Interview with Joanne Sundell, author of "Meggie's Remains"

Could you please tell us a little about your book?

A: Meggie’s Remains is a love story—a romantic suspense in which the heroine struggles with far more than meeting the man of her dreams. In fact, she’s scared to death when she does. Why? That’s the question I hope to answer in this novel. I hope to peel away the pretty layers in classic, romantic theme and character, and show the not-so-pretty events that can happen—the dark, complex, emotional path a heroine’s life can take, suddenly, without warning, and with no guarantee of survival.
~Afraid of men, afraid for her sins, afraid for her sanity, and right now afraid for her life, Meggie McMurphy flees Boston once the fiendish terror so long stalking her in nightmares surfaces in the light of day. She escapes west to Denver, in the wild Colorado Territory, hoping to lose herself among the multitude of townsfolk. The year is 1874.
Twenty-five years old, alone, and near penniless, Meggie struggles to find honest work and to keep the dark secrets of her past just that: secret. Not so easily done when the handsome, formidable westerner Ethan Rourke stumbles upon her on a snowy Denver street. Why it’s as if he’d stepped right out of the pages of her beloved novel, Jane Eyre! Safe to encounter such a man on the page, it is certainly unsafe, even deadly, for her to encounter such a man in the flesh. Men belong . . . six feet under, six feet away . . . where to stay safe, the devil must stay!
Hired as a teacher, not in Denver, but in an isolated mountain town in rugged Ute country, Meggie is determined to make a home for herself in Hot Sulphur Springs. There she keeps up her masquerade as Rose Rochester, yearning for a normal life, for companionship and even love—all the while knowing it’s only a matter of time until the monstrous changeling from her nightmares will find her, killing any possibility of a life at all. ~

What is the inspiration behind this book?

A: Meggie’s Remains, my first completed manuscript and fourth sale, is near and dear to my heart. The title changed from Columbine Captive—for obvious reasons—to Day Dreams ~ Haunted Nights, but at the end of the day, became Meggie’s Remains. You might ask what this means, and well you should. Is Meggie dead, buried six feet under, never to take another breath, or is Meggie so shattered, it’s hard to take the next step in life? Number two is closer to the truth. My focus and interest rests solely in the nineteenth century, the Victorian Era. For the average romance heroine, life wasn’t easy. I can’t imagine the challenge to have lived and tried to love during such a restrictive, repressive time. When I first thought of writing romance, I thought of Jane Eyre and its classic romantic themes, wanting to pay tribute to this quintessential romance novel. What makes us root for Jane? Why do we care about her, and about Edward? How did the pair overcome impossible obstacles and find their happy ending?
Living in the West, in the Colorado Rockies, I realized the beauty all around me was a character befitting any romance novel. My first heroine would have to be a woman trying to make it in the rugged west. I decided to bring Jane Eyre to the American West and see what might happen if I took Jane’s situation and made it worse … and then worse. Ever curious about how a nineteenth century heroine might have dealt with sexual trauma and upset, I wanted to peel away the pretty layers in classic romantic theme and character, and show the not-so-pretty events that can happen—the dark, complex, emotional path a heroine’s life can take, suddenly, without warning, and with no guarantee of survival. In Meggie’s Remains, Meggie’s life mirrors Jane’s in many respects, but the mirror shatters when Meggie’s life takes a turn away from romantic conflict, toward dangers that Jane Eyre never faced. Beyond the suspense, I wanted to capture the romance, the moment when passion ignites between heroine and hero. Such is the stuff of which romance novels are made!
My love of old-fashioned theme and character led me to create my heroine, Meggie McMurphy, and her hero, Ethan Rourke, stumbling upon each other on the streets of Denver, Colorado Territory, October, 1874. Their path to find true love is most definitely not an easy one.

Is there an author that inspired you to write?

A: Charlotte Bronte`, of course. After Ms. Bronte’, I’d have to say the wonderful romance writer, Judith McNaught. Every one of her books is magic.

What do you feel is your biggest strength?

A: Confidence that the story “will come” and that I “can” finish a manuscript on time.

Biggest weakness:

A: Focusing on all I haven’t done instead of all I have accomplished.

What do you feel sets this book apart from others in the same genre?

A: The author, moi`. I say this because we, as authors, are unique. Our voice is unique, unlike any other. My literary voice and style is what sets Meggie’s Remains apart from others … I can only hope.

If you could go back and change one day, what would it be?

A: Can I have two? The day my father died, and then my mother.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from life so far?

A: That I have a lot to learn. The day I stop questioning and think I know it all is the day I’d best throw in the towel on writing.

Anything else you’d like to share?

A: Please … Don’t Stop the Zensanity! This has been too much fun. I really appreciate this opportunity to visit.


My very best,

Joanne Sundell




Born in a tiny hospital in rural Virginia, tucked snugly away in a bureau drawer, Joanne ever cherishes her country beginnings. Fond memories of toddling along after her older sisters along the Appalachian Trail, catching tadpoles in the local creek bed, chasing after lightening bugs, or falling asleep to the evening hum of katydids, remain with her still, despite the family move to more urban Arlington where Joanne spent her formative school years, and then on to Richmond for college. Though nursing was her chosen vocation, her chosen avocation has ever been the romance novel. Joanne grew up reading romance, falling in love with heroes and heroines from Regency England to the American West, from London’s pubs to Colorado’s ski slopes, loving that moment when the hero and heroine meet and fall in love. That moment to Joanne is the moment when Jane Eyre meets Edward Rochester, when Elizabeth Bennett meets Mr. Darcy—that’s the heart-stopping, passionate moment for Joanne in romance. That moment is what led Joanne to attempt traditional, old-fashioned, historical romance. Her first sale was in 2005 and since then, she’s sold five more historical romances to Five Star-Gale, Cengage Learning, in their Expressions line. Her books have been reviewed nationally by such notables as Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, and Romantic Times. With her three children grown and off on their own adventures, Joanne now lives part-time in Colorado and in California with her husband and their entourage` of felines and huskies. Joanne’s writing groups include Romance Writers of America, Colorado Romance Writers, Los Angeles Romance Writers, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Women Writing the West. You can visit her on the web at http://www.joannesundell.com/.



Meggie's Remains is a romantic suspense unlike any other. Meggie struggles with far more than meeting the man of her dreams. In fact, she's scared to death when she does. This story could happen to any woman, in any time. It is you. It is me. It is private ... but must be told.

Afraid of men, afraid for her sins, afraid for her sanity, and right now afraid for her life, Meggie McMurphy flees Boston once the fiendish terror--so long stalking in her nightmares--surfaces in the light of day. She escapes west to Denver in the wild Colorado Territory, hoping to lose herself among the multitude of townsfolk. The year is 1874.

Twenty-five years old, alone, and near penniless, Meggie struggles to find honest work and to keep the dark secrets of her past just that: a secret. Not so easily done when the handsome, foreboding westerner Ethan Rourke, stumbles upon her on a snowy Denver street. Why it's as if he'd stepped right out of the pages of her beloved romance, Jane Eyre! Safe to encounter such a man on the romance page, it is certainly unsafe, even deadly, for her to encounter such a man in the flesh. Men belong ... six feet under, six feet away ... where to stay safe, the devil must stay!

Hired as a teacher, not in Denver, but in an isolated mountain town in rugged Ute country, Meggie is determined to make a home for herself in Hot Sulphur Springs. There she keeps up her masquerade as Rose Rochester, yearning for a normal life--for companionship and even love--all the while knowing it's only a matter of time until the monstrous changeling from her nightmares will find her, killing any possibility of a life at all.

 

1 comments:

kbookreviews said...

Sounds like a good one! I'll add it to my wishlist, thanks :)