Friday, September 29, 2017

Interview with Jane Goodrich, Author of The House at Lobster Cove + Giveaway (open internationally!)

I'd like to welcome Jane Goodrich to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of The House at Lobster Cove from Benna Books, an Applewood Books imprint!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Jane! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Jane Goodrich is a native New Englander who writes from an island in Maine, in a room that sits above Kragsyde's famous arch. A lifelong love of the 19th century has inspired her work as a designer, builder, printer, and story-teller. 

The House at Lobster Cove is her first novel.

It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which was released in May:

He was Boston's largest taxpayer with little interest in civic affairs. He was listed yearly in the Blue Book and joined no clubs. He possessed a dining room overlooking Boston Common and never entertained.

If George Nixon Black was mentioned at all, it was almost as rumor. He came and went from the opera in a carriage pulled by horses that were the envy of his peers. If he were glimpsed on the street, it was almost always with one of his beloved dogs by his side. His magnificent seaside greenhouses boasted rare plants, his collection of antiques and paintings, seldom exhibited, were said to be extraordinary. When his own portrait was painted, just twice, he chose women artists. Each winter he quietly boarded a luxury European-bound steamship with a man eighteen years his junior. The two had lived together for years.

Black's life was exceptional for his time. After a youth marred by violence and uncertainty, and a life of great privilege contrasted with the awareness of the danger his lifestyle placed him in, his happiness is remarkable and his secrecy understandable.

In the end, it was his house that gave him away. While Black himself was probably content to slip unnoticed into history, Kragsyde, his house at Lobster Cove, was to have no such fate. Published many times when it was first designed, and adored by architects and scholars ever since, the marvelous and photogenic house has made it impossible for Black to disappear.

In The House at Lobster Cove, you will meet the elusive Boston bachelor who was a curious blend of humility and fierceness, and see behind the doors of Kragsyde, the house that sheltered and shaped him, and continued to tell his story long after both were gone.

What was the inspiration for The House at Lobster Cove?

Most people, when they pick up my book do not realize that the house at Lobster Cove was a real life home. Built in 1884 on Lobster Cove in Manchester, Massachusetts for the novel’s protagonist, George Nixon Black and torn down at his death in 1928, the house was named Kragsyde.

Long before I ever wrote a word about Mr. Black I was fascinated with Kragsyde, so much so that my husband and I built an exact replica of the house over a twenty year period doing all the work ourselves. It certainly must be singular for a novelist to live in the setting of her novel—but I do, with all the old ghosts around me.

The replica of Kragsyde. Photo courtesy of Bret Morgan.
Thus, the characters, places and events of The House At Lobster Cove are all true to life. They were all real people and their real names were used. The events actually happened. Only their dialogue and feelings are imagined.


What were your challenges in writing such a novel?  


I had to write and plot within the parameters of real lives, and could not deter from the paths and choices these real people made. Rather than imagining a character from scratch, I had to imagine them within the framework of their actual physical features, and actions. Plotting can be difficult because real life progresses nothing like life in novels. Real life is more dull.

I also had to try and be empathetic with each character and the point of view they seemed to hold during their life and times. I certainly found I “liked” some of the characters more than others, but it was important to imagine them within the context of their circumstances, and not as heroes or villains.

The research for the novel was extensive, it took ten years. Besides using primary sources which told me about the time period, I studied Mr. Black’s will and contacted as many descendants of his beneficiaries as I could find. It is from the stories and letters they provided me that I built the personalities of the characters I only knew from old photographs.

I gave myself a challenge in writing this first novel as well. I wanted to create as fine a work of literary fiction possible. I am a descriptive, poetic sort of writer, and am impatient with stories that have big loud events which carry them. I don’t like bombs going off, or worlds ending or space invaders. To me the smallest of gestures and events written lyrically are much more moving.

I agree! As a big fan of first lines, I'd love to hear yours. Can you provide some commentary on it?
The dog simply slipped off the cliff.
Yes, the first sentence was designed to draw the reader in, but also to give the message that even in a setting of wealth and beauty, sad things happen, and they can happen quickly. Mr. Black did have a dog which fell off the cliff at his home. Not as momentous as the world blowing up, but just as poignant, and something nearly every reader can really relate to. The novel is full of the sudden unexpected joys and sorrows we all experience. To me, that is the value of literature, to unite people in feeling, and provide clues to how we all live and thrive.

