Happy Tuesday everyone!
Today I’m joined on the blog by new author Caroline Leech to answer few questions about her debut historical romance novel, Wait for Me. This novel is set during World War II and shows how war affects lives and humanity.
Following the interview with Caroline is her author bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to buy copies of Wait for Me. And for a chance to own a personalized signed copy of the book, don’t forget to check the bottom of the post and enter the rafflecopter form for the special giveaway.
Here’s my interview with Caroline. Enjoy reading!
Interview with Caroline Leech
The road to publication for a first-time author is not necessarily a straightforward one – did you have to face rejection before securing a publishing deal? What other frustrations did you have to overcome in writing and publishing Wait For Me?
I was actually very lucky. I’m not one of those authors who received dozens of rejections before they were published, but that was only because I was simply too scared to send my story out to any agents or editors. Instead, I submitted it for critique at Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conferences, and I entered it into a couple of Romance Writers of America contests. I won the YA categories of both of those, and was so fortunate that one of the contest judges loved my first 20 pages enough to ask for the full manuscript. Once I sent her the full, it moved very fast. She took it to her acquisitions board two weeks later and had sent me a deal offer for two books by the end of that day. It was completely surreal, and still is at times. My editor is fantastic, and we are already most of the way through my second book’s editing process.
Of course, getting my deal through a contest meant that I didn’t have an agent to help me decipher all the complicated figures and jargon in the deal offer. But some kind author friends recommended me to their agents, and they both offered me representation. It was a hard decision between them, but I am still thrilled that I chose to sign with New Leaf Literary and Media in New York. After all, my agent, Joanna Volpe, also looks after amazing authors like Veronica Roth, Leigh Bardugo and Holly Black.
That all might sound easy and quick, but I should say that the deal came almost five years after I first wrote that manuscript, and more than seven years after I first started writing fiction. So it wasn’t exactly an overnight success.
Wait For Me is classified as historical young adult fiction. What drew you to that genre?
Would “I have three teenage children” be a good enough answer? Probably not, but that’s certainly where it began. When my older daughter started in middle school, they were given reading time each day in English class, so I started reading the teen novels that she was borrowing from her teacher’s shelves or the school library. I think SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELLING PANTS was the first one. And then I discovered TWILIGHT. When I read Stephanie Meyer’s story of how she wrote that first book while she watched her kid’s swim lessons, I thought, “I could do that”. So, I tried to carve out a little time each week away from the family to write something, anything. And when I decided to take an online creative writing course, it felt natural that it was one which would teach me how to write for children and young adults. Since then, I’ve read YA almost exclusively. I do read adult fiction if someone recommends a great book to me, but I’m quite happy where I am. Young adult fiction can be about doing something for the very first time, about shunning childhood while still being fearful of becoming an adult. It’s a thrilling balance beam to walk along.
Why 1945? And what kind of research you’ve done for the story and characters to be more authentic on the period?
The main reason I wanted to write a story set in World War Two is that I’ve grown up with stories about the war told to me by my parents, aunts and uncles who lived through it. My mother was a child evacuee from London, sent with her younger sister to a farm in the countryside on the day that war broke out. My father was also an evacuee from Edinburgh, but in 1944, he was old enough to join the army at age 18, and he served during the last year of the war and for several years after. His four older brothers had already gone off to fight. Two went to North Africa and fought in the desert campaign, and two went over in the D-Day invasion of northern France. Of course, there have been hundreds of books written about WW2, about the military strategy, the major battles, and of course the horrendous events of the Holocaust, but those stories feel like they’re not mine to tell. Being Scottish, I was drawn to find and share voices from my own country, from individuals—and particularly young women—far from the battlefields, who were still dealing with how the war was changing their lives, their loves, their education and their families.
And why 1945 particularly? I was fascinated by the idea that while we know now that the war was almost over by February of that year, the people alive at the time had no way of knowing that. As far as they were concerned, the war might still have years left to run, so they had to carry on making do with what they had. So, I decided to focus on a small story, something happening within a tiny village, but where the effects of the war were still profound.
For authenticity and background, as well as facts, authors like me researching modern historical periods are very fortunate not only to have books, but also to have such a wealth of memories available on the internet. For example, the BBC did a project a few years ago, called WW2 People’s War, where anyone could get in touch with their local BBC station and share their memories, whether they were serving in the military or on the home front. It all makes fascinating and distracting reading, even if many of the stories I read had nothing directly to do with the subject of the book I was supposed to be researching.
What do you hope readers will come away with from Wait For Me?
I hope they will come away with a smile, but also, with some sort of understanding that it is very easy to judge and hate another person because of their nationality, their race or their religion, especially when you are told by your country’s government that they are your enemy. But once you get to know them as individuals, perhaps they might not be very different from you. This story might be about the Second World War, but keeping hold of this understanding is just as important for us right now as it was then.
If Lorna could turn the tables on you and write a story based on your teenage years, what would the title of that book be? What would be the first line?
Oh, I don’t think Lorna would be the slightest bit interested in writing about my life. She’d probably think I was very boring, and also very spoiled. Any child of a farmer grows up with a list of chores to do around the farm each day, even before going to school. But I was brought up a city girl, and I only had to be awake enough to eat breakfast and get into my school uniform, not feed the chickens, milk the cows, and make the porridge as she would have had to do. I also didn’t have to deal with the rationing of food, clothing and fuel, and I didn’t ever jump when the postman knocked, in case he carried a much-dreaded telegram with news of a soldier brother. I grew up with a very easy life in comparison.
Where do you see your writing will go after Wait For Me? Do you think you’ll stick with this type of genre or branch out into something else?
I have a second book coming out next year with Harper Teen. It’s another World War Two book, also set in Scotland, though it’s not a sequel to WAIT FOR ME. It’s about another girl trying to work out how to make her own contribution to the war effort. I’ll be announcing more details of the title and the storyline quite soon in my newsletter, so I’d love your readers to visit my website at http://www.carolineleech.com and sign up to receive all the news as soon as it’s announced!
Thanks so much Caroline!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Caroline Leech is a Scottish writer now living in Texas. She writes YA historical fiction, and her first novel, WAIT FOR ME, won SCBWI’s Joan Lowery Nixon Award in 2014, as well as the YA categories of both the RWA Emily and Lone Star contests, and was published by Harper Teen in early 2017. Her second novel will be published in May 2018. During Caroline’s previous career in performing arts public relations in the UK, she edited a glossy photographic book, Welsh National Opera – the first sixty years. Caroline lives in in Houston with her husband and three teenage children. You can find her online at http://www.carolineleech.com
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: Wait for Me
Author: Caroline Leech
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audio
The perfect blend of sweet romance and historical flavor, Wait for Me, from debut author Caroline Leech, brings a fresh new voice to a much-loved genre.
It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country?
But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him—from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany—the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate.
What’s up for Grab?
- Personalized US hardback edition of Wait for Me by Caroline Leech
- Personalized US hardback edition of Wait for Me by Caroline Leech
- Open to US residents
- There will be one (1) winner
- Winner will be chosen and announced through rafflecopter
- Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
- Ends July 18th, 2017
- Prize will be sent by the author
To enter fill out the rafflecopter form
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