Hi Carol! Congratulations on the release of Go Away Home and many thanks for spending some time with us here at Passages to the Past!
My pleasure, Amy. Thanks for inviting me to talk about my latest favorite project, Go Away Home!
Go Away Home was inspired by the story of your maternal grandparents, when and why were you inspired to write about them?
The idea that became Go Away Home has been in my head since I learned as a child that my grandfather died of the Spanish Flu in 1918. Throughout my life, I’ve been intrigued by my connection to this major world event. Of course I never knew my grandfather and even though my grandmother lived until I was well into my 20s, I never asked her a single question about him or their lives together. And she was not the type to share.
So, this story is based on a few facts, but it’s entirely fiction. In a way, the book creates a life for the man I never knew and for the grandmother I only knew as a stern old woman.
After I published my memoir, Growing Up Country, the thought of doing something with this story wouldn’t get out of my head. Five or six years late, here we are.
How much of Go Away Home is fact and what parts did you have to fill in?
The longer I worked on the story, the more it became fiction. I was told, for instance, that my grandmother went to a sewing school. Research told me that the town in question didn’t have a sewing school, rather that young girls apprenticed with seamstresses as a way to learn an important life skill and to meet a man to marry. This idea that seamstresses were invited to their clients’ house parties had a lot more dramatic potential so I ran with that. Another bit of fact to fiction. My grandmother took pictures, but the whole part in the book about the main character’s work for a photographer and her relationship with him is entirely fiction. Most of the book is that way. Tiny fact. Huge fiction.
What would you like readers to take away from reading Go Away Home?
Overall, I hope readers will be touched by the characters and the story. That would mean they felt the story was well told, which was my goal. I hope readers will empathize with the challenges the main character Liddie faces in making choices and perhaps go further to consider their own choices. Are we happy with our choices? What regrets do we have? Finally, I hope readers come away from the book knowing more about rural life in the early 20th century.
What was the hardest scene to write?
Without getting into the details because it would be a spoiler, the hardest scene to write was early in the book when a character dies. The reason this was hard to write was because I was drawing from a well of emotion created when someone close to me died. I had to relive those moments during the writing. It’s hard to see the computer monitor when I’m crying!
What was your favorite scene to write?
One of my favorite scenes is when my main character Liddie makes a serious mistake at her job and attempts to hide it. When she’s found out, she takes responsibility as she never has before. I liked this scene because it shows real growth for Liddie. Go Away Home is a coming of age novel, and in this scene, Liddie really grows up.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been a writer all of my life. In the third grade I entertained thoughts of being a creative writer. Those thoughts gave way to a more-practical-at-the-moment career in business where I wrote all the time but in a different way. About 15 years ago, I decided to try my hand at creative writing again. I’ve been in heaven learning the tools and techniques of creative writing and now publishing my second book. I’ve never regretted leaving the business world behind to take this new road.
What do you like to do when you aren't writing?
I’m enjoy the outdoors. My husband and I live on an acreage. I put a portion of the acreage in prairie flowers and grasses when we moved here nine years ago. That’s now an area of joy for me and every child who visits. We also have a big vegetable garden, and the flower gardens around the house get bigger every year. These spaces are wonderful for giving my writing brain a break.
What was the first historical novel you read?
I know John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath wasn’t written as an historical novel, but when I read it in the 1960s, I read it as such. It’s a book that made a profound impression on me. I knew those people. I understood their desperation. I felt the heat and the grit. It’s that kind of writing I aspire to.
What is the last historical novel you read?
One of the best I’ve read recently is The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. Set in post-WWI Australia, the story is built on a powerful metaphor of choice - a lighthouse marking the way between the calm Indian Ocean and the stormy Southern Ocean. The writing excellent. The premise thought-provoking. The situation disturbing.
What historical time period or setting do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?
I enjoy any historical era if the stories are well written, but in the past few years I find myself most often seeking out novels from the early 20th century. No doubt because that’s the era I’m writing about. One hundred plus years ago isn’t really so long ago. I can relate to the people and situations because I can imagine my own grandparents in that time.
Is there another novel in the works that you can tell us about?
I’ve started outlining an idea that’s been simmering in the back of my brain for several years. In time-honored writing tradition, the frame of this story is ancient, though the setting will be modern. I won’t be able to give it my full attention until the end of July, after Go Away Home is launched to the world, but the idea is persistent. I’m sure it won’t let me get away.
Many thanks for letting me chat with your readers, Amy. And thanks for kicking off this great month with the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour. I’m excited.
Pub Date: July 1, 2014 | Rising Sun Press | Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
Liddie Treadway grew up on a family farm where options for her future were marriage or teaching. Encouraged by suffragette rhetoric and her maiden aunt, Liddie is determined to avoid both and pursue a career. Her goal is within her grasp when her older sister’s abrupt departure threatens to keep her on the farm forever.
Once she is able to experience the world she’s dreamed of, Liddie is enthralled with her independence, a new-found passion for photography, and the man who teaches her. Yet, the family, friends, and life of her youth tug at her heart, and she must face the reality that life is not as simple, or the choices as clear-cut, as she once imagined.
GO AWAY HOME is a coming-of-age novel that explores the enduring themes of family, friendship, and love, as well as death and grief. This novel will resonate with anyone who’s confronted the conflict between dreams and reality and come to recognize that getting what you want can be a two-edged sword.
Praise for Go Away Home“Go Away Home is … a tale of choices, dreams realized and rejected, and how values evolve … gently compelling and highly believable.” – D. Donovan, eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“Excellent characters and an extremely realistic plot … Go Away Home is the perfect story of coming home.” – Samantha Rivera, Readers’ Favorite reviewer
“… a heart-warming and heart-wrenching tale … a story that promises to fulfill what it is to be alive when one chooses the life one wants to live, despite the consequences” – Paulette Mahurin, author of The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap
“Go Away Home is a coming of age novel that is well-written, compelling, and endearing … a strong sense of place, excellent character development, and an engaging plot line.” – Kara Logsden, Iowa City Public Library
“Every life is a story, no matter how mundane it may appear on the surface, but it takes a writer like Carol Bodensteiner to draw a reader in and keep them turning the pages. Bodensteiner … writes characters with depth … she’s captured the era … with meticulous historical detail.“ – J. P. Lane, author of The Tangled Web
About the AuthorCarol Bodensteiner grew up in the heartland of the United States, and she continues to draw writing inspiration from the people, places, culture, and history of the area. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society. She is the author of Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl, a memoir. Her essays have been published in several anthologies. Go Away Home is her first novel.
For more information please visit Carol Bodensteiner's Website/Blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and LinkedIn. Sign up for Carol's Newsletter.
Go Away Home Blog Tour ScheduleTuesday, July 8
Interview & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, July 10
Guest Post at Closed the Cover
Friday, July 11
Review & Giveaway at History From a Woman's Perspective
Monday, July 14
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, July 15
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, July 17
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Friday, July 18
Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews
Guest Post at Jorie Loves a Story
Monday, July 21
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Tuesday, July 22
Spotlight & Giveaway at Caroline Wilson Writes
Thursday, July 24
Review & Giveaway at Closed the Cover
Friday, July 25
Tour Recap at Passages to the Past
GiveawayPassages to the Past has one paperback copy up for grabs! To enter please complete the form below. Giveaway is open to US & Canadian residents only and ends on July 17.
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