Q&A with Canadian Historical Writer, Genevieve Graham & Cover Reveal for Come From Away

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Halifax 1917: Love in a Time of War

Summer 1755, Acadia

Come From Away is the latest from Genevieve Graham. Her first two Canadian Historical novels were Tides of Honour and Promises to Keep  and we’re here to reveal the exciting new cover for her upcoming (Spring 2018) Come From Away!  Come From Away is the third book to be “Breathing life back into Canadian History one story at a time”. (taken from her website) Here is the publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada’s synopsis for Come From Away:

From the bestselling author of Tides of Honour and Promises to Keep comes a poignant novel about a young couple caught on opposite sides of the Second World War.

In the fall of 1939, Grace Baker’s three brothers, sharp and proud in their uniforms, board Canadian ships headed for a faraway war. Grace stays behind, tending to the homefront and the general store that helps keep her small Nova Scotian community running. The war, everyone says, will be over before it starts. But three years later, the fighting rages on and rumours swirl about “wolf packs” of German U-Boats lurking in the deep waters along the shores of East Jeddore, a stone’s throw from Grace’s window. As the harsh realities of war come closer to home, Grace buries herself in her work at the store.

Then, one day, a handsome stranger ventures into the store. He claims to be a trapper come from away, and as Grace gets to know him, she becomes enamoured by his gentle smile and thoughtful ways. But after several weeks, she discovers that Rudi, her mysterious visitor, is not the lonely outsider he appears to be. He is someone else entirely—someone not to be trusted. When a shocking truth about her family forces Grace to question everything she has so strongly believed, she realizes that she and Rudi have more in common than she had thought. And if Grace is to have a chance at love, she must not only choose a side, but take a stand.

Come from Away is a mesmerizing story of love, shifting allegiances, and second chances, set against the tumultuous years of the Second World War.

Come From Away picks up the story from Tides of Honour, and while Graham says it is not necessary to read Tides of Honour before it she does say, “It doesn’t have to be read first, but personally I think it’s more rewarding that way. 🙂 “Come From Away” brings back some of the characters before, and it’s fun to know their backstories, but the new book takes place 25 years later, so a lot of things are different.” 

Thank you to Genevieve for answering a few Q & A’s  – it was fascinating getting to know her through her answers, which are detailed and thoughtful, and I hope you will feel that way as well!

Q & A with Genevieve Graham 

  1. Your Goodreads profile says you were born in Toronto, yet your books are set in Nova Scotia. Do you currently live in Nova Scotia? What was the inspiration to set your books there?

I was born in Toronto and graduated from the University of Toronto in 1986 with a Bachelor of Music in Performance (I played oboe!), and I lived there until I was 27. Back in 1992 I took a ski vacation out to Banff, Alberta, and I was standing in a chairlift line-up when a guy called “single” (waiting for a chairlift partner) … and 10 months later, we were married! We lived in Calgary for 17 years where our little family grew to four with the arrival of our two beautiful daughters. In 2008 we decided that we were ready for a slower, calmer lifestyle, and I suggested we move east. My hubby thought I meant Saskatchewan (heh heh) but I meant Nova Scotia. You see,  I had been researching Scotland almost obsessively because of my first three novels, which are set there. I wanted to get as close as I could to Scotland while still keeping my feet on Canadian soil!

We live in a small community on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia, about 45 minutes east of Halifax. From the moment we arrived here, I was captivated by the wealth of history in this province. I got to work learning as much as I could … and realizing I knew very, very little. Why is it that we know so much about American history and European history, but we don’t know our own? For example, throughout high school and university, I was never taught about the Halifax Explosion, the largest manmade explosion the world had ever seen until Hiroshima. That led to my researching and writing Tides of Honour”. Nor was I taught about the Acadian Expulsion of 1755, in which 10,000 Acadians were ripped from their homes and dumped on leaky, rented ships and sent to no fixed address because the British wanted to fully possess their land. From that came Promises to Keep. Then I started hearing stories about the U-Boats skulking around Halifax (and the area where I live) during WW2, and I knew I needed to learn more about that, so I wrote Come From Away. So many stories! How could I not be inspired?

2. Your website says you are “Breathing life back into Canadian History one story at a time.” When did this spark hit?

I have always loved historical fiction of all kinds, but the switch to focusing on Canadian history happened while I was writing “Tides of Honour”. The more I learned, the more I needed to know. At around that time, our daughters were graduating from high school, and even though we live in Nova Scotia, they hadn’t been taught about either the Explosion or the Expulsion, and I started to wonder what would happen to Canadian history if no one was learning about it? Sometimes history can be dry, but it doesn’t have to be. We have a full, rich history, and so many stories to be told. Historical fiction is the perfect vehicle to use to reach people who may not yet know about the past. I am presently working on a novel about the early Mounties and the Klondike Gold Rush, and I am also starting one set partially in Toronto just after WWI.

