Interview & Giveaway: Ember Island by Kimberly Freeman

Pub Date: April 15, 2014 | Simon & Schuster/Touchstone | eBook, Paperback
Acquired By: Publisher

 Genre: Fiction/Historical/Women's/Chick Lit

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

In 1891, Tilly Kirkland is reeling with shock and guilt after her tempestuous marriage ends in horrific circumstances. Fleeing to the farthest place she knows, Tilly takes a job on Ember Island in Moreton Bay, Australia, where she becomes the governess to the prison superintendent’s precocious young daughter, Nell. Tilly knows she must keep the past hidden in order to start a new life, but she doesn’t know that Nell is watching her every move and writing it all down, hiding tiny journals all over their rambling manor home.

More than one hundred years later, bestselling novelist Nina Jones is struggling to complete her next book. A reporter asking questions about her great-grandmother sends Nina retreating to her family’s home on Ember Island, where she hopes to find her lost inspiration somewhere in the crumbling walls.

Though they are separated by years, both Tilly and Nina must learn that some secrets never stay buried, but what matters most is learning to trust your heart.

Interview with Kimberly Freeman 

Hi Kimberly! Welcome to Passages to the Past! I appreciate you stopping by the blog and answering a few questions...

First, can you please tell us a little about yourself.

I live in Brisbane, which is on the east coast of Australia. It's a very warm, open-air kind of climate and a very casual place to live. I've been writing since I was a child and I'm crazy about books and ideas. I love history and travel and cycling, and I have two school-age children and way too many pets.

What inspired you to write Ember Island?

There's an island near where I grew up that was a prison island in the 19th century, and I've always wanted to write about it. I think islands make wonderful locations for stories, because they trap the characters together and they are hard to get away from.

What do you want readers to take away from your book?

Really, I just want my readers to have a good time reading it; but if they take away the other message, that things haven't always been particularly easy for women, then that's great too.

What has been your greatest pleasure in writing Ember Island?

I got to go cruising around islands in Moreton Bay, and spent a lovely week on writing retreat on Moreton Island in a villa on the beach, listening to the sea every night as I went to sleep.

What was the hardest scene to write?

I found it very hard to write the action scene where Tilly saves Sterling from the escaped prisoner. I'm a bit of a wimp, so never sure how people act in heroic situations.

What was your favorite scene to write?

I adored writing the scenes between Tilly and her young student Nell. They had a lovely chemistry.

Why do you write Historical Fiction?

Because history is full of untold stories, and I see it as my job to liberate them.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

Making time to write consistently, especially with the demands of jobs and small children. But somehow I always manage to do it. It certainly hasn't slowed me down all that much.

Who are your writing inspirations?

I love Marian Keyes. Her books make me laugh and cry at the same time. They have such heart.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I love to read, of course. I love to hang out with my kids. They are 7 and 11 and they're hilarious. My "me" time is riding my bicycle. I particularly like hill climbing and ride regularly around the mountain roads near my house.

What historical time period or setting do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

I'm interested in lots of them! Particularly the medieval period, which informed Nell's preoccupation with the middle ages in Ember Island.

What was the first historical novel you read?

Kirkland Revels by Victoria Holt. Characters in Ember Island are named after that book!

What is the last historical novel you read?

The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth. It's about the woman who told the Brothers Grimm all their fairytales.

If there was a soundtrack for your novel, what songs would we find on it?

There was a soundtrack, because I make a playlist that I listen to for each book. And it had a lot of Agnes Obel and Tori Amos on it.


Passages to the Past has three copies up for grabs! To enter, please complete the form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on June 23rd. Good luck!

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  1. Great interview! I loved Wildflower Hill, and this book has been on my wishlist forever!

  2. I've had this book on my TBR list for a while. Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

  3. I'd love to win and read this! Thanks :)

  4. Looks like a fabulous read.


  5. I absolutely loved Wildflower Hill too. I actually read it on Jenny's (above) recommendation.

  6. (I'm having some difficulties commenting, so if appears more than once, I'm terribly sorry. It keeps telling me ERROR.) I have read and loved Wildflower Hill so I'm eager to read this one as well. As a matter of fact, it was Jenny Q (commenter above) who recommended it to me. Thanks for the opportunity.

  7. What a beautiful cover this book has. I am wondering what happened to Tilly to make her flee.

  8. An enjoyable interview and a captivating novel which interests me. This author has written such wonderful novels. Many thanks.saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  9. Enjoyed this interview. I've read, and enjoyed, the author's book Lighthouse Bay. This novel sounds like another great read. Adding it to the wish list.

  10. This book looks very good to me - I really enjoyed Wildflower Hill. Thank you for the chance to win

  11. This is another book that I keep reading rave reviews for! I can't wait to read it and love getting a little background from the author. Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

  12. This sounds like a very intriguing story. Just the teaser made me want to immediately start reading it. I can't wait to find out what horrific circumstances Tilly is running from and why is Nell watching and writing about her? You're got my interest up and I would so love to be your winner. Thanks for the generous giveaway.

  13. A child documenting her governess's every move, can't help but wonder why. Thanks for the giveaway.

  14. It just sounds so good. I love that the story is about the past and the present and that the secrets won't stay buried. Thanks for having the giveaway.

  15. I've never read anything set in Australia! Sounds fascinating!
    alto1jr @ hotmail dot com

  16. This one hooked me with the cover and has kept me with what I've learned of its substance! Thank you again, Amy!

  17. I just love this particular exchange above:

    "Why do you write Historical Fiction?

    Because history is full of untold stories, and I see it as my job to liberate them."

    Nice soundbite -- more than a soundbite -- it resonates!


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