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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Woman of Valor~Historical Novel: "The Turning of Anne Merrick" by Christine Blevins

Published by:  Berkley Publishing/Penguin Group
Genre: Historical Fiction
by Christine Blevins
Pages:  428
To Read an Excerpt:  http://christineblevins.com/

Cover Rating:
This is a striking cover. Well balanced in all aspects, this cover tells us all we need to know about the book inside. The lovely woman is wearing a colonial style dress.  Its feature image, a beautiful young woman in the time of the British and American Revolution and the caption about it being a "tale of love and espionage," state the full package. I love the vignette of the troups, the Autumn fields, the woods and the burning skies in the background.  The woman's "Tory" red cape speaks to her being the spy. This is a publisher's dream of a cover and one an author can be proud of.  It's clearly a historical fiction novel that those fans will snap up!  Rated:  A

The new United States of America.
It’s 1777, and a fledgling country wages an almost hopeless struggle against the might of the British Empire. Brought together by a fateful kiss, Anne Merrick and Jack Hampton are devoted to each other and to their Patriot cause. As part of Washington’s daring network of spies, they are ready and willing to pay even the ultimate price for freedom.
From battlefields raging along the Hudson, to the desperate winter encampment at Valley Forge and through the dangerous intrigue of British-occupied Philadelphia, Anne and Jack brave the trials of separation, the ravages of war and an unyielding enemy growing ever more ruthless.
For love and for country, all is put at risk-and together the pair must call upon their every ounce of courage and cunning in order to survive.

Something About the Author:
Author Christine Blevins writes what she loves to read – historical adventure stories. The Turning of Anne Merrick is Christine's third novel, and the second in a three-book series set during the American Revolution and War of Independence. A native Chicagoan, Christine lives in Elmhurst, Illinois along with her best friend and husband Brian, and The Dude, their very silly golden-doodle. She is at work finishing her next book inspired by a lifelong fascination with the foundations of American history and the revolutionary spirit.

Getting to Know Ms Blevins:
Hi, Christine, I'm dying to talk to you about "The Turning of Anne Merrick." 

1)Please tell us if there was a special person in your life who drew attention to the fact that you could write.
The urge to write came to me later in my life. I was in my forties when the writing bug bit, and quite frankly, though I thought I had a good story to tell, I had no idea whether or not I could actually write it at all, much less write it well. My husband Brian was right there encouraging me all the way. He is also the guy I bounce my story ideas off of, he’s my first reader, and always gives me great critique. I couldn’t do any of it without his support. He’s just a swell guy!

2) You chose a specific genre, a place and time to write about, what made you choose it?
A lifelong avid reader, I’ve read a wide array of genres, but historical fiction has always been my favorite, and I write the kind of books I like to read – adventure stories filled with action, set against a backdrop of vivid history. And though I read historical fiction from all manner of time periods and cultures, I suppose that because I am an American, I lean toward American history. That seems so simplistic, but that’s it.

3) Does the concept for your story come to you first or the characters?
So far, the place and time period have come first, but the characters are usually not too far behind.

4) In your opinion, what makes a book a great one?
A great book transports me to another time and place with a story and characters so compelling, at book's end I'm hoping there's a sequel.
5) If you were able to have dinner with one other author of any time period, who would it be? Why? There are so many authors whose work I enjoy and admire, that my answer for this question changes with the waxing and waning of the moon. Today I think I’d like to be in London on a rainy night, having meat pie and a nice glass of rum punch with Charles Dickens. Among the many questions I would have for him would be, "How on earth do you come up with those character names?"

6) Read any good books in the past 6 months? Unfortunately, while I’m writing, my reading time is completely consumed by non-fiction history books, first-person narratives and memoirs for research purposes. I purposefully stay away from fiction, so as not to become inadvertently influenced by another author’s voice.
7) Were you able to keep your original title? What was it, if not? I haven’t had a lot of luck getting my original titles to fly. Midwife of the Blue Ridge was originally titled Upland , but sales and marketing departments tend to want to follow successful naming trends. Lately, titles with some indication of "woman" tend to sell well – hence all the mistress, widow, wife, daughter, queen, courtesan, concubine, sister etc. on the shelves. The formula continued to prevail when coming up with a title for my second novel, The Tory Widow. The original title I used while working on this latest novel was Hearts of Oak (which is the title of a cool Revolutionary song). I wasn’t too surprised or heartbroken when the request for alternate titles came in, but I was surprised and pleased the publisher ended up choosing what was my favorite alternate on the long list, and we came to happy agreement on The Turning of Anne Merrick.

