Wednesday, 2 May 2018

[Timeless Tour] Q & A with Genevieve Graham, author of COME FROM AWAY

For my Timeless Tour post today I'm sharing a Q & A from Genevieve Graham, author of COME FROM AWAY!

Q & A

1. What draws you to writing historical fiction?

My initial reaction to that question would most likely be “adventure and romance”, but it’s so much more than that. Growing up, I never had any interest in history. History was something for exams or museums, that’s all. Then my mom passed me a copy of “Outlander”, and I was hooked. After that series, I devoured everything historical I could find. It’s more than just adventure within those covers. It’s imagining ourselves living in that time period, learning how they lived, what they believed, how they dealt with a world so much more difficult than ours is today. I wanted to know all the little details, and the more I researched the more I needed. Then I began to write Canadian Historical Fiction, and I’m more compelled than ever before. Our country is rich with history that is rapidly fading into oblivion. It’s my mission to make sure that doesn’t happen!

2. What is your writing process like? For example, do you listen to music, do you plan or just wing it when you write?

I’m lucky because I have my own perfect little office in my house – with a door that closes and everything! I am surrounded on three sides by windows, but to be honest, sometimes the Great Outdoors is too much of a temptation so I have to pull the blinds. I’ll admit, I am easily distracted, and research has to be done without interruption. The same goes for joining my mind to those of the characters. I need quiet. So despite my degree in and love of classical music, I write in silence, generally. I usually have a candle burning and a glass of water by my side (frequently filled, if my efficient husband is home!), and I try not to have too many snacks within reach. As far as my writing, I have a general idea of what I want to accomplish in a day. Unfortunately for me, my general style is that of a “pantser”, writing by the seat of my pants. I wish I were more organized, and I do try, but I have more unfinished planning charts and timetables in my office than I have of anything else. I know the story direction I want, and fortunately I can usually rely on my characters to lead me, since they are often more decisive than I am. I follow their lead, then they wait patiently at the side while I rush off to research what they need for their next move.

3. How do you go about writing your characters into history? Do you start with the historical elements or the characters?

Before I get into the actual creative process of writing, I do three things:
  1. Learn about the event itself.
  2. Learn about the people of the time – how they lived, dressed, spoke, thought, etc.
  3. Drop myself into that crowd of people two days before the event and see how I must live, what I have to do to be one of them. From within the crowd, I can see my characters, and they show me how it’s done.
When it comes to research, the first rule is to make sure the information is right. That means going over as many sources as I can find to ensure I’m getting the truth. Once I have that under control, the characters begin to emerge. They have to be true to the time and they have to be relatable. No one wants to read a story where they don’t care about the characters, after all. What pulls the research and the characters together to make a good story? Details ... and that goes right back to the research. Find the little things that make it real. For example, when Grace is heading out to the Christmas dance and she has no stockings because of rationing, she must do what so many other girls of the time are doing: she pencils a line on the back of her leg so it looks like she’s wearing stockings!

4. If you had to pick a song (or songs) that would make up a playlist for COME FROM AWAY, what would you choose, and why?

It’s difficult for me to think of Playlists, because I write – most of the time – in silence. If I do play music at all, it is usually classical. On the other hand, COME FROM AWAY includes a fair amount of music, from Grace’s father’s phonograph to Christmas music to the dance where she encounters a mysterious group of strangers, huddled in the corner of the hall. So I listened to a lot of big band and jazz while I was writing, in particular the wailing trumpet of Harry James and the soothing crooner, Bing Crosby. The 40s had some awesome music. I’m tempted to write another ww2 era novel just so I can indulge myself. So ... two songs in particular? How about “You Made Me Love You” (Harry James) and the song Rudi plays on his new Philco at the very end, “I Love You” (written by Cole Porter, sung by Bing Crosby). Why doesn’t anyone write music like that anymore? * sigh *

5. In one or two sentences, how would you pitch COME FROM AWAY to someone who hasn’t heard of it before?

In the middle of WW2, a charming but mysterious stranger with a strong German accent appears in Grace Baker’s tiny village on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. Just as his disturbing truth is revealed, shocking secrets from Grace’s own family surface, and she is forced to question everything she has ever believed.

From the bestselling author of Tides of Honour and Promises to Keep comes a poignant novel about a young couple caught on opposite sides of the Second World War.

In the fall of 1939, Grace Baker’s three brothers, sharp and proud in their uniforms, board Canadian ships headed for a faraway war. Grace stays behind, tending to the homefront and the general store that helps keep her small Nova Scotian community running. The war, everyone says, will be over before it starts. But three years later, the fighting rages on and rumours swirl about “wolf packs” of German U-Boats lurking in the deep waters along the shores of East Jeddore, a stone’s throw from Grace’s window. As the harsh realities of war come closer to home, Grace buries herself in her work at the store.

Then, one day, a handsome stranger ventures into the store. He claims to be a trapper come from away, and as Grace gets to know him, she becomes enamoured by his gentle smile and thoughtful ways. But after a several weeks, she discovers that Rudi, her mysterious visitor, is not the lonely outsider he appears to be, but someone else entirely—someone not to be trusted. When a shocking truth about her family forces Grace to question everything she has so strongly believed, she realizes that she and Rudi have more in common than she had thought. And if Grace is to have a chance at love, she must not only choose a side, but take a stand.

Come from Away is a mesmerizing story of love, shifting allegiances, and second chances, set against the tumultuous years of the Second World War.
About Genevieve Graham:

Genevieve Graham is the bestselling author of Tides of Honour and Promises to Keep. She is passionate about breathing life back into Canadian history through tales of love and adventure. She lives near Halifax, Nova Scotia. Visit her at or on Twitter @GenGrahamAuthor.

Follow Genevieve: Facebook | Twitter

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