Saturday, January 14, 2012
Interview with Alexis Harrington, Author of Home By Morning
You can find her online at:
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Portland, Oregon and I’ve lived here all of my life.
When did you begin writing?
In 1983 I read a book by LaVyrle Spencer that made me decide to take a chance at writing fiction. I loved her work (and I still do). Until then, all I’d written were effective business letters—I could get just about anything done with them, refunds for defective merchandise, comps for bad service in restaurants. Probably the best one I ever wrote was to a local car dealership here in Portland. I wanted to test drive a Corvette and I told the owner up front that I could not afford one but that if I became a successful writer, I’d come back and buy it from him. He not only invited me to the showroom, but sent his own son with me for the drive.
Um, I’ve since changed my mind about owning one.
Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?
I try to squeeze in a little writing during the day, but mostly I work at night. It’s quiet, no ringing phones, no one coming to the door. It’s especially nice in the summer with the windows open, or in the winter when the east wind comes howling down the Columbia River Gorge. I live close by and get the benefit of that sound.
What is this book about?
Home By Morning is about Jessica Layton, a young woman who left her small hometown to study medicine with a promise to her childhood sweetheart, Cole Braddock, that she would return. But the amount of time she was gone stretched out and one day she received a telegram from him saying he wouldn’t wait any longer. The book opens with her returning for a visit on her way to a research job in Seattle. She has no intention of staying but the influenza pandemic of 1918 strikes the town and there is no other doctor to help. So she stays, only to discover treachery, tragedy, and the depth of her love for Cole.
I originally got the idea 10-15 years ago. I realized that even though the influenza pandemic killed millions of people—more than those killed in World War I—no one ever talked about it. I didn’t learn about it in school. The only information I had was from my grandmother, who contracted it in Europe before she came to the United States. Then scientists began talking about the next possible pandemic and I was off and writing.
Who is your favorite character from the book?
My hero, Cole, is my favorite in terms of strength and honor, certainly. But I had the most fun with a couple of the secondary characters, Cole’s father Shaw, and Emmaline Bauer, a prostitute who has a quiet little business up in the woods outside of town.
Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?
I sold the first book I wrote, Homeward Hearts, shortly after I finished it. After that, it was a bumpy ride that turned into an uphill, unpaved, rock-filled, goat track.
If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?
The publishing business changed so much over the years, most of the factors that affected me were beyond my control. What I was writing wasn’t trendy and my attempts to adapt didn’t work out. Today’s self-publishing came along at exactly the right time for me.
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
Home By Morning is available exclusively through Amazon/Kindle and is part of their Montlake imprint, in both ebook and trade paperback formats.
Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?
Not this time around. Maybe in the future.
What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?
I hired publicist Joan Schulhafer. She’s a gem and a marketing whiz!
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?
This is an exciting time for talented writers (talent and skill are still requirements). If they have a book that is getting “good” rejections but can’t sell it, I urge them to give self-publishing a try. There are ways to do it for practically nothing except the investment of time and a professional-looking cover.
What is up next for you?
In July, the sequel to this book will be released by Amazon/Kindle. Home By Nightfall jumps ahead a couple of years, taking up the story of what has happened to the characters after the twin catastrophes of World War I and the influenza pandemic.