Thursday, 3 May 2018

[Timeless Tour] Written Piece from Genevieve Graham, author of COME FROM AWAY

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


My Journey into Canadian Historical Fiction.

Genevieve Graham “Come From Away” - 2018

Growing up in Toronto, I never considered a career as an author. And I didn’t care about history, let alone Canadian history. But I always loved to read. When I became a mom, I usually found myself too busy even to pick up a book, but by the time my girls were old enough to read to themselves, I was back into it. When my mother gave me a copy of “Outlander”, I discovered the thrill of beautifully written Historical Fiction, and I was hooked. Something about experiencing those long-ago adventures, seeing life through those people’s eyes, imagining what it would have been like to have lived back then was fascinating for me. One day in 2007, after reading everything I could find, I told my husband I was going to try and write a book. A few hours later I came upstairs, handed him the papers I’d printed, and he read them. “Not bad,” he said.

That book, “Under the Same Sky”, was set in the the brutal 1740s, in Scotland and in the colonies. After that, I added two more novels, and the series was published in 2012 by Penguin/Random House. I made a decision right off the bat to write history as it was, not to pull any punches when it came to the facts, and as a result I became known as someone who didn’t shy away from telling the often ugly truths of history, and I liked that. I loved the process of research and writing, and seeing the published books in bookstores was something I’d never imagined.

In 2008, my family and I moved from Calgary to Nova Scotia, seeking a quieter, less expensive lifestyle. At the time, I knew very little about Nova Scotia, but I soon realized this province had centuries of stories to be told. My transition to writing Canadian Historical Fiction happened when I first learned about the Halifax Explosion. On December 6, 1917, 1900 people were killed in a blast that levelled the city. Thousands were injured, hundreds were blinded by flying glass, and over twenty-six thousand were left homeless. The Halifax Explosion was the largest manmade explosion before Hiroshima, and it happened right here! How is it that I had never heard of it? Nor had my kids, who were attending school right here in Nova Scotia! Shouldn’t this be remembered as an important moment in Canada’s history? I began to consider what it might be like, living here during WWI, living through the Explosion ... and “Tides of Honour” was born.

After I wrote “Tides of Honour”, I began reading more and more Canadian historical fiction ... but it was difficult to find sometimes. 

Why is that? Why are we not shouting our stories to the world? Don’t we have any? Ha! Canada is a country of almost 10 million km2 – almost forty United Kingdoms could fit geographically into our country, yet we’re telling their stories more often than our own. When American or European History is discussed, people get excited. Bookstores, libraries, televisions, and movie theatres are full of tales from their past, and some have grown to mythical proportions. But where are the stories from our past?

Curious, I looked up all the major disasters that have happened in “Canada” since the 17th century (I’m talking about the geographical area we now call Canada, since it wasn’t technically a country until 1867). 

This doesn’t even take into account the major political events, like in this list. When I first saw them, I vaguely remembered learning about them in high school, but they’d been nothing to me but names, dates, and places to memorize for exams. Now that I am writing, all that has changed. I can feel the adventure. I can see the men mustering for battle. I can hear them speaking to each other in a bank of fog. I can weep for the women and children left praying at home.

And what about the many things our country has given the world over the years?

We don’t talk about any of that. We don’t say much about ourselves at all. Why not? 

2017 was Canada’s Sesquicentennial, and as a historical fiction author it was fascinating to watch people’s reactions to that benchmark. For some it was a time to break out the fireworks, while others protested past injustices. Whichever side of the argument you were on, you had to admit that the very conversation was lighting fires. History was making headlines all across the country. And the best part? No matter which side of the controversy you were on, the uproar was compelling many people to actually read up on our history and learn about what had happened.

That’s what I want to do: find stories in our country’s history that are in danger of being forgotten and bring them back to life by writing stories that compel readers to seek out more. Canadian history is full of colourful characters and incredible stories, but they are in danger of being relegated to textbooks and museums. While there are some amazing documentaries and biographies out there, I believe it falls to Historical Fiction authors to bring our stories to the masses, to help people understand that we are not just a big, quiet, polite nation that stands by and watches the world go by. We are a proud, passionate, and patriotic people, and the more we grow, the more stories we create.
That is why I have focused all my creative energy on Canadian Historical Fiction. There are so many proud (and not-so-proud) moments in our country’s past, and Canadians should know about them. Just like America and Europe, we have an exciting history. We need to know that. That’s why I look forward to breathing life back into Canada’s history for a long time.

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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I absolutely LOVE how Genevieve is bringing Canadian history into historical fiction, and I always love hearing about her process and what drives her to centre her books around Canada's history! I remember learning bits and pieces about Canadian history in school, but I completely agree with Genevieve—we definitely don't learn enough in schools! I can't wait to see what else Genevieve decides to write about!

What did you think of Genevieve's written piece?
Are you excited to see her write more books focused on Canadian historical fiction?

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