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For some of us, adventure might mean braving the local mall on a Saturday, while others of us take adventure to a whole different level. World War I offered its own opportunity for adventure, and J’nell Ciesielski’s new novel, Among the Poppies, leads us right to the front lines! (If you missed my review, you can find it here.) I am excited to have J’nell visiting with us today to share a little about herself and her story. Before we chat, let’s take a quick look at the story.
Gwyn Ruthers longs for adventure far beyond the stifled life society restricts her to as a chauffeur’s daughter. With the war to end all wars exploding across the Channel, Gwyn signs up to drive ambulances on the Front. Rambling over bomb blasted roads and living in mud bogged trenches is far from the exotic travels she had in mind. A simpler life doesn’t look quite as bad as she once thought. Especially when a handsome captain has her rethinking her objections to settling down.
Welcome, J’nell! What inspired you to write Among the Poppies?
Like many people the world over, I got swept up in the whirlwind that was Downton Abbey. The elegance, the estates, the manners, and, of course, the clothes. Oh, to wear fancy hats again! Season two plunged the audience into WWI and there I saw it, Lady Sybil the nurse and her world-changing chauffeur love of a man, Branson. I had to be a part of this world! Gwyn Ruthers became a chauffeur’s daughter longing for adventure beyond the garage doors, and William Crawford is an army captain who, above all, desires order. But Gwyn is anything but orderly. ☺
She does have a tendency to defy stereotypes… 🙂 What do you hope your readers take away from this novel?
When I first sat down to write Poppies, it was a love story between a girl and a soldier. As I dug further into research I realized it wasn’t so simple. Gwyn and William came to symbolize what was happening to millions of people caught up in the Great War. Their generation became known as the Lost Generation and for too long their story has gone untold or forgotten with the passing of time. This year is the centennial of the end of WWI and light is being shed on this incredible time and the amazing people who lived through it. I hope in some small way Among the Poppies honors those who lived and died, who sacrificed all to defend their country and brothers in arms, gives voice to the women who worked behind the frontlines, and the freedom they preserved for us today. Lest we forget.
I think you definitely accomplished that goal! If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you most like to go?
Scotland! My answer for anything will always be Scotland for as Robert Burns said, “My heart’s in the Highlands where I go.” I’ve had the privilege of visiting there twice with plans to go many more times. I’m also trying to convince my too-practical husband that we need a second home there. For research purposes. Anytime you want to discuss bagpipes, kilts, or heather, I’m your lass. ☺
Wouldn’t that be fun, to be able to go any time you wanted?! If you could live during the time period of your novel, would you? Why or why not?
Yes, but on one condition: I must be part of the wealthy set. Otherwise it’s not worth going. I could suffer lack of AC if I got to wear big fancy hats and stroll around the grounds of my estate all while enjoying the modern conveniences as that began to burst on the scene during the Edwardian era.
All about the hats! I love it! Can you give any hints about what you’re working on now?
Oh my gosh. I’m so excited to talk about this because it’s the story of my heart. Every writer has one and it’s finally time to tell mine. At Long Lass is about a woman who travels back in time from 1945 to 1745 where she’s destined to meet a Scottish Highlander. They come together in an epic romance during the doomed days of the last Jacobite Rebellion. It’s based on the true story behind the song Loch Lomond. Unfortunately, the real man behind the words died in prison after the Rising so I’m setting out to change his fate with the woman who loves him. I want to give them the happy ending they deserve.
How fun! What is your favorite part of the writing/editing/publishing process?
Research is my absolute favorite part of writing. I love love love diving into all those details, most of which never make it into the story. History is fascinating. It makes us who we are, defines where we come from, and gives us passion to strive even further than we ever imagined possible. But it’s always a challenge understanding an unfamiliar world. The manner of speaking, dressing, thinking, laws, and societal roles are sometimes a minefield to navigate with our modern sensibilities.
That’s true, but all that research makes your novels more realistic, which is awesome! Thanks for taking the time to share with us today, J’nell!
Your turn! I love J’nell’s enthusiasm for fashionable hats, although I can’t say I necessarily share it. 😉 What about you? Would you enjoy seeing hats become more fashionable again?
More about J’nell:
Believing she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days writing heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle.
You can connect with J’nell online:
Among the Poppies Giveaway:
J’nell has generously offered to give away a copy of Among the Poppies (paperback for US winner; e-copy for international winner). Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy.