Friday, April 3, 2015

The Memory House by Linda Goodnight - Interview - Blog Tour

Welcome to my stop on The Memory House by Linda Goodnight, blog tour.
Enjoy  our interview and click HERE for the entire blog tour schedule.

New York Times bestselling author Linda Goodnight welcomes you to Honey Ridge, Tennessee, and a house that's rich with secrets and brimming with sweet possibilities

  • ISBN-13: 9780373779642
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 3/31/2015
  • Pages: 384


Memories of motherhood and marriage are fresh for Julia Presley—though tragedy took away both years ago. Finding comfort in the routine of running the Peach Orchard Inn, she lets the historic, mysterious place fill the voids of love and family. No more pleasure of a man's gentle kiss. No more joy in hearing a child call her Mommy. Life is calm, unchanging…until a stranger with a young boy and soul-deep secrets shows up in her Tennessee town and disrupts the loneliness of her world. 

Read an excerpt:

Nashville, Tennessee
Freedom was its own kind of prison. These were the thoughts of Eli Donovan as he scraped drywall mud from his elbow and watched a familiar bronze Buick pull to the curb outside the remodel. With a tug in his gut, Eli tossed the trowel to the ground and straightened. What had he done now?
A man stepped out of the Buick and adjusted his blue tie before squinting toward the house. Their eyes met, held for a fraction of a second until Eli looked down. Once upon a time he would have challenged anyone in a staring contest. Hard time and maturity had changed him. He didn't want to fight anyone anymore. Certainly not his parole officer.
Saying nothing, Eli started across the greening lawn, past the scattered remains of lumber and construction junk. He was no longer arrogant and proud, but the jitter in his belly shamed him just the same.
"Eli." Mr. Clifford spoke first, broke the impasse. "How's it going?"
"Fine." He stopped two feet from the fortysomething officer of the court, taking in the slight sheen of sweat on the other man's balding head. Anxious, afraid of tripping himself up, he waited for Clifford to speak his business.
"I had a phone call this morning."
Still Eli waited, not knowing what to ask or say. If he misspoke, Clifford would get the wrong idea or ask questions Eli couldn't answer. There were always questions.
The parole officer pulled a paper from his pocket and pushed it toward him. "A woman name of Opal Kimble tracked you down through the warden. She wants to talk to you. Says she has something urgent to discuss. Mentioned the name Mindy."
Eli stared at the yellow Post-it note, the dread deepening. He licked dry lips, tasted drywall mud. "Mindy?"
"Is there anything I need to know? If you're into something—"
Eli interrupted. "I'm not. Mindy is an old friend. Did Opal say anything else?"
"No, she just left that number and insisted I contact you. I thought it might be important."
"Doubtful." Mindy was a sweet soul. She probably felt sorry for him and wanted to be sure he was all right. He refused to consider the other issue, certain she was better off not hearing from him.
"You could use a friend."
The comment took Eli aback. In the six months he'd known Pete Clifford, the man had shown him nothing but suspicion, as if he couldn't wait for the ex-con to step out of line so he could send him back to that stinking rat hole.
"I'm all right."
"Do you have a phone yet?"
Clifford extracted his from a belt holster. "Call her."
Eli considered only a moment before accepting the offer. No point in riling the man. He could make a call to an old woman he'd never met. Find out what she wanted and then get back to work. He needed the payday.
He took a moment to study the fancy cell phone. A lot had changed since he'd been gone. Technology marched on, as they said, and left the caged behind.
As he tapped in the numbers Eli was gratified when Clifford turned toward his vehicle. "I'll give you a minute."
"Thanks." The word was gravel on Eli's tongue but he was grateful. He didn't take acts of kindness lightly.
A woman's voice, stronger than he'd expected from the aunt Mindy had described as ancient, answered the call.
"Miss Kimble? Eli Donovan."
"About time you called, boy."
Her tone stiffened his spine but he remained silent. He focused elsewhere, as he'd learned to do in the difficult moments inside the big house, letting her talk while he only half listened. A pair of courting bluebirds caught Eli's eye as they dipped and flirted. He smiled a little, though the action felt stiff and unfamiliar. Since his release, he'd been mesmerized by nature. The rising sun, a fluttering butterfly, a dog sniffing tires. Nature brought a peace, a rightness to his tumultuous soul. In his despair and self-pity, he'd forgotten those simple gifts he'd once taken for granted.
In his ear, Opal said something that captured his attention. He tuned back in. "What did you say?"
"I said, Mindy left some things for you and I want you to come get them."
He frowned toward the horizon where a single gray cloud hovered like a promise of trouble. "Left things? Isn't she there?"
A beat of silence pulsed in his ear, tightened the knot in his chest.
