It is a pleasure to welcome new bestselling author of historical fiction, Genevieve Graham, to the Delighted Reader! Genevieve writes stories in that period of history that I find particularly fascinating. Her backdrop includes the tumultuous times of Scottish history during and after the landmark Battle of Culloden when the Highlanders made their bid for independence- yep, big Scotsmen in kilts, ladies- and the raw adventure offered by the America Colonial Frontier- big handsome men in buckskins and their courageous ladies. See? What’s not to like? Okay, enough of my ramblings. Let’s get back to our guest.
First of all, please share with us why you chose to write about this period in history and about the research you had to do to make it happen. Any research field trips or fun research anecdotes?
I’m so happy you’ve invited me here! Thank you so much!
The reason I chose to write about this period in history is the same reason I chose to write in the first place. I’d been reading Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series over and over (I think I read it four times then listened to the audio books three more times!), losing myself in the mid 18th century. So it’s all her fault! One day I sat down with the intent of writing about my own Scottish hero, and that was the first book I’d ever written. That was it for me. The magic of writing took ahold, and now I can’t imagine not being an author.
Research was obviously a major issue for the book, since I knew nothing but what I’d learned from Ms Gabaldon, and I’ve never been much of a historian. My high school history teacher would be amazed if he knew how that had changed! Anyway, no, there were no field trips, though my poor husband has been plagued with requests to go to Scotland. (“Someday,” he says.) I started by taking out every historical book I could find in the library based on the time and place, and within two weeks I’d returned almost all of them. They were dry and dull, and couldn’t have taken me farther from my story. That left me wondering what to do. I started cruising the web, and * ding! * inspiration struck. Who cares the most about getting historical details right? Reenactors! Those crazy people who go out in 90 degree weather wearing 8 layers of wool (true story), or who dress in armour and battle each other on weekends? I contacted a bunch, asking for help, and most were more than willing to help. It was wonderful. They are truly a passionate bunch, full of truth and trivia that really make a difference when you want to write a good book. I even have a Cherokee advisor, from www.cherokeebyblood.com whose name is Ironhead. Can you imagine getting emails from a guy called Ironhead? It’s awesome!
Do you have any special rituals you need to do or have in place to get your creative writing juices flowing like music, placement of items, certain snacks or drinks?
I like silence, herbal tea, and chocolate. And on grey days I light a candle. My desk is a disaster, though I keep buying myself more trays and holders, hoping to fix that. Fortunately, my husband is a gifted filer, so when it gets to be too much I look at him with puppy dog eyes and he helps me out.
When I discovered your books, I had just devoured books by Diana Gabaldon and Sara Donati because I loved their stuff. I have to say that I found your book to fit right in with these gals’ works both because of the time period and also the feel of the story and characters. Were you influenced by these ladies or other any other historical romance writers?
My head is spinning with that compliment! Thank you so much! Those two are my inspiration and idols because they both write so beautifully and effectively about realistic history, which wasn’t always pretty. I’ve tried writing cleaner “salon” romance, but I just can’t do it. I need the grit, I guess. I also love Susanna Kearsley, and I was absolutely thrilled that she read an advance copy of “Somewhere to Dream” and gave me a wonderful recommendation, which is on the cover.
Now, you just released your third book, Somewhere to Dream, in the MacDonnells series which is the only one I’ve read incidentally. Summarize for us the background of these MacDonnell folk and what its like to write their personal stories.
When I wrote “Under the Same Sky,” and my agent submitted it to Berkley/Penguin US, they offered me a contract on the grounds that I write a “companion novel,” but not a sequel. When my agent asked me if that were possible, I assured him that was no problem. Then I hung up the phone and panicked. I’d never written anything but that one book, so how was I supposed to write another? Fortunately, the MacDonnell boys have fascinating stories, and when Dougal woke me one morning to tell me his, I was thrilled to write it all down.
Andrew and Dougal MacDonnell were born in a very difficult time, and when their father followed their clan leader into battle, they went as well. They were proud to fight for the Jacobites, but no one could have imagined how horrible that battle and its aftermath would be. One of the worst parts for the brothers was that neither knew if the other was alive.
