SHARING HER BOOK: Lisa Actor, a children’s book author and former Southwestern Elementary School student, talks to fourth-graders at the school about her book “Rebel Raiders.”  (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
SHARING HER BOOK: Lisa Actor, a children’s book author and former Southwestern Elementary School student, talks to fourth-graders at the school about her book “Rebel Raiders.” (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Lisa Trimble Actor met with Southwestern Elementary School children Friday to discuss her children's novel, "Rebel Raiders."

The historical novel is based on Morgan's Raid that took place during the Civil War in 1863. June marks the 150th anniversary of the Confederate cavalry raid conducted by Gen. John Hunt Morgan that spanned 1,000 miles from Tennessee and southern Indiana to Ohio.

The book is a fictionalized version of the story of Cordelia Dunbar, Actor's great-great aunt.

Actor is a former Southwestern student who now lives in Utah. She said she found her love for writing when she wrote a play in the first grade that her teacher later had the class perform.

"I went here from K-12," she said. "I bet I could still point out my classroom."

Actor used stories handed down from Dunbar - who actually was approached by Confederate soldiers during the raid in Jackson County, Ohio - to create her first children's book, filling in the gaps with her own imagination and actual historic events.

In the book, Dill, an 11-year-old girl, finds herself and her family in the path of Morgan's Raid. The young girl strikes a deal with Confederate soldiers to spare her family's farm. Dill bargains to cook breakfast for 50 men if they agree to leave the farm and livestock unharmed.

The book demonstrates courage and compassion during a time of America's bloody conflict, Actor said.

During her presentation at the school, Actor showed the students how to craft a story, develop characters and research for roles.

While reading other books about Morgan's Raid, Actor said she found that several families had similar stories about the Rebel troops entering their homes in search for food and horses.

"It turns out that my family wasn't the only one who had stories passed down," she said.