I think that's a wonderful technique, to be able to portray such a relatively small moment as extremely sad. Poor dog :( Can you talk a bit about your publishing journey?


It was as full of unexpected twists and events as my novel!

The very hour I sat down to begin writing a query for an agent, I received a call at my business to place an order for a product I sell. (I am a greeting card designer and publisher). The woman on the phone told me she was seeking a card we made with a quote about books because she was a literary agent and wanted to send them to friends and associates.

I immediately went into “elevator pitch” mode, told her I was writing a query at the moment she called, and asked if if she would read my manuscript. She was polite but very cool, but she did agree saying “I don’t believe in coincidences.”

She called me back within the week, told me she thought the novel was marvelous and I signed with her before the month was out. This is going to be easy- I thought.

She submitted my novel to three publishers and they rejected it. She called me to reassure me this was not unusual and not to worry, and then she suddenly died. A few days later, my dog died. It was a bad week.

I rapidly found out that it is perhaps worse being “half-agented” than not having an agent at all and another year passed before a friend of a friend put me in touch with the publisher of Applewood Books.

This time the stars were properly aligned and I had found my publisher. Applewood was also savvy enough to suggest that since I am a letterpress printer and have sold my own greeting cards to bookstores for over 30 years that I have a hand in designing and printing the book’s cover, which I did.

In the end, I have created more facets of my novel than I ever expected and the reader has a special volume. My thoughts have been in every word, and my hands have been on every cover.


It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Jane! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away four print copies of The House at Lobster Cove—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is respond to Jane's question in the comments below:
Because of its fame, Kragsyde, the house at Lobster Cove ended up telling the story of the secretive man who owned it. What story would your house tell about you? What would be its secrets?
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. Jane and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)
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 over at TLC Book Tours and Harlequin!
Giveaway ends October 13th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar on the right 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!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Interview with Christopher Meades, Author of Hanna Who Fell from the Sky + Giveaway (US/Can)

I'd like to welcome Christopher Meades to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of Hanna Who Fell from the Sky from Park Row Books, a Harlequin imprint!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Christopher! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Christopher Meades is the author of three previous novels, including The Last Hiccup, which won the 2013 Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction. In addition, Meades’s work has appeared in several literary journals including The Potomac Review and The Fiddlehead.

He lives in British Columbia, Canada, with his family.


It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which hit shelves yesterday:

A magical, provocative tale of forbidden love and one girl's struggle for liberation

Hanna has never been outside her secluded community of Clearhaven. She has never questioned why her father has four wives or why she has fourteen brothers and sisters. And in only one week, on her eighteenth birthday, Hanna will follow tradition and become the fifth wife of a man more than twice her age.

But just days before the wedding, Hanna meets an enigmatic stranger who challenges her to question her fate and to follow her own will. And when her mother reveals a secret—one that could grant her the freedom she's known only in her dreams—Hanna is forced to decide whether she was really meant for something greater than the claustrophobic world of Clearhaven. But can she abandon her beloved younger sister and the only home she's ever known? Or is there another option—one too fantastical to believe?

With lush, evocative prose, award-winning author Christopher Meades takes readers on an emotional journey into a fascinating, unknown world—and, along the way, brilliantly illuminates complexities of faith, identity and how our origins shape who we are.

Were the characters in this book based on anything in your life?

I laced my previous books with people I knew growing up, embarrassing incidents (that changed only the names) and random events from my own life. For this novel, I created the world of Clearhaven out of thin air, so to speak. Creating characters solely from my imagination was a daunting challenge, but one I took seriously because this book means so much to me. I have two young daughters and one day, the oldest one picked up one of my earlier novels and started reading it. I almost had a heart attack (it’s not appropriate for children) and stopped her after one page. I hid the book and eventually we had a good laugh about it. But that moment inspired me to create a young female protagonist who finds her own path, who never gives up in spite of the obstacles in front of her. In Hanna, I created the kind of character I hope my children one day aspire to be: brave, honest, and above all—empathetic.


Would you share the first sentence and give us a bit of commentary?  

