Friday, November 30, 2012

Sound of the Heart: Romantic Historical Novel by Genevieve Graham

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.

"Graham's sweeping tale unfolds with the kind of luscious, unrushed prose that feels rapturously close to epic."- Shana AbĂ©, New York Times bestselling author of The Time Weaver

"Beautifully written, riveting novel. Graham is a remarkable talent."- Madeline Hunter, New York Times bestselling author of Dangerous in Diamonds

 

An Interview with Genevieve Graham



Did you plan to be a writer or did it just happen?
I never intended to be a writer. I know some authors say they've wanted to write a book ever since they were six years old, but all I wanted was to read. I never imagined actually penning one myself. So it was a surprise to me—as well as to my husband—when I announced one night that I'd decided to write a novel. I'd read Diana Gabaldon's “Outlander” series four times (plus listened to the unabridged audio twice more!), and whenever I finished I felt lonely without her characters, bored without her adventures, stagnant without the constant fascinating input she shares from her research. I had read other similar authors, like Sara Donati and Penelope Williamson and Jennifer Roberson, but it just wasn't enough. So I sat down one night and typed up twenty-five pages, then presented them to my husband. Poor guy. He was trying to read (and stay objective) while I stared at him, watching every facial expression. In the end, when he said, “You know what? That's not bad at all!” I thought I'd die of happiness. Since then, well, I just can't stop.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?
In the beginning, I was overwhelmed with guilt for spending every spare moment writing. And it wasn't even every spare moment—sometimes it was moments I actually couldn't spare. I lost hours, days, weeks to my writing, and it all seemed very self-indulgent. I was lucky, because I was a stay-at-home mom, and by that time our daughters were in full-time school. When my husband got home, I had often forgotten all about my responsibilities: cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc. And yet … rarely did anyone in this house complain about my obsession. They seemed to understand that I craved the release. That I needed it. When I was published, then began my editing business, my guilt disappeared. It's amazing how a little financial success made my self-indulgent hobby into a career and helped my overall self-confidence.

Is writing a full-time career for you? If not, how else do you spend your work day?
I wish writing could be a full-time career, but the fact is—unless you're Nora Roberts or James Patterson or something—writing is rarely enough to pay the bills. Because of that, I run my own editing business, working with other authors' manuscripts. Over the past two years I've edited over three dozen books for authors around the world. It's been an amazing learning experience for me, and the authors must be happy because they send beautiful testimonials and even come back to me when they need their next book edited. So … most of my time is spent editing. I also teach piano to local kids three nights a week. I'm also a book reviewer for Romantic Historical Lovers … and a happily married mom of two teenage girls! Life's busy, but I'm the luckiest woman in the world because I get to do everything I want, and my family is 100% behind me.

What inspired the idea behind your book?
When Penguin bought my first novel, “Under the Same Sky”, it was on the grounds that I would write a “companion” novel to go with it. Of course I was so thrilled to have been picked up by Penguin that I would have agreed to do just about anything, so when they asked if I could write it, I said yes without hesitation. Then … I was stuck. I had no idea what to write, and I spent a few hours that night pacing and stressing, cursing myself for agreeing to write the book in the first place.

But the next morning, I felt what I call a “push” in my head, and I recognized the voice as that of Dougal MacDonnell, the brother of the hero in my first book. Dougal wanted me to know that contrary to what everyone thought, he did not die in the Battle of Culloden, which was where he and his brothers became separated. Dougal hadn't died, and he hadn't escaped, either. He'd been taken as a P.O.W., and he didn't go there alone. He wanted to tell me about that experience, but also about the love of his life, who he met shortly after. And then there was what happened after that …

Do you have a favorite character in Sound of the Heart? Who and why?
I love Dougal MacDonnell. I fell in love with his brother when I wrote “Under the Same Sky” and I thought that would be it for me, but no. Dougal completely filled my (fictional) heart. Dougal is a big Highlander with a huge heart. He's everyone's favourite party-goer, the one who keeps the crowd laughing, and he'll always be the first to leap in and defend the underdog. He's courageous and strong, with equal skill with both fists and sword. He also has so much fun with women he sees no reason to choose just one … until Glenna comes along. Though I didn't intend it, Dougal has a lot of my husband in him (minus the Highlander part, since he's pure Canadian!).

