Before we visit with today's author, I want to announce that the winner of the signed copy of Camy Tang's novel, Protection for Hire, is:
lovetoread205@ . . .
Congratulations! I'll contact you today for your snail mail address, and we'll get your book to you right away. I encourage readers to keep commenting and/or subscribe at right (above my list of books) in order to participate in future book give-aways!
Now let's revisit with Susan Meissner, author of A Sound Among the Trees (WaterBrook Press, October 2011).
Susan Meissner is the award-winning author of fourteen novels, including The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Novels of 2008.
When she is not working on a new novel, she directs the small groups ministries at The Church at Rancho Bernardo. She also enjoys teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, spending time with her family, music, reading great books, and traveling.
Susan lives in southern California with her pastor husband and their four grown children.
Please tell us five random things we might not know about you.
--I lived in England and Germany when my kids were little.
--I hate escalators.
--I used to be the editor of small town newspaper.
--I play the piano.
--I don’t like mayonnaise.
Please tell us a bit more about the plot of A Sound Among the Trees.
For 150 years, Holly Oak has stood the passing of both time and wills in historic Fredericksburg and it has the Civil War scars to prove it. Marielle Bishop marries into the family and its multi-generational ties to the house, leaving behind her independence and her love of Arizona’s deserts to become a wife and stepmother.
It isn’t long before Marielle is led to believe that the house she just settled into brings trouble and misfortune to the women who live there. Local folklore has it that Susannah Page, a spy for the North who secretly aided Union soldiers, haunts Holly Oak - longing for pardon.
When the current matriarch of the house 89-year-old Adelaide McClane tells her that the house is “stuck” because of its tumultuous past, Marielle determines to get past the rumors and uncover the secrets that are buried within its walls. With Adelaide’s richly peppered superstitions and deep family roots at stake, Marielle must carve out her new life carefully as she sorts out the truth and makes peace with the sacrifices she has made for love.
What is it about your lead characters that will make your readers care about them?
There are three leads, actually. Marielle, Adelaide and Susannah, and all three of them just want to be at home, safe, with the ones they love. They don’t have grand aspirations; they just want their home to be the place it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be safe and secure. These three women live in different time zones, but inside the same house that has a rather tortured past. And it seems like they face the same obstacle to their greatest desire. What these three women want is what we all want – we want our homes to be places of refuge, havens of joy, sanctuaries that protect and shelter us. I am banking on the notion that when a character wants something we all want, that endears her to us!
Absolutely. Not only do most people know what they consider a safe, secure home, many readers will be able to identify with that feeling of desperation when home is a place of "trouble and misfortune."
If you were the casting director for the film version of your novel, who would play your lead roles?
With the right make-up Meryl Streep could play my 89-year-old Adelaide. She has the versatility to pull it off, if not the actual age.
The amazing Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village, Lady in the Water, The Help) could play my Susannah in a heartbeat.
And I think Evangeline Lily (“Kate” on Lost) would be a perfect match for Marielle.
Imagine God has led you to accept a contract to ghostwrite someone’s autobiography. Whose is it? Why that person?
Well, since I am answering these questions on the very day Amanda Knox’s verdict was overturned, I would have to say I would help her write her autobiography. I am of the persuasion that she didn’t do what she was accused of, that she is innocent. And if I am right, then she spent four years in virtual hell, and it’s likely her life will never be the same, even though she is now free. I have always been drawn to stories of courage under fire. And truth is something that compels me.
What is the last book you read that you would recommend?
Such a hard question. I am reading at this very moment Geraldine Brooks’ Caleb's Crossing. She is an amazing wordsmith. So amazing, you don’t even sense her there in the pages. She is a subtle genius with words.
I completely agree. I reluctantly read her Year of Wondersfor one of my book clubs. I didn't want to read a book about the Black Plague! But it was phenomenal.
What are you working on now?
I just sent my latest book project to my editor at WaterBrook, a novel called The Girl in the Glass, which will hit shelves this time next year.
Here’s the plot in a nutshell: Meg Pomeroy, a thirty-year-old travel book editor, is emotionally fed up after a broken engagement, the disappearance of her irresponsible father, the loss of a promised heirloom painting and the knowledge that her perennially cautious mother is now dating a man half her age and whom Meg finds herself desperately attracted to. When her missing father sends her a ticket to Florence, Italy, a place he’d promised he would take her, Meg assumes he will meet her there but she arrives alone. Disillusioned, she turns to a Florentine brother and sister writing team she knows only through work. They introduce her to Sofia, a memoir-writer who claims she's the last Medici and that the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance speak to her. As Meg tours Florence through Sofia’s eyes, her perspective on what is real and what she wants to be real is first challenged and then embraced.
There’s a lot of Florence in this book!
Ah, that's one of the few places outside the U.S. that I've traveled to. Beautiful! And what an intriguing storyline you have there, as always.
Where else can readers find you online?
My home on the web is www.susanmeissner.com and they can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.
The book is available at fine book stores and for online purchase via the following buttons:
Finally, what question would you like to ask my readers?
If you could see someone’s real life story fictionalized into a novel, whose would it be?
Thank you, Susan, for visiting with us and telling us about your novel. Readers, Susan has offered to give a signed copy of her book to the winner of our drawing on Thursday, October 27. To enter, leave a comment below in answer to Susan's question, above. "Please enter me" won't get you entered. Leave your email address, in case you win, like so: trish[at]trishperry[dot]com.
Be sure to check out my interview with Elizabeth Goddard, below. Leave an appropriate comment at the bottom of the post to enter the drawing for a signed copy of her book. And don't forget to enter the drawing for His Grace is Sufficient...Decaf is NOT, below!
Annoying legal disclaimer: drawings void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents; the odds of winning depend upon the number of participants. See full disclaimer HERE.