Good morning Rosslyn, and welcome to My Book Addiction and More today…

It’s great to be here, thank you!

 MBA&M: Please tell our readers a few tidbits about Rosslyn Elliott?

ROSSLYN: Let’s see, good tidbits…my daughter and I are horse-lovers, and so we spend a lot of time each week around horses. It’s good exercise for both of us as I help out around the stable and she does equestrian vaulting. I also love working with music in children’s ministry. All three of us (my daughter, husband, and I) live in the southwesternUSA, but we have a major relocation coming up to move back closer to family in the southeast. In more ancient history, I have a BA fromYaleUniversityand a graduate degree in English fromEmoryUniversity. All that study of literature eventually led me back to my earliest passion: creative writing.


MBA&M: What made you decide to write about the Underground Railroad?

ROSSLYN: The Underground Railroad, a secret network for conducting escaping slaves to the North or Canada, was a very unusual aspect of American culture before the Civil War. Otherwise law-abiding Christian citizens would break the law of the time in order to serve what they felt was a higher obligation to free human souls. The reason I chose to write about it was entirely related to the Hanby family ofWesterville,Ohio. When I went to visit a small museum there that had once been the Hanbys’ home, I discovered an amazing story of love, faith and courage that had never been told in fictional form. And part of what attracted me to that story was the Hanbys’ involvement in the Underground Railroad, and the fact that they were willing to risk their safety and comfort for higher principles.


 MBA&M: How much research went into writing “Sweeter Than Birdsong”?

ROSSLYN: All of my novels have required quite a bit of research because I believe in immersing the reader in the texture of the historical time. I don’t think we can really walk in a character’s shoes unless we can see the buildings, see the tools, see the dishes and the lighting and the fireplaces, smell the odors around us, see the trees or the snow. And so, in order to bring those scenes to life, I have to do a lot of research into how things looked during that particular time period, what foods were common, and how the people of a certain social class lived. My research about the Hanby family was based primarily on two works by amateur historians, and some archival research in theWestervillepublic library.


MBA&M: What where some of the challenges in writing “Sweeter Than Birdsong”?

ROSSLYN: Sweeter than Birdsong was the first novel I ever wrote, but in its earliest form, it looked nothing like it does now. Because I grew so much as a writer over the years, I had to go back and rewrite the novel twice, both major rewrites, in order to get it up to the standard of my later work. It was a long haul, but I’m really happy with it now and grateful to my editors for their wise suggestions that helped me get the third draft in good shape.

MBA&M: The 19th century, was a difficult time for women, full of inspiration and heroes. Who would you say would be your hero of this century and why?

ROSSLYN: Wow, that is a good question. It’s hard not to immediately think of Abraham Lincoln, if heroes include men as well as women. But for women, I would choose Harriet Beecher Stowe, because she had such powerful convictions and worked hard to change the world in whatever way she could. In fact, the titles of the books in my series are taken from her hymn lyrics, “Still, still with thee.”

MBA&M: Share with our readers what the Underground Railroad did, who founded it and where some of the stops were, if you can? 

ROSSLYN: The most important thing to know is that the Underground Railroad did not involve trains. LOL! I know most people know that, but the name is so misleading that over the years, I’ve had a few people ask me about trains on the Underground Railroad. The reason the Underground Railroad got its name was that a fugitive slave ran across the Ohio River and his irate pursuers said that he had vanished so suddenly “he must have been taken away by an underground railroad.” We can’t point to a specific founder, and even tracing the history is hard because by its nature it had to be so secretive. Harriet Tubman is known for her work with it, of course. Both black and white Americans participated in the Railroad and used all kinds of tricks to help fugitives escape. Some houses had secret chambers. Sometimes fugitive men would dress as women so they could be veiled and pass unnoticed over the roads. Henry ‘Box’ Brown survived being mailed to the North in a large crate. The stops on the Railroad included any house that was a safe haven. Sometimes fugitives would travel by foot, other times by wagon or coach.


 MBA&M: What would be your favorite stop on the Underground Railway to visit?

ROSSLYN: Oh, this is easy. Hanby House! The home of the Hanby family still stands in Westerville, Ohio, where it’s open for tours. I feel almost a sense of reverence when I go in there, because writing novels inspired by real people is a serious responsibility. I also feel as if the Hanbys are long-lost friends or distant relatives, because I’ve spent so much time studying them and writing about them. But if I could go to a house that was a stop where I’ve never been, I would go to John Parker’s house in Ripley, Ohio. He was a real African-American hero who was tough as nails and conducted many people to freedom on the Railroad. His character in Sweeter than Birdsong was one of the most interesting parts to write.


 MBA&M: Rosslyn, please tell our readers where you can be found and where “Sweeter Than Birdsong” is available?

ROSSLYN: Sweeter than Birdsong is now available at most major book retailers. You can go straight to to connect. If your local bookstore doesn’t have it, they can order it for you easily. It’s also available in electronic versions for e-readers.

I love to have readers stop by my hangouts on the internet. Come visit my website and blog at There’s a contact form on the site plus a comments section on the blog if you want to chat or ask a question. Then I’m always glad to see new people at my author page on Facebook, and I’m on Twitter @RosslynElliott. Come say hello!

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to visit with My Book Addiction and More and our readers today!!

It is a pleasure—thanks for having me!



Paperback:400 pages

Publisher:Thomas Nelson (February 7, 2012)



ISBN-13: 978-1595547866

Sweeter than Birdsong (February 2012)(from the author’s website)

Ben Hanby writes songs  by day: by night he works on the Underground Railroad. Kate Winter will be the first female graduate of Otterbein  College, but she hides a crippling secret beneath her beauty and intelligence. Ben casts Kate to sing in his new musicale for the college, but a scandal ignites a firestorm with her angry mother, who has social ambitions for her daughter. Will Kate find the courage to choose her own path, or remain trapped by her family secret?


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  1. I've seen this book around and it has really caught my attention. Kate's musical interests are interesting.


  2. I really enjoyed the interview. This sounds like a great book, and I'd love to read it. Please enter me. Thanks!


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