When Opal spoke again, her tone softened. "I thought you knew. Mindy's gone."
"Gone where?" Not that he'd follow or make contact, but the woman was confusing him.
"Gone for good, Eli." Opal's voice cracked. "Mindy died."
Peach Orchard Inn Present Day
She'd kissed him goodbye that last morning. Julia was sure she had. Wasn't she? The action had been so ingrained in routine. Grab the backpack, stick the lunch box in his hand and kiss him, quick and sweet, before he galloped to the bus stop. She'd watched him get on the bus. She always did, though afterward she'd second-guessed a thousand times. If she'd driven him to school, or if she'd kept him home, because hadn't he been a sleepyhead that last wonderful, terrible morning?
Six years had passed and yet the horror and grief never left. It was the not knowing that drove Julia Presley quietly mad. In those moments of solitude, especially right before sleep and like now, upon waking, the thoughts would come in rapid-fire succession before she had a chance to block them. She'd become adept at blocking.
Most days she survived and some days she even thrived. But days like today were the worst. Michael's birthday. He was still alive. She had to believe that. Yet, wondering who had him and what was happening or had happened was too hard to bear. But bear it she did, for what choice did she have? Someday, somewhere, someone would spot him in a crowd or he would simply walk free of his captors and come home. Such miracles still happened, and those children once lost but now found gave Julia hope.
He would be fourteen today, no longer the wide-eyed little boy who hated baths and adored mud puddles. Was he tall and loose limbed like his father, and wouldn't he be heartbroken to know his mom and dad had unraveled within a year without him? That he was the glue holding their ragged marriage together and that in his absence, they'd been unable to comfort each other? They'd laid blame where none was due, such a stupid reaction to a heinous crime. The only person at fault was the evil being who'd snatched a happy little boy from a peaceful town where nothing bad ever happened. And yet, she felt responsible. Mikey was, after all, her child to guard and guide and she'd failed in that essential role of motherhood.
Dragging herself from beneath the ice-blue duvet, Julia reached first for the iPad on the nightstand. With a poke of a finger, she tapped open the Facebook page where Mikey's bright eight-year-old face smiled out at her next to a computer-aged photo. Would he really look like this today?
She trolled the comments, saw the handful of birthday wishes and closed the program with a sigh. No news. No sightings. Just like every day since she'd started the page with the help of a support group. Other mothers who waited for their children to come home. Most days she didn't visit the forums for idle conversation. They depressed her, and Lord knew she couldn't go back down that dark tunnel again.
With a breathed plea for strength to get through another day, Julia dressed and dabbed makeup on the shadowy half-moons beneath her eyes. Though dawn had yet to break, she had to get up and get moving. She had guests to attend, breakfast to cook and a myriad other tasks to address. Keeping busy was important, soothing therapy. Culinary therapy, she termed her cooking obsession. If she worked herself into exhaustion, she could sleep without the oppressive dreams.
She was thankful every day for the rather inexplicable purchase four years ago of Peach Orchard Inn, this big, old oddity of a Southern mansion, now a guesthouse. There was something benevolent about the two-story structure that had survived a Civil War and the century and a half since. The day Valery had dragged her out here "just to look," the house had wrapped itself around her like a warm hug. Though cobwebs and dust had covered everything, her heart had leaped. For the first time in months—years—she'd felt something other than despair. This wonderful old bed-and-breakfast had, quite literally, saved her sanity. She'd yet to understand why. It simply had.
She'd clung to her former home on Sage Street—Mikey's home—too long, fearing her son would return and find her gone, but she was dying there. Depressed, barely able to get out of bed each morning, and some days she didn't get up at all. Since a dead mother was not what she wanted her son to come home to, at her family's urging Julia had sold the modern brick home and moved into a piece of history sorely in need of restoration. In that way, she and the house were the same.
Everyone in Honey Ridge knew about Mikey's disappearance, but most were Southern enough to speak of the loss only among themselves and never to her. She was left alone and they, along with her family, pretended that she was a normal person, an ordinary divorced businesswoman running a guest inn and clinging to history—her own and that of this antebellum house.
She was stuck in the past, both in the distant and the near. Stuck. In freeze-frame for six years, waiting, unable to move forward, unwilling to give up that gossamer thread of hope that one day she'd awaken and Mikey's disappearance would only have been a nightmare.
