Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Camille Aubray | 20 Questions: THE GODMOTHERS
Author Guest / June 18, 2021

1–What is the title of your latest release?  THE GODMOTHERS 2–What is it about? Pitched as “Elena Ferrante meets Big Little Lies”,  THE GODMOTHERS is about four remarkable women from very different backgrounds who are united by marriage in an elegant, prosperous Italian family, and then must take charge of the family’s business when their husbands are forced to leave them during World War II. 3–What do you love about the setting of your book?  THE GODMOTHERS takes place mainly in New York City and its Westchester suburbs from the 1930s through the 1950s. I worked in the city and I loved discovering its old buildings and the great stories that went with it. That glamorous, dangerous, bygone aura still clings to places like Bergdorf Goodman’s, the Copacabana, the Majestic apartment building, Coney Island, Balducci’s Market, the Plaza Hotel—it’s all still there. 4–How did your main character(s) surprise you? They are so brave! The four Godmothers never fail to rise to the occasion as a team: Filomena overcomes childhood trauma to be a leader and protector of the family; Lucy uses her skills as a nurse to make the right decisions even when she feels betrayed; Amie recovers from an…

Julia Justiss | History ReFreshed: FAMOUS ROMANCE
Author Guest / June 16, 2021

Although marriages take place all during the year, June was traditionally the month of brides and weddings. For this June, as we emerge from isolation to actually be able to attend events like weddings again, we’ll look at novels that relate the stories of some famous romances and marriages based on real events. Starting with the royal, we have BEFORE THE CROWN by Flora Harding.  In the years before World War II, young Princess Elizabeth’s visit with her family to the Royal Naval College leads to her meeting the naval cadet detailed to escort and entertain them—Prince Phillip, son of the deposed Greek king and nephew of her uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, who becomes the major supporter of the romance.  Smitten with the handsome blond prince, Elizabeth’s attachment never waivers.  Nine years later, with the Prince a decorated combat veteran intent on a brilliant naval career, Elizabeth will fight tenaciously against her family’s reluctance and the court’s disapproval to insist on marrying none but this penniless foreign prince.  A tale of “royal secrets and forbidden love.” A commoner who became royal stars in our next selection, THE GIRL IN THE WHITE GLOVES by Kerri Maher.  Defying her proper family to…

Tessa Afshar | Exclusive Excerpt: JEWEL OF THE NILE
Author Guest / June 4, 2021

PROLOGUE Cush shall hasten to stretch out her hands to God. PSALM 68:31 AD 31 He took one last aching look outside the crumbling window; the Nile was molten gold in the light of the rising sun, a sparkling coil winding its way into the horizon. Forcing himself to turn away, he came to kneel by the pallet where his bride lay sleeping. To have this woman, he would have to give up the lush beauty of his land, give up his family and heritage. He smiled. She was worth all the loss. For his sake, she had given up as much and more. “Time to wake up, love.” She groaned something incoherent, more asleep than awake. “Come now, lazy. Open those enchanting sea-green eyes. We can’t linger here. They will have discovered our absence by now.” He spoke in a light tone, making sure none of his mounting anxiety leaked into his voice. Still, the reminder of their vulnerability was enough to banish the last vestiges of her sleep. She snapped her eyes open and sat up in one smooth motion, holding the sheet to her throat. “How long have we been here?” “Too long.” He motioned to the…

Ann H. Gabhart | Exclusive Excerpt: ALONG A STORIED TRAIL
Author Guest / June 2, 2021

Seemed everybody was talking about Aunt Perdie today. Truth was, plenty of Aunt Perdie stories floated around the mountains. She hadn’t ever married. Said nobody ever came calling to ask her, but if they had, she might just have said no. Leastways once she got past normal marrying age. By then she couldn’t see the purpose in sharing a cabin that wasn’t all that big with some man who’d want her to do things his way. Not when she was happy doing things her way. Would that be how Tansy ended up? An old lady in a lonesome cabin after spurning whatever marriage prospects might have come knocking on her door? Youngsters then might be sharing Aunt Tansy stories. Could be they already were talking about that crazy book woman, even if they were glad to see her coming. The thought made her laugh out loud. At Aunt Perdie’s, Tansy tied Shadrach to a handy tree, then climbed up the steps to bang on the cabin door. Aunt Perdie didn’t have a porch, just a little slab of roof over the top step. She was ready to knock again when the door creaked open. “Well, if it ain’t the book woman….

Rachel Fordham | Title Challenge: A LADY IN ATTENDANCE
Author Guest / June 2, 2021

Hi There! I’m Rachel Fordham, author of A LADY IN ATTENDANCE, a story that has been in my heart a long time and will be in readers’ hands June 1st. It’s rich with historical details and a romance that made me sigh while writing it. I’m excited to give you story teasers using the title! Here goes: A-  A is for Attending. The first dental assistants were referred to as either attending women or ladies in attendance. Hazel accepts a job working for the local dentist. * L- L is for Love After spending five years in a New York State reformatory, Hazel has a blemish on her name. Can someone with a past like hers ever find love? A- A is for Authentic Hazel grew up in high society, spent five years behind iron gates, and is now working as a dental assistant (using a fictitious name). Discovering who she really is, is a journey. D- D is for Daring The past is forever haunting Hazel, keeping her from believing in the future. It takes courage and friendship for her to dare face the things she tried to leave behind. Y-Y is for Youth If Hazel could change anything,…

