Sandra Merville Hart Talks about A Rebel in My House

What happens when a Yankee woman in Pennsylvania finds a wounded Confederate soldier on her doorstep in the midst of battle? Find the answer in Sandra Merville Hart’s Amazon bestselling novel, A Rebel in My House. Released July 2017, it already enjoys a four-and-a-half star rating.

A Rebel in My HouseWhen the cannons roar beside Sarah Hubbard’s home outside of Gettysburg, she despairs of escaping the war that’s come to Pennsylvania. A wounded Confederate soldier on her doorstep leaves her with a heart-wrenching decision.

Separated from his unit and with a bullet in his back, Jesse Mitchell needs help. He seeks refuge at a house beside Willoughby Run. His future lies in the hands of a woman whose sympathies lay with the North.

Jesse has promised his sister-in-law he’d bring his brother home from the war. Sarah has promised her sister that she’d stay clear of the enemy. Can the two keep their promises amid a war bent on tearing their country apart?

A first page glimpse of the novel:

Friday, June 26, 1863

Two miles outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Running feet on the dirt road outside quickened Sarah Hubbard’s heartbeat. Her fingers stiffened on her sewing machine and her back straightened.

Were they coming? Every conversation these days centered on the Confederate soldiers crossing into southern Pennsylvania.

“Miz Hubbard. Miz Hubbard, please let us in!”

Not soldiers but friends. Sarah’s body sagged at Elsie Craig’s voice, but why did she yell? Sarah dropped the gingham dress she’d been sewing and ran to throw open the front door. Alarmed at the fear lining Elsie’s dark face and eyes as she clutched the hand of her four-year-old daughter, Mae, Sarah scanned the horizon for Confederate soldiers. “Hurry inside.”

Elsie needed no second bidding. She guided Mae over the threshold and closed the door. “Miz Hubbard, you gotta hide us.” Her tall, thin body leaned against the door. “The Rebs are in town gathering up all the colored folks they can find. Someone said they’ll be taking them south as slaves and that they’re warning folks not to hide us.”

Sarah gasped. “Why do such a terrible thing?”

“Don’t make sense, does it? Some of us have lived in Gettysburg for years. Others like me have always been free, but it don’t seem to matter to the Southern army.” A long loaf of bread peeked out among jars and clothing in a well-laden basket Elsie set on the rug. She dropped to her knees and wrapped her arms around her trembling child

Exciting beginning, Sandra! Why did you choose this time period? When I was a young child, my adult relatives talked about how terrible the Civil War was, how brother fought against brother. That remained tucked in the back of my mind until a high school teacher sparked my love for history.

History books today don’t give a complete picture. They leave out many details that better explain prevailing attitudes of the time. Over 600,000 men died from battles, starvation, disease, or accidents during that war.

I studied the Battle of Gettysburg and read accounts by residents. Then I plopped my characters into the nightmarish setting and the days that followed to give readers a glimpse of the resilience of the human spirit even during those turbulent days

Has anything else prepared you to write this story? Because I felt a story waited for me in Gettysburg, my husband and I traveled to the town. We discovered that Tennessee troops were among the Confederate division that fought the first battle early on July 1st and then participated in Pickett’s Charge on July 3rd to end the battle. It seemed fitting to choose a fictional soldier from a regiment that history deemed important and I had my hero, but what about my heroine?

I visited several Gettysburg museums and tramped the streets during walking tours. The terror that the townspeople endured touched me. I had to write their story through the eyes of a Gettysburg seamstress.

What interesting fact did you discover during your research? I learned that the Confederates occupied this Yankee town. Imagine the horror of residents. Much more that will surprise readers as the story progresses.

What did you find most challenging about writing A Rebel in My House? it not only broke my heart, it changed me. I am hoping it touches the hearts of readers, too.

What do you hope readers will take away from your story? I hope they will be moved by the love and sacrifice of characters who find themselves in a situation that pushes them to their limits.

What keeps you writing? It fills a void inside me. I feel like I have to write. When I’m away from it even for a few days, I start to feel depressed. When my imagination soars as my fingers fly over the keys, it is so much fun.

Any advice for writers who are just getting started? Take writing classes or correspondence courses. Attend writers’ conferences. Begin writing. This career is similar to tossing a basketball into a hoop—you can read lots of books about it but can’t really learn until you practice. Your early writings may not be publishable, but keep at it. You are learning more than you know with each article, each story.

About Sandra Merville Hart: Assistant Editor for, Sandra loves to find unusual or little-known facts in her historical research to use in her stories. Her debut Civil War romance, A Stranger On My Land, was an IRCA Finalist 2015. She is currently writing another Civil War romance. Visit her blog at

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