Today I'd like to welcome Gina Conroy to The Borrowed Book. Gina used to think she knew where her life was headed; now she's leaning on the Lord to show her the way. She is the founder of Writer. . .Interrupted where she mentors busy writers and tries to keep things in perspective, knowing God's timing is perfect, even if she doesn't agree with it!:) She is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, and her first novella, Buried Deception, in The Cherry Bloosom Capers Collection released from Barbour in January 2012. Gina loves to connect with readers, and when she isn't writing, teaching, or driving kids around, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Welcome, Gina. We had one of your co-authors on The Borrowed Book last week, and she told us about her novella in Cherry Bloosom Capers. Tell us the title of your story and a little about it.
My novella, Buried Deception, combines my love of mystery and suspense with my fascination with archaeology. It's about a Mount Vernon archaeology Intern and widow Samantha Steele who wants to make a good impression at her orientation, but her babysitter gets sick and she's forced to take her rambunctious children to work. There she has a run-in with security guard and ex-cop Nick Porter who's haunted by his past. Through several mishaps, a forgery is discovered, and it's up to Samantha and Nick to set aside their stubbornness and rely on each other to catch the thief. . .or the results could be deadly.
I'm going to steal the words from award-winning author Vickie McDonough who said this about my novella, "Murder. Thefts of priceless artifacts. An ornery, little boy with a penchant for getting into trouble. Gina Conroy's fast-paced debut novella has it all and takes readers on an emotional ride. A charming romance winds up this satisfying who-dun-it.
It's a fun series of novellas where characters from previous stories have cameos in the others! So if you're someone who hates to say good-bye to a "friend", then you'll enjoy the reunions in Cherry Blossom Capers.
Archaeology is an interesting occupation for a character. Do you have a background in it, or did you have to do a lot of research to write about Samantha's job?
No, I don't have a background in archaeology. I became fascinated with it when I was homeschooling my children in ancient history. Archaeology was a necessary unit study to the discovery of the past. To research archaeology for this novella, I visited archaeology sites such as Jamestown, and spoke to archaeology professors at my local university as well as the head of the archaeology lab at Mount Vernon.
Wow, you did a lot of research. Your hero Nick Porter is a security guard. I know he and Samantha work together to catch the thief, but how do the two get together to hunt for the forged artifacts?
Nick Porter is patrolling the mansion when he comes upon Samantha and her son in a room they shouldn't be in without their tour guide. In the process of clearing the room, Samantha's son destroys a priceless artifact. . .or so they think. It turns out to be a forgery and soon they both have a stake in finding the forger.
In Buried Deception, you used Mount Vernon and other popular tourist attractions in the Washington area. Had you visited these places in the past?
We visited Mount Vernon several years ago while we were homeschooling, and I thought it'd be a great setting for a mystery. Though when I decided to write the novella I realized Mount Vernon had changed since we last visited. They now have the Museum and Education Center which I researched online and learned about through talking with people who work at Mount Vernon. Other locations in the story are the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History and Christ Church. While I visited the Smithsonian when I was a child, I didn't remember much and relied on online charts, floor plans, and brochures to help me with the accuracy of the story. One research tool I love to use is Google Earth because it allows me to situate my character on the street where my story takes place. Then I can see what my character would see and use in that story.
We started a new blog to highlight these locations for interested readers. We also pull fun and interesting facts from the novellas like Chef Tara's recipes, coffee shop owner Susan's thoughts on tea and coffee, classic movie reviews on Friday night, and every Monday I highlight Mount Vernon. I'll be adding some information on archaeology and where you can attend Cherry Blossom Festivals across the nation in 2012. I think it will be a great resource!
This is your debut fiction work. Tell us how you received the news the proposal had sold.
I was in a pet store buying a snake for a teenager. Yes, a snake! He'd been hounding me for months and finally convinced me it was a good pet. (Only gets fed once a week, and doesn't smell.) I finally agreed on a corn snake and when we were browsing the rodent section of the pet store, I got a cryptic Facebook message from one of my anthology partners to check my email. I didn't have internet access on my phone, so I had to wait until I got home to read the news for myself!
There were four authors' stories in this anthology. You must have spent a lot of time communicating with them. How did the four of you handle the collaborative process?
It went quite smoothly actually. We set up an anthology email group and kept in touch through emails. We discussed locations, characters, and logistics of the story, but really didn't have a hands on in each other's novellas until the editing process when we had to double check the role and voice of our characters in each other's stories. There were times I needed to know how a certain character would say something, or a specific quirk of that character so I could write it into my story to make it more enjoyable and believable for the reader. I think it worked out pretty well for us.
What are you working on now?
I'm currently working on a story in a totally different genre. It's a women's fiction story set in 1943 about the grittier side of Rosie the Riveter and having to raise three children as a single mom. It's based on my grandmother's story and is close to my heart. My agent and I are also talking about resurrecting another story I have that has a similar feel to Buried Deception and features an archaeologist and Egyptian artifact.
What challenge for the new year would you like to leave with our readers?
Dream new dreams, resurrect old dreams, continue the pursuit of current dreams. Dream, learn, grow! There's something life-giving when we follow our passions. My newest passion is ballroom dancing. What's yours?
Thanks for being a guest on The Borrowed Book today, Gina, and I shall expect to see you as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars in the near future. It's been a pleasure to have you.