Tuesday, October 15, 2013

**GIVEAWAY** + Interview with author debut author Barbara Davis - The Secrets She Carried

Today on The Reading Frenzy I'm pleased to introduce debut author Barbara Davis who is answering questions about her novel The Secrets She Carried. When I asked about the premise  and how the idea came about she said––"One day I was waiting in the car for Tom when I noticed a single gravestone on the side of the road. Now, in North Carolina, this isn’t really unusual. They’re everywhere,..." See the rest of this answer and all the rest below

  • ISBN-13: 9780451418777
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Pages: 384

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The Secrets She Carried to Giveaway
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When a young woman returns to North Carolina after a thirty-year absence, she finds that the once grand tobacco plantation she called home holds more secrets than she ever imagined. Though Peak Plantation has been in her family for generations, Leslie Nichols can’t wait to rid herself of the farm left to her by her estranged grandmother Maggie—and with it the disturbing memories of her mother’s death, her father’s disgrace, and her unhappy ...
 Praise for Davis’ debut:
Davis paints a picture of two eras and beautifully flawed characters with evocative and caring words.”—Susan Crandall, author of Whistling Past the Graveyard
“Lovely and assured writing. Adele Laveau's haunting voice and Leslie Nicholl's journey toward understanding lingered long after I read the final page of this engrossing tale."—Julie Kibler, author of Calling Me Home
“A beautifully crafted page-turner with many twists but a simple theme: no matter how far you run, you can’t escape your past.  Part contemporary women’s fiction, part historical novel, the plot moves seamlessly back and forth in time to unlock family secrets that bind four generations of women….A stunning read from the first page to the last sentence.”—Barbara Claypole White, author of The Unfinished Garden
Barbara welcome to The Reading Frenzy.

Tell my readers a little about The Secrets She Carried.
SECRETS is the story of two women from different generations whose stories eventually collide. Leslie Nichols is big-city editor forced to return her childhood home when her estranged grandmother leaves her the family tobacco plantation. Peak Plantation was never a happy place for Leslie, evoking some pretty troubling memories about her mother’s death. Her plan is to dispose of the place and its memories, as quickly as possible, until she stumbles onto a cryptically marked grave that was clearly never meant to be found. Suddenly, Leslie’s need to run away is replaced with an almost obsessive need to know the truth behind who is buried in the mysterious grave and what connection that person might have with her family. Unfortunately, there’s a man living on the property, a caretaker who isn’t quite what he appears, who has his own motives for keeping the secrets of the grave a secret. 

Barbara congratulations on your debut novel.
According to your website you left the corporate world to pursue your lifelong dream of being an author.
Tell us how and when that dream started and how you finally were able to fulfill it.
It really has been the most amazing journey, so much so that I sometimes have to pinch myself. Fourteen years ago I was promoted and my fiancé and I moved to North Carolina. At the time I was a VP with a national jewelry chain, but about four years ago, I was laid off from my job. At the time, it felt like the end of the world. Then I realized I needed to pay attention to the message the Universe was sending. Finally, with tons of encouragement from my fiancé, I realized it was time to pursue my lifelong dream of writing. I’d been simmering on the idea for SECRETS for several years, and suddenly I had no excuse not to follow through. It took a good six months to find my voice again, after so many years in the corporate world, but I finally did, and I’ve never looked back since. Sometimes disasters really do turn out to be blessings.       

Where did the premise for The Secrets She Carried come from?
One day I was waiting in the car for Tom when I noticed a single gravestone on the side of the road. Now, in North Carolina, this isn’t really unusual. They’re everywhere, along the sides of the road, in the middle of cornfields, even in a mall parking lot in Greenville, because back in the day that’s what people did. Loved ones were buried on family farms. But now those farms are gone, roads have been built—the landscape has changed, and yet these graves, these lost loved-ones, remain. And as I sat there I found myself wondering who was buried in that particular grave, and how long they’d been there. It all felt very sad to me, very lonely. I wondered if there were family members looking for that person, and what story that departed loved one might have to tell so many years later. And just like that Adele Laveau was born. In what felt like minutes, her story came to life in my head and refused to go away.

