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Blog Hop with Valerie Francis

A little while ago, author Valerie Francis posted on Facebook that she was organizing a blog hop. You can find Valerie at Valerie writes middle-grade fantasy fiction, and her stories sound terrific!

I asked Valerie if I could join her in her blog hop, and she graciously said yes. She sent me a few questions as guidelines. Without further ado, here are my answers.

What am I working on?

I’m working on the third novel of a romantic historical series set in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at the time of the 1917 explosion, an accident of war which is still the largest man-made non-nuclear explosion in history. A munitions ship fully loaded with explosives was struck by another ship and exploded, destroying half the city. My series follows three siblings, Alice, Georgie and Carl O’Neill, who live in the part of town most affected and whose lives are permanently altered by the disaster. Alice’s story, Shattered, came out in 2011. Deliverance, Carl’s book, came out in 2013, and I hope to have Georgie’s story, Flight, out in the spring of 2014.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

The time period and setting aren’t common in romantic fiction, and the characters’ personal journeys play a larger role than they do in some romances. Alice, who is dyslexic, has to overcome self-doubt and learn to demand the respect she has never received. Carl has to battle severe post-traumatic stress from his time in the trenches. Georgie, who has always considered herself the strong, self-sufficient sister, has to learn to let others into her heart.
There wasn’t a family in Halifax in 1917 that hadn’t been affected by the Great War. Everyone had a son or brother or sweetheart overseas, and when they came home, they came home changed. Then the explosion changed the face of the city forever. People had to dig deep to put their lives back together again.

Why do I write what I do?

I’ve lived in Halifax for over thirty years, and I worked for ten years in the part of town that was destroyed in 1917. I could almost feel the history in the air. I’ve always had a fascination for the past, and this is such a rich time period I couldn’t resist. Victorian morals and manners were swept away as surely as cars replaced horses. Women stepped into roles vacated by men. The city lived under the threat of attack by enemy submarines, and possibly by airplanes. There’s endless material for a writer.

How does your writing process work?

My process isn’t really a process. I’m a pantser rather than a plotter, though I do outline when I find myself stuck. I try to make my word count goals from Monday to Friday and take the weekends off to recharge. That’s basically it. I let the characters take me where they will.