Monday, March 26, 2018

#CoverCliche: Cautious by Nature

Sometimes, while browsing the virtual shelves on Amazon and Goodreads, I see jacket art that gives me a disconcerting sense of deja vu. I know I've not read the book, but I am equally certain I've seen its image somewhere before.

This phenomenon is what inspired Cover Clichés. Image recycling is fairly common as cover artists are often forced to work from a limited pool of stock images and copyright free material. The details vary cover to cover, but each boasts a certain similarity and I find comparing the finished designs quite interesting. 

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At the heart of truth lies madness...

Two months before Hitler's rise to power, a beautiful young woman is found naked and near death in the woods outside Berlin. When she finally wakes from her coma, she can remember nothing, not even her name. The only clue to her identity is a handbill found nearby, advertising a public lecture by Albert Einstein: 'On the Present State of Quantum Theory'.

Psychiatrist Martin Kirsch takes the case, little suspecting that this will be his last. As he searches for the truth about 'the Einstien Girl', professional fascination turns to reckless love. His investigations lead him to a remote corner of Siberia via a psychiatric hospital in Zurich. There the inheritor of Einstein's genius - his youngest son, Eduard - is writing a book that will destroy his illustrious father and, in the process, change the world.

A beautiful American spy flees into the night. On her own, she must live by her wits to evade capture and make it to the safety of the Allied forces.

Lily Saint James grew up traveling the European continent, learning languages as she went. In 1938, her mother’s abrupt death brings her back home to Washington, D.C., and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Lily comes to the attention of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Her knowledge of German, French, and Italian makes her the perfect OSS Agent, and her quick thinking places her as a nanny in the household of an important German Army Colonel, where she is able to gather intelligence for the Allies. After her marketplace contact goes missing, she makes a late-night trip to her secondary contact only to find him under interrogation by the SS. When he commits suicide, she flees into the frigid winter night carrying false identification papers that are now dangerous and a mini film cartridge with vital strategic information. In order to survive, Lily must make it out of Germany, into the hands of Allied-controlled France, through a path fraught with peril. 






In the midst of the Second World War, and charged with taking vital equipment via the 9:45 train, Ena Dudley makes regular trips to Bletchley Park, until on one occasion she is robbed. When those she cares about are accused of being involved, she investigates, not knowing whom she can trust. While trying to clear her name, Ena falls in love.






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Which cover strikes your fancy and why? What colors draw your eye? Do you think the image appropriate next to the jacket description? Leave your comments below!

Have you seen this image elsewhere? Shoot me an email or leave a comment and let me know. 


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

#Wishlist: March 2018

Like many readers, my TBR grows faster than it shrinks. I find a subject that interests me and titles start piling up one right after the other. With so many bookmarked, I thought it'd be fun to sort through and feature five titles a month here at Flashlight Commentary. 

Ever wonder how a supporting character experienced a story? If so, this list is for you. Inspired by classics, these five authors have reimagined the perspective and experienced of those who didn't headline when introduced by their original creators. Enjoy!

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The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow by Alyssa Palombo

When Ichabod Crane arrives in the spooky little village of Sleepy Hollow as the new schoolmaster, Katrina Van Tassel is instantly drawn to him. Through their shared love of books and music, they form a friendship that quickly develops into romance. Ichabod knows that as an itinerant schoolteacher of little social standing, he has nothing to offer the wealthy Katrina - unlike her childhood friend-turned-enemy, Brom Van Brunt, who is the suitor Katrina's father favors.

But when romance gives way to passion, Ichabod and Katrina embark on a secret love affair, sneaking away into the woods after dark to be together - all while praying they do not catch sight of Sleepy Hollow's legendary Headless Horseman. That is, until All Hallows's Eve, when Ichabod suddenly disappears, leaving Katrina alone and in a perilous position.

