Author Q&A + Sneak Peek: Candace Ganger (Author of “Six Goodbyes We Never Said”)

I’ve always believed that stories are great vehicles to open discussions especially for topics and issues most people often shy away from. Mental health, a topic close to my heart, is one of those so any time a book that promises any representation of this issue comes out I make sure to pay attention.

Six Goodbyes We Never Said, which releases today, tackles death, grief, and mental illness in an introspective and sometimes heartbreaking way. Author Candace Ganger draws from her own experiences and creates a story that’s realistic yet still sensitive, never downplaying the everyday effects of mental illness. I was lucky enough to have had the chance to have her answer a few of my questions about her new book and to be able to give you a little preview of it in this post.

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What inspired you to write “Six Goodbye We Never Said”? 

I wanted to showcase the way my disorders present to help others understand. I’ve written about my struggle with identity and loss as long as I can remember so this novel was a way to finally say goodbye. I’m still struggling with loss, so this was a way to navigate my own grief. That aside, my brother was a U.S. Marine, I have close friends who have fostered and adopted their children, and Six Goodbyes felt like the best place to tell all of these stories at once.

As an author, how important is it to tackle mental health in YA? 

It’s not only important, it’s *the most* important. If we can’t develop empathy for those suffering in silence, are we even human? My teen years were rough because I kept so much of my pain hidden to, what I thought, protect myself. I didn’t want people getting inside my head–I didn’t want to be vulnerable, fear of my pain being used against me. Writing YA helps me tell teen me, “Hey, I see you, girl. You’re not as alone as you think you are so open up a little about what you’re going through to find out how much people care about you.” If I’d heard that then, I’d have endured far less pain, isolation, and loneliness, in the years to come.

What would you like readers to take away from your story after reading it? 

To treat others with kindness and compassion. Our first reaction is usually to anger when someone attacks us or hurts us (because they don’t understand), but nothing is ever solved in hurting others when we’re hurt. You never know what people are going through behind closed doors so take a mi finite to try and understand the reasons why someone is treating you a certain way on any particular day. Kindness matters. It really really does.

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Check out the link below to read the first chapter of Six Goodbyes We Never Said.

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Title: Six Goodbyes We Never Said
Author: Candace Ganger
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her.

Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It’s causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects.

about the author

Candace Ganger AP_Credit Candace GangerCANDACE GANGER is the author of Six Goodbyes We Never Said and The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash as well as a contributing writer for HelloGiggles and obsessive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. She lives in Ohio with her family.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 

 

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Special thanks go out to Sarah Bonamino and Wednesday Books for inviting me to this tour and giving me the chance to read Six Goodbyes We Never Said in advance.

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Blog Tour + Review & Author Q&A:”I Do Not Trust You” by Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz

37638243Title: I Do Not TrusYou

Authors: Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

Publisher: Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: September 11, 2018

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2

Get it:

IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Books-a-Million | Powells

(ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley)

A teenaged girl and a young man become an uneasy allies as they set on an epic quest in writing duo Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz’s newest offering I Do Not Trust You.

Memphis “M” Engel is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight. In short: she’s awesome.

Ashwin “Ash” Sood is a little too posh for M’s tastes, a little too good looking, and has way too many secrets. He desperately wants the ancient map M inherited from her archeologist father, believing it will lead him to a relic with the power to destroy the world. M obviously can’t trust him.

Equally desperate to find the relic for reasons of her own, M forms an uneasy partnership with Ash. From the catacombs of Paris, to a sacred forest in Norway, to the ruins of a submerged temple in Egypt, together they crisscross the globe in their search. But through it all, M can never be sure: Is she traveling with a friend or enemy?

I went into this book almost blind. It was my first time reading anything from Melinda Metz and Laura J. Burns (not unless you count watching Roswell), so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. But this one surprised me in a good way.

I Do Not Trust You is what you will get if you throw Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider into a blender and add in a dash of The Mummy (the original one, okay, the one with Brendan Fraser). With an intriguing plot filled with adventure, danger, mysterious groups and vengeful ancient gods, this book will reel in readers from the first page up to its last.

The two main characters – Memphis, or simply “M” and Ash – are both bring different things into the story. M, having grown up in various archeological digs with her archeologist dad and doctor mom, have acquired an extraordinary knowledge of ancient history and dead languages. She’s awesome in a fight, too. Ash, meanwhile, brings in a bit more mystery into the story. A part of a cult worshipping the ancient Egyptian god Horus, he bankrolls their adventure and uses what he knows about the mythical god and his nemesis, Set.

