Southern Book Tour 2012
Let’s put on our Southern hospitality, y’all, and welcome Genevieve Graham, author of the recently released paranormal historic romance Under the Same Sky, to B&D.
Stay tuned after the article for a book blurb and Giveaway.
Take it away, Genevieve:
Greetings from the Great White North! As I write this, a blast of freezing rain pelts my window, ushered along by a shrieking gust of wind … It’s March, and apparently the Groundhog was wrong. We’re supposed to get 25cm (that’s about 10 inches) of snow tonight. And so tomorrow, we hardy Canadians will pull on the snow boots, dig out the shovels, check the studs on our tires … again.
I have to tell you, it was a tropical holiday for me, writing about South Carolina. My debut novel, “Under the Same Sky” was actually written in two locales. The hero, Andrew MacDonnell, is a Highlander escaping post-Culloden Scotland. The heroine, Maggie Johnson, lives in South Carolina. The year was 1746, not a pretty time for either of them.
Before “Under the Same Sky”, I’d never written anything before. All I had was a computer and a nagging feeling in my head that I should be writing stuff down. In the beginning, I just stared at the screen, having no idea what to do. After a while, though, Maggie kind of appeared in my head, leading me in to her life, sharing her secrets. She showed me the decrepit old house which had recently been shirking its one responsibility of providing shelter, the surrounding yellowed grass as brittle as her mother’s hair, faraway mountains that loomed like shadows in the distance, on the other side of the woods. The following day I met Andrew, watching him battle on Culloden Moor. I identified far more easily with the climate in Scotland, I must admit!
I’ve been to South Carolina, and I even have family in Spartanburg. But the story didn’t come from any past experience of my own. For half of the book, I lived in Maggie’s head, and she showed me everything as clearly as if I’d been there myself. To be honest, I tried to mold the story at one point, trying to bring the plot up here to Canada, but it would have none of that.
Sure, I researched. I own some wonderful books like “The Red Carolinians” and “Bartram’s Living Legacy” which gave me some terrific insights. I went online and visited tourism sites as well as historical ones. I studied historical maps and town names, measuring distances, studying the topography of the area. I also remembered going to the John Mack Oboe Camp for a week near Little Switzerland (NC) (that’s a whole other story). I used to visit my grandparents in Jacksonville (FL), so I let those memories bring back the lushness of the area, the heavy, sweet air clinging to Spanish moss, singing with katydids and cicadas (I still can’t tell one from another). It’s more than humidity that makes the air so palpable down there. There’s a mysticism, an energy that winds through the earth like the roots of ancient trees in the Keowee Valley, then passes from the leaves to the air we breathe.
The Cherokee play a major part in this book as well as in a third one which is on my editor’s desk at the moment. I never expected to work with them and knew nothing about them before I started. But the things they taught me resonated, opened me up to a different view of the world.
I have a neat little family story to share. It ties in with the Cherokee. According to the story, my ancestors, Greenberry and Elizabeth Taylor, came to northern Alabama from Washington County Tennessee in the very early 1800’s and befriended the local Cherokee. When the daughter of the Cherokee chief fell ill and was beyond the help of the tribe’s medicine man, one of my ancestors—I think it was something like my four or five times great-great-great-grand-aunt managed to cure her with some kind of white medicine. The chief was obviously very grateful, and when the Cherokee scouts heard of an impending Chocktaw attack on the white settlement, the chief brought the Taylor family into their compound for protection. All the other white settlers in the area were massacred in the raid. The Taylors asked the chief what they could do to thank him, and he asked that they name their first daughter either Cherokee or Tennessee. Their first daughter had already been christened, but they promised to name the next one Cherokee. Priscilla Cherokee Taylor was born in April 1812, was something like my three times great-grand-aunt. That name has since been passed from mother to daughter through seven generations.
I love the South. I love the feel of it physically as well as the warmth of the people in it. I love the history that oozes from the old plantation homes, the long, slow stories shared in creaking rocking chairs on porches. One of the things I like best about writing historical fiction is that no one can tell me it didn’t happen. Maybe, just maybe, it did.
About the author
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, will be in stores May 1, 2012.
The year is 1746. A young woman from South Carolina and a Scottish Highlander share an intimacy and devotion beyond their understanding. They have had visions of each other their entire lives. And yet they have never met.
Now, with their lives torn asunder, Maggie Johnson and Andrew MacDonnell's quest to find each other is guided only by their dreams—and by the belief in the true love they share.
On the Carolina frontier Maggie Johnson’s family struggles to survive. Maggie’s gift of “the sight” and her visions show her a presence she calls Wolf. She watches him grow from a boy her age to a man even as she goes from child to woman.
Andrew MacDonald has always wondered about the girl he sees in his dreams. He is able to talk to her through their thoughts and vows that even if he must cross an ocean he will find her. They are thrust into different situations: Andrew fights for the doomed Jacobite cause and Maggie is captured by slavers, then rescued and brought into a kind, loving Native American tribe. They each believe in destiny and the power of the love they have shared forever
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