I will be hosting a Question and Answer session with Darcie Chan, author of The Mill River Redemption. I will also be having a free book giveaway. A free copy of the book will be sent to the winner. To enter, leave a comment on my blog and a winner will be chosen randomly. Be sure to leave me some information so I can get in contact with you if you are the lucky winner. The free book giveaway will run from today until August 27, 2014.
Today I am excited to be able to spend a little time with Darcie Chan, author of The Mill River Redemption. Get to know her a little better before reading her newest book, being released on August, 26, 2014.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I have always loved to read and write. I can recall starting to write poems in fifth grade, and after winning a school writing contest in seventh grade, I came home and announced to my parents that I wanted to be a writer some day. I actually think that my parents were a huge factor in shaping my interests. Before they retired, both were in education (my mother as an English teacher and my father in school psychology and then special education administration). They introduced me to books and reading at a very early age and really kept an emphasis on them and encouraged me to write as I grew up.
What inspired you to write your first book? Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The basic concept for my first novel, The Mill River Recluse, was inspired by a certain gentleman named Sol Strauss who lived in Paoli, Indiana, the small town in which I lived during high school and my mother was born and raised. Mr. Strauss, a Jewish man who fled Nazi Germany, operated a dry goods store in Paoli in the 1940s. Even though Mr. Strauss lived quietly alone above his shop and never seemed to be fully embraced by the town’s predominantly Christian population, he considered Paoli to be his adopted community and is still remembered today for his extreme generosity. I thought it would be very interesting to build a story around someone who is misunderstood or different in some way, and to show that even someone who is seemingly far-removed from his or her community may in fact be more special and integral than anyone could imagine.
My new novel, The Mill River Redemption, isn’t based on a real-life person like my first one, but I did build it around a question that I found intriguing: just how strong is the bond between sisters? I have two younger sisters myself, and the three of us are very close. I thought it would be interesting to explore the durability of a fictional, sisterly relationship, particularly one that was tested by tragedy.
In terms of the setting for and characters in my novels — the fictional town of Mill River, Vermont — I created them having lived in small towns for most of my life. I’ve found that it’s true, what one of my characters says in The Mill River Recluse: what you find in small towns can really surprise you.
How long does it take you to write a book? What was the hardest part of writing your book?
It took me about two and a half years to write The Mill River Recluse, although back then, I was writing in the evenings after I came home from my day job. The hardest part was just getting it down on paper and then working through it, shaping it into a polished, streamlined story. Almost every part of writing a first novel is a learning exercise — plotting, pacing, character development, dialogue….
My second novel flew onto the page by comparison. I had a first draft of The Mill River Redemption completed in about five months, once I had actively started writing. Of course by then, I was writing full-time and had a contract deadline to meet, so those factors certainly helped. The hardest part about writing Redemption, though, was managing all the anxiety and doubts that came with trying to create a worthy follow-up to a first, bestselling novel. I’d also decided to change careers and focus on writing fiction exclusively instead of working as an attorney. When I released my first novel, I had really nothing to lose. A lot more is riding on this second book, and I truly put everything I had into it.
How much research do you do? Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I find that I am constantly doing research while I’m writing. In some chapters, I find myself doing thirty minutes to an hour of research or reading just to be able to finish writing a short passage. Throughout the course of a novel, I discover so many things about which I know little or nothing, and I’ve got to learn enough to be able to write credibly about them. Of course, a side benefit of this research is that after I finish each book, I have a new mental cache of information on various, random topics available to spout out to anyone who will listen.
