I can't think of a better way to celebrate 1 year of blogging with all my blog world friends, than to
talk about three of my favorite subjects! The Civil War, an awesome book and a brilliant Author! I met Jessica James last year via the blog world on another authors blog. We started writing e-mails and she told me about her book which I immediately ordered! Jessica has her own blog, "Life in The Past Lane" which I'm sure you have seen on my side bar. As most of you know, I'm a Gone With The Wind freak. Let me say this to you all, had "Shades of Gray" been published back then, my daughter would be named Andrea instead of Melanie!! I kid you not!
Jessica thank you so much for allowing me to interview you about your Award Winning Debut Novel for this special occasion..............
TWP........Having written a 5 Star Civil War Epic, will you tell us where your desire to write this book came from ?
JJ........Sounds a bit cliche, but it really came from the heart. This story just grabbed me and wouldn't let me go no matter how hard I tried to fight it. It was really important to me to tell a story that would appeal to readers whether or not they had an interest in the Civil War, so I worked hard to balance the historical facts with a love story that would engage and entertain.
TWP.....How long did it take you to write " Shades of Gray" ?
JJ.....Oh, I hate this question! I'll say "a long time" ( Two decades would not be exaggerating)
TWP......Are any of your characters based on real life Civil War participants?
JJ....My two main characters are fictional, however Colonel Alexander Hunter, the male lead, is based loosely on Colonel John Mosby, a confederate cavalry commander who operated in northern Virginia. Though perhaps not as well known as some other Confederate officers, Mosby is a legend in Virginia for his daring, behind-the-lines exploits. Even today, if you drive through northern Virginia, you will find signs showing a soldier with a cape flying out behind him on horseback. That let's you know you're in Mosby's Confederacy, which is now the Mosby Heritage Area.
TWP........Shades of Gray briefly knocked GWTW from the #1 Historical Fiction Romance spot on Amazon, how did this make you feel?
JJ....Flabbergasted. Excited. Amazed. It has actually happened twice now, and both times I have hardly dared to believe my eyes! It is truly an honor to be considered in the same class as GWTW, and I can only hope that Shades has the same longevity and devoted following in the years to come.
TWP... Did you ever think your debut book would be so well received?
JJ... I guess every author hopes and dreams that readers will "get it" and, more importantly will enjoy and remember their book. I think what has surprised me the most is the way Shades has been received by both men and women, and by lovers of both historical and romance genres, It has really blurred the lines between the two categories.
TWP... Shades of Gray has received awesome reviews from many Civil War "experts", does this influence you to continue to write in this genre?
JJ... I think what influences me more than that is my love for the time period, but certainly the fact that it has been so well received in the Civil War community inspires me to keep going when the going gets tough.
TWP... Are you currently writing your second book? If so, tell us about it.
JJ...Yes, I am working on a second Civil War novel called Above and Beyond, in which the heroine plays the part of a strong Unionist in Virginia while secretly spying for the Confederacy.
Unfortunately, she is so convincing in her role that friends, neighbors and even her brother believe she is a traitor to the South. I chose this plot line because I can't imagine the courage and strong will it would take to be despised and maligned by family and friends while nobly serving a cause-even more so during the Victorian era when reputation and allegiance were everything.
I think it could be argued that it would take more strength and fortitude than fighting an outright battle with hundreds of your comrades surrounding you.
TWP... What Awards has Shades won so far?
JJ... Shades was a 2009 HOLT Medallion Finalist for Best Southern Fiction Theme and won a 2008 Indie Next Generation Award for Best Regional Fiction. It was also a finalist for Best Historical Fiction in the 2008 Indie Next Generation contest and won a 2008 IPPY Award for Best Regional Fiction. It was a finalist in the Romance category in the 2008 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year contest and was chosen as the Favorite Book of the Year (2008) by The Book Connection. Two other book review sites, The Printed Page and BookWorms Dinner chose it among their Favorite Books of 2008.
TWP...Shades is often favorably compared to both GWTW and COLD MOUNTAIN which were both made into blockbuster movies. Do you feel Shades would also make a great movie?
JJ... There is probably no comment I receive more often from readers than " this should be a movie. " I have so much material that had to be cut from the book that I have plenty of new material for a screen play- so if you have any connections, let me know!!
TWP....You live in Gettysburg yet you chose to set Shades in Virginia, why is that?
JJ.... Strangely enough, I grew up with Civil War history all around me, but didn't get "the bug"
until I moved to northern Virginia in the 80s and learned about John Mosby. He is such a romantic figure and larger-than-life legend that I began to read everything on him, about him, and by him-which is where my interest began. I'm back in Gettysburg now, but still take day trips to northern Virginia quite often when I feel a need for inspiration.
SHADES of GRAY by Jessica James (2008)Fiction/historical- Paperback 524 pp.
Patriot Press Gettysburg, PA. ISBN# 978-0-9796000-0-5
Thank you Jess for your great answers! WOW!
I loved Shades of Gray! It is at the top of my best reads of 2009! Quite a few of you readers take my recommends for great reads. PLEASE read Shades! You will thank me for it! It does appeal as Jessica said, to ALL, even if you don't read historical. If you loved GWTW (who didn't) or Cold Mountain or North & South, you will love SHADES of GRAY. Jessica James is a brilliant writer who will capture your heart, soul and mind for 524 pages! Give it as a gift to anyone who loves to read, it will be their favorite gift! Don't forget to leave a comment so you have a chance to win a copy of Shades of Gray...............Winner anounced Saturday!
Visit Jessica's Website Jessica James Historical Fiction Author for the purchase of signed copies of Shades and a chance to WIN a basket of goodies from Jessica !