The Clever Mill Horse
Published on… 15 August 2014
Published as… Historical Fiction
A Chat with Molly McGilligan
Bella: What is the name of the book where well find you? Can you tell us a little about it?
Molly McGilligan: Aye, you’ll find me in a book called The Clever Mill Horse and before you ask me, I don’t expect you’ll make any more heads nor tails of the title than anyone else. I suppose she means it to refer to the great strapping Ella and not any live horse, but lord knows she never says as much. She has a way of saying things sideways, to my mind. But despite that it’s a fine story of Ella working like a madwoman to clean up the great mess her grandda left her, with that machine and all. I could see right off she wanted to be out in the woods or somewhere else but that machine wouldn’t never let her be.
Bella: Tell us a little about yourself. Where do you fit into the story? What should we know about you?
Molly McGilligan: I come over on the boat sick as a dog, same as the rest of us. But once in New Jersey and upriver through the Pines, my good Irish luck took hold might quick and I had work in Batsto before I knew it. After that Glassboro, where I was throwing pots for the glassworks in between tending the tavern when Ella and Zeke and Jenny came along, needing my help of course. ‘Twas me who helped them find their way to Martha Furnace and got them work with me uncle Michael Mick. Never mind they teased me no end for being kin to half the county.
Bella: What do you think of the author? Be honest. We wont tell.
Molly McGilligan: Like I said, she’s got the right devil in her when it comes to saying things sideways. She makes it seem all one way, but then you think on it and see it could mean this, that, or the other. Or both things at once. I think she’s having too much fun at this is what I think of her.
Bella: How do you feel about the story you’re in?
Molly McGilligan: ‘Tis a story like no other is what I think of it. There’s right little told of my time, and mostly of the generals and the admirals and the soldiers in the wars. What is there of the people like mine, those of us making and building things and trying to get by on the work of our own two hands? Those of us who had to hunt and salt our own meat, spin our own thread, weave our own cloth, cast our own iron—where are our stories? This is one of the few and it’s a right fine tale if you ask me. Could use more of me in it, naturally. And more of card playing. I could never talk that Ella into playing cards more often. She kept on about me being a sharp, cheatin’ her like.
Bella: Do you like being a character in the book?
Molly McGilligan: Can’t say one way or another, seeing as I never tried it any other way. Me da back in Dublin always seemed more a character, though. Someone you’d read of in one of those new novels, always showing up just in time to save the girl.
Bella: How do you see your future? Without giving anything away about the story, naturally.
Molly McGilligan: Well that author may be a devil, but she’d be a right fool not to put me in another story and give me more of the stage. Nay, there’s no arguing that I’m not a favorite with her readers, is there? Lucky thing she’s no fool.
Bella: What do you know about your authors plans? Can we expect to see you in any future stories?
Molly McGilligan: Best of luck getting’ that tight-lipped one to tell you anything of the next story. She’d make a good card player, that one. Holds her cards right in close to her chest. Gives nothing away if she can help it. We’ll be lucky if she gives us our lines the day before she wants us on stage.
Bella: Lets say they make a movie about this book. Who do you want to play you, and why?
Molly McGilligan: That’s an easy one. Rose Leslie (who played Ygritte in Game of Thrones) already has the red hair and the husky voice. She mightn’t be quite the beauty as me, but she’d do well enough.
About the Book
A young woman’s gift could weave together the fabric of a nation…
1810, upstate New York. 21-year-old Ella Kenyon is happiest gliding through the thick woods around her small frontier town, knife in hand, her sharp eyes tracking game. A gift for engineering is in her blood, but she would gladly trade it for more time in the forest. If only her grandfather’s dying wish hadn’t trapped her into a fight she never wanted.
Six years ago, Ella’s grandfather made her vow to finish his life’s work: a flax-milling machine that has the potential to rescue her mother, brother, and sister from the brutality of life with her drunkard father. The copious linen it yields could save her struggling town, subjugate the growing grip of southern cotton. Or it could be Ella’s downfall. If she’s not quick enough, not clever enough to succeed, more than her own life rests in the balance…
About the Author
Jodi Lew-Smith lives on a farm in northern Vermont with her patient husband, three wonderfully impatient children, a bevy of pets and farm animals, and 250 exceedingly patient apple trees which, if they could talk, would suggest that she stop writing and start pruning. Luckily they’re pretty quiet.
With a doctorate in plant genetics, she also lives a double life as a vegetable breeder at High Mowing Seeds. She is grateful for the chance to do so many things in one lifetime, and only wishes she could do them all better. Maybe in the next life she’ll be able to make up her mind.