Cynthia Clampitt, author of Destination Heartland: A Guide to Discovering the Midwest’s Remarkable Past, answers questions on her historical influences, discoveries, and reader takeaways from her book.
Q: Why did you decide to write this book?
The reason was twofold – I wanted to guide readers to the wonderful places in the Midwest where they could learn about and interact with the region’s fabulous history, and I want people to visit these places so we don’t lose them. There is so much here in the Midwest that is wonderful and remarkable, and I don’t want it to vanish.
Q: Who were your biggest influences?
I wouldn’t say that there were influences in the sense most writers speak of it—who helped shape my style—but that doesn’t mean there weren’t influences. As I note in the book’s dedication, it was my dad who taught me to explore and my mom who taught me to always take notes. But other than that, I’d say my enthusiasm was fueled by a combination of the great historians who recorded the history and those who created ways of experiencing it, from visionaries to docents to reenactors.
Q: What is the most interesting discovery you made while researching and writing your book?
I’d say that the greatest discovery was that there is even more fabulous information and delightful places to visit than I had imagined when I started. Everywhere I went, there were new insights and new things to see and learn, and everyone I met had some new recommendation. I could easily have doubled the size of the book, if that had been allowed, and still not covered it all. (Hoping I’ll be permitted a sequel.)
Q: What myths do you hope your book will dispel or what do you hope your book will help readers unlearn?
I want readers to unlearn the idea that the Midwest is somehow boring and irrelevant. The region is vital and its history is filled with classic American icons and ideas.
Q: What is the most important idea you hope readers will take away from your book?
Almost anywhere you go, there is something that will be interesting and possibly remarkable. And in some places, there is a LOT that is remarkable.
Q: What do you like to read/watch/or listen to for fun?
I like to read American history, world history, food history, science history, the classics, books about places I want to visit or have visited, and pretty much anything that uses language beautifully and shares big ideas. Also a big fan of C.S. Lewis.