Interview & Giveaway: Madam in Silk by Gini Grossenbacher

Hello dear readers! Happy Friday!

Today I have a great interview with Gini Grossenbacher, author of Madam in Silk! We also have a giveaway so be sure to enter.

Hello Gini and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Madam in Silk!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing? 

When I taught Advanced Placement high school English, I was paired with a US history teacher so that our work coordinated. Since that time I wanted to write about American women’s experiences, especially those whose stories were underrepresented in the history books.

Madam in Silk is the second book in your American Madams series. What inspired you to write the series? Will there be more books?

I was inspired to write about women involved in the Victorian sex trade in America, especially women of various ethnicities and social backgrounds who found themselves in circumstances which led them into the underbelly of society. I was happy and astonished at the reader response to my work with the madams. Thus, I explored Ah Toy’s story in Madam in Silk. My next book in the series, Madam in Lace, explores Celeste’s search for her mother in Paris. Readers will recognize Celeste as the French prostitute from Madam of My Heart.

What research did you undertake when writing Madam in Silk?

I visited San Francisco’s Chinatown multiple times, took guided tours to learn the history of the various streets and the importance of the landmarks which exist there. The Chinese Historical Society in San Francisco provided me an extensive bibliography, and I did quite a bit of online research about Chinese health practices and spiritual beliefs. I also researched the Chinese porcelain trade, the opium wars, and the myth of the Dragon King’s Daughter.

What would you like readers to take away from reading Madam in Silk?

An admiration for the courage it took Ah Toy, and women from different backgrounds and nationalities, to make a life for themselves in America. An understanding that our multi-ethnic heritage began long ago and is part of the fabric of our nation.

What was your favorite scene to write?

The scene where John Clark observes Ah Toy as she poses for him in the shanty. While writing the scene, the words flowed out so easily, so breathlessly, as though I was there with both of them.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

The scenes featuring Ah Toy’s captivity aboard ship. I worked with my editor multiple times on making sure I had the correct angles of observation, both inside and outside the crate where she was imprisoned.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I knew from childhood that I wanted to write stories and tales. My mother said I was a “fabulous little liar.” I think that came from imagining the world in 3-D. My mother was a journalist and a school librarian, so books and words surrounded me and gave me wonderful models to imitate.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

I like to get up early and write as the sun comes up. My words flow more easily in the morning. I then take a break to do family chores, business, and work out at the gym. I go back to the desk for three to four hours in the afternoon. I am almost at the point where I can take weekend days off, with certain exceptions if deadlines are looming.

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

My greatest challenge in writing and publishing Madam of My Heart was in finding my publishing path. I did not know whether to go the traditional or independent route with the novel. I chose the “indie” path which gave me great flexibility in marketing and promoting my novel. I love going to book fairs and festivals, and talking to readers about my books. Those readers gave me support and encouragement in pursuing the Madams series.

Who are your writing inspirations?

Virginia Woolf, William Stafford, Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston, Kristen Hannah, and Anthony Doerr. My Amherst Writers & Artists writing group provides me constant feedback and encouragement—they rock!

What was the first historical novel you read?

Johnny Tremaine. I think I was a young girl at the time.

What is the last historical novel you read?

I am currently reading The Chocolate Maker’s Wife by Karen Brooks.

What are three things people may not know about you?

I love playing with my grandbaby Marco, I love watching football, and I am fond of vintage clothing styles.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I get to time travel into the past—it’s the best vacation there is!

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

Nineteenth and twentieth century, though a good novel set in the Renaissance or Middle Ages will occasionally entice me.

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

Manicure my rose garden, have lunch with my girlfriends, binge-watch TV series, and work out at the gym.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

My next novel, Madam in Lace. I just got back from France where I visited all the sites I had planned for the novel. And, of course, I had the three C’s—crepes, chocolate, and croissants.

That sounds wonderful! I bet research trips are a blast! Thank you for stopping by today, Gini!

Madam in Silk by Gini Grossenbacher

Publication Date: July 15, 2019
JGKS Press
eBook & Paperback; 476 Pages

Series: The American Madams, Book 2
Genre: Historical Fiction

San Francisco,1849. Despite her objections, twenty-year-old Ah Toy and her servant Chen voyage from China to San Francisco with her husband who dies on board ship. With little cash and bound feet, how is she to find employment in the Gold Rush town? Since she is the only Chinese woman there, she opens a "Lookee Shop," catering to miners who pay in gold dust to see her exotic beauty. As her notoriety grows, so does her attraction to the devoted policeman, John Clark. Yet should she put her faith in one man? Will their love survive despite her frightening encounter with Sydney Ducks, threats from rival madam Li Fan, and a tempting offer from Henry Conrad who promises her wealth and security? Armed with her mystical beliefs of the inner dragon and Goddess Mazu, Ah Toy faces much more than the journey from the ancient ways in China to the new world in America. In fact, she must find the true source of courage in a life or death struggle for her own fate, justice, and dignity. Based on page-turning accounts about the life of Ah Toy, one of San Francisco's most legendary madams.

"Readers were effusive in their praise of Gini Grossenbacher's dynamic debut novel Madam of My Heart, based on the life of the infamous brothel owner Belle Cora. This, the prequel to her American Madams Series, is inspired by the life of a beautiful young Chinese woman of high birth brought to California against her will. She was able--and willing--to do whatever it took to find security and fortune in Gold Rush San Francisco. Madam in Silk is this year's exciting addition to historical fiction." -Cheryl Anne Stapp, Author of Disaster & Triumph: Sacramento Women, Gold Rush Through the Civil War

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

About the Author

California author Gini Grossenbacher was a successful high school English teacher until she abandoned grades and term papers, choosing to write historical novels instead. Now she leads small writing groups and coaches other writers. She loves researching the history behind her novels, and enjoys traveling to the setting where they take place. Her hobbies include needlepoint, nature walks, and Scrabble. She lives in the Sacramento Valley where she grew up, east of San Francisco.

For more information, please visit Gini's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 23
Review at Gwendalyn's Books

Wednesday, September 25
Excerpt at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Friday, September 27
Review at Reading is My Remedy
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews

Monday, September 30
Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Tuesday, October 1
Review at Books In Their Natural Habitat

Thursday, October 3
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Friday, October 4
Interview at Passages to the Past

Monday, October 7
Review at Passages to the Past

Thursday, October 10
Review at @jypsylynn
Review at

Friday, October 11
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at Coffee and Ink


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Madam in Silk! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

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

Madam in Silk

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