Jacquelyn Cook lives in southwest Georgia, near the Florida and Alabama lines. Enjoying hot summer nights, perfumed by magnolias and roses and honeysuckle, how could she write anything but romance? Jacquelyn and her husband make their home in a small white-columned brick house on a family farm. Their social life revolves around the village church. She says, “What I write about is the ‘real’ world for me. The cats, dogs, mockingbirds, and butterflies that flit through my stories are real too.”
Writers from Margaret Mitchell to Eugenia Price and John Jakes have shown that the market is enormous, dependable and insatiable for authentically researched historical novels of the antebellum, Civil War and Reconstruction period of the American South. For the past twenty years and more, Jacquelyn Cook has been publishing successfully into this lucrative and appreciative market. To date, her historical novels have sold close to 500,000 copies and counting.
The River Between, first published in 1985 as the first volume of Cook’s five-volume, multi-generational saga known as The River Series, has sold nearly 165,000 copies, is still in print and selling more than 20 years after it’s first release. The second in the series, The Wind Along the River, published the following year, has sold nearly 100,000 copies and counting. As recently as 2003, the entire River Series was collected into a single volume called Magnolias, and has sold some 64,000 copies to date. In addition, Wal-Mart ordered a special printing of 14,000 copies of Magnolias, and sold 8,000 copies in the first month.
Cook’s credentials to write about this period could not be better. While she is known and celebrated for the deep and accurate research that she does for each of her books, another part of the appeal she brings to her readers is that the story of the American South runs in her blood. Born into a family that is Georgia bred for generations, she was raised on stories handed down from her great grandmother, who experienced Sherman’s march, and so many other first hand experiences that were passed down to Cook as part of her own family heritage.
Cook sold her first story to Home Life Magazine in 1963. While she and her husband raised their two children, she free lanced for a wide assortment of newspapers and magazines. Coincidentally, she wrote some articles for the same editors at The Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine who had published some of Margaret Mitchell’s early freelance work. Cook is past president of the Georgia Branch of the National League of American Pen Women, and past president of the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She won the Writer of the Year Award, 1970 from the Atlanta Writers Club. In 1987 she took second place in national competition from the National League of American Pen Women in the adult book category for her novel, Image In the Looking Glass. In 1995 she won First Place from the Georgia National League of American Pen Women for her historical novel The Gates Of Trevalyan. Over the years she has won many awards from the Georgia Writers Association, the Southeastern Writers Association, and the Dixie Council of Authors and Journalists, for her articles on history, religion, humor and fiction. Cook lives in Sumter County, Georgia on her own working farm that, like Greenwood, produces cotton and cattle.