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 !
Hi, Jessica! Thank you for the detailed research and careful thought that you put into creating "Shades of Gray". As a native Virginian, I appreciate the focus on the monumental effects of Virginia's participation in The Civil War. Our state is overflowing with "living history". Congratulations on your success!
gcwhiskas at aol dot com
Wonderful interview with great insight into the development of her characters.
You have me hooked. I am one of those that gets goosebumps at Gettysburg.
I love the on-line interviews with authors as it gives us the thinking behind the book. Of course we Southerners don't need much encouragement to read historical fiction, my favorite, about our region.
Also, I think it gives the general audience regional insight of the South (and the North) that provoke the most unfortunate of wars.
Thanks for the interview: JJ & TWP
Great interview! I read Shades of Gray this year (early) and knew then it would be on my 2009 Favorite Books list. Just a wonderful novel!
Came over at Lakeviewer's recommendation of yur blog. Really enjoyed this interview and will definately read this book.
You are a really good interviewer, Carol. I'm sure the authors are really pleased to grant you the time to pick their brains. You go girl!
I look forward to the movie when some smart person snaps up the rights and does a screenplay.
How interesting to meet a new author and get so very close to understanding her motivation. Love it. Congratulations to you, Carol, for pulling this off so grandly.
I'm in. I am going to get my notebook right now to write down the title and author for my next trip to the library.
I love GWTW too, but I don't think my adoration has reached your level ;)
I loved your interview. I love historical fiction and the Civil War era is a favorite of mine. So please put me in for the drawing, I would love to win it!
Thanks for sharing the great interview with us. I loved the novel and love reading about the era it's set in.
Have a wonderfully blessed day!!!
Congrats again, Carol, on a year of blogging. I have blogged since June of 2006--but didn't get comments or meet people like you UNTIL I started on Blogger last January.
Great interview. That book sounds marvelous. Please add my name to your 'pot'...
Thanks and Congrats.
Thanks so much Carol...now I have another book to put on my Santa list!!!
Congrats on the blogoversary (see, we're picking up the lingo!). You've really come a long way, very impressive. You know we always love sitting with you on the porch, always something interesting going on.
Great interview, Carol!
I am a "Gone With The Wind" freak, too. I must have read the book a dozen times; for the first time when I was around ten. And I first saw the movie when I was seven (I wanted to BE Scarlett, and I fell in love with Rhett. The scene where he carries her up the stairs still makes me swoon!) :)
Can't wait to read "Shades of Gray!"
Carol, you have inspired me again! Your interview was quite interesting and being as Cold Mountain is an all time favorite of mine, Shades of Gray, is a must read.
Congrats on your one year anniversary!
Thanks Carol and Jessica for the great interview. I do want to see a movie, but I think like all movies there would be a sacrifice to the originality of the book.
However, I would love to see Hunter and Andrea on the big screen. LOL
Great interview Carol! I am looking forward to reading this book, as I love stories set during the civil war. I too, love Gone With the Wind!
P.S. Carol I will send you that shell pasta recipe tomorrow. Battling the worst ear infection at the moment.
Fantastic interview, Carol. I hope that next year or sooner we will be celebrating your book being No. 1 on the Amazon.com list.
I am so excited about this book. Thanks for the interview, wonderful questions Carol!
Hi Jessica! Nice interview and thank you for introducing me to Carol. I have now marked your blog Carol and plan to read often.
PS: Carol, were you reading my mind when you made your list of favorite movies???
Hello and thanks everyone for your comments!
I was so excited when Carol asked me to be part of her One-Year Anniversary celebration! I think everyone agrees The Writers Porch is a great blog and we look forward to many more anniversaries.
Congrats, Carol! I can't wait to make a trip to Mississippi to meet you in person and visit some of the sites you talk about in your posts!
This sounds fantastic and is now on the top of my "to order for my Kindle" list!
As a teenager, I read every historical novel in my school library, many of whom featured Mosby. I can relate to the romantacism around him and his exploits.
Forgot to say... an excellent interview Carol!
Wow, what a wonderful interview that was! Nice to learn more about Jessica and Shades of Gray. I will defiantly put that on my reading list.
Congrats on your blogiversary, Carol! And on the fantastic interview! I love historical novels and especially the Civil War era. Thank you for introducing me to Jessica and her wonderful book. Count me in! Cheers, cher!
Jessica is one of those authors who writes about what she truly knows - and lives. She is a genuine Southern Lady.
Hey sweet lady, I just wanted to thank you for all the lovely comments you've left on my blog and hoppin' on. I sure hope you enjoy the ride.
God bless and enjoy this day!!!
Thank you so much for your gracious response to my recent post! Truly, thank you! It is encouraging beyond measure to keep hearing I will get to the other side.
Love the Civil War and will look for Shades of Gray!
Carol, you put on a wonderful interview and I'm putting this book on my Christmas list! i adore almost everything Southern, especially books about the Civil War!
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