I’m SO excited to host February Grace, author of GODSPEED, today. If you don’t have this book on your TBR list, do so now please and then read this post when you get back, because February answers questions about what inspires her and how she developed the characters of GODSPEED.
1) How did you get interested in writing?
I’ve been thinking up stories since before I could write, but it was really in fourth grade that I fell in love with writing.
I was an outcast then (bullied a lot) because my family didn’t celebrate holidays, and there was a lot of class time spent on holiday projects. So my wonderful teacher got me a library pass and permission to use the projectors and set me up with a project: watch short films of the beginning of fairy tales and rewrite the endings. I was in love- I was hooked, and that was it. I was a writer.
2) What inspired you to write GODSPEED?
I have always wanted to write a romance that wasn’t ‘dated’ so to speak, something that could stand up five, ten years after it was written without seeming stale. I grew up loving Jane Eyre and loved those dark and brooding leading men, so always wanted to write one of those, too.
Add to that my fascination with gears and clocks and machinery and I wanted to create a hybrid story, a romance that included all that.
But it was only because I was very, very ill and up late one night listening to the ticking of a three-faced clock that the idea for Godspeed actually happened. So yes, in the end I owe the novel to that clock and the desperation I felt at the time I really noticed for the first time how it sounded as all three faces ticked in unison.
3) How did you decide to go Indie?
It wasn’t a quick decision– I often doubted I’d publish at all, ever, in any way. I never really had the drive to publish until I went blind, then after I got some use of my sight back, I don’t know why, it suddenly became very important to me not just to write but to share that writing with other people.
Two years ago I decided to query two agents- knowing absolutely nothing about how you’re supposed to do it. Even so, one asked for a full on my first query ever (on my first manuscript, not this one) immediately. The other rejected me in seven minutes flat.
Eventually the first agent passed on the MS but invited me to send more work- but by the time I felt I was ready I had already learned how the industry works and was afraid, frankly, of getting chewed up in the machinery. I can’t grow a ‘thicker skin’ as it were- have never been able and I doubt it’ll happen at my age (I turn 41 this month). I also worried about giving up control over characters, plotline, cover art, all of that. Every aspect to me goes to the telling of the overall story, and so is very important to me.
I was convinced I was going to continue to practice what I referred to as the “Dickinson Method” in which I put everything I wrote into a trunk for my progeny to sort out after I was dead. But then a funny thing happened- through a series of events not to be believed- I subbed some of my poetry and prose and it was published! Then some more. By the time a few literary magazines had accepted my work, and I had Godspeed (my third novel MS) finished and my betas were encouraging me to go through with publishing it, I thought…what if?
It was a short hop from ‘what if’ to ‘OMG it’s on Amazon’. Of course I had help, with my health I couldn’t have done it alone. I hired a cover artist, an amazing copy editor, and a dear friend volunteered to do the formatting for me. And I am grateful. I know Indie is the right choice for me and I am so glad that I went through with it.
4) I loved your voice in this novel. So classic, lyrical, romantic–it evoked a feeling of nostalgia, of Victorian properness, and of gentility. How did you develop it?
Thank you very kindly for saying so.
I didn’t develop it, actually- I can’t develop voice. For me, creating characters is like meeting people. When you meet someone, you don’t assign them their traits or how they talk, they just are who they are. So are characters to me. I hear them, and I take down what they say. I just try my best to tell the world who they are, as I know them. I hope I did the characters in this book justice, they all became very dear to me. The voice in this book, as I see it, is Abigail’s.
5) How did you develop the characters in GODSPEED?
The idea for Quinn came to me first, of course, and the rest just fell in line and introduced themselves, as it were, as I went along. One of the characters was very, very vaguely inspired by a person I met in real life, but I’m not going to tell you which one (sorry) LOL.
6) Is there going to be a GODSPEED II?
Actually…I am not planning a sequel to it. I feel like it’s a stand alone, and I think to continue the story from the ending would diminish the ending. You can never say never, of course, but I am afraid that I’d have to say the answer is, most likely, no. Will I write something else? Gosh, I hope so.
