Monday, March 13, 2017

Interview & Giveaway with Author Susan Meissner

Thank you so much for visiting us today here at the CCC blog! 
Can you tell us about your latest release and what inspired you to write the story?


My new book, A BRIDGE ACROSS THE OCEAN, is a story about two European women who meet aboard the RMS Queen Mary in 1946. They are bound for America on a ship full of other war brides to be reunited with their servicemen husbands. Both women survived the hell of World War II, but only one of them, Simone, is an actual war bride; the other, Annaliese, is pretending to be a Belgian war bride to escape the Nazi husband she’d been forced to marry. Annaliese’s secret is laid bare on the voyage however, and the last day of the voyage is anything but peaceful. Meanwhile in the current day, thirty-something Brette just wants to live a normal, uncomplicated life but the family gift of being able to see ghosts is making that impossible. When Brette visits the famed and notoriously haunted Queen Mary (now a floating hotel) as a favor to a friend, she comes face to face with the ghostly echoes of that 1946 crossing and is soon on a quest to uncover the truth, right an old wrong, and maybe figure out how to live in peace with the way she is. This story was inspired by a visit to this grand ship, which has been at home in California’s Long Beach harbor for the past 40 years.


Of all your characters in this story, which one did you enjoy writing the most and why?

All three protagonists were such interesting characters to spend time with and clothe with personalities and quirks and strengths and weaknesses. It’s actually hard to choose one among Brette, Annaliese, and Simone as a favorite. There is a secondary character though, who doesn’t get as much air time as these three women, but she was totally enjoyable to create because I have never come up with a character quite like her, and probably won’t again for a long time. She starts the book out and appears every now and then as the story progresses. And she’s a ghost. But there’s nothing scary or malevolent about her. She’s just like the mortal characters in the story who want something and must overcome an obstacle to get it.

If you could cast your characters in a Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play them?

What a fun question! Okay for Simone, who is a daughter of a murdered French Resistance spy, I pick the talented Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, Brooklyn). For Annaliese, the German ballerina married to a Nazi monster, Brie Larson (she stole the show as the abducted woman in Room.) For their cabinmate Phoebe, Daisy Ridley of the Stars Wars movie, The Force Awakens. For Annaliese’s brute of a husband, Jack Gleeson, who played evil Joffrey in Game of Thrones so well, and for Simone’s American pilot husband, Josh Hutcherson, who won our hearts as Peeta in The Hunger Games trilogy.

How did you decide on the setting/location for this novel?

I had visited the Queen Mary two years ago; she is now a floating hotel on the southern California coast and I knew the second I stepped aboard that she’d be a beautiful location for a story because she has such a storied past – first as a 1930's luxury liner, then a troop carrier during the war, then a transport for war brides after WWII, and lastly as hotel. I had barely begun to research the ship when I learned she is apparently also one of the most haunted locations in the U.S., a lovely tidbit I just couldn’t pass up. Paranormal experts disagree how many ghosts supposedly call The Queen Mary home but it’s more than the number of people who actually died aboard her.


Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it and why?

With subject matter, I tend not to toss out absolutes. There are certain genres though that I won’t write, horror and erotica being two of them, just because they’re not my cup of tea.

Moving on from your story, tell us a little about yourself. 
We’ll help! What literary character is most like you and why?

Well, when I Google INFJ literary characters (I’m an INFJ on the Meyers-Briggs test), here’s what I come up with: I’m like Galadriel from Lord of the Rings, Beth March from Little Women, Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series and Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. We INFJs are insightful people who understand the complexities of relationships and what makes people tick. We want to engage in pursuits and activities that truly matter and to make the world a better place; so says Professor Google. So there you go.

What strange writing habits do you have? Like standing on your head while you write with a pen between your teeth?

I don’t like there to be music playing while I write – not even instrumental – and I don’t like my feet to be cold. So I need average white noise and warm socks. Aside from that, I can write just about anywhere.

Do you have a writing mentor, or another author who has inspired/encouraged you in some way?

I draw inspiration and motivation from reading my favorite authors. They are Geraldine Brooks, Kate Morton, Alice Hoffman, Ann Patchett, and Khaled Hosseini. When I read their books I just automatically raise the bar on quality for my own novels. They make me want to be a better writer.