It was interesting to read how M and Ash work together. They want different things with M wanting to rescue the father she thought had died in a plane crash and Ash being tasked by his group to retrieve an ancient map which points out where pieces of a mystical statue of Set are hidden. They start out forging an uneasy alliance out of necessity, but, by the end of the book, the two have earned each other’s trust.

The globe-trotting M and Ash’s duo undertook to retrieve the Set pieces was another aspect of the story that I loved. Oh! All those places! It was, essentially, a fun scavenger hunt. Still, the authors were able to incorporate bits of history and culture into the story’s narrative in a way that flowed well. It was just awesome!

The book had a couple of flaws, though. The way Memphis quickly puzzles together the clues they find is sometimes unbelievable. I get it, she grew up with an archeologist father and she does know her stuff. Still, I just find it too easy of a way out for both characters, though it does move the story. Also, that abrupt ending! I’m sure I won’t be alone in this opinion. It was sort of open-ended and it left me hanging.

Overall, I Do Not Trust You is an entertaining read. Readers will find adventure within the pages of this book by the truckload. I’d recommend this to YA fantasy and mythology fans.

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I was lucky to have a chance to ask Melinda Metz and Laura J. Burns about their new book I Do Not Trust You. Read on to find out what inspired them to write the ancient battle between Horus and Set, and how they work as co-authors.

Rachel: You’ve been writing as a duo for a long time now. How do you make it work with Laura living in New York & Melinda in North Carolina? Who writes what and so on?

Laura & Melinda: Even when we both lived in New York City, we’d mostly do our work together on the phone or over email. Because we’re lazy, is what we’re saying. We both prefer to stay at home and spend our days in pajamas.

We work out plots and character arcs in hours-long phone sessions. Once we have those, we take turns outlining. We’ll email the draft outline back and forth with notes to each other until we’re happy with it. (These days we use a shared document, because technology is good.) When one of us gets stumped, usually the other can fix the problem. After the outline is finished, we split it in half and each of us writes one half. Then we revise it, over and over, taking turns. The trick is that we decide in advance what the voice should be, how each character should sound. We know each other’s writing so well that we can match the tone pretty well, and anything that doesn’t match gets edited when we put it all together. Neither of us is precious about our writing–we are as comfortable changing each other’s words as we are changing our own. It all comes down to trust.

R: Your upcoming book involves some mythology, Egyptian mythology to be exact. What made you decide on weaving it into M’s and Ash’s story?

L & M: No lie, we attempt to weave Egyptian mythology into whatever we can! One of our earliest discoveries about each other was that we both loved the book The Egypt Game when we were kids. Usually, though, the stories we write don’t leave much room for Egypt. But this book was about a treasure hunt of sorts, and our minds immediately went to Egyptian artifacts. (Fortuitously, our editor is also an Egyptian mythology fangirl. One of the many things we love about her.) The Horus and Set story seemed a natural, since it involves the goddess Isis searching for the scattered pieces of her husband’s body the same way our characters were searching for scattered pieces of a statue.

R: Lastly, could you summarize your book using 3 emojis?

L & M:

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About the authors:

LAURA J. BURNS and MELINDA METZ have written many books for teens and middle-grade readers, including Sanctuary Bay, Crave, and Sacrifice, as well as Edgar-nominated mystery series Wright and Wong. They have also written for the TV shows Roswell, 1-800-Missing, and The Dead Zone. Laura lives in New York and Melinda lives in North Carolina, but really they mostly live on email, where they do most of their work together.

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Special thanks goes to Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz for giving me their time for this Q&A, and Brittani Hilles at St. Martin’s Press for helping me with this blog tour.

Blog Tour + Author Q&A: Sarah Bird

Bird - Author Image (credit Sarah Wilson)

With already 10 books under her belt, Sarah Bird is already a veteran author. But, somehow, her latest release Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen is extra close to her heart. Lightly based on the life of the only known female Buffalo Soldier, Cathy Williams, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen shines a light on an inspiring, feisty woman.

In this author Q&A, Sarah talks about what inspired her new book, her writing process, and a little bit about what’s in store for her in the future.

 

Rachel: How did you decide to take on writing about Cathay Williams? What about her did you find the most compelling?

Sarah Bird: I first heard about Cathy Williams’ extraordinary feat of disguising herself as a man and serving for two years in the Buffalo Soldiers way back in the late nineteen-seventies when I was photographing and documenting African-American rodeos.