Without giving it all away, please tell us a little something about how Dougal is going to get through their biggest challenge.
Dougal has to believe in himself, but he must have a blind faith in Glenna. She has disappeared, and he has no idea if she still lives or not. But if there's a chance she's out there, she'll need him, so he has to be the best he can be. He fights the elements, the English, the Cherokee, and eventually the French, all in an attempt to survive and find her.

What has been your greatest challenge in writing Sound of the Heart?
Since this was only the second novel I'd written for Penguin—and I was writing it “on demand”—I was terrified I wouldn't satisfy them. And this time I kept reminding myself that not only was it Historical Fiction, but Berkley Sensation represents Historical Romance. So my writing style started to change, leaning towards incorporating more traditional romance. But the more I tried, the more frustrated I became. I'm just not good at writing schmaltzy, sexy scenes.

The first time I submitted the book to my editor, it came right back to me, along with a disparaging note saying it wasn't written in the same style as my first book, which she'd loved. I immediately contacted my agent and told him what I'd done, and he was calmly reassuring, as he always is. He told me to take a deep breath, clear all my preconceived notions of Berkley, and go back to what I do best, which is writing realistic Historical Fiction.

So I did. I did a lot of rewrites, but after so much change I was unsure. I sent it to him, and received a “Bravo!” Actually, what he said was, “You've woven it into the full tapestry adroitly and movingly.” Then he added something that made me understand that I needed to have faith in what I was doing: “And, for me,” he said, “you write romance as well as you do violence.”

What three words would best describe Dougal?
honourable, courageous, passionate

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

There is nothing of my own real life experiences in “Sound of the Heart”; however, this gives me a perfect opening for sharing my theory on writing Historical Fiction. When I write, I start with an empty picture in my head. Like it is with so many authors, writing is kind of a “psychic” process with me. The characters seem to just appear in my head, and they tell me their stories as we go along—with the occasional tweak from me.

     Here's my theory.
1)   None of the people from the 18th century (the time period of which I wrote) are alive today, obviously.
2)   I have no idea what the stories will be, and have never sat down to create an actual “plot” without letting the characters lead me through it.

     Therefore, who's to say these aren't true stories? Who's to say these people in my stories didn't once exist, and now come to me to share their stories? Could be true …

What kind of research was involved for “Sound of the Heart”?
About 40% of my writing time is spent doing research. I work with books, and the internet, but the greatest information I get is from “re-enactor” groups, those people who spend every weekend dressed up in period clothing, sleeping in leaky old tents and making themselves into walking museums. I once met a gentleman at a re-enactor event who really woke me up to how committed these people were. It must have been in the 80s (Fahrenheit), but he was dressed in the entire uniform of a 77th Highlander, which included seven layers of thick wool. These people are passionate about what they do, and they have been incredibly generous, teaching me so much. And since my novels are set in the same time period and place, I'm able to use the information in all of them. Two of my sources: www.HistoricHighlanders.com and www.CherokeeByBlood.com

Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
Sound of the Heart is the second in the series; however, they're not really called “series” books. They're “companion” novels, meaning they are completely separate stories, though they are connected. My first two novels tell the individual stories of Andrew and Dougal MacDonnell, two Highlander brothers who are separated at the Battle of Culloden. Each one thinks the other has perished at the hands of the English, but neither is right. In the books, the brothers don't meet—not yet—but they do become aware that their brother has survived. This sets the stage for future novels.

The third book, Out of the Shadows will be out in Aug/Sept 2013, and it is also connected but separate from the other two. Out of the Shadows tells the story of Adelaide, who is the sister of Maggie, the heroine in Under the Same Sky.

A fourth is just starting out, and it will tell Janet MacLeod's story. Janet isn't a member of either family, but she was a character in Under the Same Sky with a wonderful personality, and a lot of readers told me they wanted to know what happened to her. I see pirates in Janet's future … 

I also have another novel waiting backstage, entitled, Tides of Honour. I just finished it, and my agent will be visiting publishers with it over the next while. It is a WW1 novel which revolves around a Nova Scotia fisherman. Once again, it's a realistic Historical Fiction, complete with a difficult romance, and it's a story of survival since Danny Baker must not only live through WW1, he must also survive the Halifax Explosion in 1917.
What is your best piece of advice for upcoming authors?
Write for yourself. Don't even think about the whole publishing process until you are absolutely convinced your book is the best it can be. Too many people get defeated before they've really started, seeing how difficult it can be to catch the eye of a major publisher. So, because it's easy to do so, they self-publish, and often their goal becomes quantity rather than quality. Be good to yourself, to your books, and to your readers: write, re-write, edit, write, re-write, edit at least three times, then hire an editor to make it even better.

