Interview & Giveaway: Queenie's Place by Toni Morgan

Hello all and please welcome Author Toni Morgan to the blog today! Toni is currently touring for Queenie's Place, her fabulous new historical that I greatly enjoyed. You can check out my review here.

Hello Toni and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Queenie’s Place!

Thank you!

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

It is my pleasure to be here. I am a westerner—born in Alaska, raised in Oregon, married in Hawaii, spent 30 years traveling the world as a military spouse, returned to Oregon and am now living in Boise, Idaho. I have three sons and nine grandchildren, including 18-year-old triplets. I discovered the pleasure of reading when I was nine or ten, and writing when I was a teen. At sixteen I wrote a short story—you know that advice that you should write what you know? Well, at sixteen, I’d never had a boyfriend and never flown in a plane, so naturally chose to write a romance between a pilot and a stewardess, as we used to call flight attendants. I sent it to the old Saturday Evening Post then waited on pins and needles to be ‘discovered.’ Although a very kind editor wrote me a personal note to keep on writing as I had talent, it was still a rejection (the first of hundreds) and I was crushed. I turned my attention to non-fiction articles for years. It wasn’t until I retired from banking that I returned to my first love of writing fiction. Besides Queenie’s Place, my published books are Patrimony, about the Quebec separatist movement in the 1960’s and 70’s, Two-Hearted Crossing, a companion to Patrimony set in northern Idaho, Echoes From a Falling Bridge, about WWII from the viewpoint of rural Japanese, Harvest the Wind, second of my WWII trilogy, this one set in a Japanese internment camp in Idaho, Lotus Blossom Unfurling, the third in the trilogy, set in Japan and Idaho following the war, plus Between Love and Hate, a collection of short stories set around the world.

What inspired you to write Queenie’s Place?

One day when my husband was stationed in North Carolina, my neighbor called. She told me that her car had broken down out in the country and would I come and pick her up. I said of course and wrote down directions. Before hanging up she whispered, “And hurry. This place is weird.” It actually didn’t look weird. Flowers bordered the walk to the front door of a plain-looking house. It was a brothel. We giggled all the way home about telling our husbands where we’d been. But I thought about those women for years, wondering what their lives were like, how they got there, and what they thought of two middle-class, middle-aged white women dropping into their lives.

What research did you undertake when writing Queenie’s Place?

I needed to do some brushing up on the Vietnam War, dates for instance, but for the most part I didn’t need to do much. I’d lived it—the protest marches and all the anger, and life as a military spouse. I’d also lived for a time in the Jim Crow south before Civil Rights legislation and desegregation. The military is very leveling, by the way. It had desegregated long before the rest of the country. It took a bit longer for women in the military to be treated equally, however.

What would you like readers to take away from reading Queenie’s Place?

A few have dismissed Queenie’s Place as just another story about a White woman going to the rescue of a Black woman. I sincerely hope most see it as a true friendship of two strong women—Queenie gives just as much to Doreen as Doreen gives to Queenie. I think it’s also a window into the life of a military family. Some of my friends think that Doreen is me, that Queenie’s Place is memoir. No. Doreen is the woman I would like to have been, but sadly didn’t have the courage. Mostly, I hope Queenie’s Place will give readers a perspective they hadn’t had before.

What was your favorite scene to write?

Queenie’s memories.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

The Klan scene and Charlotte’s reaction to Doreen afterward.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

When I was a kid.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

I’ve recently taken a break from writing and been concentrating on my art, but I’m getting back to it, working on a novel about three women in the early 1900’s who come together to work for women’s suffrage. Two of the women are based on my maternal and paternal grandmothers. I’m an early riser and do most of my writing before noon.

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

My greatest challenge, and I suspect most writers, is realizing that writing is what I do, my product, so to speak, it’s not who I am as a person. So, I have no problem with critiques and criticism—I have the choice whether to incorporate or ignore it. I include rejections (and I received hundreds over the years) in the same category.

Who are your writing inspirations?

Hemingway, Kate Atkinson, Anthony Doerr, Abraham Verghese, and Sharon Kay Penman among many more.

What was the first historical novel you read?

I not sure of the names, but I read a lot about nurses in the Pacific during WWII when I was still in grade school. When I was a teenager, Gone With the Wind and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Do you see a through-line here?

What is the last historical novel you read?

Jennifer Winspear’s, The Care and Management of Lies

What are three things people may not know about you?

