AMERICAN HISTORICAL NOVELS discussion

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message 1: by Ann (new)

Ann Creel | 80 comments Mod
In 1913, Sarah Levine leaves her small village and sails to New York to start a promising new life with her husband, Micha. But all Sarah really wants is what has come so easily to her sisters—a family of her own. Finally, in her new home, her dream comes true…but at a terrible cost. She names the baby girl Liberty after the great statue in the harbor that she saw when she first came to America.

From struggling to raise Liberty in a Lower East Side tenement to building a fashion empire, the only constants in Sarah’s life are her love for her daughter and the terrible secret that she must keep. Sarah gives Liberty everything she has, but the truth cannot stay hidden forever. As Liberty grows to womanhood and the world prepares to go to war again, Sarah is asked to make one last impossible choice…


message 2: by Ann (new)

Ann Creel | 80 comments Mod
This week, we're pleased to welcome Colin Falconer, author of the bestseller, The Unkillable Kitty O'Kane and many other novels, as he hosts our group page. I know you will enjoy this insightful interview as much as I have:

Colin, thank you for hosting this week! To start, can you please tell us a little bout yourself and your novel?

I gave up my day job in advertising to become a full-time novelist about thirty-five years ago, so I guess this must be my day job now! I have written mainly historical fiction but these days I also write crime. I’ve published around twenty historical novels and been translated into 23 languages so far.

How were you inspired to write Loving Liberty Levine? What sparked your interest in the time period?

I’ve never been drawn to any particular time period, as some writers are. Liberty’s publishers were very influential in picking the time period for this one. It was basically: ‘We don’t want anything before 1900, because unless you’re Bernard Cornwell, it doesn’t sell.”

The inspiration came from a trip to Tallinn in Estonia. I’d been to the museum, and read about the pogroms against the Jews, and then I was standing at the docks – it was mid-winter and I’ve never been so cold – and in my head, I saw this young Jewish girl getting on a boat to leave her home, knowing she’d never see the town or her family again. (I spend a lot of my life seeing people and things that aren’t actually there!)

Can you give us insight into your writing process?

I spend most of my time working on the structure and the research these days. The whole thing plays like a movie in my head, minus the popcorn, before I start writing. The actual writing doesn’t take long because by the time I start on the final draft, it’s basically done. I just have to get it down.

What research did you do for Loving Liberty Levine? Travel? Go to historical societies? Read memoirs?

The idea started in Tallinn; New York, where most of the novel takes place, I’ve been to many times. Much of the historical research I tracked down online through the Liberty Ellis Foundation oral history library. There are literally thousands of transcripts of interviews that foundation volunteers have conducted with immigrants from the early part of the twentieth century. That was a treasure trove. I mainly rely on eyewitness accounts, which is a great advantage of writing modern historicals – it’s increasingly difficult to get an eye-witness account of the Battle of Agincourt for example, a lot of the veterans are dying off.

Did you find anything in your research that was particularly fascinating or that helped shape the novel?

It surprised me how familiar I was with the Jewish expressions and customs. My family are all from North London and though we weren’t Jewish, a lot of our neighbours must have been, because it was all so familiar to me. So, I really enjoyed writing about the Lower East Side. It was like reliving a lot of my mother’s stories.

What is your favorite time period to write about? To read about?

I don’t really have one. I’ve written novels ranging from Ancient Egypt to the Second World War in Romania. I’m attracted to a story or a character first. The period and place is the canvas I paint on.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? How have you been able to overcome that?

I used to get halfway into a manuscript and get lost. A few years ago, I took myself back to school and studied screenwriting. That seemed to solve the problem.

Who are your writing inspirations?

I never really had one. This is not a good thing. I now believe that not having a role model is a disadvantage to a writer for many reasons and held me back in the early days. It’s something you only appreciate looking back, I guess. (I did have one guy that I admired a lot, and then I met him and wished I hadn’t! Won’t mention names.)

What are you reading at the moment
The Poisonwood Bible. Must be about the sixth time I’ve read it. I still love it. It’s a profound and beautiful book, on so many levels.

What are three things people may not know about you?

One, writing was not my first ambition. I actually dreamed of playing in goal for Manchester United. (Closest I got was being in a squad to play against them when they toured Australia.) Two, I play fetch with a tennis ball with one of our spaniels while I’m writing. Three, I’ve written professionally under five different names.

Care to share what you are working on now?

I’m just finishing the third book in my Charlie George crime series for Little, Brown in London. I love Charlie! I’m also editing a new second world war novel that I’ve been holding back for the right time, which I intend to bring out independently.


message 3: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda (grannylovestoread) | 132 comments Hi!


message 4: by Chelsie (new)

Chelsie (chelzlou) | 83 comments Thanks for sharing! How scary was it to leave your “day job” to become a writer? And what have you the final push to make writing your career?


message 5: by Colin (new)

Colin Falconer (httpscolinfalconerorg) | 6 comments Hi Rhonda!

Rhonda wrote: "Hi!"

Ann wrote: "This week, we're pleased to welcome Colin Falconer, author of the bestseller, The Unkillable Kitty O'Kane and many other novels, as he hosts our group page. I know you will enjoy this insightful in..."


message 6: by Colin (new)

Colin Falconer (httpscolinfalconerorg) | 6 comments I kept at my day job for about two years after I started writing - I was a freelance copywriter, so I could do both. And to be honest, it was about five or six years into writing full time that I suddenly realized: oh, this IS my day job. I was raising two small children and had a mortgage so I always had a backstop. It was nice to wake up one day and realize I didn't need it.

Chelsie wrote: "Thanks for sharing! How scary was it to leave your “day job” to become a writer? And what have you the final push to make writing your career?"


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