The wolves were lurking.
Hanna is in peril right from the start of the novel, surrounded by wolves as she and her disabled sister struggle to make their way through the woods. I sought to establish a sense of jeopardy and vulnerability right away, to show the dangers Hanna faces, what she must overcome to grow into herself throughout the novel, which starts as a story of survival and turns into one of potential.

Can you give us a behind-the-scenes peek at a crucial moment in the book’s history?

The first draft of Hanna Who Fell from the Sky had an ambiguous ending, leaving the reader hanging, which really isn’t fair to the reader (I personally hate it when a book leaves its story unresolved). Later, I placed a frame story around Hanna’s main tale and kept it there for over a year. When my editor told me that the frame story just didn’t work for the book, I spent months agonizing over how to change it. Two days before my edits were due, I had an epiphany and quickly wrote a new chapter, which (without revealing any spoilers) I believe gives hope and promise to the novel.

What did you learn as a result of writing this book?
  • Your editor is (almost) always right. If she says something’s off, askew or downright wrong about the novel... believe her!
  • Readers relate best to characters who care about the people around them
  • Sometimes the paragraph that you like the best—the one with the MFA-style wording and fancy turns of phrase—is the one getting in the way of your story
  • The best way to get any work done is to turn off all social media
  • To paraphrase Paul Valery, “A novel’s never finished, only abandoned.” You can keep fine-tuning a novel for thirty years if you feel like it. At a certain point, you have to say, “It’s done,” and send it out into the world.

Where can you be found on the web?


It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Christopher! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Hanna Who Fell from the Sky—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell  me in the comments below:
What is the farthest you've traveled from home?
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. Christopher and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)
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 over at TLC Book Tours and Harlequin!
Giveaway ends October 11th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar on the right 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!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Crows of Beara by Julie Christine Johnson Giveaway (US only)

The Crows of Beara
Julie Christine Johnson
from Ashland Creek Press

Along the windswept coast of Ireland, a woman discovers the landscape of her own heart

When Annie Crowe travels from Seattle to a small Irish village to promote a new copper mine, her public relations career is hanging in the balance. Struggling to overcome her troubled past and a failing marriage, Annie is eager for a chance to rebuild her life.

Yet when she arrives on the remote Beara Peninsula, Annie learns that the mine would encroach on the nesting ground of an endangered bird, the Red-billed Chough, and many in the community are fiercely protective of this wild place. Among them is Daniel Savage, a local artist battling demons of his own, who has been recruited to help block the mine.

Despite their differences, Annie and Daniel find themselves drawn toward each other, and, inexplicably, they begin to hear the same voice--a strange, distant whisper of Gaelic, like sorrow blowing in the wind.

Guided by ancient mythology and challenged by modern problems, Annie must confront the half-truths she has been sent to spread and the lies she has been telling herself. Most of all, she must open her heart to the healing power of this rugged land and its people.

Beautifully crafted with environmental themes, a lyrical Irish setting, and a touch of magical realism, The Crows of Beara is a breathtaking novel of how the nature of place encompasses everything that we are.

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Crows of Beara—yay!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
If you could run away from home, forever or for just a short spell, would you escape to a city (Paris! Tokyo!) or the middle of nowhere? Where would you go, and why?
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. Julie and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the author—a huge thank you to the lovely Julie Christine Johnson!
Giveaway ends October 10th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the 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!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Sugar Pine Trail by RaeAnne Thayne Giveaway! (continental US only)

Sugar Pine Trail (Haven Point #7)
RaeAnne Thayne
from Harlequin

An unlikely attraction brings comfort, joy and unforgettable romance this holiday season!

Librarian Julia Winston is ready to ditch the quiet existence she's been living. She's made a list of new things to experience, but falling for Jamie Caine, her sexy military pilot neighbor, isn't one of them. Julia's looking to conquer life, not become the heartbreaker's latest conquest. But when two young brothers wind up in Julia's care for the holidays, she'll take any help she can get—even Jamie's.

Happy to step in, Jamie reveals a side of himself that's much harder to resist. Not only is he fantastic with kids, he provides the strength Julia needs to tackle her list. She knows their temporary family can't last beyond the holidays, but the closer she gets to Jamie, the more she wonders if things could be this merry and bright forever...