1) I was born in Alaska when it was still a territory and I lived (and married) in Hawaii when it was still a territory;
2) I was an exchange student to Denmark when I was sixteen—it there that I became interested in history;
3) I always loved words, even when I didn’t know the meaning—at ten or eleven, I famously asked my dad if he was a communist or a pedestrian. He told me he was a communist and kept his flag in the closet. That sailed right over my head. Now I wonder if I told my teacher my dad was a communist.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I like writing historical fiction because the skeleton of the story is there. Fleshing it out is the challenge.

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

The war years, I and II. In the past, I’ve enjoyed reading about England during the thirteenth-fifteenth centuries.

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

I paint.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

Walla Walla Women. This is a story inspired by my maternal grandmother, who left England to marry a man twenty years her senior, sight unseen—he was a goldminer and the family black sheep. His brothers were her mother’s borders and they talked her into it because they thought it was time for him to settle down; my paternal grandmother, who received her doctoral degree from Cornell University in 1910; and my late husband’s maternal grandmother who traveled with her mother and four younger siblings from Rising Star, Texas, to Calgary, Canada, to Walla Walla, Washington, in a covered wagon, following her cowboy father. Kind of fun.

That sounds like a lot of fun! Can't wait to read it! Thank you for being here today with us, Toni!

Queenie's Place by Toni Morgan

Publication Date: December 6, 2018
Adelaide Books Publishers
Paperback & eBook; 302 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Queenie's Place, set in rural North Carolina in the early seventies, is the story of an unusual sisterhood between a thirty-something white woman from California and a fifty-something black woman from the south. From the moment Doreen Donavan sees the “Welcome to Klan Country” sign outside Goldsboro, North Carolina is one culture shock after another. She thinks the women she meets on the military base, where she and her family now live, are the dullest, stuffiest, most stuck-up women she’s ever run across, and frankly, they don’t think much of her either. She’s hot, miserable, and bored. Then one day, BAM, her car tire goes flat, right in front of a roadhouse outside the town of Richland, near where MCB Camp Puller is located. Inside, Queenie is holding forth at the piano. The place is jumping. Besides the music, there’s dancing and the best barbecue in North Carolina. Doreen’s husband, Tom arrives and must practically peel her out of the place. Queenie doesn’t expect to see Doreen again, but Doreen comes back and their unlikely friendship begins. Without warning, Queenie’s place is closed, the women accused of prostitution and bootlegging. A born crusader (she cut her teeth demonstrating against the Vietnam War—yes, even with her husband over there), Doreen quickly dons her armor and saddles up. Things don’t go quite as planned.

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About the Author

A longtime military spouse, TONI MORGAN has lived in many parts of the US and also for nearly four years in rural Japan. There she had the good fortune to work part-time in a Japanese pottery factory. That rich experience led to the first in her WWII trilogy ECHOES FROM A FALLING BRIDGE, which gives a unique view of life in rural Japan during the war. Second in the trilogy is HARVEST THE WIND, partially set in a Japanese internment camp in Idaho's Magic Valley. The third in the series is LOTUS BLOSSOM UNFURLING, which continues the saga after the war ends. She also wrote PATRIMONY, and TWO-HEARTED CROSSING, companion books set in Montreal Quebec Canada during the Quebec Separatist Movement and 20 years later, in northern Idaho. Her novel QUEENIE'S PLACE is a 2019 National Book Award in Literature nominee. Her short stories have appeared in various literary magazines and journals, and her short story "Tin Soldier" was included in MOORING AGAINST THE TIDE, a creative fiction and poetry textbook published by Prentice Hall. Her most recent release is BETWEEN LOVE AND HATE, a collection of short stories, including Pushcart Prize nominee "The House on East Orange Street" and the aforementioned "Tin Soldier."

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 15
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, March 16
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, March 17
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, March 19
Feature at View from the Birdhouse

Saturday, March 20
Review at Rajiv's Reviews

Monday, March 22
Excerpt at Bookworlder

Wednesday, March 24
Review at YA, It's Lit

Friday, March 26
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Saturday, March 27
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Sunday, March 28
Interview at Reader_ceygo

Monday, March 29
Review at Reader_ceygo

Wednesday, March 31
Interview at Jathan & Heather

Thursday, April 1
Review at American Historical Novels Book Club

Friday, April 2
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink


Enter to win a set of signed paperback copies of Toni Morgan's WWII Trilogy!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on April 2nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Queenie's Place

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