Readers, today Genevieve Graham is my guest as part of Black Lion Tours. Genevieve Graham graduated from the University of Toronto in 1986 with a Bachelor of Music in Performance (playing oboe). While on a ski vacation in Alberta she met a really cute guy in the chairlift line-up and they skied together for two days. After the second day she decided she had to have him ... permanently. The couple (now husband & wife) subsequently moved to Calgary and brought two beautiful and talented daughters into the world. They have recently settled in a small, peaceful town in Nova Scotia and are loving their quiet life.
Writing became an essential part of Genevieve's life a few years ago, when she began to write her debut novel, UNDER THE SAME SKY. Her second book, SOUND OF THE HEART was released on May 1, 2012.
|Genevieve Graham, Author|
Caroline: Meeting your husband sounds romantic, but readers will want to know more. Where did you grow up?
Genevieve: I grew up in Toronto, the elder of two daughters, and the one with the least sense of responsibility. I was kind of an outsider, a kind of overweight, striped-polyester wearing, happy girl who specialized in collecting underdogs and abandoned items. Seriously. Not only did I befriend the newest and least popular kids, but I used to walk home after elementary school and drag home any Christmas trees people were done with. I felt so sorry for them I thought they needed a home. My parents put up with it until I had about fifteen in the front yard. Then I think they were very relieved when the garbage men came to pick them up.
My older daughter, Emily, seems to have inherited that weird kind of thing: for a couple of years when she was about seven or so, she picked up any bits and pieces she could find on the side of the road, like bottle caps, plastic buttons, interesting twigs, and incorporate them into what she called "Cork People", making tiny cork statues that she customized and gave to friends. Cute, but I'm really glad that phase is over! Too many little pieces around!
When we were young, my parents had my sister and me signed up for skiing, tennis, skating, and baseball, but I only ever excelled at skiing and tennis. I liked skiing because it was a solo activity, I think, and I loved going fast. That was before the days of mandatory helmet-wearing and the sensation of speeding down a mountain with wind tearing through my hair was such a rush! And I enjoyed tennis because it gave me a chance to really pound the ball, and my dad always seemed so proud when he could see his daughter was strong. My sister did well at everything: school, friends, cheerleading … but I never really felt envious. I was quite content in my own little world and a lot of that world existed within the pages of books.
I met the man I would eventually marry when I flew to Calgary in March of 1992, wanting to visit a girlfriend who was unhappy at having been transferred out there. She promised me a ski day, but when the day came, she had to work. I went alone, determined to sample the Rockies, and I met the most wonderful guy in one of the chairlift line-ups. We skiied together for two days, I moved to Calgary two months after that, and he and I were married the following February. Coming up on 20 years!
Our daughters are now 12 & 14, so we're into those tough hormonal years now. Our girls are both extremely artistic and outgoing. We're really fortunate because they adore each other and are their own best advocates. Our eldest has a real love for animals, and I hope she eventually follows that love into a career. Our baby can do just about anything. Her plan is to be a surgeon—who eventually cures cancer—while being a dancing, singing star on the side.
Caroline: Your daughters have ambitious, but worthy, dreams. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?
Diana Gabaldon is my idol and the reason I began to write in the first place. I love Historical Adventure written with intelligence and passion. I'm open to most genres, but I think I'm done with horror. Stephen King did me in when I was in my teens. Now I'm afraid of most shadows, as long as they're written well! I love the writing of Sara Donati, Penelope Williamson, and Jennifer Roberson, among others.
Caroline: I met Diana Gabaldon several years ago and thought she was the most intelligent author I’d ever met, yet she was so personable. What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?
Genevieve: My family is my escape. I write and edit full-time (I started up an editing business and have been editing an average of two novels per month for the past two years), but when I'm done for the day I kick back with them, either sitting outside or watching movies, a cool glass of Pinot Grigio in my hand.
Caroline: My husband and I just shared a bottle of Pino Grigio. Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?
Genevieve: Well, I like a ton of quotes, but today this one appeals:
"Be yourself. Everyone else is taken."
- Oscar Wilde
Caroline: One of my favorites. ☺ How long have you been writing?
Genevieve: I didn't start writing until I was 42, and I had no idea I'd eventually become an author. So many people say they have always known that's what they wanted to do with their lives, and though I've always loved reading, I never imagined actually sitting down and putting a book together. That always seemed like something unreachable.