Bingo, the aging Australian shepherd, rose from his rug at the foot of her bed. When Julia paused to give his blue-merle head a rub, she spotted an object on the floor where he'd slept. At first she thought it was a rock and bent to pick it up, puzzling to discover another smooth, round child's marble. Not an ordinary, modern marble. This one was reddish in color, made of clay, a handmade antique like the others she'd discovered in the house.
"Did you bring this in here, Bingo?" He was forever bringing her little gifts. "Better than the dead snake you brought last time."
She rolled the child's toy in her palm, wondering. She and Valery had found a number of interesting and historic items during the ongoing remodel, each one adding another layer of mystery and history to the old inn. But the marbles were different. They showed up randomly, usually in a place she'd recently cleaned and always on a bad day. They spoke to her, comforted her, and wouldn't Mama have a fit to hear that her unbalanced daughter was now communing with marbles.
"She'd say I've lost my marbles." Maybe she had.
Grasping comfort where she could, Julia slipped the little clay ball into her pocket and started toward the kitchen.
Bingo trotted by her side past the wide stairs that led from floor to floor. Though not as grand as the one in Gone with the Wind, the staircase had captivated Julia on sight. She imagined a nineteenth-century bride sweeping down these now burgundy carpeted stairs, one gloved hand on the gleaming oak banister as her heart canted toward her true love waiting next to the enormous marble fireplace in the parlor below.
Fantasy, yes, like the comforting marbles, but a house like this allowed a certain imaginative license. Part of a Southern upbringing is to believe history lingers in walls and whispers from ancient oaks, and though she believed in so little these days, she believed that. This house was a living entity and Julia had carefully listened as she and Valery worked to create an inn worthy of a special trip to a small town in rural Tennessee. An inn where others might find peace even if the owner couldn't.
Sometimes, when she sat on the enormous wraparound porch, Julia thought she heard the rattle of carriages and horse hooves between the double row of old magnolias. She was careful to tell no one about the incidents. Nor of the time she'd felt a cool, soothing hand on her forehead after a screaming nightmare about Mikey; nor of the little boy's laughter she sometimes imagined in the upper hallway. A woman with a slender hold on sanity had to be careful about her wild imagination, for that is all it was. Julia didn't believe in ghosts or spirits or even much in God anymore.
She'd once made the mistake of sharing one of the episodes with Valery, a confession that had driven her sister to the liquor cabinet. That was a move Julia did not want to repeat. Valery and liquor were a troubling pair, especially since her sister's latest battles with Jed the jerk, the worst boyfriend in history.
Though she and Valery were close, Julia had learned to keep her thoughts and grief to herself. No one understood. They expected her to move on and forget she'd had a son, a husband, a family. To forget she'd had a happy, almost perfect life until that horrible October morning.
Rounding into the kitchen, a late addition to the house, Julia flipped on lights and went straight for the coffee and oven dials. She might never win any chef awards but she loved to feed people.
Though her specialty was peach tea made from scratch, her coffee was good, too, a unique blend she ground herself and served French press. Guests were known to linger for hours over coffee, so she started there. The breakfast menu varied but always included a peach dish, mostly with fruit from her orchard. People expected peaches from an inn with a name like Peach Orchard.
In minutes, the ham-and-egg strata was ready for the oven, the peach-muffin batter spread among the tins, and the coffee sang its aromatic siren song. Taking a cup, Julia went out onto the front porch for her favorite time of day. With only the dog for company, she sat in one of four white wicker chairs to watch the sun break over the lawn and come sneaking through the waxy-leaved magnolias and fuchsia rhododendron. Last night's rain glistened like tiny crystals on the verdant grass while Old Glory hung limply from the white-board porch rail.
Julia made a frustrated sound in the back of her throat. Valery had forgotten to bring in the flag again last night, a clear breach of etiquette that would have the townspeople on the phone if anyone had driven past. Hopefully, no one had. Backed by woods, Peach Orchard Inn was off the main thoroughfare on the edge of town. Mikey would have loved this place. Room to run and explore and be a little boy in safety.
But safe was a relative term.
The house was shielded from the road by a thick stand of leafy trees, including the showy pink blooms of the peach orchard that ran to the right of the front lawn and down the north side. Sometimes she heard a car go by but mostly not. The small-town peace and quiet was one of the draws of her little guesthouse.