Enlisting the help of her friend - and rumored witch - Charlotte Jansen, Katrina seeks the truth of Ichabod Crane's disappearance, investigating the forest around Sleepy Hollow using unconventional - often magical - means. What they find forces Katrina to question everything she once knew, and to wonder if the Headless Horseman is perhaps more than just a story after all. In Alyssa Palombo's The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel nothing is as it seems, and love is a thing even death won't erase. 
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Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother has dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables. 
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March by Geraldine Brooks

Winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize For Fiction. From the author of the acclaimed YEAR OF WONDERS, an historical novel and love story set during a time of catastrophe, on the front lines of the American Civil War. Acclaimed author Geraldine Brooks gives us the story of the absent father from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women - and conjures a world of brutality, stubborn courage and transcendent love. An idealistic abolitionist, March has gone as chaplain to serve the Union cause. But the war tests his faith not only in the Union - which is also capable of barbarism and racism - but in himself. As he recovers from a near-fatal illness, March must reassemble and reconnect with his family, who have no idea of what he has endured. A love story set in a time of catastrophe, March explores the passions between a man and a woman, the tenderness of parent and child, and the life-changing power of an ardently held belief.
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The Fall by Bethany Griffin

Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.
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A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher

Inspired by Victor Hugo's classic, Les Miserables, A Little in Love beautifully conveys the heartbreaking story of street girl Eponine.

Paris, 1832

A girl lies alone in the darkness, clutching a letter to her heart.

Eponine remembers being a child: her swing and the peach tree, and the baby brother she loved. But mostly she remembers being miserable. Taught to lie and cheat, and to hate the one girl, Cosette, who might have been her friend.

Now, at sixteen, the two girls meet again, and Eponine has one more chance. But what is the price of friendship--the love of a boy?

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INTERESTED IN MORE WISHLISTS?
CHECK OUT WHAT MY FRIENDS HAVE BOOKMARKED:

Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Colleen at A Literary Vacation
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired
Stephanie at Layered Pages

Monday, March 19, 2018

#CoverCliche: Dark Elegance

Sometimes, while browsing the virtual shelves on Amazon and Goodreads, I see jacket art that gives me a disconcerting sense of deja vu. I know I've not read the book, but I am equally certain I've seen its image somewhere before.

This phenomenon is what inspired Cover Clichés. Image recycling is fairly common as cover artists are often forced to work from a limited pool of stock images and copyright free material. The details vary cover to cover, but each boasts a certain similarity and I find comparing the finished designs quite interesting. 

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The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is a dazzling novel of mothers and daughters, stories told and untold, and the binds that tie four generations of women.

Gabriela's mother Luna is the most beautiful woman in all of Jerusalem, though her famed beauty and charm seem to be reserved for everyone but her daughter. Ever since Gabriela can remember, she and Luna have struggled to connect. But when tragedy strikes, Gabriela senses there's more to her mother than painted nails and lips.

Desperate to understand their relationship, Gabriela pieces together the stories of her family's previous generations—from Great-Grandmother Mercada the renowned healer, to Grandma Rosa who cleaned houses for the English, to Luna who had the nicest legs in Jerusalem. But as she uncovers shocking secrets, forbidden romances, and the family curse that links the women together, Gabriela must face a past and present far more complex than she ever imagined.

Set against the Golden Age of Hollywood, the dark days of World War II, and the swingin' '70s, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem follows generations of unforgettable women as they forge their own paths through times of dramatic change. With great humor and heart, Sarit Yishai-Levi has given us a powerful story of love and forgiveness—and the unexpected and enchanting places we find each.

Based on the author's discoveries about her great-grandfather, this stunning debut novel takes place over three days when World War II comes to the doorstep of an ordinary German family living in an idyllic, rural village near the Swiss border.

When World War II breaks out, Edith and Oskar Eberhardt move their family--their daughter, Marina; son-in-law, Franz; and their granddaughters--out of Berlin and into a small house in the quiet town of Blumental, near Switzerland. A member of Hitler's cabinet, Oskar is gone most of the time, and Franz begins fighting in the war, so the women of the house are left to their quiet lives in the picturesque village.

