Author features parts of Chilton County in first novel

Published 6:49 pm Friday, June 7, 2013

Marian Powell signs one of her books for Amanda Meredith of Clanton at Kountry Kitchen on Thursday. Powell's novel, "The Royal Rose of Alabama: The Gold Crown Pendant Affair," is her first.

Marian Powell (center) signs a copy of her first novel, “The Royal Rose of Alabama: The Gold Crown Pendant Affair,” for Clanton resident Amanda Meredith (right) at a book signing at Kountry Kitchen on Thursday. Also pictured is Powell’s granddaughter, Jacqueline Gibson (left).

Readers interested in Alabama history, antebellum homes and British royalty woven together into one story might find Marian Powell’s “The Royal Rose of Alabama: The Gold Crown Pendant Affair” a compelling read.

Powell, a Birmingham resident, wrote much of her first fiction novel at hers and her husband Wilbur’s property on Lake Mitchell Road in Chilton County and based parts of the book on historical places in Clanton, Marion, Cahaba and Autauga during the Civil War era.

“I read every Alabama history book I could find and compared the facts from them,” Powell said. “I spent a lot of time in libraries and got river maps for the rivers because rivers were important in the book.”

One of the characters in Powell’s book sends money for tithes to Walnut Creek United Methodist Church in Clanton, which would have been considered north Autauga County in the 1800s.

Powell also perused old newspaper clippings and photographs to gain a better understanding of the dress, dialogue and daily activities of people in Alabama and England during the 19th century.

The book opens in London with a royal character, Princess Elisabeth the Beautiful, Duchess of Kenton, remembering a conversation she had as a child with her “Nanny.”

The story eventually transitions across the Atlantic to America as Elisabeth and her fiancé, Michael, venture to Charleston, S.C., to be married.

Powell said religion and slavery were two prevalent issues from the Civil War time period she felt were essential to include in her book.

“I don’t write it as a Christian novel, but my characters have very high principles,” Powell said, adding, “I have strong black characters in my book.”

Powell worked in advertising for 21 years and had no inclination to write a novel until a storytelling episode on a car trip from Florida to Alabama convinced her that she was capable of capturing the rapt attention of an audience—in this case, her family—with characters and events from her imagination.

“I said, ‘OK, I want everybody to make up a story,’” Powell said. “Mine lasted all the way to Birmingham, I think. They were sort of spellbound with it.”

With inspiration from her popular car trip story, “The Ghost of I-59,” Powell put pen to paper in 2001 for her first novel.

She went through dry spells in her writing and considered not finishing the book, but family, friends and sometimes strangers encouraged her to stay the course.

She sent her final copy to her publisher, Mindstir Media, in 2012.

“It’s amazing how people would come up to me and say, ‘You need to write a book,’ and that would make me think hard about getting back on it,” Powell said. “I’ve already gotten requests for a sequel.”

“The Royal Rose of Alabama: The Gold Crown Pendant Affair” is available for purchase at Peach Park in Clanton, the Chilton-Clanton Public Library and and

Powell held a book signing at Kountry Kitchen in Clanton on Thursday and has another signing and book talk scheduled at Chilton-Clanton Public Library on July 8.

For more information about Powell, visit