Author Interviews/Articles/Q & A

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6/21//16 Television Interview with Kevin Avard, “Gate City Chronicles”, Part 9: “Other Books”
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6/21//16 Television Interview with Kevin Avard, “Gate City Chronicles”, Part 8: “The Worm in the Apple”
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6/21//16 Television Interview with Kevin Avard, “Gate City Chronicles”, Part 7: “Panning for Gold”
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6/21//16 Television Interview with Kevin Avard, “Gate City Chronicles”, Part 6: ” Lafayette and the French Alliance”
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6/21//16 Television Interview with Kevin Avard, “Gate City Chronicles”, Part 5: “The Granite State Song” (Click here to read all the lyrics of this song, in which New Hampshire was first called “The Granite State”.)
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6/21//16 Television Interview with Kevin Avard, “Gate City Chronicles”, Part 4: “The Story of the Vermont Vet”
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6/21//16 Television Interview with Kevin Avard, “Gate City Chronicles”, Part 3: “Synopsis – A Buss from Lafayette”
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6/21//16 Television Interview with Kevin Avard, “Gate City Chronicles”, Part 2: “Lafayette’s Farewell Tour/An Indirect ‘Buss’ from Lafayette”.
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6/21//16 Television Interview with Kevin Avard, “Gate City Chronicles”, Part 1: “Why is historical fiction for kids so valuable?”
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5/16/16 Hippo Press, “History alive”
Lafayette’s 1825 tour illustrated in new novel
By Kelly Sennott

Contoocook writer Dorothea Jensen got the idea for A Buss from Lafayette while on a Jane Austen tour in England with her mother in 1997. There was lots of downtime on the bus, so the group told stories to pass the hours. Jensen offered the tale of her eighth-grade teacher shaking hands with Geronimo, the last Native American warrior to formally surrender to the United States.

“I’ve shaken hands with somebody who shook the hand of Geronimo,’” Jensen told the crowd.
But then she got one-upped.
“I’ve been kissed by someone who was kissed by someone who was kissed by Lafayette,” Rita Nash Paine called from the front of the bus.
In response, Jensen leaped into the aisle, ran up to Paine, pointed to her own cheek and said, “Right here, Rita!”
Paine kept in touch after the trip and explained how her great-grandmother had been 7 and living in Northampton, Mass., when President James Monroe invited General Lafayette to come back to the States and tour around the country 50 years after the American Revolution.
Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette — known today simply as Lafayette, or General Lafayette — was a French aristocrat and military officer who traveled to the United States at age 19 to join the American cause. He was crucial in lobbying French support mid-war, and in 1825, he was the only general still alive.
Paine’s great-grandmother presented him with a bouquet during his visit to her hometown, and, as the story goes, he returned the favor with a kiss (buss).
Jensen was intrigued. The history nerd hadn’t known about Lafayette’s 24-state, 6,000-mile tour via horse-drawn carriage, but it was big news at the time, all over the old New Hampshire newspapers. He traveled to Boston, where 300,000 came to watch his dedication of the Bunker Hill Monument, and then he took on New Hampshire, passing through Derry, Pembroke, Concord, Northwood, Dover, Concord, Hopkinton, Henniker and Bradford en route to Vermont.
“He was mobbed, just like a rock star,” Jensen said during an interview at Panera Bread in Manchester, sporting a silver “Lafayette” necklace. “It’s estimated a fourth of the American population came to see him at some point when he was traveling around.”
When Jensen learned Lafayette passed through Route 103, near where she lives now, she was hooked. She spent the next 18 years researching and writing a historical fiction novel for kids, A Buss from Lafayette, which was released in April.
The book centers around spunky, rebellious, 14-year-old Clara Summer Hargraves, whose mother died of tuberculosis and father remarried his sister-in-law immediately afterward. (“Which was actually rather common in those days,” Jensen said. “I actually found that happened in my own family tree, years back, about the same time.”) Hargraves lives in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, in 1825, during a buzz of excitement due to an upcoming visit by world-famous Lafayette.
“I read a lot of historical novels when I was a kid. … It was just so thrilling because it made [history] come alive. When I started writing, I wanted to do the same thing. … It’s not like writing a textbook at all. You have to learn everything, but then you have to be able to move around in that world,” she said. “The whole thing about the Revolution … only one third of Americans supported the war. One third of them were against it. And one third of them were neutral, just waiting to see who was going to win. … Most of the time, we were losing. And if the French had not come in … we probably would not have been able to win.”
Jensen’s been working hard on book promotion. To her launch party crowd of 60, she wore a long, navy blue dress with green trim traditional to the period, courtesy of costume maker Gay Bean. Online, she’s become a promotional guru.
“I’m 70 years old. I’ve got two websites, two Twitters, two blogs, two Pinterests, and I have 114,000 hits,” Jensen said.
Jensen, a Contoocook resident of 25 years, is a cheerleader for all things American history. She thinks it began after she and her husband started their Peace Corps service in 1969, the year after Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated and at the height of the Vietnam War.
“We were feeling very negative toward America until we went and lived in a country that was a dictatorship, where everybody was afraid to talk about politics. … America’s really a pretty wonderful place, and unless you’ve lived somewhere where your liberties are very curtailed, it’s harder to appreciate that,” she said.
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May 12, 2016 Radio Interview: WEMF Citywide Blackout program with Max Bowen and Gina House.  The podcast is below!

