Monday, July 27, 2020

The Story Behind the Story: In High Cotton

by Ane Mulligan @AneMulligan

My critique partners say it's my best writing. Early reviews are confirming it, thrilling me (and scaring the fire out of me). It's my 10th published book. I recently read an article that says it takes that many books to break out. Break out of what? Jail? All I truly know is I love the story and had so much fun writing it. 

I have Gina Holmes to thank for the idea. A critique partner from early in my writing journey, she suggested I write a historical novel but set in the Great Depression. I was intrigued. My daddy was seventeen when the stock market crashed, and he used to tell a lot of stories from that time. He grew up in a very small, rural town in South Dakota (Castlewood, SD) similar in size to what I wanted. 

I started to write In High Cotton in 2010. I ended up shelving it when my agent asked where I wanted to write: contemporary or historical. At the time, I chose contemporary. I wrote (and we sold) my Chapel Springs series. When the fourth book was turned in and going through edits, my thoughts turned to what next? 

What next?
I talked with my agent. She'd read the early chapters of In High Cotton and said it was on-brand: an ensemble cast of strong Southern women, traversing life's issues together. She gave the project her blessing. 

I had such fun researching this book. I wanted to set it in a town near where I live, but the Bona Allen Tannery (where Roy Rogers had Trigger's saddle custom made) was there and everyone in town had a job. So the setting didn't fit the story. (Watch for On Sugar Hill, coming in 2021 for that book). 

I decided on a fictional town by a real location. Rivers End sits in southeast Georgia, near Uvalda (for those who like to Google those things). Two rivers, the Ocmulgee and the Oconee, converge there to form the Altamaha. The Indians called the place "where rivers end." 

From there, I drew a map of Rivers End, which my publisher has included in the book. My main character, Maggie Parker, is a young widow, raising her little boy alone. Maggie owns a small grocery store her husband left her and her father-in-law wants back. 

Besides running the grocery, Maggie's a writer and has a household hints newspaper column. I include a list of 1930s household hints in the book, as well as Depression ers recipes. Those hints are still viable today, and I even picked up a few to use myself.


Here's the back cover copy from In High CottonI hope it piques your interest.

Southern women may look as delicate as flowers, but there’s iron in their veins.
While the rest of the world has been roaring through the 1920s, times are hardscrabble in rural South Georgia. Widow Maggie Parker is barely surviving while raising her young son alone. Then as banks begin to fail, her father-in-law threatens to take her son and sell off her livelihood—the grocery store her husband left her. Can five Southern women band together, using their wisdom and wiles to stop him and survive the Great Depression?

In High Cotton releases Aug 3rd. It’s available for preorder online at AmazonLPCBooksTarget, and in bookstores.

Ane Mulligan has been a voracious reader ever since her mom instilled within her a love of reading at age three, escaping into worlds otherwise unknown. But when Ane saw PETER PAN on stage, she was struck with a fever from which she never recovered—stage fever. She submerged herself in drama through high school and college. One day, her two loves collided, and a bestselling, award-winning novelist emerged. She lives in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler. Find Ane on her websiteAmazon Author pageFacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest and The Write Conversation.


  1. Enjoyed you blog this morning. Your story "In High Cotton" reminds me of mine, "Two Sisters' Secret" that was released May 6 of this year. Based on my Grandma Bernadine's life, prosperous then losing everything going through the depression and market crash - but the uniqueness is this secret between the two sisters. Keep your blogs coming to share with us. I look forward to reading your book. My best to you and Edie!

    1. Diane, that sounds really good! I'll get a copy and read it.

  2. Praying you great success Ms. Ane!

  3. Ane, I love your cheerful spirit. Keep up the excellent writing!

  4. Sounds like an exciting week ahead for you! Storyline sounds interesting & I really like the cover. Blessed book launch to you! :)

  5. Just discovered you and your writing. I preordered your new book. I live in a small town in southeast Georgia. I live in Nashville, GA but did live in Blackshear, GA. I’m also an aspiring writer and appreciate your tips for writers on your website. Thanks!

    1. Blackshear is close to me! Blessings on your writing. My favorite thing to do is pass on the tips I've learned form other writers.

  6. Sounds like a charming story, Ane. I'm putting it on my to-read list!

  7. Sounds wonderful. Congrats on your 10th book. Will preorder.