Monday, November 17, 2014

Ten Questions From Tara: Interview with Linda Lee Graham, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

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Publication Date: June 16, 2014
Repository Press, LLC
eBook; 570 pages
Series: Voices Series
Genre: Romantic Historical Suspense

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02_Voices EchoThe third book in the VOICES series, VOICES ECHO stands alone as a riveting depiction of both the beauty of 18th-century Jamaica and the horrors of plantation life in the British West Indies.

When Albert Ross sailed to Jamaica months after their wedding, Rhiannon Ross believed he'd abandoned her for the sanctuary of his West Indies plantation and complacent mulatta mistress. Not one to live life in limbo, Rhiannon has followed in a bid to secure the funds necessary to ensure her financial independence and position as his lawful wife, and to quell her growing attraction to her unsuitable American advisor, Liam Brock.

Determined to put the enticing Mrs. Ross out of his mind, Liam Brock accepts an assignment to escort a young heiress to her father's Jamaican estate. Convinced his and Rhiannon's ships have crossed paths, he is stunned to learn Rhiannon is still with her husband, and shocked when he finds her isolated and frightened--a shell of the vibrant woman who still fills his dreams. He begins to suspect that beneath the exotic beauty of an island teeming with vitality, there beats a sinister pulse.

As evidence of smuggling and dark magic are uncovered, Rhiannon realizes that not only is her plantation in danger, but the lives of those she holds dearest are at stake. Though she struggles to hide her feelings for Liam, she cannot bear the thought of him coming to harm because of her. As greed on the island evolves into violence and violence into murder, Liam and Rhiannon find themselves in the midst of a deadly intrigue. Both must decide how far they will go in the name of protecting the other, and how much they will sacrifice to attain a future neither thought possible.


Welcome. You’re here to promote Voices Echo, a romantic historical novel. Tell me, please, what was the inspiration behind this story (or series)? How did it come to you?

Linda: Thanks for having me, Tara! The inspiration for the Voices series came while I was researching 18th-century Philadelphia for another purpose. Surprisingly, I found America’s political and social climate fascinating. Curious, I read more to discover what an ordinary person’s life would be like at that time. I’d always thought American history dull in comparison to Europe’s. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Voices Echo takes place in another—a more exotic—setting in the Americas. I wanted something different for Liam and Rhiannon’s story, something that would challenge their individual strengths and flaws. Jamaica offered all that and more. I’m not sure their relationship could have progressed in a tamer setting.

We focus a lot on heroines here on Book Babe. Tell me what makes your heroine strong.

Having lost her mother at a young age, Rhiannon grew up managing her father’s household, acting his hostess, and believing her educated opinions carried as much weight as a man’s. She also believed that if she maintained control, she could script her life according to plan and take minimal risks in the process.

The harsh reality of plantation life in a sugar colony set her in a tailspin, and she realized total control was an illusion. She could have put the blinders on and soldiered on, or she could have curled into a fetal position with a bottle of rum. For a time, she did both. Eventually, however, she summoned the strength to step back, question, and react.

Do you see any of yourself in her?

In some ways. The control ‘issue’ is one reason I love writing these stories. The story world is the only thing I can truly control, start to finish.

What makes her sexy?

She’s self-assured, compassionate, intelligent, and can hold her own in any social setting. These qualities make her doubt her allure, however, as she has learned some men feel threatened by a woman’s competence.

Where do you see your heroine ten years from now? What will she be? What do you predict she’ll accomplish?

While the Voices series wasn’t written as young adult fiction, it may interest YA readers who enjoy learning history by way of a story. The young characters are confronted by many of the same difficulties young people face today.

Rhiannon is twenty years old in Voices Echo. She’s headstrong, focused on her own perspective, and slowly coming to terms with her vulnerability and the realization she doesn’t have the answer to everything. She still has many lessons to learn, and because she is young and ambitious, she learns many of them the hard way – just as most of us do in early adulthood.

By the time Rhiannon’s thirty, I predict she’ll achieve her goal of financial independence and have made a success of her new inn. And if she’s as smart as she thinks she is, she’ll marry Liam Brock when he asks her.

What kind of research did you do when you penned this novel? Did anything surprising come up in your search? (Perhaps something you had no need to put in the book but stayed in your mind nevertheless?)

I read a lot of histories—some written in the 1700s and some written as recently as the last decade. I also read period newspapers. I was reminded again and again of the United States’ and Jamaica’s shared colonial history. Many American colonists had family and business connections in Jamaica, making the island seem somehow closer to America in the 18th century than it is even in today’s jet age.

I read period diaries as well. Man’s inhumanity to man was often graphically depicted, and while not unexpected, it never failed to surprise and disappoint.

And finally, I visited Jamaica—its beaches, its interior, and its great houses. Pictures of the trip are included on Voices Echo’s Pinterest board.

What would you like readers to gain from reading your book? Is there a strong moral? Do you hope they will laugh, learn something, ponder a point?

I suppose I hope they’ll ponder many things, as Rhiannon was forced to do. Nothing worked out as she’d planned, yet she kept moving forward. She was forced to reexamine and question many of her preconceived notions about others, and she came to realize no amount of planning could guarantee life would progress as she thought it should.

Now let’s talk about your hero. What draws the heroine to him?

Liam Brock is elusive, intelligent, competent, passionate, and a steadfast friend. Born illegitimate and orphaned at an early age, he at times lacks confidence, certain his birth makes him not quite “good enough.”

At six-foot one, with ink-black hair and dark blue eyes, he’s irresistibly sexy—and knows it. Yet, because of his background, he harbors doubt a woman of Rhiannon’s class and intelligence might be attracted to him.

Rhiannon, on the other hand, would rather he weren’t so attractive. His appeal to women makes her doubt he could ever commit to just one. She craves certainty that if she gives him her heart, he’ll never hurt her. Liam interprets her reluctance to commit as resistance to his upbringing.

Your book takes place near Montego Bay, Jamaica. If I were a tourist, what would you recommend I see in this town/country?

Leave the resort and visit Jamaica’s interior. Some of the old great houses still exist, and the Cockpit Country has caves to explore and trails to hike.

A more personal question. What’s the one thing you hope to accomplish before you die? Your main goal?

I have a beautiful library paneled with floor-to-ceiling ornate oak shelves. To date I’ve read less than half its books. I’ve promised myself I’ll find the time to read them all before I die.

I’m a dog mom, so I always ask this. Do you have pets?

I do. I have three spaniels—two Welsh Springers and one recently adopted Cocker. I hope the Cocker never learns his picture wasn’t included. He has enough self-esteem issues.

Thanks for visiting us today. Good luck with your book and give those cute dogs (the Cocker too) some hugs.

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About the Author

03_Linda Lee GrahamHistory and real-life narratives had always blended in Graham's imagination, particularly when she delved into the stories of her family's ancestors. Eventually the engaging voices of characters who might have lived emerged. Tracing paper trails quickly gave way to creating her own stories, and she hasn't looked back since.

For more information please visit Linda Lee Graham's website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Goodreads.