We talk a lot about faith and how it weaves throughout our fiction, here at the blog. How has your faith affected/or not affected your writing?

My faith affects my writing in that how I think about the world and people bleeds out of me into everything I do, which includes storytelling. I don’t write Christian fiction, but I am a Christian who writes fiction. I am like the Christian who is a baker who bakes the best bread she can. It’s not Christian bread. It’s just bread, but I want it to taste amazing and be memorable. My stories are all about themes that matter to me like love, hope, acceptance, forgiveness, meaning, relationships, and the preciousness of life itself. These are all woven into my life as a believer, so I think they show up, at least subtly so, in the pages of my books.

Because Jaime has some darker elements to her split-time historical and contemporary romantic suspense coming out this year, she likes to ask weird questions. So, if you were responsible to write your own epitaph for your tombstone, what would it say?

Love it! Thanks, Jaime.
It may sound a little too syrupy sweet but I’d like to have made the world a better place. I am an INFJ after all. So this little quote would be nice, along with my name, and the dates and a few titles like daughter, wife, and mother. “To live in the hearts of others is not to die.”

Anne is an insatiable romantic with a serious vintage aura in all she writes. Do you have a fabulous love story in your family history that you could share with us in a few words? If not, what about your own?

My paternal grandparents were just 18 and 20 when they eloped on the 4th of July in 1936. It was a national holiday of course, so they had to drive around looking for a courthouse where a judge wouldn’t mind opening up the place to marry them. They found such a judge. They were together for decades upon decades. He died at 84 and they were still very much in love.

Erica and Gabrielle both write sweet historical romances. 
How does romance influence your own writing?

Romantic love shows up in just about every one of my books. I can’t think of one out of the 18 I’ve written where it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s a big story thread, sometimes it’s a small one, but it’s there. Life traveled together with someone you love and who loves you is amazing and never boring. We are the best and worst versions of ourselves with the people we love best and who love us best. That makes for good story material!

And for some extra fun . . .
If you could pick one superhero to save you from impending doom, who would it be and why?

Ironman, because of his dry sense of humor and because he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

If you could guest star in one TV show, what would be and what would your ideal role be?

These days, I’d like to be a guest star on NBC’s This is Us. I’d want to be Rebecca’s best friend who has known her for years, and who knows exactly how and when her Rebecca’s husband Jack died because of how long they’ve been friends.  Can you tell as I write this that this little detail is yet a mystery after a dozen emotionally-gripping episodes?

Name one significant heirloom or keepsake you have and why it’s important to you:

I’ve got my grandmother’s pearls; the same grandma who eloped with my Papa. They remind me that love is luminescent and mysterious and precious, and that from an irritating grain of sand, something beautiful can result.

We’d love you have you share a snippet from your novel to entice us and hook us! ☺ Please share something below:

I’d be happy to. Here you go!

RMS Queen Mary
Southampton, England
May 1936

The afternoon sun lies low and sweet among the clouds that hug the harbor, bathing the promenade deck in shimmering half-light. On the pier, a brass band plays a happy tune as good-byes are said at the far end of the gangway. Men with cameras are jockeying for position to catch the best view of us pulling away from the dock.
Today is different than all the other days. I feel the change all around me. Something new is about to happen.
I study each person as they step aboard, but no one pays me any mind. They don’t know I am here so they do not stiffen at my touch or reach for me or gape wide-eyed in surprise or alarm. They alight on the decks, cheerful and carefree, joyfully reaching for glasses of champagne offered by white-coated stewards.
I drift among them all, unseen, unnoticed.
But then a woman with peacock feathers in her hat breathes in deep when I swirl about her, as though she has caught my scent and is mesmerized by it. Intrigued, I linger. Her eyes widen in surprise as she stands there at a portside railing.
“Where are you?” the woman murmurs, so soft, it is almost like a whispered prayer.
She is speaking to me. She senses my presence. This woman is the first. I did not know this was possible.
“Don’t be afraid,” she says. “Where are you?”
I fold in closer to her. “Here,” is what I want to say.
“Do you want to tell me your name?” she asks kindly.
And oh yes, how I want to. But I cannot.
“Have you been here awhile?” she asks.
I don’t know the answer to this question. And that troubles me.
“It’s all right. You can trust me,” she says soothingly.
I want to trust her but I hesitate. Her questions fill me with unease. Another woman, this one red-haired and wearing a tweed coat, approaches. A wave of concern washes over her as she looks at the woman in the peacock feather hat.
“Who in the world are you talking to?” says this new woman.
The woman who knows I am here startles. Her gaze darts about, as though she thinks I might scamper away at this intrusion. Instead, I move closer to her. The silken strands of the feathers on her hat ripple like sea grass under water as I draw near. She opens her mouth in awe…
Reprinted with permission from A BRIDGE ACROSS THE OCEAN by Susan Meissner from Berkley Books, copyright 2017.