What kind of research did this novel require?
I was born in New Jersey so I had no real knowledge about tobacco farming which played a role in the backstory of Peak Plantation. I did a lot of research about the day to day operations of planting, curing, and marketing back in the thirties, much more than I needed to do, as it turned out, but it’s easy to get lost in research when the subject is so rich. I also had to research how the small-town farming economies were hurt during the Great Depression, and how folks coped with scarcity and rampant unemployment. Luckily, this information is still very plentiful here in Carolina. Also, since Peak has since been converted to a vineyard, I had to learn a lot about wine and wine-making, which, I confess wasn’t much of a hardship.

Now that your first novel’s been put to bed; whew.
What about the experience will you change for the next novel?
I think my biggest takeaway from SECRETS is that going forward I don’t need to worry about getting it “perfect” before I turn in that first draft. There’s SO much writing that happens after that. So much of the “original” draft of SECRETS was scrapped, stuff I agonized over that ended up on the so-called cutting room floor—and none of it was missed. Novel writing, as much as we may hate to admit it, really does take a village. So many hands and hearts go into taking a good novel and making it great. That happens in layers, when fresh eyes and ideas are brought into the process. I can’t say enough how much of Secrets is owed to my fiancé, my critique partners, my wonderful agent and amazing editors.

Tell us about where you were and your reaction when you learned your book had sold?
Oh, wow. Just thinking of it makes me choke up. It all happened pretty quickly, actually, certainly more quickly than I’d been told to hope for. About a month after my agent started shopping the manuscript, she called me and said we had an offer, followed by a second call shortly thereafter, that we had a second competing offer. I remember feeling numb for a minute, and then bursting into tears of relief, that it all hadn’t been for nothing, that I wasn’t the only one who thought it was a worthwhile book. Tom walked into the room, took one look at my face and thought someone had died. He still teases me about it.   

What were your reactions to your early reviews?
Do you think you’ll be one of the authors who read all the reviews or one that doesn’t?
I think my initial reaction was shock that people were actually reviewing it at all. Being a debut author, I didn’t really expect to get a lot of early attention, but so far it’s all been pleasant surprises, so that’s good. I think I’ll read most of them early on, mainly because I’m still learning about how the process works. I’d like to say I’ll one day get past worrying about reviews, but I’m not sure I will. I think you can learn from criticism, even when it isn’t particularly fun.    

Barbara are you a reader?
Fiction or Non-Fiction?
I’m a huge reader. Mostly women’s fiction, with some positive living/inspirational non-fiction sprinkled in. I’m a big fan of writers like Diana Chamberlain, Karen White, Susan Crandall and Sarah Jio. Plus, I love discovering and supporting new writers in my genre. There’s so much amazing talent out there. 

What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on my second novel, THE WISHING TIDE, which is set on North Carolina’s outer banks, and is due out in November 2014. It’s a story about three people whose lives intersect in some pretty interesting and unexpected ways. They’re all struggling to get un-stuck from their pasts, trying to learn how to fight for happiness. There are some real twists and turns, so I’m having a lot of fun writing it.

Barbara I know new fans will want to meet you in person.
Will there be a tour for this release?
My first signing is scheduled for Tuesday, October 15th at 7pm, at Flyleaf Books: 752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. - Chapel Hill, N.C.
Other events are currently being scheduled, and will be posted on the Events tab of my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/barbaradavisauthor?ref=hl

Thank you for sharing some time, good luck with this novel and all your future endeavors as well.
Thanks, so much for having me!

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  1. *waves to fellow Jersey girl* I love the sound of The Secrets She Carried. We have family in North Carolina and I can just imagine the landscape and the plantation. Wonderful interview Debbie, and I am so glad Barbara reached for her dreams!

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    2. Thanks so much for your good wishes, Kim! Hope you enjoy the book!

  2. I like being able to find new things that I like to read! :)

    1. Hi Claira Pam, thanks for the comment and Good Luck!