Author Interview – Genevieve Graham

What the Cat Read would like to welcome Genevieve Graham, author of Sound of the Heart, to the blog today. Genevieve has been kind enough to stop by to answer some questions that we have for her as part of her book blog tour. Purrs and tail waves to you Genevieve and we are pleased to have you. Murr!

Hi Cameron! Thank you for having me!

So tell us a bit about yourself. What sorts of things do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any favorite foods/drinks? Favorite movie/TV show? Etc.

Hang on. You mentioned free time …? I’m supposed to have free time? * making notes * I’m a mom (two teenage daughters), and I also run my own editing business from home, so I work pretty much all the time. Oh, and I have a dog. And four chickens. Yep. But I’m lucky. So many people don’t enjoy their jobs, and I love mine. I get to work with authors from all around the world, reading their manuscripts, working with them … it’s a new experience every time.

When I finally get off my butt and away from the keyboard, I move to another one—I teach piano to kids in the area. My background is in classical music, so I figure it’s my responsibility to pass the joy of actually performing music to ipod-trained kids everywhere!

I love all things chocolate, pretty much. And for drinks, I love Starbucks’ Cinnamon Dolce Latte. Really. It’s like a melted cinnamon bun. I’m not much into coffee on its own, though. I prefer herbal tea.

We don’t watch much tv anymore, but we are a movie-loving family. We just finished re-running through every single movie in these series: Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Spiderman … and when I can muscle my way in I bribe everyone to sit around and watch Pride & Prejudice (they can only handle the Kiera Knightley version—it’s way shorter), Sense & Sensibility, Benny & Joon, Kate & Leopold, etc. (Why do all my favourite movies include an “&” in the title? I’ve never noticed that before.)

Wow, you are definitely busy! I’d ask the how you manage to do it all every day, but I know that when it comes to doing the stuff that you love, you find a way to make it all work. =^.^= Wish I could say that I was a fan of classical music, but sadly my tastes do not run to that style. Broadway musicals are more my speed. Course, there are a few pieces that I gravitate towards in the classical department. Night on Bald Mountain is one, Clare de Lune is another (and no, I don’t like that piece because it was used in Twilight).

Anyways, music aside, what attracted you to writing?

Reading. I never, ever get tired of reading quality stories. I am entirely obsessed with Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series, but after reading it four times and listening to it three more times, I had to move on. I loved the books of Sara Donati, Jennifer Roberson, Penelope Williamson, and others who write historical adventure, but after a while I decided it was time to write my own book. I never wrote a thing until after I’d turned 42. Never in my life had I dreamed I’d be where I am now. Life has been very, very good to me.

Woohoo! Always wonderful to meet another Diana Gabaldon fan. Jennifer Roberson is another great author that the felines and I love to read. And I’ll have to add the other authors to my list of books to check out as I’ve not heard of them before today. Congratulations on joining their ranks in the publishing world! Speaking of your writing, could you tell us a bit about the other books you’ve written and are writing?

“Under the Same Sky” was my very first book. I hadn’t ever planned to write any others, but when Penguin offered the contract, it was for a second book as well. They specifically asked for a “companion novel”, not a sequel, so “Sound of the Heart” was born. Since then I’ve written a third in the series, “Out of the Shadows,” but my editor is still considering it. A fourth story kicked in last January, though it’s taking a break for now.

I’ve also been working on a few stories based here in my little town in Nova Scotia. Funnily enough, two of them take place in the WW1 time period (though the latest is time travel, so it’s kind of a mixture). I’d never been attracted to that time period before, but I think it’s because I live in an area so rich with history. The other day I went to visit a friend who was being a caretaker for an old, 150 year old house which was being renovated. He said sometimes he just sits down for a while and he can feel the people of the past moving through the corridor. How could I NOT write a book after hearing him say that? I’m hoping to actually bring my laptop to the house later this summer and try to write from there, see what the spirits have to say!

Would you care to share with us a few of your writing habits?

I work best when I’m all alone and in silence. I’m quite a hermit. I can’t even listen to music. I think that’s because of my classical training. I know the music so well that my mind automatically clicks in, listening for specific points in the music, distracting me from the story. And when people are talking around me, well, forget it. Fortunately, my adorable husband built me my very own, closed-door office—though it kind of becomes a meeting place sometimes, which I always think is pretty funny, considering it’s the smallest room in the house.

I like to have a cup of herbal tea beside me and a candle always burning. If I’m lucky I have chocolate there, too.

It amazes me when I see some of the play lists that authors write too. I can’t seem to do anything if the music playing is anything but instrumental. Like you I get lost in the songs and can’t focus on anything else. It’s awesome that your husband build you your own office! I’d give anything to have a small little nook where I can disappear to when I want to get stuff done.

Now speaking of the creative process, how do you handle writer’s block and what other obstacles have you encountered as a writer and how did you overcome them?

I usually have at least two projects going on at the same time, not including my editing work. When I experience writer’s block (which happens a lot), I overcome it by finding inspiration elsewhere. It’s important that I not stop writing at least in some way, even if it’s editing for someone else. I think my mind gets so bogged down in a story sometimes that I need to distract it with something else. As far as other obstacles go, I’m terrible at plot. My favourite solution to that is to have a “summit” with my always creative husband, usually with a glass of wine in one hand and my pen in the other.

I like the “summit” idea. I’ll have to try it the next time I get stuck on an assignment or review post.

