Happy Monday everyone! Today on the blog I am super excited to share my interview with Cynthia Sally Haggard. Her blog tour for Farewell My Life kicks off today and she stopped by to answer a few questions! We also have a giveaway so be sure to enter!
Hello Cynthia and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Farewell My Life!
To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?
I was born & raised in England, and came to the US at the age of 21. I’ve lived my entire adult life in the Mid-Atlantic region. (It was tough getting used to those steamy summers.)
What inspired you to write Farewell My Life?
I had a picture in my mind of the practical sister (Violet) bringing a violin for the dreamy sister (Grace) who had had to leave home under a cloud. That was all I knew when I started writing.
What research did you undertake when writing Farewell My Life?
I read LOTS of books, about fashion, manners, history…anything that gave me a vivid picture of life in the 1920s and 1930s. Of course, I also went online too, but that was just to fill out the research I’d gleaned from books.
What would you like readers to take away from reading Farewell My Life?
Life is fragile. Things can unravel much more quickly than any of us like to admit.
What was your favorite scene to write?
The last scene of Part 1, when Russell is unmasked.
What was the most difficult scene to write?
The very last scene of the novel, because it is so harrowing.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Not until fairly late in life (at the age of 43). Prior to that, I’d been a violinist and then a cognitive scientist.
What does your writing routine look like?
The truth is that I don’t have a writing routine. When I write, I work every day in the morning because that is my best time of day. But as I have to promote my books myself there are times when I can’t write. For example, right now I’m editing audio files so that I have Audible versions of both of my novels.
What has been your greatest challenge as a writer?
Writing dazzling prose.
Have you been able to overcome it?
Based on the early reviews of Farewell My Life, it seems as it I have!
Who are your writing inspirations?
I was the typical bookworm from the age of 10 on, when I started reading for three hours every day. I read all the classics, so of course I was inspired by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Fanny Burney. The actual inspirations for my novels come from disparate sources. My first novel “Thwarted Queen,” was inspired by a Time Team program on Richard III. “Farewell My Life” is loosely based on the story of my college violin teacher, who went to Berlin to study violin circa 1925.
What was the first historical novel you read?
I’m not sure, but I remember enjoying Jean Plaidy’s Isabella & Ferdinand trilogy (“Castile for Isabella,” “Spain for the Sovereigns,” and “Daughters of Spain.”)
What is the last historical novel you read?
“I, Eliza Hamilton” by Susan Holloway Scott. I loved the voice, the blend of love & exasperation in Eliza’s voice as she talked about her husband.
What are three things people may not know about you?
I learned to play violin when I was 3 years old. I have a PhD in Experimental Psychology. I wanted to study ballet.
What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?
Well, I love living in the past, so historical novels are the perfect venue for my imagination.
What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?
That depends on what I’m working on. When I was writing “Thwarted Queen” I read historical fiction about the middle ages. When I created “Farewell My Life” I read historical fiction about the 19th and 20th centuries.
What do you like to do when you aren't writing?
Play piano, walk, hike, exercise at the gym, play landlady, organize my husband.
Lastly, what are you working on next?
My next novel is set in Sicily circa 831, when Palermo was attacked by Muslims from North Africa…
Sounds fascinating! Thank you so much for stopping by today!
Farewell My Life by Cynthia Haggard
Angelina led a life which required her to fib. When Angelina, the black sheep of the Pagano family, meets the mysterious Mr. Russell, she has no idea that she has seen him before…in another country. And so begins Farewell My Life, a novel in three parts, which spins an operatic tale of dangerous love and loss.
The Lost Mother, the first part of this novel, slices back and forth between time and space, opening in the charming village of Georgetown, Washington D.C. while reflecting a family’s troubled past in the lovely village of Marostica in the Italian Veneto.
An Unsuitable Suitor, the second part of the novel, is a Cinderella-ish tale with not-so-charming princes who inhabit the edgy setting of 1920s Berlin.
Farewell My Life, the last part of the novel, set again in Berlin, Germany, during the dark 1930s as the Nazis gain power, takes comfortable lives, assumptions and civilizations and crumbles them into ash.
Amazon | IndieBound
Praise for Farewell My Life"A unique, deftly scripted, and extraordinary novel by an author with a distinctive narrative storytelling style that will hold the readers dedicated attention from beginning to end, "Farewell My Life: Buona Notte Vita Mia" is an impressive and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. One of those rare novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished."--Mid-West Book Review
"The author knows her characters very, very well; this shows in the consistent and very individual way they act. This is not a plot-driven story; it's character-driven. In this book, the characters are the jam which holds everything together. The best example of this is Grace, the talented violinist, who, simply, jumps off the page. I loved her."--Wishing Shelf
"This is not your typical mystery; it's for fans of thrilling action and historically-inspired events...Contra to the status quo of the genre, the men are the romantics - though in a deranged manner - and the women showcased are the core strength of the novel."--BookLife Prize.
"The author...adeptly summons the era in all its manners and details with her descriptive prose...Her omniscient, third-person narrator effectively flits through the heads of various characters, offering momentary glimpses of their inner lives."--Kirkus Reviews
"I loved the elaborate descriptions of all the places in this book. This is the kind of book that shows instead of just telling. The characters are very well-developed and interesting to read about. Angelina is a fascinating character, as is Grace. Along the duration of the book, Grace learns a lot about herself. I was amazed by her quiet yet vibrant personality, and her brilliant talent."--Pavani Mathur (The Voracious Bibliophile)
About the AuthorCynthia graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, Cambridge MA, in June 2015.
Her first novel, Thwarted Queen, a frustrating tale (hence the title) of Lady Cecylee Neville (1415-1495) who was nearly crowned Queen of England, was shortlisted for many awards, including the 2012 Eric Hoffer New Horizon Award for debut authors. To date, sales have surpassed 38,000 copies.
Her forthcoming novel, Farewell My Life, is a Cinderella-ish tale with not-so-charming princes who inhabit the edgy setting of 1920s Berlin.
When she’s not annoying everyone by insisting her fictional characters are more real than they are, Cynthia likes to go for long walks, knit something glamorous, cook in her wonderful kitchen, and play the piano. You can visit her at www.spunstories.com. You can also find Cynthia on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Blog Tour ScheduleMonday, September 9
Interview at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, September 10
Feature at Books In Their Natural Habitat
Thursday, September 12
Excerpt at A Darn Good Read
Friday, September 13
Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages
Monday, September 16
Review at girl-who-reads
Tuesday, September 17
Feature at Beth's Book Nook Blog
Wednesday, September 18
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books
Thursday, September 19
Review at Gwendalyn's Books
Saturday, September 21
Excerpt at Broken Teepee
Monday, September 23
Feature at The Book Junkie Reads
Tuesday, September 24
Review at Unabridged Chick
Friday, September 27
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink
Sunday, September 29
Review at Reading is My Remedy
Monday, September 30
Interview at Unabridged Chick
Saturday, October 5
Review at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, October 8
Feature at I'm All About Books
Wednesday, October 9
Excerpt at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots
GiveawayDuring the Blog Tour, we are giving away two eBooks of FAREWELL MY LIFE! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 9th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.
Farewell My Life