copeland. He’s a fusty professor and the most popular ever in the history of Harvard. For most of his career he graded freshman essays. He got to know his students, counseled them, and really cared about them as people. He had his own fan club in New York City and when giving his famous public readings in the early 1900s, people like Theodore Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan would attend.
Are the characters in your books based on people you know?
The narrator is based on Peter J. Gomes, the late minister at Harvard’s Memorial Church. In real life, Peter spoke like Jane Austen wrote. Peter also gave the sermon, “The Courage to Remember,” on which my novel is based.
Why do you think your readers are going to enjoy your book?
I think they will enjoy the hopeful nature of a book about World War 1.
Are your characters’ experiences taken from someone you know or events in your own life?
The story and experience is based on the real life story of the building of Harvard’s Memorial Church. In 1932 the church was dedicated as a place of worship and as a memorial to those from Harvard who fought and died in World War I. A great controversy arose over whether or not to include German students who fought for the Kaiser before America entered the war.
How long did it take you to write your book?
I first heard the story of the controversy surrounding this church in 1991. I actively wrote the book from 2000-2005.
Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?
I was surprised both by the level of censorship which permeated American society in the early 1900s and that Germans living in America were forced to register with the US government; carry their papers at all times; and prominent Germans were arrested and imprisoned in two internment camps during World War 1.
Can you describe your main character in three words?
Smart, Thoughtful, Noble
Can you describe your heroine/hero in one sentence?
The heroine is beautiful, opinionated, and her heart desires intimacy.
Without giving away details, can you describe one interesting scene in your book in less than two sentences?
The Christmas Truce of 1914 emerged from soldiers singing Silent Night across the trenches. It eventually spread to 100,000 German and British troops across the northern lines of the Western Front.
List three adjectives that describe your book as a whole.
Hopeful, Engaging, Deep
Where can a reader purchase your book?
Everywhere books are sold starting August 26, 2014.
What other books are most similar to yours?
The Razor’s Edge, Atonement, Birdsong
Who inspires you?
Seamus Heaney, whose work makes you consider that there is both the “murderous” and “marvelous” in life – both are true.
Where do you want to go with your writing career? Where do you see your writing career in five years?
I’m working on a new novel and would like to have it finished and published in the next five years.
What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.
I’m working on a novel about genius in the rural south.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing versus traditional publishing?
I like, and have benefited, from both! I see self-publishing as a truly liberating path for all artists who believe in their work.
If you were told your stories were unbelievable and not written very well, would you continue to write?
I try to listen to criticism to see how I can make my work better. I’ve found rich learnings in criticism!
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
I became a writer because I like language. I like having the time to figure out what I’m going to say and make it beautiful. And I wanted to express the idea that even though there’s the bad in life, the good is equally true and should be treated as such.
If you had to choose, which writer would you like to have mentor you?
Tolstoy. He was so wise and gifted as a writer and thinker.
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