Civil war buffs will love Corrigans’ Pool this holiday season

What can be better than curling up by a cozy fire this holiday season reading a book about the Civil war? I love books about the Civil war – fiction or nonfiction. I used to live in Newport News, Virginia, and there was a park called The Newport News Park where I remember seeing the actual trenches where the Confederate Army hid during enemy attacks. That was the exact moment I not only fell in love with American history, but the Civil war in particular.

Dot Ryan’s Corrigans’ Pool is a book you’ll fall in love with if you’re a Civil war buff or a historical fiction lover like me. The story centers around Ella Corrigan who hastily weds a neighboring planter. He’s a cold man on the brink of insanity who is cruel to the slaves that work for them which horrifies her. It is at that point where she questions the concept of human bondage for the first time while desperately missing the way things used to be.

While Ella struggles against her husband’s dictates and blackmail and tortured by bitter memories of a love that got away, Sherman’s Union troops burn their way across Georgia and swarm onto her property.

It’s a really good book which will have you on the edge of your seat.

I had the opportunity to ask Dot about her book. Where did she get inspiration to write it? Why did she write it? How did she publish it?

“I was inspired to write Corrigans’ Pool by my great love of American history,” she says, “especially the Civil war era in which many of my ancestors fought on both sides. I grew up listening to my paternal and maternal grandmothers’ stories, passed down from generation to generation, about life in those days. I knew early on that someday I would write historical novels about all eras of American history. I wrote bits and pieces of the novel in the 60s and 70s in between raising three children, and later holding down a 40 hour a week job in the county courthouse— all the while studying to become an author. By the time I felt that I could truly call myself a writer, I had a son and daughter in high school and a third daughter just starting junior high. I finished my novel in 1982 … and lost every page of it in a fire a few months later, along with most of my research notes. This was in the days when everything was done on typewriters.”

Somewhere between 1982 and 2000, Dot swallowed her grief and rewrote Corrigans’ Pool from scratch – a whopping 1012 pages. She then queried about a dozen New York agents and finally received a reply from one of them.

“I received a reply from a very nice lady wanting to read the manuscript,” she says. “Three months later she emailed me, suggesting that I rev up the romance in the book, put the male love interest in every chapter ‘like Rhett Butler’ and then get back to her. I thought long and hard about it, and decided against turning my story into something I had not intended.

“Although there is romance in the book, it is not the single aspect of Corrigans’ Pool that makes the story appealing throughout. With faith that I had written an exceptional novel – and fully aware of the stigma against self-published books – I decided then and there to self-publish.

“I wanted to spend the rest of my years writing, not pursuing agents and publishers who, perhaps because of the economy, are not as open to new talent as they once were, no matter how promising. Judging from readers’ reviews of Corrigans’ Pool, I made the right decision.

“Getting the book noticed may take a little longer, but I believe it will be worth it in that I can market it indefinitely, if I choose.”

If you’d like the convenience of picking up a copy of Dot Ryan’s Corrigans’ Pool online, click here. If you’d like to visit her website, or her blog at

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