Linda Hi! Welcome to The Reading Frenzy
Tell my readers about The Memory House.
The Memory House is a tender, poignant story of loss and grief, hope and redemption, and of the timelessness of love.  Oh, and it includes a pair of romances too. Gotta have romance!
Six years ago, Julia Presley lost everything that mattered when her son was abducted, and only the purchase of an antebellum mansion turned bed and breakfast has saved her sanity.

Eli Donovan is a broken man, an ex-con, hiding from his shameful past and struggling to make a life for the son he’s never known. A small town seems the perfect place to hide and hope that no one learns the truth.
But the old house and a 19th century woman also have a story to tell and through her letters, both Julia and Eli are challenged to risk facing yesterday’s darkness for the chance at a brighter tomorrow and the hope and healing they both so desperately need.

Linda I love great covers and yours is fantastic.
How does it relate to the story?
Thank you so much.  I’m thrilled you like the cover.  It is very different from my series romance covers which I think indicates the new direction I’ve taken with this book toward more complex, more mainstream fiction.  As to relating to the book,  the cover image hints of mystery and secrets, of which there are plenty in The Memory House, as well as evoking the American South, where The Memory House takes place. 

Linda it says this is a Honey Ridge Novel.
Is this the start of a new series?
Yes, and I’m so excited about that!  The Memory House is the first of three scheduled Honey Ridge Novels. I’m currently at work on book 2, The Rain Sparrow, also set in Peach Orchard Inn and it’s also full of secrets and heartache, hope and love.

Linda, The Memory House is set both in the present and during the Civil War.
Did you like writing in two timelines?
I loved writing in two time periods! As a huge history buff, I’ve always loved reading historical novels and this affords me the opportunity to explore another time and the unique qualities that made people and society so different then.  I love writing about a time with no cell phones or internet, a time of letters and formal behavior, a time when reputation was everything. I especially love writing about the women of former times and the magnificent strength it took to be a woman in a world ruled by men.  At the same time, The Memory House also remains firmly in contemporary fiction which is my first love and where the majority of my books are set.  Writing two time periods was a win-win situation for me and one I hope readers will enjoy as well.

What was the most challenging part of writing in two timelines?
To be honest, writing in two time periods is a lot harder than I expected it to be!  The most challenging part was weaving the stories together so that the plot lines eventually merged and complemented each other while also making sense! The contemporary thread wouldn’t have been resolved without the historical, but making that happen was hard work.