8) Is there a song or music in general that might best represent your book as a theme song? When I’m writing, I can’t listen to music that has any singing going on – I find it too distracting. I have a big collection of fiddle and bagpipe music that sends me back in time, and I also listen to soundtrack music that happens to suit the mood of whatever scene I’m writing at the time, and its not always historical. While working on Turning, I found myself listening to the music from the TV series Battlestar Gallactica, a lot!

9) If you could write your book again, what would you change?
Nothing. I really like it just as is.

10) Did you have to do any research you hadn’t expected?
I outline pretty thoroughly, but I always bump into something unexpected along the way that I feel compelled to insert into the story. For example, in Midwife, it was an odd surgical treatment to treat a victim of a scalping. While writing Turning, I was reading a day-by-day chronicle of camp life at Valley Forge, and I discovered several references to a soldier being court martialed and drummed out of service under the charge of sodomy. I found this so intriguing, and I developed a character based on the minimal information I uncovered on the officer who was drummed out.

11) Tell us about your cover. How did you determine what it would look like?
Authors don’t always have a lot of input on cover design. Being a graphic designer by trade, I am lucky enough to have had, within the publishers parameters, a lot of input for both Midwife and Tory. I was in the throes of finishing up the manuscript for deadline on Turning when my editor asked me for cover ideas. Too busy to give her request proper consideration, I asked my talented graphic designer husband and graphic designer daughter to pull together some sketches for me. The concept of Anne Merrick on the windswept hilltop in swirling cape was one created by my daughter Grace, and brought to final fruition by the fabulous James Griffin, the same artist who also provided the wonderful illustrations for my first two books.

12) Please tell us a secret about your book we wouldn’t otherwise know!
I won’t tell a secret, but I will say that the secret of why Pink Dunaway is missing the little finger on her left hand will be revealed in the book I’m working on right now – the third and last book in this American Revolution series.

Thank you for spending time with this interview, Christine. It’s so good to get to know you better.  And, I look forward to reading and reviewing your other books in the very near future!

My Review of "The Turning of Anne Merrick":
Frankly, I can't say enough good things about this novel. I loved the characters, the historical references and such details as battlefield entertainments and writing utensils, the careful descriptions of spying mechanisms, and the way Christine Blevins brought us into the hearts of her characters.  To me, the success of a book lies in the ability to capture thereader's mind through its characters who live and breathe their emotional and intellectual struggles.  That's what Anne Merrick, Sally, Jack and others of this book do...live and touch your heart...they also can strike fear in you! 

Ms Blevins is an historical fiction author I will always enjoy reading.  She knows how to do her research, and she can couch that properly in suspense and fine storytelling.  What more can we ask: an engaging book within a time frame that's interesting...which also includes a woman of valor?  

I'm always looking for books that raise up women of great courage and intelligence.  This is one of those books.  Anne Merrick is a woman we can be proud of as a role-model. As a strong heroine contributing to our country's freedom, she often risks her safety and her personal attachments in light of the greater good.  I so enjoyed this story featuring her as the central character.

Christine Blevins has written a few historical novels, which I'm making way to read and review in the coming months.  It's going to be a pleasure.  I hope you'll have an opportunity to read her book.  Christine is a novelist different from many writers of historical fiction; she actually has a gift for writing. If you like historical fiction at its best, you'll love "The Turning of Anne Merrick."  This is a literary novel.  Not a boring minute of reading here.

5 stars


*This review Tour was brought to you by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours at: http://hfvirtualbooktours.blogspot.com/  Please go to the website to see more reviews in thisTour.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.


Steph from fangswandsandfairydust.com

That is an interesting cover, and your new header looks great too. Thanks for the visit!
StephFangs, Wands and Fairy Dust

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