Interview with Author A.B. Michaels & Giveaway

It's a busy day here at Passages to the Past! I am so excited to be hosting an interview with Author A.B. Michaels. I recently read and LOVED her novel The Price of Compassion (read my review here), and cannot wait to devour the rest of the series.

I hope you enjoy the interview! We also have a giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card so don't forget to enter!

Hello, A.B., and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thank you for being here with us today!

To begin with, can you tell us a little about yourself and The Price of Compassion?

After working in the marketing industry for most of my career, I started writing novels about five years ago. With a couple of degrees in history, it was a sure bet I’d love writing historical fiction. The Price of Compassion is Book Four in my series called “The Golden City.”

Your series is set in San Francisco at the turn of the twentieth century; why did you pick that time and setting?

It was a case of counting backwards! I first wrote a contemporary novel of romantic suspense, called Sinner’s Grove, about characters who were re-opening an artists’ retreat just north of San Francisco. I wanted to explore the origins of that retreat, so I wrote a novel, The Art of Love, that tells how the retreat was founded. The second novel, The Depth of Beauty, focuses on one of the characters introduced in The Art of Love, and so on. Why San Francisco? I grew up near there; it’s a familiar locale.

How were you inspired to write the story of Tom Justice and how did you decide to set it around the 1906 quake?

It would be impossible to write about that time and place without addressing the quake – it was such an earth-shattering event (literally!). But I came across something in my research that was so shocking, I knew I had to build a story around it, and I just knew that Tom (who was introduced in The Depth of Beauty) would be the character to live through it.

What other research did you undertake when writing The Price of Compassion or any of the books in the Golden City series?

Researching any historical time period is an adventure all on its own. Often I will come across something that fascinates me and I’ll work it into the story, whether it’s the bubonic plague which hit Chinatown in 1900 (addressed in both The Depth of Beauty and The Price of Compassion), early medical practices, or unusual occupations, like railway surgeons. My problem is finding too many rabbit holes to fall into!

Did you come across anything in your research that surprised or fascinated you?

Way too many things fascinate me – it’s a wonder I get any writing done! But I did find the medical “fad” of neurasthenia to be particularly interesting. It sounds weird, but by the turn of the twentieth century, enough Americans had prospered to the point where they could afford to be neurotic! And the difference in treatment between men (more activity!) and women (don’t do anything!) was almost funny, if it hadn’t been so ludicrous and taken so seriously by all concerned. We’ve come a long way since then, but there are still scads of men and women suffering from “a misappropriation of nervous energy.”

What would you like readers to take away from reading The Price of Compassion?

The novel is all about the choices we make and taking responsibility for them, whether the decisions turn out to be good ones or not. I’d like the reader to think about the various decisions Tom faced and ask themselves what they would have done in his place. The answers aren’t always easy.

What was your favorite scene to write?

Some writers will tell you it’s the last scene, because that means the book is over — ha! ha! I’m not sure I have a favorite scene, but I did get a chuckle out of writing the one about Tom and the traveling salesman.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

From an emotional standpoint there were two: the first scene with the boys and Sergeant the dog, and the death of Nana Ruth. Those were difficult because they included elements from my own life and I relived them as I wrote them. There were a few tears plopping on my keyboard, I must admit.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

All my life, but for years and years I vacillated between writing “literary” fiction and genre fiction, so I was paralyzed to move forward. I was also writing promotional material for a living, so that took the creative “edge” off. Finally, after my boys were out of the nest, I decided that I wasn’t getting any younger, and if I really wanted to do this, I should JUST DO IT. So I did.

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

For me the greatest challenge is focus, and I have yet to master that. I am interested in many things (travel, quilting, reading, etc.) and I like to socialize. At its core, writing is a solitary pursuit, but I’m not able to cut myself off from the outside world for very long. I could probably write twice as many books if I kept my butt in the chair, but that’s not going to happen.

Who are your writing inspirations?

Too many to list, I’m afraid, but off the top, I can appreciate the spare, powerful prose of Hemingway and the emotionalism of Dickens. I love the wit of Jane Austen and the structural virtuosity of John Irving. And I adore Eric Larson’s ability to capture the drama of historical events. His nonfiction reads like a page-turning novel.

What was the first historical novel you read?

I read many of the classics as a kid and prided myself on reading the unabridged versions – what a teacher’s pet I must have been! The one that sticks in my mind is War and Peace, because I recall it being like a great soap opera. I was sorry when it ended.

What is the last historical novel you read?

I believe it was Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. I guess that counts because half of it is in the past. Aside from my book group choices (we just finished Fly Girls), these days I mainly read non-fiction as research for my own work. Oh, and I read historical mysteries as a treat, just before I nod off at night.

What are three things people may not know about you?