What type of hero do you like best?
Understated, humble, and one who can laugh at himself. Maybe he's just a little awkward around a beautiful woman, even though he's gorgeous himself.

What type of heroine do you like best?
Yes, she needs to be strong and independent, but she also needs to realize when she needs help. And she needs to be strong enough to ask for it.

How do you unwind after a long writing session?
Writing is an escape from day to day life, but my family is my escape from writing. When I'm done I'll hang out with them, either in the backyard with our dog and chickens, walking along the beach, or inside watching movies and sipping on a cool glass of Pinot Grigio.

What are you reading now? Why did you choose that book?
“Angela's Ashes” by Frank McCourt. I've heard so much about it over the years but I never really took the time to pick it up. And no, I haven't seen the movie. I found it at a used book sale, and I can tell you that it is worth every single bit of praise it has received. It's an incredible book, rich in history and humour and personal triumph.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I never wrote a thing until I sat down and started “Under the Same Sky”. I was 42 years old.

Laptop, desktop or notebook and pen for writing?
Laptop.

Do you believe in writer’s block? Has it ever happened to you?
Yes, I believe in writers' block. Incredibly frustrating. I think the only solution is to walk away from the work for a while. Maybe try something new until the first story grabs your attention again.

Is there a book you’ve ever read more than five times?
Outlander

If you could get anyone to read your book, who would you choose and why?
If I could get anyone living to read it, that would be Diana Gabaldon. She was the inspiration for my doing it in the first place, and I'd love to know what she thinks. And hey, if she likes it and is feeling generous, a few good words from her would send my books flying out of bookstores!

If I could get anyone EVER to read it, that would be my Dad. He passed away in 1996, so he never knew about this gift I've discovered. I have to believe he knows all about it now, though. His Scottish heritage has a lot to do with what I write, too.

Favorite place?
My bed, reading

Best Christmas present?
Week's vacation in Mexico

Favorite author?
Diana Gabaldon

Favorite smell?
Fresh baked bread

Favorite movie?
“Braveheart”

Favorite color?
Burgundy

Your best trait?
I always want to help people.

Your worst trait?
I can't say no!

A Reader's Opinion
Genevieve Graham is a talented author who paints a vivid picture of what life may have been like during one of my favorite times and in one of my favorite places. Dougal and Glenna share beautiful passion and unwavering loyalty--both necessary qualities in a wonderful hero and heroine. They suffer, they endure, and they do whatever is necessary to be together, even if that means surviving capture, separation, and distance. You'll be swept away by the realistic roller coaster of emotions the author takes you on, and if you still need more, you'll be captured by the spectacular picture she evokes of Scotland.

Meet The Author
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.
Learn more about Genevieve at: http://www.genevievegraham.com



Tour Giveaway!
$35 Amazon Gift Card. Readers may leave a blog post comment, but the winner will be chosen from the Rafflecopter!
Ends 12/21/2012 

Join the Tour!
Nov 19 - Black Lion Tour Blog/introduction
Nov 27 - Reviews by Molly/review
Nov 29 - Kimberly Lewis Novels/book and author spotlights

Nov 30 - MK McClintock Blog/review and interview
Dec 2 - Laurie's Non-Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews/Top Ten List 
Dec 2 - A Novel Idea LIVE/live interview 
Dec 3 - A Novel Idea LIVE/guest post
​Dec 3 - Romance Meets Life/author and book spotlights
Dec 5 - My Devotional Thoughts/review and guest post
Dec 7 - A Writer's Life/interview
Dec 11 - Bunny's Reviews/review and interview
Dec 13 - Bookworm Lisa/review and guest post
Dec 18 - Promiscuous Diva/guest post
Dec 18 (2nd stop) - Books, Books, the Magical Fruit/interview
Dec 18 (3rd stop)- Journey with Books/review
Dec 21 It's Raining Books/spotlights  
Dec 21 - Black Lion Tour Blog/wrap-up

Book Quick Facts
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Genre: Historical Romance
Formats: Trade Paperback/All eBook types
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkley Sensation / Penguin US

3 comments:

  1. Always a pleasure to have you join us Genevieve. You did a wonderful job with this book!

    "Write for yourself" - good advice!

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  2. I have had these books on my tbr list awhile. I just haven't been able to read them!

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  3. MK - Thank you so much for having me here!

    Kelly - I hope you enjoy them - and pop by my site to tell me what you think!

    ReplyDelete