Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Interview with Genevieve Graham & a Giveaway

Two great novels were recently born, and I wanted to make sure this didn't go unnoticed here at A Story Club. Never before had I experienced following an author around as she spread excitement for her first-ever written novel-- in fact, if you challenged me to trivia about Genevieve Graham, I would likely win since I blog-stalked her for months. I learned a lot about the process of debuting a book from this new author. She said it was a little like sending her baby out into the world, and this intrigued me. So what was this baby? Let's start with the books.
The year is 1746: Maggie Johnson has been gifted with “the Sight” ever since she was a child. Her dreams bring her visions of the future and of a presence she knows is not a figment of her imagination. She calls him Wolf, having watched him grow from a careless young boy into a fearsome warrior, and she trusts him with her life and her heart.
Andrew MacDonnell is fascinated by the woman who has visited him in his dreams for as long as he can remember, entranced by her beauty, knowing deep in his soul that she is as real as he. Although he doesn’t know who she is, Andrew believes that destiny will bring them together.
When tragedy and war strike their homelands, both Maggie and Andrew suffer indescribable losses. Separated across an ocean, the bond they share nevertheless grows as they sense each other’s pain, lend each other strength, and embark on a journey of the spirit to find and love one another at long last…

My thoughts: This book took time to write, and not a word was wasted. It beautifully pulled me into the Scottish Highlands and the Cherokee Culture until I felt I was there, looking on as the events unfolded. It was a book that had so much heart and research behind it, by an author who wanted to provide a really good story. She respected her readers enough to take the time to do it right. I would recommend not rushing through it, but taking the time instead to absorb the details.  

Sound of the Heart

Dougal MacDonnell, a fierce warrior from the Highlands of Scotland, is able to hear the thoughts of other men and dream how the future will unfold.

Devastated by the loss of his family during the Battle of Culloden in 1746, he fosters a deep hatred for the English. But when Glenna, the love of his life and a Scottish outlaw, is captured and shipped overseas, Dougal is forced to join an English army made of vanquished Scots. Now fighting on the side of his sworn enemies, he embarks on a journey that will take him across the seas to the colonies.
There he will risk everything for the chance to find his true love. 

My thoughts: Again, I was swept into another world with Graham's signature lush, historical detail. Her painstaking research adds to the depth of the story and characters. This book was a page-turner, and I felt so much everything the characters went through. The first book I absorbed, but this one I read late into the night. Everything about it was amazing.

Out of the Shadows...Coming Fall 2013! Adelaide's story finally told. We can't wait!

While reading some of Genevieve's articles posted on other blogs, I came across one that I felt summed up so perfectly why I like to read (and write) historical fiction. She let me post it here as a permanent page on my blog. Don't forget to take a few minutes to check it out!

Now, on to the interview! Welcome, Genevieve! 

You have had many reviews; why do you choose to read them? How important are they to authors? 
I think reviews are hugely important to both authors and readers. Sure, you'll always have readers who love your work and readers who … aren't quite that keen (and sometimes those can hurt depending on how they're written!), but every opinion matters. A lot of authors don't read reviews, but I think it's important to know what kind of impression my writing is making. Also, as a reader, I need to know why I should put my money into a book – especially by a new author.

At the same time, reviews don't influence how I write. They will, perhaps, change the direction I'm taking with marketing, but not my stories. Those are what they are, love 'em or leave 'em.

What words do you love to hear about your books?
I really love the word “epic”, and I love to read that my stories were so much “more” than the reader had expected. Of course it's great when they are compared to books by my favourite authors, but mostly I love when people say they are excited to have found a new voice who has captured their imagination and made them a “reader for life”. I am determined to satisfy those readers' appetites!

What is the strangest thing you have ever done while researching?
Well, I toyed with the idea of joining a Gaelic choir (though I don't speak a word of that language!). Does that count?

The Olympics are coming up-- as a Nova Scotian, who is your favorite Canadian athlete of all time?
Oh wow. Sorry. I can't do just one.

I'm a fan of figure skater, Kurt Browning, whose energy and sense of humour is only rivalled by his incredible athletic abilities. He's also a wonderful ambassador and supporter of children's charities.

In the late 70's I watched in awe as the “Crazy Canucks”, five amazing, crazy-brave downhill ski racers, changed the world of downhill skiing. One of them (Ken Read) was a member at a ski club where I grew up, as was the legendary Nancy Greene and another skiing superstar, Laurie Graham.

Can I include Northern Dancer? He was our most famous race horse. :)

Speaking of Canada, what is the best thing you have that we don't? 
The best thing? Ack! There are SO MANY best things! I suppose I could go all “free health care” and “low debt” on you, but I'm not the least bit political, so I'll stay off that track. It's hard to say this without sounding insulting, but I think the best thing about this country is the people. I've travelled a fair bit in my life, and everywhere I go it's the Canadians who seem the most humble, the least demanding, the most easy-going. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, and our population both grows and changes daily with our fairly liberal immigration policies, but I kinda like the way Canadians keep to ourselves without making huge international splashes. Once in a while someone does something heroic, but even then it's kind of done quietly. Oh, and we're really good at laughing at ourselves – though we know the joke's not really on us!

How can you live so close to Prince Edward Island, and have never visited there? (This is my scolding question).
Oh, there are SO many places I need to go in the east coast! Prince Edward Island is only one of those – if you can believe it, I've lived in Nova Scotia for four years and STILL haven't gotten to Cape Breton! That's especially bad considering I have to get to Fort Louisburg – one of my heroes just about came ashore there, and I haven't even gone to see the spot! And Newfoundland – oh, I'm dying to get out there. Soooo beautiful. I guess it's because
a) I'm a hermit, forever writing and editing
b) my kids are in school so most of the year's too busy for them
c) even our summers seem packed with stuff, though I can't think of most of what we do
d) we're always saving money. Travelling's not cheap, you know!