But life in Blumental isn't as idyllic as it appears. An egotistical Nazi captain terrorizes the citizens he's assigned to protect. Neighbors spy on each other. Some mysteriously disappear. Marina has a lover who also has close ties to her family and the government. Thinking none of them share her hatred of the Reich, she joins a Protestant priest smuggling Jewish refugees over the nearby Swiss border. The latest "package" is two Polish girls who've lost the rest of their family, and against her better judgment, Marina finds she must hide them in the Eberhardt's cellar. Everything is set to go smoothly until Oskar comes home with the news that the Fuhrer will be visiting the area for a concert, and he will be making a house call on the Eberhardts.

Based on the author's discoveries about her great-grandfather, this extraordinary debut, full of love, tragedy, and suspense, is a sensitive portrait of a family torn between doing their duty for their country and doing what's right for their country, and especially for those they love.

English Title: The Good at Heart

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Which cover strikes your fancy and why? What colors draw your eye? Do you think the image appropriate next to the jacket description? Leave your comments below!

Have you seen this image elsewhere? Shoot me an email or leave a comment and let me know. 


Monday, March 12, 2018

#CoverCliche: Girl Talk

Sometimes, while browsing the virtual shelves on Amazon and Goodreads, I see jacket art that gives me a disconcerting sense of deja vu. I know I've not read the book, but I am equally certain I've seen its image somewhere before.

This phenomenon is what inspired Cover Clichés. Image recycling is fairly common as cover artists are often forced to work from a limited pool of stock images and copyright free material. The details vary cover to cover, but each boasts a certain similarity and I find comparing the finished designs quite interesting. 

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In January 1943, 230 women of the French Resistance were sent to the death camps by the Nazis who had invaded and occupied their country. This is their story, told in full for the first time—a searing and unforgettable chronicle of terror, courage, defiance, survival, and the power of friendship. Caroline Moorehead, a distinguished biographer, human rights journalist, and the author of Dancing to the Precipice and Human Cargo, brings to life an extraordinary story that readers of Mitchell Zuckoff’s Lost in Shangri-La, Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts, and Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken will find an essential addition to our retelling of the history of World War II—a riveting, rediscovered story of courageous women who sacrificed everything to combat the march of evil across the world.


Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and secrets that were hidden for decades.

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten. 

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Which cover strikes your fancy and why? What colors draw your eye? Do you think the image appropriate next to the jacket description? Leave your comments below!

Have you seen this image elsewhere? Shoot me an email or leave a comment and let me know. 


Friday, March 2, 2018

#AuthorInterview: Linda Stratmann, author of An Unquiet Ghost

Author interviews are one of my favorite things to post which is why I am super excited to welcome author Linda Stratmann to Flashlight Commentary to discuss the third installment of the Mina Scarletti Series, An Unquiet Ghost.

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Release Date: March 1, 2018   |   Sapere Books   |   Historical Fiction/Paranormal Mystery
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Welcome to Flashlight Commentary Linda. It’s a pleasure to have you with us. To start things off, please tell us about An Unquiet Ghost.
The setting is 1871 Brighton. Séances were extremely popular, and without independent investigation, there was something of a free-for-all for charlatans. Mina Scarletti has successfully exposed fraudulent mediums who callously extorted money from the vulnerable bereaved, but now she has a new problem. A young couple, second cousins, wish to marry, but twenty years ago an aged relative, Henry Fernwood, was poisoned, and the killer can only have been a blood relation. If they marry will they pass on a dreadful taint to their children? Only one person knows the identity of the killer - the murdered man - and the couple want Mina to find a genuine medium who can contact his unquiet ghost. They visit two mediums, one who receives messages chalked on slates, and an emaciated young woman who has visions of both the living and the dead. Are they truthful, false or simply deluded? And who killed Henry Fernwood? When Mina finds the answer it is worse than she could possibly have imagined. 

An Unquiet Ghost is the third installment of the Mina Scarletti Mystery series. At risk of sounding impertinent, where did the idea for these books come from? Did it strike like lightening out nowhere or was is something that came to you over time? 
Oddly enough it did strike like lightning!  I was walking along my street approaching a corner, when the idea just popped into my head, and by the time I had turned the corner I knew I had something I wanted to write. Of course it must also have been the culmination of all the reading and researching I had been doing. I find that when the time is right, ideas that have been floating about randomly in my head just come together and click. 

Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about Mina Scarletti’s character and personality?
Mina is 25 and is 4ft 8” tall with a twisted spine. When she was sixteen she was told she should never marry and have children. Physically frail, she has great strength of character, and decided that if the traditional role of a woman was denied her, this gave her the chance to do anything else she wanted. She has great imagination as a storyteller, but at the same time feels she knows the difference between what is real and what is invention. She particularly dislikes people who try to extort money from those who are grieving for loved ones. With few weapons at her disposal, she takes a mischievous pleasure in stirring up others in order to achieve what she wants. 

Mina is a writer by trade, but is becoming well-known for unmasking fraudulent psychics by this point in the series. How did Mina fall into this secondary profession? 
In the first book, Mr Scarletti’s Ghost, Mina’s mother and friends are excited by the seances of a visiting spirit medium, Miss Eustace. Mina is not seriously concerned until she reads about the renowned medium D D Home, (1833-1886) who attempted to separate a 75 year old widow from her fortune. Appalled by this, Mina determines to make sure that her mother and friends are not in the thrall of an extortionist. 

Though she is not a believer in ghosts, Mina is intrigued when George Fernwood and Mary Clifton request her help in tracking down a genuine spiritual medium. What about this request strikes her interest? 
She feels sympathy for the couple who wish to marry, and is interested in the mystery that lies behind their request. Also, as a writer constantly looking for inspiration from her surroundings, their offer to give her the full story behind the 1851 murder is too tempting to resist! 

Do you have a favorite scene in An Unquiet Ghost? 
Not exactly a scene, but there are letters passing between Mina and her older brother Edward, and Mina and her mother which were huge fun for me to write as we get different views of the same situation, and sometimes we have to read between the lines to see the real picture. 

Authors are often forced to make sacrifices when composing their stories. Is there a character or concept you wish you could have spent more time on while writing An Unquiet Ghost?
I didn’t feel that, but I have laid groundwork for the future. We know very little as yet about Edward’s fiancée, and what will happen when Mina’s sister’s husband, Mr Inskip who is currently abroad, finally re-appears?  

If you could sit down and talk with one of the characters in An Unquiet Ghost, maybe meet and discuss things over drinks, who would you invite and why? 
It would be great to chat with Nellie, as she has had a fascinating career as a conjuror’s assistant, and knows a few tricks of her own. I’m sure she would have some colourful stories to tell. 

If you could pick a fantasy cast to play the leads in a screen adaptation of An Unquiet Ghost, who would you hire? 
I would love to see Lisa Hammond (Donna in Eastenders) as Mina. She radiates drive, determination and inner strength.  And while we’re about it, what about Nitin Ganatra (Masood) as dishy Dr Hamid? Lily James would make a sparkling Nellie. Leo Suter (Edward Drummond in Victoria) would be great as Mina’s dashing scallywag of a brother, Richard.  Joanna Lumley would be ‘Ab Fab’ to play Mina’s difficult mother. 

A character who appears in The Royal Ghost, (book 2) and is destined to appear again, is the devilishly charismatic war hero and explorer Arthur Wallace Hope and I can’t help thinking about Aidan Turner to play that part!  

What do you hope readers take from their experience of An Unquiet Ghost? 
Admiration for Mina who has overcome difficulties that would crush another person in order to be her true, spirited self, a wish to understand more about the nature of hallucinations and a burning desire to read the other books in the series!

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I was born in the City of Leicester. My parents were in the tailoring trade, and belonged to the Orthodox Jewish community. They wanted me to be educated, have a career, and marry a nice Jewish doctor. I managed two out of the three. All four of my grandparents had immigrated from Poland early in the 20th century, and my parents were born in London. During the second world war, my parents moved to Leicester, though they maintained close ties with the family in London. I have always felt that if there was any place I really belonged, it was London. Much as I enjoy rural pleasures I am a city person at heart, and nowadays would find it hard to live more than a tube ride from the British Library!

