Hi Genevieve!!! Welcome to Book Obsessed Chicks. So happy to have you visit the blog. First I wanted to say that your first book Under the Same Sky moved me so completely that I have been recommending it to everyone I know. Tell us a bit about yourself… and a bit about Sound of the Heart.
Hi Kim! I love being here with you. And I’m so, so glad Under the Same Sky moved you. That book was the first thing I’d ever written, and it was a toughie. A lot of emotional and violent scenes, but also a lot of research. Don’t get me wrong - I loved every second of it. But if I touched your heart, I did what ever author dreams of doing, so thanks for telling me!
1. How did the idea of your books come to you?
The stories come to me when the characters decide to tell them. I don’t mean to sound evasive, but the truth is I have no idea where the ideas come from. Sure, I mull things around in my mind, but when it comes down to it, I write what the characters tell me. So how do the characters come to me? I have no idea about that, either, but I know if I sit quietly by myself, letting my mind drift, welcoming in thoughts, I’ll feel them there, gently pushing me, showing me which direction to go. I love that. It’s like meditation, I guess, and once the words start, it’s hard to slow down!
2. What was the Feedback about the cutting edge subject matters in both books?
Is that an elephant in the room? Let’s just call a spade a spade: folks, she’s asking about the violence against women (and children) which happened in the books.
When the first book came out I worried about how it might be received, but I needn’t have been concerned. I would say one in ten readers has objected, and they are vehement in their objections. Some say I could have written the story without going into such detail, or without so much violence. A couple even suggested that authors tend to use rape as a kind of “plot vehicle.”
I wholeheartedly disagree (though everyone is - of course - entitled to their opinion). I’ve never claimed to write sweet and sugary romances. My books explore the reality of history, and those days weren’t all made up of salons and powdered wigs. Rape was practically an every day threat back then, as was slavery. Women had no rights, and there were no real laws to control slavery. Did you know hundreds of thousands of whites (men and women) were sent to the colonies as slaves from the 1600s on? I didn’t know that until I did the research, and do you think I could simply ignore that fact? No way!
90% of readers loved the books regardless of those subjects. Those were the readers who understood the importance of writing and reading history as it really was. I don’t pull punches, and if you really want to know what I learned while I researched for the books, you’d better be prepared for ugly truths!
3. Who are your favorite characters and why?
You mean in my stories, right? Well, I love all my main characters for different reasons. I’ve been in all their heads, so I see them all for what they are. But if I had to pick a favourite it’d be Dougal. While Maggie and Andrew made me yearn, feel a need so strong for each other it consumed them, Dougal made me laugh. Glenna is feisty and smart and able to completely bewitch Dougal, who has never taken love seriously before meeting her. I love his reaction to her, his dry humour, his love of life, his loyalty, and above all, his refusal to give up.
4. When did you become a writer?
Just after I turned 42. I’d read Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series four times, then listened to the audio another three times, then read the “Into the Wilderness” series by Sara Donati, then books by Penelope Williamson and Jennifer Roberson … and I finally decided it was time to write my own story. It actually came as a surprise to me. I’d never planned to be an author, but I sure am loving it. I also run an editing business.
5. Who are your heroes? Mentors?
Sounds schmaltzy, maybe, but I’d put my husband right up there. He’s brave and tough and loyal, not to mention incredibly smart, and he has put up with way more than he should have had to. I’d like to grow up and be like him (except he’s younger than I am).
My first writing mentor was author Rona Altrows, who won the W.O. Mitchell Award for her book, “A Run On Hose.” I met her at a free Mentorship programme through the Calgary Libraries - I had to submit twenty-five pages then wait for a critique. I was so so so scared. I’d never let anyone outside my little circle see what I wrote. But Rona was amazing. She sat me down for an hour and helped me see the light about what I was doing, and what I could do. We’ve become great friends since then.
My literary agent, Jacques de Spoelberch, is also a mentor for me. Not only does he teach me about the ins and outs of publishing, he is an amazing editor. He demands excellence from me, and that is so important when I’m rewriting a novel’s ending for the third time!
6. Was it difficult for you to get published?
To get published … no. To get an agent? omg Yes. I remember receiving over seventy rejections, but I never gave up. I joined online writing groups and learned new lessons every day about shaping a story into something people would want to read. I soaked it in like a sponge, and when a friend recommended her agent to me, I was ready for him.
7. How many more books are planned in this series?
I’ve written the third, “Out of the Shadows,” which revolves around Adelaide, who is Maggie’s sister. All the books are stand alone, though. Adelaide has a VERY YUMMY hero in her book, lucky girl.
I’m working on book #4, which is about Janet MacLeod, one of the group of travelers who came from Scotland in the first book. She’s not related, but too many readers wanted to know more. People are now requesting a reunion book of the two brothers, and I’m sorely tempted ...
8. Who are your favorite authors/reads?
Diana Gabaldon, Sara Donati, Penelope Williamson, Jennifer Roberson, Kaki Warner, Joanna Bourne … All more “historical Adventures” rather than textbook “romances,” in my humble opinion.
I don’t really have any these days. Too busy writing and editing. Plus we have two teenage girls, so they keep us hopping. We’re a movie-loving family, so we often play videos (lately we’ve been having a series-a-thon, re-watching “Lord of the Rings,” “Star Wars,” “Harry Potter,” and now “Spiderman.”
10. Do you use an inspiration board for your characters? Who do you picture as your characters?
I don’t have an inspiration board (actually not sure what that is!), but I do “adopt” actors to help me fill in details about my heroes. I like to emulate their gestures and expressions, and if I watch enough of their interviews and movies I can see them clearly enough for the situations I put them in. For Dougal I used Gerard Butler for his accent and attitude, but for looks I used Josh Holloway, an actor from the tv series, “Lost.” I was actually shocked to see how similar the two actually look!
For “Under the Same Sky” I used Colin Farrell from “The New World”.
In “Out of the Shadows” I studied Garret Hedlund.
11. Where can readers find you?
My website: www.GenevieveGraham.com
THANKS SO MUCH,
BOOK OBSESSED CHICKS CONTEST RULES TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF SOUND OF THE HEART BY THE MOST AWESOME GENEVIEVE GRAHAM: (limited to US and Canada only)
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5. I will pick a winner Friday, May 18th
Grand Prize on the book tour is ... A signed copy of Sound of the Heart PLUS a four cd set of relaxation cds created by my incredibly talented musical friends, Cori Ashley and Ed Franks. I'll give you a little insight into why I chose these cds as my prize - I'm NOT saying Sound of the Heart is about relaxing … considering the wild adventures Dougal's in for, I doubt he was too relaxed! But Dougal has a gift, similar to his brother's gift. He can relax his mind and hear the thoughts of other men, but he can also sink into his thoughts and hear the sounds and voices of his loved ones as if they were right there with him. These cds were created to help you escape the stress and craziness of your days. Grab a cup of tea or glass of wine (your preference!), light a candle, maybe slip in to a bubblebath, and listen to the sound of your heart.