Good morning, readers! Today, we have fellow VHP author Misha Crews with us! :)
Good morning, Misha! Jumping right in, my first question is: Both Still Waters and Homesong take place in Virginia and really seem to center around life in a small town. Is there amy particular reason why you picked Virginia and similar backdrops for both books?
Well, I was born in Virginia, I know it and love it. I've seen it change a lot over the past four decades, but more importantly, I've seen how the heart of it has remained constant and unchanged. Housing developments come and go, highways are constructed and then re-constructed, but the mountains and rivers will outlive us all. The land is ancient, eternal and full of stories, many of which will never be told. I've tried to sow my novels with some of that essence: the deep and enticing truthfulness that dwells in the earth.
As for small towns, well, I've been fascinated by them ever since I first read Agatha Christie's Miss Marple stories! After having lived in the suburbs most of my life, where hardly anyone knows their neighbor and every shopping mall is like every other shopping mall, the idea of living in a place where everybody is involved in everyone else's business, and each building is unique and different -- well, it's very appealing! And if I can't live there in "real life," at least I can visit in fiction, and hopefully bring my readers along for the trip.
The banner on your website says, "Timeless Tales of Heart and Home." What does that phrase mean to you?
To me it sums up the kind of stories I want to tell: tales of love and family: the places we live and the secrets we keep. "Timeless," because I like telling stories that happen in all different time periods. For example, Homesong, my first novel, was about multiple generations of two families: pieces of the story were told in the late 1800s, the 1930s, 1960s and present day. My second novel, Still Waters, which will be out in August, takes place in the mid-1950s. By the way, you're one of the first people to ask me that question!
Your website is beautiful! One of the things that I love is the picture of the beautiful orange tulips. Do they represent anything to you?
Well first, thanks for that lovely compliment! I'm so glad you liked the website. I spent a long time looking for just the right images for the site, and the tulips struck me right away. It's been said that keeping flowers around is one way to ward off depression; they're bright, cheerful and just make you feel good. That's exactly how I wanted people to feel when visiting my site, and those flowers just seemed to be the perfect fit.
One thing that I have been asked quite a few times, and now am asking other writers is how their characters are a reflection of themselves. Do you see personality traits in yourself that you pass along to your characters? Are your characters the type of person you aspire to be? Readers love to know the connections between writer and character! :)
Another good question! Yes, I definitely see myself in my characters: who I am and who I'd like to be (or who I definitely don't want to be, but maybe sometimes am!). I do find that I'm affected by my characters in unexpected ways. I'll think,"What would Adam do in this situation?" "Am I strong enough to handle this the way Jenna would?" or "Wow, that was kind of a 'Pleasance Fitzgerald' thing to do! Maybe I'd better rethink that!" I think that all writers would agree, we're bound to our characters. They're born in our imaginations, when we put them down on paper, we're unleashing them on the world, for better or worse. And once they're out, they're out! Trying to control them can be like trying to reign in a stubborn teenager, and heavens knows that ain't easy!
Here are my book blurbs. :)
STILL WATERS (now available on Kindle, coming in paperback in August)
A tragic death....
A disturbing photo that can't be explained....
A woman drowning in an ocean of secrets....
In 1950s Virginia, beautiful, serious Jenna Appleton seems to have found the life she's always wanted. But underneath the shallow gleam of her bright suburban world, murky truths are waiting to surface.
On the morning that her husband dies in a tragic accident, Jenna finds a shocking photo of him in the arms of a beautiful woman. And before she can ask him about it, he's gone forever.
Five years later, Jenna has buried her questions and remade her life. But the reappearance of an old love stirs up guilty questions, and she realizes that some secrets aren't meant to be hidden. The deeper she dives for answers, the darker the water gets. How will she find happiness for herself and her family, when every step she takes towards the strange and awful truth seems to lead her right back to her own home shores?
HOMESONG (availble in paperback and in multiple e-book formats, including Kindle)
In a small town, everyone knows everything about everybody. Or do they?
For twenty years, Kate Doyle has been haunted by the night when she was forced to flee from her tiny Virginia home town and abandon her childhood sweetheart, Reed Fitzgerald. So when Kate, now in her mid-30s, escapes her unhappy life in Washington, DC and takes a much-needed vacation, the last thing she expects is to be reunited with Reed. Now, under the warm clear Caribbean sun, amid ancient churches and pink flamingos, Kate and Reed seek to revive the love that they thought was gone forever.
But will small-town secrets ruin their last chance for happiness? Woven into the modern tale of Kate and Reed are the tales of those who came before them. Their mothers: teenagers in the chaotic 1960s, best friends who are in love with the same man – although only one of them knows it. Reed's grandmother: already a bitter old woman by the 1930s, she would do anything to carry on the family name…and would drive away anyone who came between her and her grandson. And even the founder of the town: in 1865, what guilty secret drove one man to bring his two daughters across the ocean from Ireland and settle in the dark Virginia hills?
At its heart, Homesong is the story of a small town: its lies and truths, its beginnings and endings. It's about proud secrets, unrestrained joy, and the old adage that you may leave your home, but it never really leaves you.
Was there any particular person, place or event that stirred you to write either Homesong or Still Waters? They're both so intriguing, I'd love to hear the back story behind them! :)
That's always a difficult question for me to answer, because the story evolves so much from where it starts that sometimes I hardly recognize it when it's written! But with Still Waters, there are a few elements to this story which make it uniquely personal for me, and here they are:
The house in which Jenna and her son Christopher are living is the house that I lived in as a child. It's in a pretty little part of Virginia known as Arlington Forest, a development built in the late 1930s. At the time that they were built, the houses were sold for about $6000 (garage and fireplace extra, of course!). I don't have much memory of the house, since we moved from there when I was around six. But the memories that I do have are pleasant.
The house in which Jenna's in-laws, Bill and Kitty Appleton, are living is the house owned by my grandparents in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The house is in a very old section of Burke, Virginia and it's still there today. I've never been inside, but its existence and the time that my family lived there is an integral part of our family lore.
The house that Adam builds is part of a real-life subdivision called Hollin Hills. Although I have no direct connection to this place, it's not far from where I live now, and it's every bit as magical as I've described.
Jenna's dog is named Fritz, which is the name of the dog that we had when we lived in Arlington Forest. Our Fritz was a black-and-tan collie; Jenna's Fritz is a German Sheppard. The thing I remember most about Fritz was how much I loved him, and that affection is now Christopher's love for his own version of Fritz.
If there was one thing that you really wanted your readers to get out of your books, what would it be & why?
There's nothing I like better than a real page-turner: the kind of book that keeps me up way past my bedtime, because I just can't wait to see how it ends! For that to happen, the characters have to be people that I care about. And that's what I've tried to give to readers, with both Homesong and Still Waters: that feeling that's both heartwarming and breathless, "How will it all turn out?" One reader said of Still Waters, "WOW! I could NOT put it down! My cats were walking all over the book, begging to be fed, and I kept shoo'ing them away. I absolutely had to turn that next page!" That's the kind of feedback every writer loves to hear -- it lets me know I'm doing my job!
Indeed you are, Misha! Thanks so much for joining us today! :)