In terms of writing complete books, I’m still amazed by the amount of work that goes into each one. I don’t think I had an full understanding of the effort and determination it takes until I’d written a book myself.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I left my position as an attorney with the federal government a little over two years ago to write full-time. I usually write and take care of social media projects while my son is in preschool during the day and sometimes late at night (although with the little guy, I can’t stay up as late as I’d like to anymore), but I also juggle my writing with various “mom and household duties.” It can get a little crazy at times, but I’m really happy with how things have turned out so far.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
My second novel will be released on August 26, and I’ve just finished the first draft of my third, so…two and a half? I don’t think I could single out any one of them as being my favorite, though. Recluse was my first novel, which makes it special in a way, but Redemption, I believe, is a stronger book, and I’m particularly fond of its characters. Maybe the third book, once it’s finished, will take the prize.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do hear from readers often, usually through Facebook or my website. Most of them have written to me after finishing Recluse to tell me that they enjoyed it, to ask when my next book will be available, or both. I also hear from lots of aspiring authors hoping to start a successful writing career, and I try to answer their questions and give the best advice I can. I truly appreciate hearing from readers and writers. Even though it’s hard sometimes, I do try to respond personally to everyone who contacts me.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes! To my readers, I’d just like to say “thank you” for your enthusiasm, support, and words of encouragement in the letters you’ve sent me. Without readers like you, I would still be working at my old day job, and I wouldn’t have this new career as a writer, which I love. I only hope that The Mill River Recluse, The Mill River Redemption, and my future books return to you some of the great happiness and enjoyment that you’ve given me.
Selling more than 700,000 eBook originals of her debut The Mill River Recluse, New York Times bestselling author Darcie Chan mesmerized readers with her breathtaking prose, memorable characters, and the enchanting, fictional locale of Mill River, Vermont. This summer, not only will The Mill River Recluse be published for the first time in print on June 17, but Chan returns with a brand-new novel THE MILL RIVER REDEMPTION (Ballantine Trade Paperback Original; On Sale August 26, 2014), beautifully weaving together themes of family, self-discovery and forgiveness.
Darcie Chan is the New York Times bestselling author of the eBook sensation The Mill River Recluse and the novel The Mill River Redemption. She has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. For fourteen years, Chan worked as an attorney drafting environmental and natural resource legislation for the U.S. Senate. She now writes fiction full-time and lives north of New York City with her husband and son.
Here is my review of The Mill River Redemption.
The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan is one of the better books that I have read in a long time. The story revolves around a family that lives in Mill River and the tough times and happy times they experience.
Josie DiSanti and her two young daughters, Rose and Emily move to Mill River after Josie’s husband dies in a house fire. She is running away from the person responsible for her husband’s death. They move in with Aunt Ivy, even though Josie does not really know her Aunt that well. Josie and her family adjust to life in the small town community and feel that they belong. After a tragedy occurs in their lives, the sisters have a falling out and they have nothing to do with each other. Both move away from the town and lead their own lives. When their mother suddenly dies, Rose and Emily must move back to Mill River and live next door to each other to solve a riddle if they want their inheritance. Their mother has placed two clues in their respective houses that will lead them to the key to their inheritance. To say things are volatile between the sisters would be an understatement.
There are really two stories told in The Mill River Redemption. The first is what happens in the past and the second is what happens in the present. The chapters pretty much alternate between the past and present. I really enjoyed this technique of storytelling. The writing style flows easily and the book is an easy read.
The characters are well developed, well rounded and very human. They display many positive and negative traits and sometimes I loved them and sometimes I really disliked them. Throughout the entire book I cared what happened to them and became invested in them. The writing style is very descriptive, whether talking about the small town or the emotions that the characters are feeling, and I really enjoyed that.
It seems that some authors are able to write a book that creates a real connection with their readers. This was the case for me while I read The Mill River Redemption. I was drawn into the book from the very first page until the very last page and I am very happy that I found this book to read.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading a heartwarming story about life. This could be read by young adults as well as an older reader. I have not read any other books by this author but I plan on reading the first book in the series, The Mill River Recluse. And I will be waiting patiently for book three. Treat yourself to a great read and get both of the books in the series. You will not be sorry.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would like NetGalley and Random House/Ballantine Bantam Dell Publishers for the opportunity to read this book.