When you develop your characters, do you model them off of people in your life or do they sort of create themselves?

My characters create themselves, but sometimes I need a little help studying their personal habits, like gestures, hand movements, quirky smile, accent, or whatever, so I like to choose a movie actor who seems similar to who I see in my head. That way I can watch the actor on YouTube, in interviews or clips, and from there I can write a more accurate portrayal of my character. For “Sound of the Heart” I watched the absolutely perfect Scottish hunk-asaurus, Gerard Butler, but also watched Josh Halloran, who was in the tv series “Lost”. Dougal was also partially modelled after my husband. For “Under the Same Sky” I studied Colin Farrell’s character in the movie, “The New World.”

Oh, Gerard Butler! That man played a fantastic Phantom of the Opera and Dracula. Guess I know who the leading men would be if your books were ever made into movies. Out of curiosity, who are your favorite characters from Sound of the Heart?

I love Dougal. I loved him in the first book even though he only appeared in memories, and I love him even more in “Sound of the Heart”. He’s a strong, courageous warrior, but also a fiercely loyal, loving, sensitive man who will do anything to rescue his true love. I also really liked Dougal’s buddy, John Wallace. The two of them injected some humour into the book that I’d never written before. It was a lot of fun to listen to them go back and forth with each other.

They sound like a wonderful bunch of characters. So, similar question, what are a few of your favorite scenes?

That’s so hard to say without letting out spoilers, but I’ll try! If you’ve already read the book, you’ll know the twist in the middle of the book is one of them, but I’m not going to talk about that. I liked the opening few scenes, where Dougal is in battle—brutal and horrible, but the scene was painted with vivid and exacting details that put the reader right there in the mess of it all. I also really loved the point when Dougal first met John. Right off the bat they had a comradery you just knew would last. Two similar men doing the best they can in an impossible situation, and finding unexpected friendship along the way. I enjoyed Glenna and Dougal’s first kiss—I think the moments I enjoyed most were the unexpected ones: Dougal’s response to her scolding and her subsequent reaction … neither of them was predictable. Oh, I have a lot of favourite scenes. I think I’ll leave the rest of them for you to discover yourself.

I can’t wait to finish reading the book and discover a few more of these scenes for myself! Already I’m in love with the story you’ve created. =^.^=

So, Sound of the Heart is set in a historical time period. What research did you do prior to the novel and what attracted you to this moment/location in time particularly?

Yes, “Sound of the Heart” and “Under the Same Sky” are written in the mid-1700s, a  tumultuous time for the people of Scotland. Actually, the Scots had a lot of tumultuous times, but that one in particular is remembered because it marks the “end” of Scotland as she had once been. Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series is what inspired the time period for me. I was so wrapped up in her stories I couldn’t even imagine a different time.

Before I started writing I’d never been into history at all. And I was terrible at research. I carried pounds and pounds of books home from the library, then fell asleep trying to concentrate on them. From there I went to my friend, Google, who directed me all over the place, filling my mind with major events and tiny details. The difficult part with researching on the internet (I found), is that so many historical sites contradict each other. It was really frustrating at times. So I decided to go about it a different way. The only people who really knew what went on back then are still living today—in a way. All around the world, groups of re-enactors spend their lives recreating a time and place that means so much to them. These are passionate, detail-consumed individuals who think nothing of wearing 7 layers of heavy wool in the middle of summer if that’s what the real Highlanders did, and who gleefully sent me pages and pages of info about the length of various swords and their hilts, among other things. In “Under the Same Sky” I worked with and, and with “Sound of the Heart” I added, a survival specialist in Scotland who helped Dougal out of a very difficult situation at one point.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers before we bring this interview to a close?

I want to give your readers a bit of a heads-up on the style of my books. The covers of both give the impression that you are about to sink into a lush romance, complete with bodice ripping and thrusting of more than swords. But that’s not the way my stories go. I write more “Historical Adventures” rather than romance, though romance ties it all together, and there is a happily-ever-after. I believe in writing about the gritty reality of the time period, and the 18th century was not a gentle time for anyone, especially women. There was violence, but there were also heroics. There was slavery and brutality, but there was also victory and satisfaction, and pure, consuming love which goes much deeper than just the physical. I try to take my readers somewhere they’ve never been, and though the places and experiences may not all be pretty, they will (hopefully) open the reader’s horizons and heart to something new.

Sadly that’s all the time we have for this interview. I’d like to thank you Genevieve for taking time out of your schedule to come talk with us today! Perhaps we can encourage you to drop by again sometime soon for another fun Q&A or event a guest post. 🐱

Now, before I bring this post to a close, I’d like to first invite everyone to check out the other blogs participating in the Sound of the Heart Book Blog Tour and to enter the give away for a signed copy of Sound of the Heart and a set of four relaxation cds, which can be found by following the link above! Also, be sure to come back tomorrow (Thursday) for Buggy’s review on the book. =^.^=


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.

Author’s Webpage, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter

Posted on May 9, 2012, in Authors. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I don’t know if my first comment will post but I apologize if it does.
    I love Historical Adventure. I lo9ved Under The Same Sky and look forward to reading Sound Of The Heart.
    I’ll be checking out the Authors you’ve read. 🙂
    Have you read Pamela Clare’s MacKinnon Brothers ? Book 1 & 2 are Surrender and Untamed. I likened them to Outlander. You may enjoy them. Book 3 will be out this summer.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  2. I’ll have to check out those authors. Thanks, Carol!