I’m not sure what happened that it is July already. Maybe it was the 85 hours I worked the last week of June at my part-time job? I didn’t see my house except to sleep for almost two weeks, and am still in the process of catching up.

Despite those long hours, I received a great boost in the midst of that long work week when I was notified that I’d won the John Esten Cooke Award for Fiction. This award is presented annually to encourage writers of fiction to portray characters and events dealing with the War Between the States, Confederate heritage, or Southern history in a historically accurate fashion.

John Esten Cooke is probably not well known to a lot of people, but he was a novelist, playwright and historian, who wrote more than thirty volumes of novels, biographies and histories. He was known as a social historian of colonial Virginia and many of his books were based on actual experiences he had during the Civil War, where he served under General J.E.B. Stuart.

While doing research for my novels, I read many of Cooke’s books so this award has very special meaning to me. The Military Order of the Stars and Bars, which gives the award, is a highly esteemed organization that requires its members to be male descendants of the officers who served honorably in the service of the Confederate States of America or be descendants of the elected and appointed civilian officials of the Confederate States.

I have won numerous literary awards for my historical fiction novels, but none mean as much to me as this one! I hope I can do John Esten Cooke proud as I try to portray the South in its true light, and give readers an historically accurate picture of the War Between the States.

Jessica James


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