Friday, April 29, 2011

Q&A with Author Nancy Volkers and Review of a Scottish Ferry Tale

Q and A with Nancy Volkers:
-How do you decide to name characters, are they ever people you know, or what process do you use to choose names?
I don't have a conscious process. In 2006 I started a different, as-yet-unpublished novel in which the main character is named Cassie (Cassiopeia) -- so there must be something about that name! To me it has a nice mix of strength and femininity.

Ralph's name was originally Rafe. Then I started spelling it "Ralph" but was pronouncing it "Rafe" in my head... but I knew no one else would do that when they read it. Gradually I got used to the name Ralph. It's not exactly a knight-in-shining-armor kind of name, but I think it suits him.

-Do you have any special connection with Scotland? What made you decide to base your book there?
1) I've spent time in Scotland. 2) I wanted Cassie to go on a "journey," physically and emotionally -- somewhere she'd never been. 3) It's a beautiful place to set a story. 4) There are sheep.

- How do you go about figuring out your storyline?
I'd tell you, but I'd have to kill you.
It depends on the novel, I think. Once Cassie got on the plane to Scotland, the storyline started pouring out. I'd never believed much in authors who say "the story wrote itself; I was just the channeler" and all of that woo-woo stuff. But A Scottish Ferry Tale was like that.

- Do you create the title before or after writing the story?

After. I've always had an aversion to titles/headlines. I'm a medical writer by trade, and try to avoid writing heads for my stories whenever possible - I claim it's the editor's job. "A Scottish Ferry Tale" came to me while I was running. I liked the play on words and the dual reference to ferries and fairy tales.

- What made you decide on a career in writing?
Writing chose me. I've been writing stories as long as I've been able to write. Journals, poetry, essays, plays, articles -- it's what I do, professionally and otherwise. There have been periods of time in which I've written very little... but it always seems to come back. Right now I have one play, one screenplay, and two partially completed novels in progress, but I haven't worked on any of them for months. I know some writers say that it's all about discipline - you sit down and bang out the pages whether you feel like it or not. They may be right... but I haven't reached that level of discipline yet. ;-)

                                                Reading Nook Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Cassie travels overseas to visit her boyfriend who is studing abroad for the summer to discover that he boyfriend has moved on and dosen't want to be with her anymore. The devastated Cassie decides that she obviously can't stay with him for her trip, and decides against going home to answer the many questions of her friends and family. She decides to take a ferry trip to a small island in Scotland, to get some piece and quiet and to collect her thoughts. 

She ends up meeting Ralph on the ferry and is immediatley drawn to him, but has no interest as she has just been dumped and just wants to be alone. She arrives at a quaint bed and breakfast that little does she know is owned by Ralphs family. She befriends Ralph and soon the relationship blossoms into much more. 

I enjoyed the story but found it a little predictable, parts of it dragged on a little bit for me, and i just wanted to get to the "meat" of the story. The relationship between Cassie and Ralph i felt was a little under-developed, and i wish she delved into it a little more, exspecially in regards to their age different, (which if i remember correctly was quite a few years) 

Overall, it was a fun quick read, and if their is a sequel i will definitely pick it up to see which way the story goes. Nancy Volkers has a way with words that paints a really pretty picture and i look forward to reading more from this author. 

                           xoxo, Laura

Monday, April 25, 2011

Review: Water for Elephants by: Sara Gruen

5 out of 5 stars
I hesitated to pick up "New York Times Bestsellers", because most of the time I don't fully understand the hype around them, either they're just a mediocre book or they fall extremely short of the hype that surrounds it, this was not the case with Water for Elephants. Sara Gruen literally places you in the middle of a 1920's traveling circus and dosen't drop you off until the very last page. I felt like I was right along side Jacob and Marlena and the rest of the Characters in the novel.

The story was breath-taking, and captivating, and the characters and even the animals were so easy to like and so different in their roles and I loved it. This is one of the first historical fiction novels i've read in a long time, at least that come to mind, and although I was apprehensive to start this, i'm so happy I picked it up when I did. I'm really looking forward to seeing the movie adaptation of this as it is currently in theaters now, and as a true book-lover must read the novel before I go see the movie adaptation of it!! I have high expectations for this film so we will see what I think, but so far i've heard good things.

Water for Elephants is an absolutly delightful story, it covers everything a truly remarkable novel should have; love, crime, secrets, drama, etc. this book has it all!