Caroline: Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?
Genevieve: I write on my beloved MacBook Pro, and I need quiet. That means no radio, no telephone, no people. Hard to find that, trust me!
Caroline: Ah, especially with teenagers in the house. Are you a plotter or a panzer?
Genevieve: Pantzer … trying really hard to incorporate Plotter mentality into what I do!
Caroline: Plotting really saved me. Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?
Genevieve: Yes. I love studying history and watching my characters go about their lives in that setting, but for me it really helps to have some kind of a real event to anchor the place in time. My first two novels came from the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The one I recently finished revolves around WW1 and the Halifax Explosion in 1917. I haven't incorporated real people yet, but never say never!
Caroline: Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?
Genevieve: I write every day, but often that is with editing for other people. I dream of a day when writing for myself pays enough bills to make it possible to dedicate myself full-time to writing. As a pantzer, and also as a researcher, I don't set those kinds of goals because I have no idea how far my research will allow me to go on any given day.
Caroline: What do you hope your writing brings to readers?
Genevieve: I don't want my writing to bring them anything—I want it to take them away! I want to help them escape every day routines and travel to a time and place they've only ever imagined.
Caroline: What long-term plans do you have for your career?
Genevieve: My series books are parallel stories, so they tell different stories happening simultaneously. I would like to finish a fourth book in the series, then maybe complete it with a fifth, which would take place later in the time period, tying all four earlier stories together. I have another series of four I'd like to write (I've written the first but it needs a lot of work!), and I have a few stand-alones both written and planned. It seems I can't stop writing!
Caroline: Readers love series, so that should serve you well. Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?
Genevieve: I've just finished a WW1 romance telling the story of a Nova Scotia lobsterman who not only survives the war, but also lives through the Halifax Explosion. It's a love story, and it's also a look inside what it might have taken to live through such a tumultuous time in such a poor part of this country. I hope to have news to share on that book soon.
As I said, I'm also working on the fourth book in the "Under the Same Sky" series. Just like the first three books, it will be a Historical Adventure, and I see 18th century pirates in my heroine's future …
Caroline: Let me know when that book is out. I’m sure readers would love to see it featured here. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?
Genevieve: Write for yourself. Write for the love of writing, and don't even think about publishing until you are completely done.
Too many people these days get frustrated at the sheer improbability of being picked up by a major publisher, and because of the ease of self-publishing they end up writing quantity instead of quality. When you have written and rewritten, then edited three more times, then printed it out and marked it in red twice more, find yourself an editor. Make this book the best it can possibly be. Then you'll know that every word matters. That way, whether you end up with a traditional publishing contract or decide to self-publish, you can be proud of your work.
Caroline: Tell us a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you.
Genevieve: We have seven "exotic" chickens, and I absolutely adore them!
Caroline: My neighbor has some exotic chickens and they are gorgeous. What is something about you that would surprise or shock readers?
Genevieve: I have a Bachelor of Music Degree in Performance, and yet … speaking in front of an audience scares me silly. You'd think I would have gotten over that.
Caroline: Is your book a series? If so, how long? Family saga, other?
Genevieve: SOUND OF THE HEART is the second book in my (so-far) three book series, and they're all considered "companion novels". The first is UNDER THE SAME SKY, and the third (which will be published in Aug/Sept 2013) is OUT OF THE SHADOWS. The books are connected by family members, but their stories are all independent. That means they can be read in any order. The fourth is in the works.
Caroline: Tell us something you learned researching your book that surprised/interested you.
Genevieve: While researching for SOUND OF THE HEART, I learned about the existence of White Slavery, a subject most history books seem to want to avoid. Beginning in the 1600s, hundreds of thousands of white slaves were transported from Great Britain and Europe to the colonies, and I'm not even talking about the many indentured servants who were also sent across to serve others. White slaves were treated as badly as their black counterparts—and often worse—and they were cheaper to buy (in most cases) because they were more disposable. The slaves were mostly put to work in the plantation fields, and while the African slaves were used to the heat, the ones from across the Atlantic couldn't handle it, and often died from the exposure.
I don't shy away from those ugly facts in my books. If they happened, we should know about them, I think. It's yet another horrible black mark in our history, but it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge it.
