Today’s guest is Robin Jansen Shope, multipublished and talented author. She’s here to unveil her first YA novel, Ruby Red. Take it away, Robin!
Thank you Linda for hosting me today.
When I was an elementary school teacher, I stumbled across accounts of Orphan Train Riders from 1854 to 1929. Although it is estimated that approximately 200,000 children were taken from New York City across the country to help settle the land with pioneer families, I learned of this as an adult. For a 75 year time span, little was said about this major event.
I began researching this event from interest, never planning to write a book about it. As the mother of two adopted children, I thought about the parentless children who rode the trains. Alone and scared, yet, hopeful of a new beginning—like a gift waiting to be opened. Siblings many times were separated never to see one another again while others were taken in as mere workers to help settle the vast farmlands. There were the blessed children who were fostered and adopted by kind families. I thought of my own two children and wondered what their fate would have been. Fair skinned Matthew would have been placed on the train, whereas my dark skinned daughter Kimberly would not have been, despite her intelligence. Adoptability was measured by skin tones. And that was what spurred me to write this novel.
Ruby Red is a historical novel set in the 1920s about an eleven-year-old, African American orphan girl who sneaks on board the Orphan Train meant only for white children.
Homeless children roamed the streets of New York City from the late 1800s through the 1930s. Death and disease were heaped upon poverty and overcrowding, causing thousands of children to be abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Adding to the malaise, boatloads of European immigrants flooded our shores and soon succumbed to the same adversities leaving thousands of their children parentless. Accounts have been written of the Orphan Train that carried white-skinned children out into the heartland of America to find new families, but history is totally silent of what became of the dark-skinned children.
Ruby Red is a fictionalized tale of a true event. It’s the end of the Orphan Train run in the mid-nineteen-twenties. The story is told through Ruby Red’s eleven-year old eyes. After Ruby is taken in as a maid, she finds she has little hope of being anything more and makes a risky move by faking insanity. After being expelled from the household, she sneaks onto a train heading west where she finds adventure, danger, and renewed hope.
Ruby Red is my eighth book, but my first young adult novel series for preteens and teens. However, I have been told that adults love Ruby just as much. At the back of the book are reading guide questions for class discussions or writing projects. There are also fun facts about the 1920s such as the invention of band-aid, Kool-Aid and Q-tips.
Living in the technological age we do, it’s sometimes hard to imagine a time without instant communication with computers, cell phones, and texting. There is a short historical chapter describing the dirt roads, transportation, and America’s way of life.
Readers can find my books on amazon and also order them from any bookstore.
If anyone is on FaceBook, I would count it an honor to have them join Ruby Red Fan Page. We will be doing all things Ruby Red from class/group discussion questions, contests, promotions and forums. No one wants to miss all the giveaways!
Ruby Red can be ordered from Amazon or any bookstore. Amazon Kindle will have it as an eBook and so will Apple’s iPad!
Ruby Red will also be part of a new girl’s social club site for girls age 13 to 19 that is coming out in June called, The Shy Girls Social Club, based on a book by the same title coming out in June. The website link is:
What a great way for young girls and the adults who love them to spend their summer.
I would love for everyone to befriend me on Facebook, Robin Jansen Shope. Also please join Journey to Paradise Movie and Salty Earth Pictures for movie updates for the movie based on my book, The Christmas Edition, re-releasing this fall.
My blog is The Serial Writings of Robin Shope