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January 24, 2016 Online Interview:

Meet Dorothea Jensen, Author of A Buss From Lafayette


BBB: Tell us about yourself.

DJ: I just turned 70, but am still going strong. For a number of years, I was a singer/actress in amateur and professional companies.  (As a mezzo, I usually lost the hero to the soprano.) I have been having fun putting all my old skills to work with video blogs, audio recordings of songs from the stories, audio book recordings etc.

I earned a BA in English at Carleton College and an MA in Education at the University of New Mexico. I have one husband, three kids and six grandsons (whom I put in my Izzy Elf stories). I have lived all over the U.S., as well as in Holland and Brazil.

People often ask me how a “woman of a certain age” has learned to create/maintain book trailers, YouTube channels, websites, blogs, Pinterest, Bublish, Google+, Twitter accounts, etc. I tell them I do it the same way I learned my way around the many places I have lived: I get hopelessly lost and stumble around until I figure out where I am.


BBB: What inspired your book, A Buss from Lafayette?

DJ: I met an elderly woman whose great-grandmother was one of the little girls who presented Lafayette with a posy when he was touring the U.S. in 1824-25, for which he apparently “bussed” her (a playful smacking kiss). That buss was passed down in my new friend’s family, and she passed it along to me. I then learned that General Lafayette came right by my house in June, 1825, on that same tour. This all piqued my interest about Lafayette and the immense part he played in the American Revolution. After years of research, I wrote a storPicturey about a troubled teenager who lives in my little town in New Hampshire at the time of Lafayette’s “Farewell Tour”.

BBB: Tell us about your main character.

DJ: Clara Hargraves, 14, lives on a farm in Hopkinton, New Hampshire, during the early 19th century. She has a couple of big problems. First of all, she has a stepmother, “Prissy” Priscilla, formerly her spinster schoolteacher aunt, who keeps trying to make her act like a proper young lady. Secondly, she has red hair that makes her a target for teasing. Clara, however, has a secret plan she hopes will change this.

In June,1825, Clara’s town is abuzz because General Lafayette, hero of the American War of Independence, is about to visit their state. In one eventful week, Clara learns a lot about her family, herself, and, most of all, about Lafayette and his huge and vital role in America’s Revolutionary War. She also just might find that her problems are not quite so terrible after all.

BBB: What other books have you written?

DJ: The Riddle of Penncroft Farm;Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf; Blizzy, the Worrywart Elf; Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf; and Frizzy, the S.A.D. Elf. All have won awards, I’m happy to say!

BBB: What do you think readers will find most appealing about your book?

DJ: As one 11 year old “previewer” said, “It’s like getting two stories in one book! I got to learn all about Clara, and to learn all about Lafayette, too.”

BBB: How did you come up with the idea for your book cover?

DJ: I wanted it to echo the current cover for The Riddle of Penncroft Farm.  Something like 130,000 copies of that story have sold over the years, so I hoped that making the covers similar would lead people to pick it up. Besides, as soon as I saw the redheaded girl’s photo, I knew she was Clara!

BBB: What are you currently working on?

DJ: I am working on a story called A Scalp on the Moon, that takes place in 17th century Massachusetts at the time of King Philip’s War. (Superstitious English settlers there at the time who were worried that there might be a war with the native population swore that they saw “a scalp on the moon” that portended terrible trouble.) I’m also trying to finish another of Santa’s Izzy Elf books (which are illustrated modern Christmas stories in rhyme) called Bizzy, the Know-It-All Elf.

BBB: How can readers discover more about you and your work?

DJ: Go to my website, It has information about my work, and also links to all my social media. I particularly recommend visiting my blog ( and my account ( for background information etc. about my books.

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MIscellaneous Q & A I Thought Might Interest Readers:

Q: Where did you get the idea for Clara’s family problems?

A: A few years ago, I did some genealogy study of my family, and found that one of my ancestors married his deceased wife’s sister in the early 1800s. I wondered how his children would have felt about this, although they were younger at the time of their father’s remarriage than I have made Clara and her brother.  I also know that in this age of divorce, many young people are having to adjust to stepmothers in their lives.  I thought that Clara’s situation might seem familiar to them, even though she “lived” two centuries ago.