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Q&A With Genevieve Graham

This afternoon’s Q&A is with USA Today Bestselling Author Genevieve Graham. Genevieve has written seven novels — “Come from Away,” “Letters Across the Sea,” “The Forgotten Child,” “Bluebird,” “Tides of Honor,” “At the Mountains Edge,” “Promises to Keep,” and coming in 2024, “The Secret Keepers” — all focusing on Canadian history. 


Q: What fascinates you the most about writing historical fiction? 

A: I have always been fascinated by reading historical fiction. Historical Fiction has given me the opportunity not only to experience adventure, love, tragedy, and whatever else was on the menu, but also to learn.

Writing it is a whole different, exciting level! For the past fifteen years, I have learned so very much, and the research has become something I crave. My passion is writing about Canadian history, a niche that I was stunned to discover had not yet been claimed. From coast to coast, from the Halifax Explosion to the Klondike Gold Rush, Canada is full of incredible stories, and yet very few are taught or spoken about.

Q: At what point in your life did you realize that you were called to be an author? 

A: I was 43. I was a stay-at-home mom, and when my daughters were old enough to give me a few hours to myself, I dove deep into reading historical fiction. After a while I wondered if I might be able to write some of it myself. I had never (still haven’t) taken a writing course or read a how-to book, but I was dying to try. I guess you could say it was a calling, and I was lucky enough to listen at the right time!


Q: What advice do you give to anyone struggling with writers block? What advice do you give to anyone who’s aspiring to be an author?

A: Those are two very different issues! All right. My advice is:

Anyone struggling with writer’s block: Stand up and walk away from your desk. Maybe don’t go near it for a day or two (or longer). Your brain is very sensitive. You need to distract it, not push it too hard in a direction it doesn’t want to go. My favourite moments are when I have completely given up on a story, only to have a surprise aha! moment in the middle of the night. 

Aspiring authors: If you want to write, then write. I have been told so many times by people “I have always wanted to write a book”, and they usually have two main excuses.

#1 “I don’t have time.” Yes, you do. Carve five minutes every day to write something down. It doesn’t have to be anything huge like a novel. It could be writing a journal, a shopping list, a blog, anything. Five minutes a day will create a habit, and those five minutes will eventually multiply. Start small and be consistent.

#2 “What if nobody wants to read it?” So what? I write for me. I write because I want to learn the history, and I want to create the fiction. I am dying to meet my latest characters, and I want to see what they get up to. What do you want to write? It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. It may never get published, but it will free your creative spirit to let it out!

Q: What advice do you give to new and aspiring authors when it comes to negative feedback whether its bad reviews, unsupportive friends and family members and trolls who take pleasure in bullying? 

A: That’s really hard to take, and I have experienced all of that. I guess the best way to handle it is to accept ‘different strokes for different folks’ – you can’t please all the people all the time, and you have to know that going in. Try to be a duck. Let it roll off your back and just keep swimming.


Q: If you were to write in another genre which genre would it be and why?

A: Probably women’s fiction, including a love story. I hesitate to call it Romance, because my understanding is that Romance includes sex, and I have no interest in writing about that. My preference is to let my characters do whatever they want behind closed doors.


Q: Which historical period was your favorite period to write about ad why?

A: I have written books set in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, and I think my favourites were set around the two world wars. It’s probably because they are closer to our time, and while there are obviously a lot of differences, I think I understand them better. And I also like that many of those stories still directly relate to our lives today.

Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to any of your novels?

A: Not Hollywood, but two separately producers are currently holding the film option rights to three of my books: “The Forgotten Home Child”, “Tides of Honour”, and “Come From Away”. I try not to get my hopes up too high, because they may never go any farther, but wouldn’t it be fun?

Q: Can you tell us the readers what “Secret Keepers,” is about that’s coming out in 2024? 

A: “The Secret Keepers” is set around WW2. Twin sisters Dot and Dash (nicknamed after their father taught them Morse Code) have completely different aspirations and gifts to offer to the war effort. Dot is a brilliant “listener” and decrypter, listening in on coded messages all over the world and contributing to Bletchley Park’s work against the axis powers. She will also work at Camp X, the world’s first Spy School, which was located just outside of Toronto. Her sister, Dash, has always wanted to fly. She is the extroverted, energetic one, and she has a fascination with mechanical work. She will work at the Canadian Car and Foundry, which was a massive factory in Northern Ontario that made Hurricanes – it was run by a woman, and over half its workers were women! Then she will join the Air Transport Auxiliary, which was an amazing group of flyers ferrying replacement planes in the scariest of conditions!