My love affair with the printed word probably started when I was two, when I eagerly absorbed the alphabet as taught to me by my mother. I have had my nose in a book ever since. The scribbling of poems and stories certainly dates back as early as six, and my first efforts at a novel from the age of eleven. I attended Medway Street Infants and Junior School, in the days of the eleven plus, and from there I went to Wyggeston Girls Grammar School. My earliest ambition was to be an astronomer, and I both read and wrote a great deal of science fiction. I also read biology, zoology and medicine, and seriously considered a medical career. By my teens, however, I had developed my absorbing and life-long interest in true crime, probably taking after my mother who loved to read about famous trials.

After taking my O levels, I left school, and trained to be a chemist’s dispenser with Boots. I was first married at the age of 18 and my son was born when I was 20. Whatever I was destined to be it was not a housewife, and I took my A levels and went to Newcastle University in 1971, graduating with first class honours in psychology three years later. I then joined the civil service, and trained to be an Inspector of Taxes.
From the early 70s I was very active in science fiction fandom, attending a great many conventions. I was living in Co. Durham , working in Newcastle, yet virtually everything I wanted to do, and most of my friends were in London. In 1987, unable to resist the pull of London I moved there, and my first husband and I were amicably divorced in 1992. I married my second husband, Gary in 1993. In the same year I began practising aikido, and obtained my black belt in 2000.

In 2001 I left the civil service, and in 2002 was commissioned to write my first published book on the history of chloroform.

I am delighted to be Artistic Patron of Talliston House and Gardens.

Website   |   Facebook   |   Goodreads   |   Twitter

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Thursday, March 1, 2018

#AuthorInterview: Clarissa Harwood, author of Impossible Saints

Author interviews are one of my favorite things to post which is why I am super excited to welcome author Clarissa Harwood to Flashlight Commentary to discuss her debut release, Impossible Saints.

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Release Date: January 2, 2018   |   Pegasus Books   |   Historical Fiction/Family Life
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Welcome to Flashlight Commentary Clarissa. It’s a pleasure to have you with us. To start things off, please tell us about Impossible Saints.
Thank you for having me here! Impossible Saints is set in 1907 England and is about the competing ambitions and growing love between a schoolteacher turned militant suffragette and an Anglican clergyman. Lilia, an agnostic, considers marriage to a clergyman a fate worse than death. Paul, a supporter of women’s suffrage but not of militancy, is well aware that his love for Lilia is incompatible with his ambition to become the next dean of the cathedral. Paul and Lilia must reach their breaking points before they can decide whether their love is worth fighting for.

At risk of sounding impertinent, where did you find this story? Did it strike like lightning out of nowhere or was is something that came to you over time? 
What first sparked the novel was a scene that popped into my head about twenty years ago: it was as vivid and detailed as a scene in a movie. I saw a confrontation in a meadow between a quiet, studious boy who didn’t know how to play, and a fiery girl pretending to be Jeanne d’Arc, leading her army of brothers.

When the idea first came to me, I had just started my PhD studies and didn’t have time to write the novel, but that scene haunted me for about ten years before I finally gave in and started writing Paul and Lilia’s story. The meadow scene was cut from the finished novel, but both Paul and Lilia refer to it and remember it as their first meeting. Their personalities as children were so clear in the meadow scene that it was easy to imagine what they’d be like as adults.

Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about heroine Lilia Brooke?
Lilia is a young woman with very modern ideals. She believes women should have the vote, and she’s willing to break the law to fight for it. She believes contraception should be legal. She believes in free unions, not marriage. She might seem extreme or too modern to contemporary readers, but the primary sources I found in the course of my research suggest otherwise: there were plenty of women like her in the early 20th century, though they weren’t accepted in most respectable middle-class circles.