Let’s see: I have a number of, shall we say, “quirks,” in that I don’t like heights and I tend to be claustrophobic. Yet I once took a caving class that required us to spend eight hours deep inside a cave, traveling from point A to point B, not only without the ability to turn back, but without the ability to step outside of the line we had formed. I also rode an open-air construction elevator to the top of the torch of the Statue of Liberty many years ago when it was being refurbished. I remember those events and still shudder, even today, wondering, “What in the heck was I thinking?!”

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I inherited a love of history from my father, so I get pleasure knowing he’d be proud of me for writing historical fiction. Beyond that, I find it strangely comforting to learn about our country’s history and all the incredibly dangerous periods we’ve been through. Whenever I start to worry too much about what’s going on in today’s world, I tell myself, “It’s okay, we’ve been through much worse and made it through.” It concerns me, however, that history isn’t being taught as much in school as it was in previous generations. We need the perspective of history to keep us from making the same stupid mistakes. My goal is to keep history alive through page-turning fiction so that those who didn’t get enough of it in school can still learn it through other means.

What historical time period do you gravitate toward the most with your personal reading?

I love the late 19th century through the 1930’s and into World War II because America went through incredible changes, and there’s so much inherent drama to that half century. And I do love mysteries that take place before there was DNA and cell phones!

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

I hate to admit it, but I could fill my days just hanging out with friends and doing inconsequential stuff. I play cards every week, host a bible study, and am in a book group. I often quilt in the evenings while watching television. In the summer I’m in a bocce league and try to fit that around travel, which I do a lot of, both in the U.S. and abroad. I just bought an inflatable kayak which I love to take out on calm water. My husband and I enjoy going to the movies, we have two small dogs (to take the place of our grown sons, I guess), and when we can, we play golf (he is much, much better than I am, but he is kind and tolerates me). You can see why I don’t produce that many books?!

Lastly, what are you working on next?

The next book in The Golden City series will come out sometime early next year. It’s called Josephine’s Daughter and tells the story of Katherine (Tom’s love interest in The Price of Compassion) and her mother. I have just finished a holiday story, in fact, that follows Josephine as a young woman returning home from her first semester at college, back in 1872. It’s a poignant tale called “Finding the Star” and I’ll be releasing it along with another Christmas story in mid-November. In addition to that, I’m working on a new mystery series that will feature Jonathan Perris, the attorney who defended Tom Justice in The Price of Compassion. Jonathan has just moved to San Francisco from London and is starting a law practice along with his two assistants. I am filled with ideas on how to get them all in trouble. Stay tuned!

I am so excited for the next book in the series! Yay! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today, A.B.!

The Price of Compassion by A.B. Michaels

Publication Date: August 27, 2018
Red Trumpet Press
eBook; 296 Pages

Series: Golden City, Book #4
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

April 18, 1906. San Francisco has just been shattered by a massive earthquake and is in the throes of an even more deadly fire.

During the chaos, gifted surgeon Tom Justice makes a life-changing decision that wreaks havoc on his body, mind, and spirit.

Leaving the woman he loves, he embarks on a quest to regain his sanity and self-worth. Yet just when he finds some answers, he’s arrested for murder—a crime he may very well be guilty of. The facts of the case are troubling; they’ll have you asking the question: “Is he guilty?” Or even worse…”What would I have done?”

"[The Price of Compassion] is chock-full of details about California in the earliest part of the 20th century, and it showcases the rampant prejudice against Chinese immigrants that pervaded the West Coast during the period. In accessible and absorbing prose, the author also describes the arcane medical practices of the era [with] a sufficient number of high stakes moments to keep the tale suspenseful and engaging throughout. [It's] a well-thought-out legal drama, full of intrigue and duplicity." -Kirkus Reviews

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About the Author

A native of northern California, A.B. Michaels earned masters' degrees in history and broadcasting, and worked for many years in public relations and marketing. Now that she's an empty nester, she has time to write the kinds of stories she loves to read. Her historical series, "The Golden City," follows characters who make their way in turn of the twentieth century San Francisco. "I love creating flawed characters I can relate to, who have to make difficult choices, and who long for happiness like the rest of us. So much was happening in the early 1900's that help shape my novels. Once I tear myself away from the underlying research, they are fascinating stories to write."

Currently Ms. Michaels lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband and two furry creatures who are unclear on the concept that they are just dogs. In addition to writing, she loves to read and travel. A dabbler in fabric art, she also plays bocce in a summer league. Her latest stand-alone novel, "The Price of Compassion," is Book Four of the "Golden City" series. It's scheduled for release this summer and will be followed by Book Five, "Josephine's Daughter."

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 23
Review at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, October 24
Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, October 29
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Tuesday, October 30
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, November 1
Review at A Darn Good Read

Friday, November 2
Guest Post & Excerpt at Jathan & Heather

Monday, November 5
Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, November 8
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, November 9
Review at Book Nerd

Monday, November 12
Review at What Cathy Read Next


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

The Price of Compassion

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