Julia Justiss | History ReFreshed: VIKING SPRING
Author Guest / May 19, 2021

The Viking invaders played a big part in the Conquest world of 1066 England whose stories were featured in last month’s column.  With May being spring in Norway—when we lived in Oslo for three years, our landlord declared the second week of May to be officially “spring” and allowed us to clear any remaining snow off our lawns then—this month we will explore more stories that illuminate the Viking world by interpreting the lives of historic and legendary Viking women.  As with the world of 1066, this era seems to attract writers who produce multi-volume sagas.  What greater delight to an avid reader than discovering a new series? We begin with THE NORSE QUEEN by Johanna Wittenberg, which reinterprets the life of the Viking queen Asa.  In the ninth century, Viking power is just developing, with the land still fragmented into thirty warring kingdoms that continually raid each other to pillage and capture wives and slaves.  Fifteen-year-old Asa, daughter of the King of Tromoy, is sought as a bride by Gudrod, king of a neighboring province.  Her refusal to wed him sparks a bitter reprisal, in which her family is killed, and to save her people, she must marry her…

David Hirshberg | JACOBO’S RAINBOW
Author Guest / May 12, 2021

You’re a big believer in the importance of opening paragraphs. Please elaborate. I’ve got two favorites. The first is from A Tale of Two Cities, whose first sentence is, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” I also really like: “Fear presides over these memories, a perpetual fear.” That’s from Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America. When I open a novel for the first time, I want to be intrigued or amazed or unsettled—right from the start. In addition, within a few sentences, I’m eager to get into the rhythm of literary language, which encourages me to continue to turn pages. The opening line of my debut novel in 2018—My Mother’s Son—has been commented on by almost all of the reviewers: “When you’re a kid, they don’t always tell you the truth.” It’s followed by, “They tell others that they don’t want to hurt you or they think you won’t understand. But in reality, it’s just easier if they tell you what makes them feel good, or what gets them out of a jam.” Readers tell me that this braces them for the unexpected, and this is precisely how I wanted them to react. Here’s…

Glynis Peters | Exclusive Interview: THE FORGOTTEN ORPHAN
Author Guest / May 5, 2021

Welcome to Fresh Fiction, Glynis! We are excited to chat with you today. Please tell us a little about yourself and your new book, THE FORGOTTEN ORPHAN.  Hello, thanks for inviting me along! I’m 63 years old, married since I was 21 and am a mother of three adults. I am also a grandmother to four. Three granddaughters and one grandson. I’m a carer for my mother and am a retired nurse. I live by the sea in England. The town of Harwich was also the home of the captain of The Mayflower, Christopher Jones.  I enjoy fishing and when I get the opportunity, cross-stitch. What do you think appeals to readers about novels set during World War II? What do you love writing about this time period?  As a reader of the genre myself, I am drawn to the strength and resilience of the people who fought for our freedom. It is a story we cannot ignore and one which can be told in many different ways. Each country involved has a different part to play and it makes for interesting reading.   Your main character, Maisie Reynolds, was raised in an orphanage, was separated from her twin brother,…

Chanel Cleeton | 20 Questions: THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN CUBA
Author Guest / May 5, 2021

1–What is the title of your latest release? THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN CUBA 2–What is it about? It’s inspired by the true story of Evangelina Cisneros, a Cuban revolutionary who was wrongfully imprisoned by the Spanish in a notorious women’s jail in Havana, and who became an international celebrity when her plight came to the attention of William Randolph Hearst, the owner and publisher of the New York Journal. Hearst used her as a rallying cry to provoke U.S. intervention in the war for independence between Cuba and Spain. Her life intertwines with that of Grace Harrington, an American journalist, and Marina Perez, a Cuban revolutionary working as a courier in Havana. 3–What do you love about the setting of your book?  I really loved learning more about this period in Cuban history. It’s one I was previously somewhat unfamiliar with, and my research made me wonder what my ancestors’ lives would have been like during the fight for Cuban independence. 4–How did your main character(s) surprise you?  My characters are constantly surprising me! When I originally started researching the book, I didn’t know that I was going to tell Marina’s story from her point of view, but once…

Renee Rosen | Exclusive Interview: THE SOCIAL GRACES
Author Guest / April 21, 2021

Welcome back to Fresh Fiction, Renee! The last time you were here, we discussed Park Avenue Summer, and this time we’re chatting about THE SOCIAL GRACES. Can you tell us what drew you to write about Gilded Age New York?  Several years ago, I wrote another novel about Marshall Field, the Chicago retail tycoon called WHAT THE LADY WANTS which was set during the Gilded Age. I really enjoyed that time period and wanted to revisit that era. The gowns, the balls, the excess, and etiquette, which runs from practical to absurd, have always fascinated me. When I stumbled upon Caroline Astor and Alva Vanderbilt’s stories, I knew I could use New York’s Gilded Age as backdrop to create a completely different type of novel, filled with fun, juicy scandals, and all the glamour. The Astors and the Vanderbilts are synonymous with high society drama. Was there anything truly outrageous you learned through your research that was hard to believe actually happened?  Oh, my goodness, where to begin!!! I was really surprised by how understated and refined the Knickerbockers, (the old money and original settler of New York) were in the beginning. It wasn’t until the Nouveau Riche (representing the…