Friday, April 11, 2014

Featured Author: Emily Sue Harvey

Emily Sue Harvey is on tour with The Story Plant and she's here today to talk about her contemporary romance novel, Cocoon

About the book

New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry has said that, “Emily Sue Harvey has a sure touch and strong voice. She's a talent to watch.” New York Times bestselling author Jill Marie Landis called Harvey’s first novel, Song of Renewal, “an uplifting, heartwarming story.” Now Harvey returns with a tale as rich in drama as it poignant in the truths it tells.

When widowed Seana Howard meets Barth McGrath, a newcomer to their little town, she never dreams she’ll fall in love again. Despite his somewhat quirky ways, she falls for the man. The only problem is that her married children do not trust the mysterious stranger. Who is he? Where exactly did he come from? Why are there so many questions about his past? 

Against their wishes, Seana elopes with Barth and is happier than she’s been in years. Then her happiness shatters when a mysterious illness suddenly befalls her, exiling her once brilliant mind to a dark nightmare from which she may never return. The eclipse is startling and complete. Will Barth, with such a short history with Seana, love her enough to endure the trials of caring for someone under such dire circumstances? Can her family get past their suspicions and trust his motives and love for their mother? Will Seana ever escape her dark cocoon and reclaim her very purpose for living? Will life give her a second chance to spread her wings, like a beautiful butterfly?

Cocoon is a life-affirming story of travail, obstacles, and the extraordinary lengths that undying love will travel.

Interview with Emily Sue Harvey

Emily, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I’ve been writing since college days. The tragic death of my eleven-year-old Angie turned my life from teaching aspirations to writing. I began writing for therapy and discovered it to be a gift, as well as a passion. I connected with Southeastern Writers Association in the late eighties, winning twenty plus awards before joining the Board of Directors and eventually serving as president. I served there for twenty-five plus years. During that time, I gained dozens of short story credits in anthologies such as Chicken Soup, Chocolate for Women, Woman’s Day, and True Story, to name a few. I then launched out into mainstream fiction novels. In 2009, Story Plant published my premiere novel, Song of Renewal. Later that year, I signed a six book contract with Story Plant. I’m currently working on my seventh book for them, entitled, Twilight Time. 

What’s the story behind the title Cocoon?

The title, Cocoon, symbolizes both the dark steroid psychosis imprisonment of the heroine, Seana McGrath and later, her miraculous metamorphosis into the beautiful butterfly.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

Writing is full time for me.

How did you create the plot for Cocoon?

The Cocoon plot is based on a true to life story. This happens to a degree with many of my books but in Cocoon, the medical details remain authentic. The characters, though fictionalized, in some aspects are like Gerald and Kay Turner, the real life couple. All else is pure fiction. 

What’s your favorite line from a book? 

A quotation by Andy Andrews from the Butterfly Effect:

 “A butterfly can flap its wings and set molecules of air in motion, which would move other molecules of air, in turn moving more molecules of air—eventually capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet.”

How do you get to know your characters?

I fall in love with each of my characters in the beginning of creation and delve into their hearts, minds, and souls as a way of understanding their choices in the story. I don’t give up on even the vilest of characters, knowing anyone can be redeemed. Each of my stories has components of love, betrayal, forgiveness, and redemption.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Wow! That’s tough because I love all my characters. But I think I enjoyed writing about Seana because she was so complex. The steroid psychosis transformed her into someone else entirely, taking her “away” from her loved ones. In the story, I had to get inside Seana’s head while she was experiencing the psychosis, which lasted several years. I did this by talking extensively with the real life victim and her caretaker. It was definitely a challenge.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

Cocoon characters are based on composites of many different people I know and have known. Some are based entirely on actual people I know. For instance, I’ve already revealed Seana and Barth McGrath to be based on Kay and Gerald Turner. Billy Jean is based on my friend, Billie Jane McGregor, who, like the book’s character, battles bone cancer. I love to profile true heroes because they encourage those battling the odds to keep on keeping on.

Are you like any of your characters?

There’s a little of me in all my characters. Else, how could I create and understand them? I like to think that I’m a loving, merciful, forgiving person and so most of my characters eventually find those traits in themselves. But not before plodding through some valleys because only then can one appreciate the mountain tops.

If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?

I would be Zoe, Seana’s wildflower daughter. She’s a lioness, yet later she reveals a more gentle, compassionate side when she falls in love with hunky Scott, the coach who finally tames her.

With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?

Oh, I would definitely like to be stuck in a bookstore with Barth. He’s such an intellectual guy who knows all about—well, just about everything, from homeopathic medicine to how to cook up a fantastic, healthy gourmet meal! I love men who can cook!

With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?

That’s really a fun question to mull over. Being stuck in a bookstore with them, huh? In this order: Pat Conroy, Ann Rivers-Siddons, Jan Karon, Jill Marie Landis, and  Lisa Gardner. Ask me next week and the names may vary except the first one.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

My favorite scene is the one in which Seana is awakened suddenly in the dark of night by a mysterious, extraordinary light that envelopes her, at once soothing and warming her and causing a prickling. Yet is isn’t fear. It will be a life-changing, miraculous experience for the woman who’s been entrapped in a cocoon for several years.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

"Through it All" by Andre Crouche.

Who are your favorite authors?

Pat Conroy and Ann Rivers-Siddons top the list.

You get to decide who would read your audiobook. Who would you choose?

Pat Conroy.

I'm sensing a pattern here! 

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)? 

Paperback: Veronica Roth’s best-seller, Divergent. My teen grandson, Jensen, wanted me to read it, and it’s a page turner.

Do you have a routine for writing? 

Depends on whether I’m working on a book project. If so, I work regular hours, like from ten a.m. until two in the afternoon. Or from four p.m. until eight in the evening. When not working on a book, which is not often, I usually do my blogs and etc. mid-morning.

Where’s home for you? 

Startex South Carolina, the mill hill setting for my national bestselling novel, Unto These Hills. The old mill hill name was Tucapau, which I use in the book.

If you could only keep one book, what would it be?

The Bible.

Are you happy with your current publishing choice?

I’m extremely happy to be with Story Plant publishing house. Lou Aronica originally helped me edit (cut 100 pages) from a novel with the Peter Miller Literary and Film Agency in New York. Later when Lou and Peter Miller formed Story Plant publishing house, they loved my writing and put me under contract to write for them. I feel truly blessed to be where I am with Story Plant. I’m in very good company.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

“To love and be loved is the greatest blessing on earth.” --Unknown.

What’s your favorite candy bar?

Giant Snickers with almonds...

That's mine, too! 

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Right here in Startex, South Carolina.

What are you working on now?

I’m finishing Twilight Time as you read this. It’s the story of a couple simultaneously battling trauma and Alzheimer’s. Deepening shadows gather splendor over Peter and Rachel, and they fall in love again, as they did then.

About the author

New York Times bestselling author Jill Marie Landis called Song of Renewal “An uplifting, heartwarming story of forgiveness, commitment, and love, and Kay Allenbaugh, bestselling author of Chocolate for a Woman’s Soul says “Emily Sue Harvey’s work will linger in the memory long after readers put it aside.” National bestselling author Harvey, who has written numerous inspiring works of nonfiction, writes intensely romantic novels that thrill the heart as they inspire the soul. Her stories have something to say to every family.

Connect with Emily:

Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes