Tuesday, May 31, 2016

How Much of My Real Life Is in June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore + Giveaway (US/Can only)

Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

From the New York Times bestselling author of Bittersweet comes a novel of suspense and passion about a terrible mistake made sixty years ago that threatens to change a modern family forever.

Twenty-five-year-old Cassie Danvers is holed up in her family’s crumbling mansion in rural St. Jude, Ohio, mourning the loss of the woman who raised her—her grandmother, June. But a knock on the door forces her out of isolation. Cassie has been named the sole heir to legendary matinee idol Jack Montgomery’s vast fortune. How did Jack Montgomery know her name? Could he have crossed paths with her grandmother all those years ago? What other shocking secrets could June’s once-stately mansion hold?

Soon Jack’s famous daughters come knocking, determined to wrestle Cassie away from the inheritance they feel is their due. Together, they all come to discover the true reasons for June’s silence about that long-ago summer, when Hollywood came to town, and June and Jack’s lives were forever altered by murder, blackmail, and betrayal. As this page-turner shifts deftly between the past and present, Cassie and her guests will be forced to reexamine their legacies, their definition of family, and what it truly means to love someone, steadfastly, across the ages.

How Much of My Real Life Is in June

It was only after my grandmother passed away at the age of 103 that I spent any significant time in the small Ohio town where she grew up. Her stories about her early twentieth-century childhood were legend, among them, tales of her oil wildcatter great uncle, Lemon Gray Neely, who built an outsize yellow brick mansion right in the heart of town. When I first stepped into “Uncle Lem’s House” as a grown woman, it no longer belonged to my family, but it immediately held sway over me. I felt, if not exactly at home, then as though I was in the presence of a familiar friend, and that feeling stuck with me for years, until I found myself writing a novel set in a version of that small Ohio town, and realized I needed to go back and spend a real chunk of time there if I was going to be writing about it.

My mom and I went back in June 2014 for a week of measuring, taking pictures, and, most important of all, sitting in the house and soaking it in. I’d had a very peripatetic childhood, so it felt incredible to just sit in a “family” home, built by a long-dead ancestor, and get to know it, from the way light moved across the stairway landing, to the sound of the grackles nesting on the front porch. I also spent a lot of time in the town, wandering the streets, and was amazed to discover how little of that place had changed since my grandmother grew up there at the beginning of the twentieth century, save the fact that it was much less bustling than it had been in its (and her) prime.

Once I found myself back at my desk, I had room to imagine. Having gathered the facts, it was time to loosen myself from them. That’s an important part of how I incorporate research into my work, because life is no excuse—you never want to rely on “well, because it actually happened” as the reason something occurs in a work of fiction. I decided to rename the town St. Jude in the novel, and to allow myself to change aspects of it so there was room for my characters to grow there, while always keeping in mind the basic truths I knew about that place. This movement away from the actual place allowed for me to imagine what the impact on a place like that would have been if a Hollywood production had come to town in 1955, which (as far as I know) never happened in real life. It also allowed me to let my characters grow and thrive, and to imagine the difficulties faced by the citizens of a small town in post-war, booming America, in which being perceived as markedly different (queer, for example, as one of my characters is) would not have necessarily been celebrated. In this way, I never felt I had to justify myself to the real people who live (and lived) in the real town where my grandmother was raised; this book was inspired by their hometown, but is its own separate ecosystem, sprung from my own mind.

About the Author

Miranda Beverly-Whittemore is the author of three other novels: Bittersweet; Set Me Free, which won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, given annually for the best book of fiction by an American woman; and The Effects of Light. A recipient of the Crazyhorse Prize in Fiction, she lives and writes in Brooklyn.


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of June—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is answer Miranda's question in the comments below:
Do you have a relationship to the place where your ancestors lived? Where is that place, and what do you feel when you are there?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Miranda and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at TLC Book Tours and Crown Publishing!
Giveaway ends June 14th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!