Caroline: I’m glad you are bringing up the subject of those white slaves. Not many people know about them. Can you give readers a blurb about your book?
From Genevieve Graham, author of UNDER THE SAME SKY, comes a sweeping romantic historical novel of one man’s strange gift and dangerous battles…
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.
Caroline: Beautiful and romantic cover. Makes me want to step into the scene. How about an excerpt?
Dougal’s cheek still lay in the mud when he woke. He kept his eyes closed, wanting to cry, but lacking the strength. He was tired, always tired these days, but Dougal had never been a man to admit to that. He was frozen and half-starved, as they all were. That weakness had contributed to a lot of the killings today.
Before they'd even stepped onto the frozen marshes of Culloden Moor, Dougal had known the Scots would suffer. He hadn’t needed one of his damn dreams to tell him this battle would not go well. He and the other Highlanders had marched and practically starved for the past two months, and their plaids had been poor protection from the miserable late winter. None of the crofters they had passed on their travels had food to share. The whole of the Highlands was suffering. The men had gone down to London, up to Culloden, back and forth in the miserable winter and spring months, completely at the whim of their chiefs and Prince Charles himself.
Damn Prince Charles. Dougal had pride in his people, sure. But to throw thousands of them away just so one man could settle his well-dressed arse on a throne? Useless. Unforgivable. And if Dougal ever saw Charles, he'd tell him so to his bonny wee face.
“Hey,” he heard from his right side a few feet away. “Help me, man.”
Dougal consulted the stabbing pain in his neck before twisting to see the source of the voice. The man lay nearby and looked to be about the same age as he, with a dark complexion and straggling brown hair pasted to his face. Dougal didn't remember having seen him before, but there had been so many of them it wasn't too much of a surprise. What was one man out of thousands?
“Aye, sir. How do ye fare?” Dougal asked.
“Och, I've the most terrible itch on my nose. Ye dinna think ye could help me a wee bit wi' that, could ye?”
Dougal stared at the man, whose expression was dead serious. For a moment, Dougal was speechless, then he burst into laughter, feeling his lip split with the effort and his head pound in renewed agony. His laughter was an unexpected sound, and a few others glanced over to see what was up.
Still laughing, Dougal said, “We're the lot of us trussed like turkeys, probably set to be hangit, an' ye're fashed about a wee itch on yer nose?”
“Aye, I am,” the man replied indignantly. “I canna reach it.”
“No, I dinna suppose ye can,” Dougal said, trying to stem his laughter. “An' how am I to manage it then?”
“I've no idea. But 'twould be a blessin' if ye'd figure it out.”
Dougal snorted, then, with a flick of one black eyebrow, agreed to try. He rolled to his right side and used his heels to shove his own body, bit by bit, closer to the man. When he was a foot away, he spoke again.
“Ye'll have to do the rest, man. Bring yer damn neb here,” he said. “I canna reach farther.” He wiggled his swollen fingers in illustration. They tingled with strangled circulation from within their rough bindings.
He heard the shuffling of a body behind his, then felt the strange pressure of the man's nose moving against his fingers. Dougal couldn't help himself. He started to giggle. The man behind him moaned with relief.
“Ye're a godsend, man,” he said. “That was killin' me.”
“That was killin' ye? Well, if that's all, then ye're better than most of us. That is one of the strangest things I've ever been asked to do,” Dougal said, still smiling. “All done?”
“Aye, I am. Thanks very much.”
The men rolled onto their stomachs, though Dougal would have greatly preferred to lie on his back. If only their hands had been tied in front. The man beside Dougal gave him a friendly smile and what would have to suffice for a nod.
“John Wallace,” he said. “Yer servant, sir.”
Dougal returned the smile. “Dougal MacDonnell. Good to meet ye as well.”
Caroline: Oh, that brings back the eerie feeling I had when I visited Culloden Moor. Where can readers find your books?
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sound-of-the-heart-genevieve-graham/1104879013?ean=9780425247341
Also available in e-books
Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?
Genevieve: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GenevieveGrahamAuthor
Caroline: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?
Caroline: And for mine, too! To sign up for mine, click on the white square on the sidebar, the one with many of my covers in a circle. That will take you to a form, which you fill out and submit. Then you’ll recive a verification email. Click and you’re signed up for prizes, contests, and to learn of new releases.
Thanks for stopping by!