Today Library Girl Reads and Reviews welcomes Genevieve Graham as she drops by on her blog tour for Sound of the Heart. Be sure to read all the way to the end of the post for more information about Sound of the Heart and a giveaway to celebrate the book. I asked Genevieve to tell us about how her characters came to be and this is what she had to say:
Once upon a time a young woman named Maggie moved in my mind. I’d never met her before, had no idea where she came from, only felt compelled to let her lead me wherever she wanted me to go. I’d never written a book before, and I really had no idea how to start, but that didn’t seem to matter. I sat in front of the computer, let my mind relax, and in she came.
It was the most intense experience, getting to know Maggie. On one hand, I had to be completely open to the story she was passing on, which to me means I have to basically be meditating. On the other hand I had to stay emotionally strong as she dragged me through hell with her. Along the way, she told me about Andrew, the boy of whom she’d always dreamed. And the next day, when I sat at my computer, I practically vibrated with adrenaline as I experienced Andrew fighting for his life in the bloody Battle of Culloden.
This first book became “Under the Same Sky,” the story of how Andrew and Maggie communicate their entire lives through dreams, helping each other survive though they lived thousands of miles apart. And when dreams are no longer enough, Andrew must cross the Atlantic and brave the unknown colonies in his quest to finally find her in the flesh.
Creating “Under the Same Sky” was exhilarating and exhausting. Not only was the story heart-wrenching yet romantic, the whole experience of researching for the times, then editing the manuscript to make it a fulfilling read, then querying for an agent … I was ready for a long nap after all that. But it was not to be.
Berkley not only wanted the first book, but they wanted a second book, a “companion novel” to go with it. But how? I’d lived through Maggie and Andrew so long, and their story had finished (for now, at least). This first experience was incredible, but the idea of trying to come up with something new boggled my mind.
Then Dougal, the brother Andrew had assumed was killed at Culloden, appeared. I’d been trying for a couple of days to write a character, to make up some kind of direction, but I only ended up with my head in my hands, driving my husband crazy with my whining. It was no use. I wasn’t going to find a plot or characters or anything. What had I gotten myself into? What was I going to do?
“Leave it to me, lass,” Dougal whispered, and I let him carry me away.
I’d seen Dougal in Andrew’s memories, and I knew how connected the brothers were, but I hadn’t known Dougal would have such a compelling story to tell in “Sound of the Heart”. Not only that, but Dougal was such a different character from his brooding, introspective brother, I found myself typing funny scenes and conversations I’d never imagined in the earlier, darker story. Once he brought me to the muddy field where he’d been taken prisoner along with hundreds of other Scots after the battle, I dove into researching what had happened to those men and women and realized he was going to have to be even stronger than I’d thought. The history of those P.O.W.s was miserable and often very short. But not Dougal. He would survive. Through research I found the possible paths he could take, then I let him show me the way. I admit I was privy to a secret he didn’t know, and when that twist occurred about halfway through “Sound of the Heart,” I loved seeing his reaction. I also loved watching him fall in love, and I felt his agony when she was ripped from his side. What choice did he have but to get back on that path, doing whatever he could to find her again? That only led to more adventures—for both of them.
When people ask what the toughest part of writing is for me, I always say it’s creating plot. I love getting in the minds of characters, experiencing the settings and goings-on from inside their minds. But when I sit down and try to plan, well, suffice to say it’s not always a pretty sight. I’m so lucky my characters let me ride their coattails. They live through amazing adventures, and it’s pure magic to be invited along for the ride.
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.
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