Q.I love the mix of historical and present times in Whisper Falls. Where did the idea come from?
A.The concept for Whisper Falls grew out of two separate ideas converging. The first idea came from a Twilight Zone episode, where a modern-day teen guy becomes friends across time with a girl accused in the Salem Witch trials. I like the premise but hated how the episode ended.
Jump forward to 2010. While researching 18th century North Carolina. I stumbled across some disturbing information about indentured servants. A character's voice emerged in my head - an indentured servan girl who was treated badly but wouldn't give up. Somehow that character - Susanna - intersected with the Twilight Zone premise. And Whisper Falls was born.
Q.I love that the portal between the different times is a waterfall. Where did the inspiration for the falls come from?
A.There is a gorgeous park in Raleigh, not far from my home. Umstead State Park is huge - 8 square miles. It has forests, meados, streams, lakes, loads of trails - an several adjoining neighborhoods. It was exactly where Mark and Susanna ought to meet. But how?
I was driving past the park one day and saw a small creek pouring over a low bluff. I knew I'd found the portal. The hollow behind a waterfall gave Susanna a place to hide, the bluff gave Mark an interesting incline to tackle on his bike, and the flow of water would allow them to see and hear each other. Perfect.
Q.My degree is in history and I truly love the historical research. How much research did you have to do to get everything just right?
A.It took years of research, dozens of books and websites, and visits to nearly every Colonial/Federal historic site and museum within a reasonable drive of Raleigh (there are plenty!). I even made 2 trips to the State Archives, so I could experience the same research process that Mark does.
I've never stopped collecting information. For instance, we visited Mount Vernon (home of George Washington) after final edits were done on Whisper Falls. I found out a couple of little details that I hadnt' known about gristmills, so I came home and changed 12 words in the book.
Q.I know some authors base their settings in real locations and others base their settings on a real place, but take liberties like changing the name or different aspects of the location. Is, or was, Worthville a real location?
A.Worthville is completely fictional. Whisper Falls never existed, and nither did Ward's Crossroads. But nearly everything else is/was there.
Q.What about the history of Worthville? How close to reality is it?
A.Worthville is not real, but Wake County is. Mr. Pratt's mill is based on an actual 18th century gristmill in Wake County, Yates Mill. The homes in the village are based on nearby historic homes. And I have a fabulous reference book, Wake: Capital County of North Carolina (Murray), to fill in every little detail you can imagine.
Q.Oh, the biking! I live in Austin where bicyclists are everywhere. Is this a sport you love? You seem to know so much about it and the training.
A.My descriptions are more about having helpful friends than personl experience. I have a mountain bike, but I mostly use it on paved trails. Fortunately, I have a couple of friends whose teenage sons are big cyclists. Any time I had a question, I could ask them. Plus, youtube is great!
Q.When I received my ARC I found a wonderful treat in the form of a recipe included. So I definitely can't leave out a question about Susanna's Berry Sonker. Where did you get the recipe from? Please tell me it's an old family recipe. lol
A.Sonker is a specialty of Surry County, North Carolina. They have a Sonker Festival each year in Mount Airy - and the big favorite is Sweet Potato Sonker. I discovered this in my research, so no - it isnt' an old family recipe of mine. By the way, there are two schools of thought on how to prepare sonker. Susanna likes to prepare the easier recipe.
Q.As a writer myself I have a tendency to fall in love with certain characters, sometimes a supporting character. I was torn in Whisper Falls. I really loved how strong of a character Susanna is, but loved the younger Pratt girls too. Who was your favorite character to work with in Whisper Falls?
A.I'm often asked who my favorite character is, but this is the first time I've been asked which one I liked to work with. It's a great question, and the answer would be Dorcas. She is such a happy, smart, observan, honest character. It was so refreshing to just let her go. I never stumbled or hesitated when I was in her head. She brightened every scene she inhabited.
Q.Can we expect more books to come with Susanna and Mark?
A.Absolutely. There are two sequels. A Whisper In Time releases in April 2014. Whisper From the Past releases in October 2014. And I don't mind admitting that I cried when I wrote "The End" on the third book. I hated saying goodbye to my characters. Maybe I have a few novellas in me...
Q.What project are you working on right now?
A.Spencer Hill bought a fourth book from me. The hero is a genie who can say no. I Wish releases in November 2014.
Q.And just because I'm a huge reader, what book are you currently reading?
A.I just finished Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins and loved it.
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