3. Your website profile also says you went to school to be a professional oboe player. That is fascinating! When did you start playing the oboe? How did the oboe come into your life? Do you still play?

I loved playing oboe, and I had a wonderful time all through my four years at the University of Toronto. I started in elementary school on clarinet, but my father had played the oboe, so by Jr. High I wanted to do that. I freelanced all over the place, and I even went to Juilliard in NY for a bit. There is absolutely nothing in the world as exciting as sitting in the midst of professional musicians, recreating masterpieces. But the sad reality is that there are fewer and fewer professional orchestras these days, and as their numbers shrink so do the career opportunities, and income can be an iffy thing at times. So I started to explore other options. I started to learn marketing with a small company that served as an agency for quite a few musicians, and from there I moved into advertising and promotions. I eventually worked as Promotions Manager at a radio station and Advertising Manager for the largest western wear retailer in Canada! Sadly, I stopped playing oboe around 1990 due to a medical condition, but my musical training not only contributed to my creativity in writing, it allowed me to teach piano to dozens of children and adults over the years.

4. What 3 books, or maybe 3 authors (your choice or both!) influenced you? Was there a Canadian writer that inspired you? Is there a Canadian writer that you aspire to?

My greatest influence is Diana Gabaldon and her entire “Outlander” series. I’ve read it seven times (!) and I hear something different every time, whether it’s the historical facts, the characterization, or something about “the craft” of writing. I also loved “The Outsider” by Penelope Williamson, and I was seriously transported by Paullina Simon’s “The Bronze Horseman”. As far as Canadian authors, I adore Susanna Kearsley’s “time slip” novels. She is a fantastically intelligent woman with incredible research technique and a beautiful heart, and she creates characters that are so accessible. I absolutely love her writing, and I feel honoured that Simon & Schuster Canada has paired me up with her in the past and future. We toured Canada together in 2015, and her next novel, “Bellewether” will be coming out on the same day as my “Come From Away”: April 24, 2018.

5. How are you celebrating your literary successes?

I’m not sure how I “celebrate” it, but I am very grateful for it. I never planned to be a writer. It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I gave it a shot, and once I learned the craft—or rather, once I began to learn it, since I am constantly learning more—I was addicted. I suppose the way I celebrate it is by doing more of it. In the beginning I loved the process so much that it felt almost like a guilty pleasure. I would retreat to my computer for hours on end and neglect chores and family … but now I realize there is absolutely no need for guilt. I do what I love, and I love what I do.

6. How (and where) do you write? Do you write in total silence? Music playing in the background? (If so, what do you listen to when writing?) Are you set up in a special room? Please describe your writing space and process.

I write in my office, a small room at the front of my house with windows all around. It’s a perfect place for me. It also has a door, which is important since I work in total silence. At first I thought classical music would be a good aid to my writing, but I soon found out that since I knew the music so well from my earlier training, it was more of a distraction. So now my favourite setup is in my office, candle burning, tea steaming, all by myself with no interruptions. I’ve also discovered that I write better in the afternoon and evening. Mornings seem more to be about business and social media for me, and my creative energy takes over later.

7. What books are you reading right now?

I’m reading my first Stephen King novel in about 35 years: Sleeping Beauties. For a while I couldn’t read his books because he had sufficiently terrified me that I had to escape them, but I was very curious about this new one, since it was written with his son, Owen. Ami McKay’s “The Witches of New York” is up next, then Lesley Crewe’s “Mary Mary”.

8. Frances Itani often asks other writers in CBC’s Magic 8 Q&A, “Describe a walk that would and could feed your imagination and your writing. In what part of the world would this walk take place?”

Anywhere in Canada. When I’m in Nova Scotia, I have only to look out at the Atlantic or drive the back roads past hundred year old houses (and older) for my imagination to get busy. In Alberta and BC it is impossible not to think of the adventures Canadians have had over the years. Just imagine the early travelers and settlers fighting through the bush, across the water, and over the mountains! When I was last in Toronto I was struck by how much the city had changed since I left it in 1992 … and my mind goes directly to the century before. What was it like then? Our country is full of stories. I take that walk all the time.

If you’re interested in connecting with Genevieve, here are her social media links:


Twitter: @GenGrahamAuthor

Have you read any of Graham’s novels? She has graciously granted us the audiobooks for Tides of Honour and Promises to Keep! I’ve heard wonderful things about the narrator for Promises to Keep and I’m definitely anticipating listening to both!

Happy Canadian Historical Reading and thank you Genevieve for taking the time to answer questions and be one of the select few to reveal the beautiful cover for Come From Away!