Today I'm pleased to welcome Genevieve Graham to the Ramblings of a Daydreamer. She was nice enough to answer a few questions and share some fascinating information about her new release, Tides of Honour, as well as what we might expect from her next.
You're no stranger to writing historic fiction, but your MacDonnells series is very different from Tides of Honour. What inspired you to write Tides of Honour?
Yes, they’re definitely different from each other. Tides of Honour came from a completely different place—literally! As I was writing the MacDonnell series, my family and I moved from Calgary to Nova Scotia. At the time I was obsessed by all things 18th century, especially Scotland and the colonies, but moving to Nova Scotia introduced me to a whole new world. Unlike a lot of historical fiction authors, I am not a historian. Before I write a book, chances are I know nothing about the time period. When I write, I fall in love with a topic, then I research it to bring it to life. When we came here, I had never heard of the Halifax Explosion. I saw the CBC documentary “Shattered City” and thought it was fictional. I had never been taught anything about this horrific tragedy in school, and that, to me, is criminal. I had an excellent high school education, but can anyone explain why I’d never heard of the moment when the largest manmade explosion before Hiroshima happened, right here in Canada? The instant almost exactly one hundred years ago when 1500 people were obliterated, hundreds were blinded by a hailstorm of shattered glass, and over 8000 were left homeless? How can they not teach that in Canadian schools? I was determined not only to research the event, but to give it a life of its own and bring the memories of all those victims back to life. And of course, when I started looking into that December night in 1916, I reasoned that people from that era lived both before and after the explosion, so what of them? I expanded my research to include the Great War. And what of the men in the trenches? Didn’t they deserve a future? Didn’t they deserve to fall in love? That’s when I “met” Audrey, and she showed me what it was like in her world.
What kind of research went into writing Tides of Honour?
After watching “Shattered City”, I read Black Snow by Halifax author Jon Tattrie. (Note: Jon’s character, Tommy Joyce, eventually joined Danny’s battalion in Tides of Honour.) After that I went to the Nova Scotia Archives in Halifax and read through articles from the day after the Explosion. I’d never even stepped foot inside an archives department before, and I was mesmerized. In fact, that led me to visit the archives at Memory Lane Heritage Village in Lake Charlotte, just up Highway 7 from my home. While the Village represents history from the 1940s, the volunteers who work with the archives are full of stories from much earlier. By the time I met up with them, Danny Baker had started to take shape. I knew he’d been a fisherman, and I knew he’d survived the war, but not in one piece. So the volunteers took me back to the time of their fathers, and their fathers’ fathers, sharing stories from their lives. I visited hundred year old houses, and I watched videos from a hundred years ago. Oh, I love researching for my novels!
Is there a time or event in history you haven't written about but would like to?
I want to do more with Canadian historicals, because I don’t think people know enough about the most interesting parts of our history. I’ve been working on a story about the Acadian Expulsion, leading up to the Plains of Abraham, which brought me back to my old stomping grounds of the 18th century, which felt good. I also received a message from a reader who said she was interested in learning about the RCMP, which is a real Canadian icon. I’d be interested in that, maybe…I also wanted to write something vaguely based on my husband’s grandfather, who emigrated from Poland to Halifax in 1928. We even found the records from when he arrived at Pier 21. Fascinating…but eastern European history is very confusing, as I discovered when I tried to write it before!
Who are some of your favourite historic fiction authors?
Diana Gabaldon, Sara Donati (Rosina Lippi), Susanna Kearsley, Penelope Williamson, Jennifer Roberson …
Thank you so much for chatting with me, Genevieve!
I just have to say that I never learned about the Halifax Explosion in school either. It was equally fascinating and horrifying to read about it in Tides of Honour. How had I never heard of it? How do we not do anything here to honour or at least recognize all the people killed and injured? All those orphans? So I'd like to thank Genevieve for writing not only about the Halifax Explosion, but for also giving a happy ending to a character who suffered so much through the Great War, then everyday life afterward. He may have been fictional, but he was very real to me, and his story was lived by many real men, heroes who sacrificed so much. Also, I love the idea of more books about points in Canadian history, and I would definitely read anything about the Acadians, since that's my own personal heritage!
Be sure to check out my 4-star review of Tides of Honour, an epic story of love, loss, faith, family, hope, and perseverance set against a backdrop of WWI France and Nova Scotia. You can also add it on GoodReads or buy it on Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.
Genevieve Graham and fellow Canadian author Susanna Kearsley are going on tour together from May 9th to 13th. If you'd like to meet these two fantastic authors (check out my review of Susanna's newest release, A Desperate Fortune), visit the Timeless Tour site for more information.