Linda you also write series romance for Harlequin.
What do you like about writing series romance?
There are many things I like about writing for Harlequin’s series lines. Writing within set guidelines and parameters is a unique challenge of series romance that I enjoy. Readers bring certain expectations to those books and want to know what they’re getting when they buy one.  I treasure the confidence my series readers put in me to deliver the kind of story they enjoy. Most of all, I love that series books are widely distributed and easily available at an affordable price to my readers. 

Linda those who know me know that I think Harlequin makes the world go round.
Tell my readers why you love writing for Harlequin?
When I first proposed The Memory House, my agent and I discussed a number of publishers who were interested in the book.  I chose to give Harlequin an exclusive look first, partly out of loyalty because they are the publisher that guided me to a strong career, but also for pure business reasons. With branches all over the planet, Harlequin’s distribution and name recognition is among the best in the world and synonymous with excellent women’s fiction.  I love that. I’ve also always had a good working relationship with my editors and the other Harlequin employees.  And, last but not least, I love going to the Harlequin party at RWA national.

Linda your bio tells us that your surroundings and love of family inspire what you write.
Do your stories all have happy endings?
The short answer is yes, always. And they always will.  My readers can count on that from me. As an avid reader myself, I read a book to be uplifted and entertained. Life is hard. Life is often dark.  I don’t want that in my entertainment.  I get enough of it in real life.  Yes, I expect my story characters to struggle through hard, dark places, but eventually I want them to come out into the sunlight and believe that life can be good again. So I write what I would want to read and always end on a hopeful note.

Linda did you ever have a character haunt you after the story was finished?
That’s almost funny because so many have. They rumble around in my head for days, sometimes weeks, as if they have more to say and I hushed them too soon.   Eli Donovan, the hero of The Memory House, is one of those characters.  He was so beaten down by life at the beginning of the story that I loved watching him become the man he was meant to be and maybe I even fell a little in love with him myself.   Two other characters in The Memory House, both little boys with small but powerful parts in the novel, haunt me because their stories went unresolved. Without giving away spoilers, I’ll just say, read The Memory House and see if you can guess who still worries the edges of my mind. I bet you can!

Linda you’re a multi award winning and bestselling author.
Is there a milestone that you’re still reaching for?
Oh, yes. There are several milestones I’d like to reach but most are not in my control, and a wise woman long ago told me to only set goals for the things I am in control of.  I’ve held to that wisdom throughout my career.
 Of course, I’d like to see The Memory House or future books on the NY Times list. I’d love to win another Rita Award. And I dream of having one of my books made into a movie.  None of those are within my total control so I will continue to write the best books I can and thank God for blessing me so much already!

Linda thanks so much for answering these questions. Good luck with the new novel!
Are your author/signing events listed on your website?
Thank you so much for having me! Right now, I’m on a blog tour promoting The Memory House. Those are, indeed, listed on at www.lindagoodnight .com   Any other signings or events will also be listed there.

 Connect with Linda - Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Blog

New York Times and USA Today Bestseller, Linda Goodnight is the winner of the RITA and other highly acclaimed awards for her emotional fiction. Active in orphan ministry, this former nurse and teacher enjoys writing fiction that carries a message of hope and light in a sometimes dark world. A country girl, she lives in Oklahoma. Readers may contact her through her website:

Today's Gonereading item is:
The boxed set of Reading Woman
Notecards. Click HERE for the buy page


  1. Oh that's so what I love about reading historicals. Sounds like a fantastic read :)

  2. I am all for mystery and secrets in my reads, just not in real life LOL!
    Wonderful interview Debbie, I hope you have a fabulous weekend!! :D

  3. Linda, I'm so excited about this book. It sounds sooo good! : )

    1. Hi Erin, it does sound good doesn't it.
      Thanks for stopping by!