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Sugar Pine Trail—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What is your favorite baby name, i.e. one named your child or are saving for a future baby? I know this could change with the times so tell me your favorite one currently!
I've always loved Rosalie for girl names.

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. RaeAnne and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at Little Bird Publicity!
Giveaway ends October 9th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to continental US readers only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open internationally. 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!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Behind the Scenes: The Trust by Ronald H. Balson + Giveaway (US/Can)

The Trust (Liam and Catherine #4)
Ronald H. Balson
from St. Martin's Press // MacMillan

The newest novel from Ronald H. Balson, the international bestselling author of Once We Were Brothers, finds private investigator Liam Taggart returning to his childhood home for an uncle's funeral, only to discover his death might not have been natural.

When his uncle dies, Liam Taggart reluctantly returns to his childhood home in Northern Ireland for the funeral—a home he left years ago after a bitter confrontation with his family, never to look back. But when he arrives, Liam learns that not only was his uncle shot to death, but that he’d anticipated his own murder: In an astonishing last will and testament, Uncle Fergus has left his entire estate to a secret trust, directing that no distributions be made to any person until the killer is found. Did Fergus know, but refuse to name, his killer? Was this a crime of revenge, a vendetta leftover from Northern Ireland’s bloody sectarian war? After all, the Taggarts were deeply involved in the IRA. Or is it possible that the killer is a family member seeking Fergus’s estate? Otherwise, why postpone distributions to the heirs? Most menacingly, does the killer now have his sights on other family members?

As his investigation draws Liam farther and farther into the past he has abandoned, he realizes he is forced to reopen doors long ago shut and locked. Now, accepting the appointment as sole trustee of the Fergus Taggart Trust, Liam realizes he has stepped into the center of a firestorm.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The First Line of The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck + Giveaway (US/Can)

The Writing Desk
Rachel Hauck
from Zondervan // HarperCollins

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Dress comes a new captivating novel of secrets, romance, and two women bound together across time by a shared dream.

Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration?

With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.

Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Setting for A Mother Like Mine by Kate Hewitt + Giveaway (US/Can)

A Mother Like Mine (Hartley-by-the-Sea #3)
Kate Hewitt
from Berkley // Penguin Random House

Welcome to England’s beautiful Lake District, where a reluctant reunion forges a new bond between a daughter and her wayward mother...

Abby Rhodes is just starting to get her life on track. After her fiancé’s unexpected death, she returned with her young son to the small village where she grew up and threw herself into helping her ailing grandmother run the town’s beach café. Then one evening, her mother, Laura, shows up in Hartley-by-the-Sea and announces her plan to stay. After twenty years away, she now wants to focus on the future—and has no intention, it seems, of revisiting the painful past.

Laura Rhodes has made a lot of mistakes, and many of them concern her daughter. But as Abby gets little glimpses into her mother’s life, she begins to realize there are depths to Laura she never knew. Slowly, Abby and Laura start making tentative steps toward each other, only to have life become even more complicated when an unexpected tragedy arises. Together, the two women will discover truths both sad and surprising that draw them closer to a new understanding of what it means to truly forgive someone you love.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Essential Touch of Nora Ephron by Erin Carlson, Author of I'll Have What She's Having + Giveaway (US/Can)

I'll Have What She's Having: How Nora Ephron's Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy
Erin Carlson
from Hachette Books // Hachette

A backstage look at the making of Nora Ephron’s revered trilogy–When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle–which brought romantic comedies back to the fore, and an intimate portrait of the beloved writer/director who inspired a generation of Hollywood women, from Mindy Kaling to Lena Dunham.

In I’ll Have What She’s Having, entertainment journalist Erin Carlson tells the story of the real Nora Ephron and how she reinvented the romcom through her trio of instant classics. With a cast of famous faces including Rob Reiner, Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, and Billy Crystal, Carlson takes readers on a rollicking, revelatory trip to Ephron’s New York City, where reality took a backseat to romance and Ephron–who always knew what she wanted and how she wanted it–ruled the set with an attention to detail that made her actors feel safe but sometimes exasperated crew members.

