As you can see from my review, I very much enjoyed Under The Same Sky by Genevieve Graham. Genevieve has graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions. I’d like to give you a warm welcome to Good Books & Good Wine, Genevieve.
1. Your main character, Maggie, goes through several traumatic events. As an author was it a challenge to write about Maggie’s trauma?
Of course. I wrote Maggie’s story in first person, because that’s how she told it to me. Because of that, her actions and emotions were particularly vivid in my mind. There were times when I lost myself in the writing, sucked into the tragedy. I did cry, and I did feel a deep hatred and need for vengeance after that. I even wondered if she’d manage to actually pull out of it all.
I should probably explain here that I rarely know what my characters are going to say. It’s true. They appear to me when I’m sleeping, when I’m on a treadmill, when I’m driving or cooking dinner. Many times I’ve had to drop everything I’m doing just so I can get what they’re saying written down. My husband bought me a pen that lights up because of all the times I woke up at 2am, needing to scribble. I don’t dare forget a single word.
I wrote the first major, traumatic scene in one sitting because it was something I couldn’t bear to interrupt. I was shocked when I read it afterwards, actually! Initially, it was written even more graphically, but I removed anything gratuitous. It was important to tell the story but not wallow in it.
Why did I put her through that? What almost killed her made her stronger than she ever could have imagined. The situation made her desperate to contact Andrew, to reach to him for help. And it engaged him, helping him realize there was so much more to each other than dreams.
2. The Cherokee play quite a large role in Under The Same Sky and it is clear that a high level of research was put into the parts with the Cherokee. What was the most interesting thing you came across in your research?
That’s a difficult question to answer because I can’t think of one specific interesting “fact”. But I did meet an interesting person.
Before I wrote Under the Same Sky, I knew nothing about the Cherokee or any other native Americans. Shame on me, because these were, and are, a people worthy of our understanding. Now that I live in Nova Scotia, I am drawn to the Mic Mac people, and I want to research them further.
There are lots of books about native Americans; however, as I did with the research on the Scottish Highlands, I grew bored with books and decided to contact the experts instead. Through visiting his HYPERLINK “http://www.cherokeebyblood.com” website, I met David Vann, better known as Iron Head. Iron Head is the great-great-great grandson of ‘Chief’ Rich Joe Vann of the Old Cherokee Nation, and a very generous resource for me.
The most interesting thing? That’s difficult, because I learned a lot. I think what fascinated me the most was how the Cherokee could be both incredibly peaceful and loving, then switch to being the terrifying people who are so often depicted in one-sided stories. Though this is a very dark fact, I found it interesting that though they did, on occasion, torture their captives, it was usually done in the belief that their gods would reward them based on the amount of pain inflicted! On the other hand, I loved that the Cherokee were all one big family. A child belonged to the entire tribe. They loved each other without question, and there were never any fences or dividers between homes.
They were regarded as cold-blooded killers and warriors. The fact is, no matter what colour you are, if you’re backed into a corner, you’re going to protect yourself. If someone moves onto your turf, you’re going to stand up for your rights. Sure, they fought, but they loved as well.
3. Andrew and Maggie are not the typical romance hero and heroine. Neither come from a privileged background. I find this to be a departure from the romance I typically read. What was your decision process in creating Maggie and Andrew’s background?
I guess Andrew and Maggie are typical of my entire book. Nothing about it—or them—is stereotypical romance, as you know! A lot of historical romances deal with the upper crust, people who lived in a world of manners, etiquette, and wonderful (though often impractical) fashion. Those characters can often be predictable because they are so tightly restricted by the rules of their class system.
Obviously, not everyone lived well. My characters came from the earth, were raised rough, and grew up as well as they could despite everything. They had no rules beyond needing to follow their own moral compasses. Had they been of a more privileged class, would they have been able to ignore the rules and follow their dreams the way they did? I think the challenges that made their lives more difficult helped make believing in the impossible possible, if that makes sense!
4. I love the idea of characters who have known each other their whole lives but never met. What was your inspiration for this?
I guess it’s based on my belief that we all have a soul mate, and something inside us longs for them until we find them. It’s just that in real life, we don’t usually know who that soul mate is until we’re all grown up and we discover them. Imagine longing for someone you can sense in your dreams. You can almost see them, you can practically touch … but you can’t. What would you do to get to that person? Would you put your own life in danger just so you could finally touch? Andrew never hesitated.
5. Have you read any good books lately? Care to share a few titles?
Sure! Just so you know, I’m not a regency reader. I prefer books thick with adventure.
I’m loving Kaki Warner’s work and am just digging into her most recent, “Colorado Dawn”. She writes 19th century western romances and her characters are delicious.
I get a kick out of Joanna Bourne’s brilliant adventures, based in the time of the French Revolution and can’t wait to sink into “The Black Hawk”.
I recently finished Jennifer Roberson’s “Lady of the Forest” and am a huge admirer of how she can make the reader believe the author actually lived in that time period. Her use of language is incredible.
And then there’s Diana Gabaldon. I’ll never get tired of her books, and her latest, “The Scottish Prisoner” is no exception.
Want to know more about Genevieve Graham? She’ll be appearing at Authoronomy on January 13th.
Want my gently read paperback of Under The Same Sky? Just leave a comment on this post. That’s all you need to do. The contest is open internationally and I will pick a winner out on the 17th. I will announce the winner ON THIS POST.
And the winner is: Kayla!!