Today I'm excited to have Genevieve Graham, author of Under the Same Sky here for an interview. I loved this book!
1. How did you come up with the idea for Under the Same Sky? What drew you to the subject of soul mates?
There’s no really easy answer to that. I’d never written anything before “Under the Same Sky”, and I had no idea what I was doing when I first sat down to give writing a try. So I sat for a while and stared at my computer screen, waiting. I guess it was kind of like a meditation, though I’ve never really practiced that, either.
Eventually I started to see images in my mind. Maggie was there first, and she showed me the harsh life she led, then introduced me to her only hope: a man of whom she’d only ever dreamed. But he was more than just a figment of her imagination. She believed in him, and I knew that since she had other “gifts”, she was probably right. When I sat down to write on a different day, I suddenly found myself in the throes of a brutal battle. Sword in hand, Andrew was in a filthy sea of torn plaids and bloodied red coats, battling for his life. He wasn’t even from the same country, and yet I knew he was the one she’d always known.
So really, I didn’t come up with the idea. It came up to me and presented itself.
2. I loved the pre-America setting of Under the Same Sky. What was your research process for the book?
I’ve never been a historian. To be honest, I could easily have slept through all of high school history. I don’t know if it’s my old age (ha!), or just my fascination with writing, but now I can’t get enough. I knew nothing about this time period before I started, so initially I went to the library and brought
home (literally) pounds of books to wade through. But that was a process similar to surviving history class, and I just couldn’t hack it.
So I went online. I visited the websites of the passionate folks who spend their time either with re-enactment groups (like www.historic-highlanders.com) or sharing facts about their own culture
(www.cherokeebyblood.com). I read through their sites, then sent questions to their ‘Contact Me’ page, then waited. A lot of people are too busy to answer those kinds of in-depth questions, and I understand that completely. But those who take the time are generous. And the thing is, they love their particular field so much, they are determined I will get it right. My main source for the Cherokee information was a man named Ironhead Vann, who is the great-great-great grandson of ‘Chief’ Rich Joe Vann of the
Old Cherokee Nation. Can I just say - it is TOTALLY cool to get emails from a guy named Ironhead. Seriously.
At the end of writing “Under the Same Sky”, I actually had hundreds of pages of too much information, but it was all too intriguing to simply delete. I saved every word and have already used a bunch of it on subsequent books.
3. At the end of Under the Same Sky, we get a sneak peek at your next book which has to do with some of the characters that appeared in Under the Same Sky but not Andrew and Maggie. Do you have any plans to write more about Andrew and Maggie (pretty please!)?
When Penguin contracted me for “Under the Same Sky”, it was with the understanding that I would write a “companion novel”. That was when “Sound of the Heart” was born. I hadn’t even considered writing a second book, to be honest! I hate to disappoint, but the story of Maggie and Andrew seems to be done — for now … though I’m dying to know what happens with their children. Can you imagine?!
“Sound of the Heart” follows Andrew’s brother, Dougal, who I love. It’s another action-packed story, but the couple unites much earlier. Book #3, “Out of the Shadows” is sitting on my agent’s desk. It centres around Adelaide, Maggie’s sister. I actually have a huge crush on Jesse, the man in that story. And I have recently started work on book #4 (title t.b.d.) which is about Janet. A few people have mentioned to me that her personality is such that she can’t just fade into history. I wasn’t sure … after all, she has no “magic” in her, and isn’t blood related. But one morning I woke up and she informed me that she has her own story. She gives me her own share of challenges, but the story’s pretty exciting so far.
4. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Write, write, and write. And PLEASE don’t worry about publishing. Self- publishing is so darn easy these days it’s tempting for so many people to just do it. It took me eight months to write “Under the Same Sky”, then I took the next four years to learn how to make it in to a good book. I could easily have self-published way back then, but had I done that, it would never have emerged as the book it is now. I worked really hard to make it what it is. Take the time to work on every word, every phrase, every image in your head. Write for you.
5. If you could bring three fictional characters with you to a deserted island, who would you bring?
First off, Jamie Fraser, from Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander”. He’s my idea of the ultimate man in so many ways. Except neither of us would be any good at cooking, so that could be a problem.
Elizabeth Bennett. She’s smart, insightful, supportive, and funny. I’m usually more comfortable with guys than girls, but everyone needs a bff on a deserted island, right?
For number three I’m throwing in a movie suggestion, and an odd one at that. I’d bring along just about any character played by the actor John Cusack. I love the bumbling romantic he usually plays. He’s the man who pays attention to everything you say, then plays with the words and makes them more meaningful or funny or whatever. He makes me laugh, then want to hug him (etc). I love the characters he played in “Say Anything”, “Grosse Pointe Blank”, “Serendipity”, “America’s Sweetheart”, etc.