Andrew is a dark, brooding man who has dreamed of a girl since he was very young. Through these dreams they communicate with each other, and eventually they both realize that through their dreams they can share strength, and they can help each other from awful situations even though they live thousands of miles apart. After Culloden, Andrew leaves Scotland and go in quest of the girl, whose name is Maggie. The story is about that quest, and also about Maggie’s story, also filled with tragedy and, in the end, both self-discovery and victory.
Dougal is the older, more fun-loving brother. He becomes a prisoner of the English after Culloden, and we survive his terrible captivity alongside him. He escapes with a friend, and they disappear into the wilds of the Highlands, where he eventually falls in love with beautiful Glenna. But when Glenna is taken by the English and shipped to the colonies as a slave, he is determined to follow and rescue her. The only way he can get there, however, is by joining the 77th Highlanders, an army of vanquished Scots, marching for the hated English.
The third book is about Adelaide, who is the sister of Maggie from “Under the Same Sky.” In the beginning of the first book, the girls suffered unspeakable tragedy, and Adelaide has blocked all those memories from her mind. She has also blocked out the special gifts she has, seeing the future in dreams. Both sisters were rescued from white slavers by the Cherokee, who respect and value what they can do. Adelaide is with them when they bring in Jesse Black, a prisoner, and a man the Cherokee believe carries the soul of one of their own who has passed. Adelaide knows Jesse … from her dreams.
The hardest part of writing these books was reaching the final page and ending them. I loved every minute of writing the stories. They are all strong characters—except for Adelaide, but her story revolves around how she develops that strength—and they became a part of me. The combination of realism and fantasy swept me away, and I’m so happy to know that it affected others the same way.
Was one any easier or harder to write than the others?
The last book was the hardest to write because Adelaide was a timid soul. It took her a while longer before she was willing to share her story.
Are there to be more stories in your MacDonnells series?
What my readers want, and what I want, is for the family members to come together. Penguin hasn’t asked for a sequel, but in my heart there needs to be a reunion, and the story will continue with both them and their offspring. It’ll happen someday. I also have a story in mind for Janet, one of the secondary characters in “Under the Same Sky,” and every time I think of her I see pirates!
Now, we just wrapped up with Halloween and my mind is still going that direction before I have to turn my focus to the next holiday. Whether or not you celebrate Halloween, what is your favorite treat?
Chocolate. With almonds.
In conclusion, do you have anything else you would like to share with our readers?
At the end of the book, I added a little something extra, and just in case people miss it, I thought I’d tell you about it here. It’s to do with “Somewhere to Dream” and how in a unique way I am … related to Adelaide. My first cousin once removed, Patricia Hanson, passed along this wonderful piece of family history.
As the story goes, in the early 1800s our ancestors, Greenberry and Elizabeth Taylor, came to northern Alabama from Washington County Tennessee (which was definitely Cherokee country), and they befriended the local Cherokees. At some point the daughter of the Cherokee chief fell quite ill, and the medicine men didn’t seem able to do anything for her. Patricia’s great-great-great-grandmother treated the girl with some “white man” medicine and managed to cure her. The chief was exceedingly grateful, and when the Cherokee scouts found out at the last minute about an impending attack by the Choctaws, the chief brought the Taylor family into their compound for protection. Supposedly the other white settlers in the area were massacred. The Taylors, obviously feeling beholden, asked the chief what they could do to thank him. His response? He wanted them to name their first daughter either Cherokee or Tennessee. Unfortunately, their first daughter had already been christened, but they promised to name the next one Cherokee. Priscilla Cherokee Taylor, born in April 1812, was the great-great-grandmother of my first cousin once removed. The family name, “Cherokee” or “Cherry” has since been passed down from mother to daughter for seven generations.
Thanks for visiting with us today, Genevieve. We were Delighted to have you!
From Genevieve Graham, author of Sound of the Heart, comes the tale of two strangers living with the Cherokee—one with a warrior’s heart; the other with deadly dreams…
The Cherokee call her Shadow Girl. A white woman adopted by Indians, Adelaide is haunted by the dark dreams she hides—of her murdered family, of the men she fears, and most of all, of the ones that foretell the future. After her visions cause her to make a terrible mistake, she renounces her power and buries her dreams deep in her soul.
Until Jesse Black is captured by the tribe. His life is spared because the Cherokee believe his warrior spirit belongs to their fallen brother. Though he hates all Indians, Adelaide illuminates their way of life for him, just as he shines light into her shadowed heart. But when her dreams return, Jesse must help her face them…or die trying…