In your editing life, have you ever edited a really exciting or important document? 
As for editing, well, every author's book is important. I have worked with a couple of special books, like “The Qualities of Wood” by Mary Vensel White (Harper Collins). I did get a somewhat ... um ... crazy email from a 75 year old man who is currently in prison serving a life sentence for murdering four fellow university professors ... Obviously I turned that job down, but it sure stands out as my #1 strangest request!

If you could go back and thank a teacher in your life, who would it be?
A lot of my teachers did the ultimate, which was to help me believe I could do it. My writing mentor, Rona Altrows, was the first to believe in my writing (after my hubby!), so I thank her for giving me the confidence to keep on going. But the rest of my life has been made infinitely better by some very special people, like my karate teacher, Shane Higashi, my first oboe teacher, Frank Morphy, and my high school band teacher, Bob Krueger.

What is one thing on your bucket list?
Spend a few weeks alone with my hubby in Scotland.

What do you do when you are not writing?
I read, I edit, I bake, I watch movies ... I hang with the family.

What is the best writing advice you have received?
Write for yourself, not anyone else.

Thank you so much for visiting A Story Club!
Since I happen to know that Genevieve burns candles while she writes, I will be giving away a prize pack of votive candles from 5b&Company Candlemakers out of Kansas City, MO. The scents of Manly Man, Woodland Fern, Rawhide, & Red Clover Tea will be perfect as you read Under the Same Sky and Sound of the Heart. . . Just leave a comment to enter, and the winner will be drawn randomly on 7/31. (US/Canada only)

Winner Update: Caroline! Congratulations!

From Genevieve … what's the #1 thing you look for in a book? Think of your favourite book—if you have one. What do you love about it the most?

You can find the author at her website, on Facebook, Goodreads, and on Twitter.


  1. Hi Jen,
    I love your book. If it wouldn't have been so late last night, I would have read the 1st one in a day. It's that good. I feel blessed that I'm your Aunt. You're a fabulous author. xxxxxx

  2. Aw. Thank, Liette! So glad you enjoyed the book. :)

  3. Another great interview--kudos to both of you. Christina, you ask such insightful, fun questions, and G., you're fearless in your answers. Just like in your writing. I've loved both these books, and eagerly await Adelaide's story. I was also excited to hear that these first two are coming out in mass market soon, which will open up your fine writing to a whole new set of readers. Congratulations!

  4. Caroline HartmanJuly 25, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    I read both your wonderful books, Genevieve, and look forward to Adelaide's story. What I love the most about your books--in addition to your excellent writing--is how the characters come to life. I felt their terror, their heartache, their broken fingernails, their desire to survive and their passion. I'm waiting for 2013. Best of luck.

    1. Thanks for coming by, Caroline! I agree with you on G's characters!

  5. Thanks to Christina, who always formulates great questions that hook us into her author interviews, and Genevieve, who met the challenge with her entertaining answers. My favorite thing to find in a work of fiction is the means to be transported to where I've never been before. Since I'm a huge fan of historical fiction, that would be the past. It sounds as though Genevieve's stories promise this, and I can't wait to pick them up. The very bestest to you Genevieve!

    1. Thanks, Lisa! Her books definitely transport you, which is the main reason I read, too.

  6. What fun insights! Yeah Northern Dancer!! Loved watching him run. Also anxiously awaiting Adelaide's story. And even more, your next book after it, the one we don't know anything about that is percolating in you fertile brain.

    One question: How on earth did you discover Manly Man scented candles?!

    In books it is the connection, always the connection of feeling right in the moment with the characters. Who in those books are really people in a parallel reality we travel to via a page.

    1. psst ... I've started Janet MacLeod's story ... she's the lassie who made a pass at Andrew in "Under the Same Sky", remember? For some reason when I think of her I see pirate ships ...

    2. Ok, loving the pirate idea. And Janet needs someone, too!

  7. Hi! To answer your question, I was looking for a local company to support, and came across this candle company. They have the greatest names for candles, and they smell wonderful. I personally also like Monkey Burps, Smelly Cat, The Bottom of Mom's Purse, and Put Your Big Girl Panties On. Thanks, Kitchen Witch of the West, for coming by!

  8. Kaki Warner sent me! I have not yet read your books, but I do so love finding new authors. Your books sound wonderful, where do you recommend that I start?

    1. Actually ... "Under the Same Sky" was my debut, but the stories are completely separate, so it really doesn't matter.

      Kaki's the best. Thanks for checking out my books!

  9. I look forward to reading these books! I love the settings of the books. I like to identfy with the character. The ending of the book makes or breaks the book. Thank you for the info on these books. Who can resist a hunkie guy in a kilt? Lol.

  10. I loved "Under the Same Sky" and am now reading "Sound of the Heart." They are both so detailed with descriptions of horrible battles and imprisonments. That may seem gorey to some, but I like it when it's "told as it is (or was)". It seems so real. I know Genevieve puts much research into her stories. Some of the happenings are so sad but the characters' courage and strength rule. Thanks for writing such incredibly interesting stories!

    Barb Leatherman

  11. "Under the Same Sky" was the first actual paperback book I've read since my fiance' at the time bought me a kindle fire...and it was even signed by Genevieve (thanks to Christina). I couldn't put the book down, I cried when the horrible things happened, and imagined how real it would have been. The characters come to life and I can't wait to find out what adventures Janet will have. Thank you for all for the hours of researching and writing and editing in order to bring life to words.

  12. Thank you all so much! There's nothing like learning that your books have touched people.

    I'm pretty excited for you all to see what happens to Adelaide ... especially after roguish Jesse Black shows up ...