Along the way, Carlson examines how Ephron explored in the cinema answers to the questions that plagued her own romantic life and how she regained faith in love after one broken engagement and two failed marriages. Carlson also explores countless other questions Ephron’s fans have wondered about: What sparked Reiner to snap out of his bachelor blues during the making of When Harry Met Sally? Why was Ryan, a gifted comedian trapped in the body of a fairytale princess, not the first choice for the role? After she and Hanks each separately balked at playing Mail’s Kathleen Kelly and Sleepless‘s Sam Baldwin, what changed their minds? And perhaps most importantly: What was Dave Chappelle doing... in a turtleneck? An intimate portrait of a one of America’s most iconic filmmakers and a look behind the scenes of her crowning achievements, I’ll Have What She’s Having is a vivid account of the days and nights when Ephron, along with assorted cynical collaborators, learned to show her heart on the screen.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb Giveaway (US/Can)

The Unquiet Grave
Sharyn McCrumb
Atria Books // Simon & Schuster

From New York Times bestselling author Sharyn McCrumb comes a finely wrought novel set in nineteenth-century West Virginia, based on the true story of one of the strangest murder trials in American history—the case of the Greenbrier Ghost.

Lakin, West Virginia, 1930
Following a suicide attempt and consigned to a segregated insane asylum, attorney James P. D. Gardner finds himself under the care of Dr. James Boozer. Fresh out of medical school, Dr. Boozer is eager to try the new talking cure for insanity, and encourages his elderly patient to reminisce about his experiences as the first black attorney to practice law in nineteenth-century West Virginia. Gardner's most memorable case was the one in which he helped to defend a white man on trial for the murder of his young bride—a case that the prosecution based on the testimony of a ghost.

Greenbrier, West Virginia, 1897
Beautiful, willful Zona Heaster has always lived in the mountains of West Virginia. Despite her mother’s misgivings, Zona marries Erasmus Trout Shue, the handsome blacksmith who has recently come to Greenbrier County. After weeks of silence from the newlyweds, riders come to the Heasters’ place to tell them that Zona has died from a fall, attributed to a recent illness. Mary Jane is determined to get justice for her daughter. A month after the funeral, she informs the county prosecutor that Zona’s ghost appeared to her, saying that she had been murdered. An autopsy, ordered by the reluctant prosecutor, confirms her claim.

The Greenbrier Ghost is renowned in American folklore, but Sharyn McCrumb is the first author to look beneath the legend to unearth the facts. Using a century of genealogical material and other historical documents, McCrumb reveals new information about the story and brings to life the personalities in the trial: the prosecutor, a former Confederate cavalryman; the defense attorney, a pro-Union bridgeburner, who nevertheless had owned slaves; and the mother of the murdered woman, who doggedly sticks to her ghost story—all seen through the eyes of a young black lawyer on the cusp of a new century, with his own tragedies yet to come.

With its unique blend of masterful research and mesmerizing folklore, illuminating the story’s fascinating and complex characters, The Unquiet Grave confirms Sharyn McCrumb’s place among the finest Southern writers at work today.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Exclusive Sneak Peek: Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison + Giveaway (US/Can)

Lie to Me
J.T. Ellison

Domestic noir at its best. Readers will devour this stunning page-turner about the disintegration of a marriage as grief, jealousy, betrayal and murder destroy the facade of the perfect literary couple. New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison takes her exceptional writing to a new level with this breakout novel.

They built a life on lies

Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. They seem made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Interview with Robyn Carr, Author of The Summer That Made Us + Giveaway (continental US only)

I'd like to welcome Robyn Carr to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of The Summer That Made Us from Harlequin MIRA!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Robyn! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Robyn Carr was a young mother of two in the mid-1970s when she started writing fiction, an Air Force wife, educated as a nurse, whose husband’s frequent assignment changes made it difficult for her to work in her profession. Little did the aspiring novelist know then, as she wrote with babies on her lap, that she would become one of the world’s most popular authors of romance and women’s fiction, that 11 of her novels would earn the #1 berth on the New York Times bestselling books list.

Proof of Robyn’s international popularity is also in the numbers. Over the past 17 years, 41 Robyn Carr titles, with collectively 27 million copies in print, have been translated into 19 languages in 30 countries.