The Women's Social and Political Union was a militant organization that campaigned for Women's suffrage in the United Kingdom. Why is Lilia drawn to this particular group? 
At the beginning of the novel, Lilia belongs to the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), a non-militant suffrage group that was socially acceptable and pursued quieter, legal methods to get the vote. But she learns that the government doesn’t listen to these quieter methods, and after a tragedy involving a friend, she joins the militant WSPU founded by Emmeline Pankhurst, the only real person who makes an appearance in Impossible Saints. The WSPU was known for window-breaking, arson, and other property destruction, but what many people don’t realize is how brutally they were attacked by the police and bystanders even when they attempted to stage peaceful demonstrations and speeches. 

Belonging to the WSPU fits Lilia’s personality: she is strong, brave, and fearless when fighting for a cause she believes in, and there’s nothing she believes in more than women’s rights. But she’s not perfect: she lacks insight into her own heart!

Do you have a favorite scene in Impossible Saints? 
I have several favorites! Without giving too much away, one of them is possibly the worst marriage proposal in the history of marriage proposals. Another is a flirtatious scene in which Paul and Lilia argue about translating Horace’s Odes. One of my beta readers commented after reading that scene, “If I knew it could be this sexy, I would have paid more attention in Latin class!”

Authors are often forced to make sacrifices when composing their stories. Is there a character or concept you wish you could have spent more time on while writing Impossible Saints?
Paul has a nemesis named Thomas Cross who intrigued me, but I couldn’t allow him to take over the story. The way I solved this problem was by making Thomas Cross the protagonist of a new novel!

If you could sit down and talk with one of the characters in Impossible Saints, maybe meet and discuss things over drinks, who would you invite and why? 
I don’t think either of my protagonists would want to just sit and talk with me, though I’d love to do that with either of them. I don’t know if other writers have inferiority complexes about their characters, but I certainly do: I’m constantly plagued by doubts that my characters would want to be friends with me if they knew me in real life!

Paul is harder than Lilia to get to know and I could see myself becoming frustrated with his reserved nature. The two of us might just sit in opposite corners of a room reading books! Lilia would certainly talk to me, but she wouldn’t want to sit still for long, so she’d probably prefer that I follow her around, hearing her speeches and watching the effect she has on the people around her. Maybe she’d let me be her personal assistant!

If you could pick a fantasy cast to play the leads in a screen adaptation of Impossible Saints, who would you hire?
I would cast James Norton as Paul, which is a no-brainer for anyone who’s watched Grantchester. I’m not as sure about Lilia. Gal Gadot could do it, but in proper period dress, of course, not her Wonder Woman costume! One of my readers suggested Maggie Gyllenhaal, and I’d be happy with her, too.

What do you hope readers take from their experience of Impossible Saints? 
I’ve built a lot of layers into Impossible Saints, so I’d like to think it has something for everyone. Readers who like deep philosophical themes will be challenged to examine their beliefs about religion and feminism. Readers who love history will learn what women in England went through to get the vote. Readers who want romance will see that the novel is at its core a love story. I hope readers feel both satisfied and empowered after they turn the last page.

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Clarissa was born and raised on the Canadian prairies, where she spent her childhood forcing her younger relatives to play roles in her interminably long family Christmas plays. (She has since apologized to her Traumatized Cousins and Very Patient Elders, all innocent victims of her attempts to realize her artistic vision.) She now contents herself with trying to manipulate the characters in her novels, who regularly surprise her by being just as resistant to her interference as real people.

Clarissa writes historical fiction set mainly in Victorian and Edwardian England. She has been fascinated by all things Victorian since she was a child: the clothes, the elaborate social rituals, the gap between rich and poor, the dizzying pace of advancements in science and technology. When it was time to choose a major in university, she had trouble deciding between history and English literature because she really just wanted to study the Victorians. Ultimately, she chose English and earned a PhD specializing in nineteenth-century British literature.

Her novels pay homage to her favourite Victorian authors: the Brontë sisters, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and Frances Hodgson Burnett. Her favourite living authors include Diane Setterfield, Kate Morton, Jessica Brockmole, and Susanna Kearsley.

In addition to being a novelist and proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Clarissa is a part-time university instructor and full-time grammar nerd who loves to explain the difference between restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses.

Website   |   Facebook   |   Goodreads   |   Blog   |   Twitter

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