My imagination was seized by the tale of a slave who, at the end of the Civil War, made the singular decision to reject the life of servitude she would have had as a woman, and enlisted with one of the six new regiments formed by the U.S. Army. If this story were true, I thought, then Cathy Williams was the first woman to serve in the regular U.S. military. Though hundreds of women had passed as men during both the Revolutionary and Civil War, I had not heard of any who’d done so during peacetime.

Perhaps because I am the daughter of two warriors–a career Air Force officer and an Army nurse who served from Casa Blanca to Marseilles–who grew up on military bases around the world with an understanding of the power of a uniform, the power of the salute, I felt a special affinity with a woman who shared that understanding and tried to learn more about her. Back in those pre-Internet days, however, I found no trace of Cathy Williams, Buffalo Soldier, and assumed the fabulous story was apocryphal.

Cathy did not return to me until 1988, when, pregnant with our son, I attended a childbirth class taught by Pam Black, teacher at a predominantly African-American school. When she learned that I was a novelist, Pam told me I “had to” write a book about a forgotten hero that her students, especially the girls, needed to know, Cathy Williams. Before I had time to tell her that there never was a female Buffalo Soldier, Pam handed me copies of Cathy’s enlistment certificate, discharge, and her application for a pension. Thrilled to know that she was real, I quickly hunted down the rest of what little documentation exists about Cathy Williams.

The more I learned, the more “inhabited” I felt by Cathy and, with her slender archive as a trellis, her imagined life twined through me and, after many more twists and turns, blossomed into a tale as majestic as her decision had been.

R: How much research went to making this book?

SB: A ton!! Fortunately, I live in a city with a world-class university library system, including one library that specializes in the history of the West. They provided me with a wealth of material. I also traveled to Fort Davis, six hours away in West Texas, many times. I used this fully restored fort which had once been regimental headquarters for the Buffalo Soldiers as the setting for Cathy’s service in the West. I also benefited from visiting the Buffalo Soldier Museum in Houston which allows visitors to handle artifacts.

R: What’s the biggest takeaway do you want readers to have from Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen?

SB: What has always inspired me the most was the example of a woman presented with nothing but horrible choices, imagining herself into a better life than any on offer. I am thrilled by the pioneers and heroes among us who find a way when there is no way.

Second, I’d like readers to take away the certain knowledge that, as far as we know, Cathy Williams was the first woman, of any race, to enlist in the regular, peacetime armed forces. One hundred and twenty years before the act that allowed women to enlist in the regular army was signed into law in 1948.

R: You’ve been writing historical fiction since the 80s, and while most of it is built on real events and people at its base you still add some things into the story. How do you decide what things to add into your stories and how do you balance this out with the historical foundations of your stories?

SB: Such a great question. I sort of think it as building a fire. The research is the kindling, the logs, the careful addition of the right material at the right time. The story is the flame. Too little fuel and it fizzles out. Too much and the fire is suffocated, buried beneath the weight of too much research. For me, one of the major dangers is falling in love with some juicy nugget or astounding fact that I’ve unearthed then, sort of, deforming the story to shoehorn it in. I won’t point to specific examples in my own work, but , as far as research goes, I’ve learned to kill my darlings.

R: Do you have another book in the works?

SB: Yes, I am researching the story of a doomed love affair set in the world of dance marathons during the Great Depression. And, boy oh boy, are there ever some juicy nuggets!

R: When you aren’t writing, what things keep you busy?

SB: The heart of Austin, for me, is Barton Springs, a three-acre, limestone-bedded pool where the water is 68 degrees all year round. I go there to swim, think out plot points, and abate anxiety.

R: Lastly, if you could described Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen in 3 words, what would it be?

SB: I can’t do any better than my friend, the wondrous Christina Baker Kline who described the novel as, “an epic page-turner.” I always imagined Cathy’s story as larger than life and attempted to write a book of that scope.

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About the author:

SARAH BIRD’s previous novel, Above the East China Sea, was long-listed for the Dublin International Literary Award. Sarah has been selected for the Meryl Streep Screenwriting Lab, the B&N Discover Great Writers program, NPR’s Moth Radio series, the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, and New York Libraries Books to Remember list. She first heard Cathy Williams’ story in the late seventies while researching African-American rodeos.

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To celebrate the release of Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, I am, with the help of St. Martin’s Press, giving away a copy of this amazing book. Just enter the rafflecopter giveaway by clicking on the link below. This is open to everyone. (Yes, even you wonderful international readers! Yes, of course, you!)

Also, if you haven’t yet, please check out my review of the book.

I am so thankful and happy to be given a chance to be a part of the blog tour for this very special book. Special thanks goes to Sarah Bird for giving me her time for this Q&A and Clare Maurer at St. Martin’s Press for helping me with this blog tour.