Robyn and her now-retired husband enjoy traveling, often taking research trips together. Their children are grown—her son is an Army surgeon; her daughter, a police detective/hostage negotiator. Robyn says that, in addition to reading her novels and making snide remarks about how she’s used family scenarios to her advantage, they have made her a happy grandmother.


It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which hit shelves just this week:

Mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins, they lived for summers at the lake house until a tragic accident changed everything. The Summer That Made Us is an unforgettable story about a family learning to accept the past, to forgive and to love each other again.

That was then...

For the Hempsteads, summers were idyllic. Two sisters who married two brothers and had three daughters each, the women would escape the city the moment school was out to gather at the family house on Lake Waseka. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything.

This is now...

After an accidental drowning turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. For good. Torn apart, none of the Hempstead women speak of what happened that summer, and relationships between them are uneasy at best, hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth.

Robyn Carr has crafted a beautifully woven story about the complexities of family dynamics and the value of strong female relationships.

What made you want to write such a sprawling, multigenerational novel, and what challenges did you encounter while plotting and structuring the story?

That’s what I love—complicated relationships and whether they can be resolved or not. And if they can be resolved, then how? As far as the biggest challenge, the first was, “Whose story is this?” As is typical of my novels, the story usually belongs to more than one person. Writing a story with many points of view is always hard, but in this case it was such a labor of love—the women in this story are nothing short of amazing and each one such a mystery to me. Until they were written out, of course. And then what seemed so unique and mysterious became so much like every woman I know.

Can you tell us a little about the title of the book? Where did it come from, and do you think everyone has a defining summer of youth?

It will be hard to decide whether the summer that made them was that tragic summer long ago or the redeeming summer that brings them all together again. In my mind the characters think that tragic summer that ended their wonderful days at the lake is the summer that shaped the rest of their lives—until they reunite and get to know each other all over again. I think we have many defining moments in the summers of our youth. If you come from a cold, snowy climate like I did growing up, it feels like we slog through the winter months and summer is always a time of rebirth and rejuvenation.

What makes female bonds—familial or otherwise—such a rich topic of exploration in a novel? What was the most rewarding part of developing and digging into these powerful and often complex relationships?

A million years ago when men went off to slay the woolly mammoth, the women were left behind to tend the home fires and, subsequently, took charge of the relationships. Women bond with each other on a deep and complex level. It’s not that they bond on a deeper level than men do (a military band of brothers comes instantly to mind), but they bond differently because women are natural nurturers and because they have always minded the survival of the family and the children and each other, and they have an innate sensitivity and vulnerability to emotions. And because women have such a wide range of personalities and skills, they also have a wide range of dealing with emotional issues. The canvas is very large! A writer of women’s fiction can write as many different female characters as there are females in the world! Finding a new set of characteristics that are not identical to a character already written is the biggest headache and the fiercest joy.

One of our favorite characters is Krista, who has just returned home after a long prison sentence. Having never spent time in prison yourself, did you have to do any research while crafting Krista’s storyline, and what was one of the biggest things you learned from telling her story?

I looked up a few things, did a little reading, but mainly my imagination makes that scenario just terrifying to me. Hard to imagine, isn’t it? Gray and cold and mean. Just surviving it would be astonishing and surviving it well, admirable. I loved writing about Krista. She is an ideal character if ever there was one—her shortcomings took her down about as far as a person could go and her retribution was epic. I left her knowing her life from then on would be wonderful.

What’s next for you? What are you working on right now, and what can readers look forward to next?

I’m writing the next book in the Sullivan’s Crossing series. We don’t have a title yet, but we’re close. I’m writing about Dakota Jones, formerly a major in the Army, and let me tell you, he is a good book boyfriend. Yes, he’s at the crossing, with his siblings Cal and Sierra, and he’s stirring up lots of interest. And a little trouble.

Very exciting! Where can you be found on the web?


It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Robyn! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Summer That Made Us—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What was the best part of your summer 2017?
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. Robyn and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

A lot happened this summer! I graduated, finished my research apprenticeship, got a job, moved away from my college town, and traveled to Europe. Individually these things weren't a big deal, but put together they kept me busy but productive, just the way I like it!

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at Little Bird Publicity!
Giveaway ends September 21st at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to continental US 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!