7) What’s your favorite genre to read?
I read a lot of non-fiction. Books about how the brain works, books about temperament theory and personality types. I love learning about what makes people tick. I’m an Idealist Counselor by temperament myself (INFJ) so that’s true to type.
I also love to read poetry, the old school stuff, Tennyson, Yeats, Keats. I read much more of that than I do genre fiction. WIth my limited use of my impaired eyesight a book really has to catch my attention for me to commit to what it takes for me to read it. I can’t read like I used to, like people with healthy eyes. So it takes me a very, very long time.
8) What’s your favorite book?
Ohhh, I can’t pick one, has to be one sci-fi and one classic. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. With The Scarlet Pimpernel thrown in for good measure there, too.
9) If you found a genie in a lamp, what three wishes would you wish for?
I’m going to guess you mean for myself, and not “world peace” or an end to hunger and poverty or prejudice because if that was possible I’d have wished those for sure already.
Two of the wishes, I really can’t say because they’re very dear to my heart and I’d cry. The dearest one, I will tell you, would involve my daughter.
The last wish, though, I can tell you for sure.
I’d want to be healthy, even if only for one day. I’ve never been healthy in my life and my earliest childhood memories are of being in pain. Just one day I would love to wake up, be able to see, eat, walk, move, do the things normal people do every day, without feeling it. Yeah, one healthy, happy day…that would be amazing. If possible I’d like to spend that day somewhere really pretty.
10) What was the best present you’ve ever gotten?
I don’t know if you can call it a present per se, but I would have to answer, getting some use of my eyesight back. Being able to see colors again, the faces of the people you love, and the words you’re typing on the screen…there is no material gift I can think of that can measure up to that. I am very grateful…to all my doctors.
Thank you, Laura, so much for hosting me! These questions were amazing!
Thanks, Bru! It’s been a blast hosting you today. BEST OF LUCK with GODSPEED!!!!!!!
I wish you the best of luck with Godspeed!! 🙂
Thank you Lynn, and thank you so much Laura for hosting me today, the interview was a blast and I’m so glad you enjoyed Godspeed. You totally rock! :~) ~bru
lovely interview. and that journal looks familiar. 🙂
A good live interview. Thank you, Laura and February.
I’m so glad that your eyesight didn’t go away permanently. That just sounds terrifying. And I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall the night you came up with Godspeed…to see how your brain just turned on while listening to the clock.
I turn 41 in August. If you turn 41 this month that means we’re almost the same age. That’s an interesting coincidence. Your first name, however, is much cooler than mine.
Great interview, Laura and Bru! I have read lots of Bru’s poems and am so thrilled to death that she’s getting them out there for readers to love as much as we in the poetry group do! Can’t wait to read Godspeed too.
I really resonated with what she said about the decision to go indie too. I think taking temperamental fit into the equation is something many writers don’t consider, but it’s important component of feeling satisfied with the process as much as the product.
The way Bru’s health struggles and periods of blindness shaped her process sound like they also shaped this work thematically too, which makes me even more fascinated (must be an INFJ thing!) 🙂
Godspeed sounds fantastic and what an achievement to get published with difficulty seeing. I wish you all the best, February!
Congrats, Laura! I wish you much joy and success. 🙂
What a great interview, Laura. So thoughtful and so much depth. Bru, hooray for another Jane Eyre lover (I’m so not surprised) and if I had an extra genie wish, I’d throw it your way for sure.
Yay Bru!!! I’m so excited for her book. She is great and such an inspiration to me. 🙂
Sounds great! I’m a huge Jane Eyre fan. (And I am also an Idealist Counselor) I agree with your philosophy of meeting your characters an letting them speak. I’m excited to read your book. It’s going on the list. (=
Fascinating interview. I hope Godspeed takes off and so does Bru’s career. You deserve some very good luck. I think the Universe owes you right about now.
Best wishes on this and all upcoming projects. And hang in there!
Wrote By Rote