I am very happy to welcome Genevieve Graham, author of the new historical novel, Sound of the Heart. Welcome to the blog, Genevieve!
Genevieve Graham graduated from the University of Toronto in 1986 with a Bachelor of Music in Performance (playing the oboe). While on a ski vacation in Alberta, she met her future husband in a chairlift lineup and subsequently moved to Calgary to be with him. They have recently settled in a small, peaceful town in Nova Scotia with their two beautiful daughters.
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. The companion novel, Sound of the Heart, is now in stores. Visit her on her website, Facebook, Goodreads or Twitter.
Q: In the spirit of Twitter, tell us about Sound of the Heart in 140 characters or less.
A: Dougal survives Culloden, escapes prison, falls in love. English steal her & send her to colonies as slave. Dougal risks his life to find her.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Sound of the Heart?
A: After writing “Under the Same Sky” (my first novel), I had no plans to write anything else. I kind of figured that was The End. Fortunately, my editor, Wendy McCurdy at Penguin, knew it wasn’t. She asked for a second book. I, of course, said, “sure!” … then panicked. Another story? Where was I supposed to come up with another story?
It’s a good thing Dougal (who is the brother of Andrew, the hero in “Under the Same Sky”), is a natural storyteller. He showed up very shortly after I’d broken into a feverish sweat over finding a plot and told me just to sit back and listen.
Both the stories begin in Culloden Moor during the infamous Battle of Culloden (Scotland). In “Under the Same Sky”, Andrew escapes the battlefield and his story goes from there. Dougal wasn’t so lucky. Once I started researching the survivors of the battle, discovering what happened to the POWs, I knew that’s where his tale would start.
Q: Where did you get the inspiration for the characters?
A: This may sound evasive, but that’s not what I’m doing … I don’t get inspired to create characters. The characters inspire me. They come fully formed into my head from out of nowhere and introduce themselves. I have very little say in their personalities or decisions.
To get a real feel for the characters' physical aspects, I like to study actors, watching facial expressions, hand gestures, postures, accents, and other things. I've watched countless videos and movies of men like Gerard Butler, Colin Farrell, Josh Holloway, and others. All in the name of research, of course …
Q: Why do you write historical novels and how did you get started?
A: My theory about Historical novels goes like this:
No one alive back then is alive today, right? So there’s no one here to tell us what did or did not happen. Okay. We get that.
I have no idea where my stories come from. I feel them when I’m calm enough to open up to the impossible. They’re like “pushes” in my head or little forces of energy which talk to me, urging me to go this way or that in my writing.
Who’s to say those invisible voices don’t belong to the actual people of my stories? Who’s to say they never existed? Perhaps they did! Perhaps I’m simply writing the stories they actually experienced.
… something for you to think about, anyway! :)
Q: How familiar were you with Scottish history before writing Sound of the Heart? Was a lot of research required?
A: Before I started writing the first book, I knew nothing but what I’d read in Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” books. But once I started writing, I was driven. I dove deep into whatever information I could find, going from books to Google, then eventually spending most of my time exchanging emails with reenactors—those people you sometimes see in full costume with cannon and stuff. I met one old fella who saw nothing wrong in being wrapped in 7 layers of heavy wool in the heat of summer. If the Highlanders did it, so could he. Those people are passionate, and I learned a ton from them.
By the time I wrote “Sound of the Heart,” I knew a fair amount, but I wanted to learn about things I’d never known before. I educated myself on forts and prisons and slavery as well as survival skills and other points. I love researching now and always end up with far too much information for my books!
Q: How did you get your first publishing deal and how did that feel?
A: I was introduced to my agent, Jacques de Spoelberch, by an online author friend. Jacques was terrific and spent time helping me hone my ending (read: rewrite) a couple of times. When he set the first manuscript on my editor’s desk at Berkley Sensation (Penguin), it took less than 48 hours before she made an offer—for both books.
How did it feel? Incredible. Much screaming and dancing and hugging was done … and it’s still going on. I am amazed every time I see my name written down on my cover, excited when I’m invited to do a signing or a workshop. The whole experience is surreal, and I hope to be living it for years to come!
Q: What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?
A: I love when an idea takes over my head and goes straight to my fingers. My absolute favourite moment is when I go back to read some of my book later, and I can’t remember typing what I was reading. Those are usually the best written sections, which tells me that when I’m deep in the “zone,” that’s when I do my best work. Which in turn tells me I shouldn’t try to think too much!
I also love editing, which many people might find strange. But I do. I think of it as sanding down rough edges and creating something beautiful.
Least favourite? Thinking up plots. I love characters and settings and dialogue, but plotlines are definitely not my forte.
Q: What is your favorite book and what are you currently reading?
Q: What other projects are you working on at this time?
A: The third book in the series, “Out of the Shadows” is currently on my editor’s desk, and we’re waiting to hear if she will be buying it or not. The publishing business is a tough place to be these days, trust me!
I have books on the go all the time, and right now I’m working on a time travel romance based around WW1 time and my little town in Nova Scotia. Other than that, well, I have a few others that are finished (one is Hist.Rom, and the other is chicklit) but need massive work, and another is the beginning of another Scottish historical series, but it’s not nearly done. Thanks for having me here today!
Thank you, Genevieve!
About Sound of the Heart:
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Pages: 336 pages
Buy: Amazon, B&N, Indiebound
Goodreads Summary: 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.
Genevieve has been generous to donate a grand prize for the book tour but hurry up and enter because it ends tomorrow! Here is what she has to say about it:
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 bubble bath, and listen to the sound of your heart.
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