Readers: 
Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy.
Have you cruised before?
Which oceans have you seen?
What's your favorite thing about our interview with Susan today?


Thank you so much for visiting today, Susan! It was a blast!


Here are Susan's links:
http://susanlmeissner.com
On Facebook as susan.meissner
On Twitter as @SusanMeissner
On Instagram as @soozmeissner
Buy link page: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/318418/a-bridge-across-the-ocean-by-susan-meissner/9780451476005

-------------
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
Find me at: www.anneloveauthor.com
Find me on:Facebook
Find me on: Pinterest
Find me on: Goodreads
Find me on: Twitter
Find me on: Instagram

41 comments:

  1. This is my kind of story! Thanks for the chance to win.

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  2. I've never been on a cruise, but I have been to the Atlantic ocean. I have also been to the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe one day I well be able to taste a cruise. Looking forward to reading this book! :)

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    1. I hope to see the Californian coast and the redwoods some day, maybe San Fransisco. :)

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  3. I've cruised twice, once when single and once when married. Bahamas, St Thomas, Dominican, Cancun.
    I enjoyed the quote. It's the same one on my grandfather and father's grave: "To Live in Hearts We Leave Behind Is Not to Die."
    Thanks for the giveaway.

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    1. I have a friend who served on a hospital ship in the South Pacific, I would have liked to see that. Great quote, right?!

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  4. I have never been on a cruise - I have a fear of boats! I used to live on the Atlantic coast. I love hearing about Susan's grandmother. So sweet.

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    1. I think boats are like planes, bigger is better! :) I would love to live closer to a coast.

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  5. Thank you for sharing this lovely interview. One of my favorite things was learning that Susan has her grandmother’s pearls. What a special treasure!

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  6. I haven't been on a cruise but have seen the Pacific Ocean. That was a sweet story about Susan's grandparents. It's so nice she has her grandmother's pearls. I have pearls that belonged to my grandma too. I've read quite a few of Susan's books and really enjoy them.

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  7. I remember seeing the HMS Queen Mary on a visit to CA from MN when I was a kid. I would love to read your new book! Jeanne Alfveby Crea (on FB)

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  8. I have been on a cruise to the Cook Islands and the French Polynesian Islands. Loved it! I loved your reference to the ghosts on the Queen Mary - I live in Southern California and the stories are legendary!

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    1. Oh, wow Debbie. I've never heard of a cruise there. Now I'll have to google it.

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  9. Eek!! So excited for this book! I have never been on a cruise but I would love to go to Hawaii. I loved the little snippet at the end of the interview... such a tease!

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  10. Never been on a cruise. My favorite thing in the interview was the heirloom. Thank you for the giveaway and interview.

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  11. Thank you for this wonderful interview! I've never been on a cruise. Thank you for the opportunity to win.

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  12. Fun interview--love Susan's Books! Have never been on a cruise, but have lived near the Pacific Ocean my whole life. Thank you for the giveaway opportunity.

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  13. Love all Susan's books! Oceans I've been to & loved: Pacific, Mediterranean, Caribbean. janlnymeyer@gmail.com

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  14. I can't wait to read this book! And now I want to visit the Queen Mary, too! My husband always wonders at the places I want to visit...I read about it in a book!

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  15. I've been to the Queen Mary and am very excited to read your new book. Loved Secrets of a Charmed Life.

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  16. I have done ocean cruising many times in the past, but my favorite type of cruising is River Cruising. So far I have cruised the Seine and the Rhine; next year I will conquer the Danube.

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  17. I've never been on a cruise but I've seen the Pacific and the Atlantic

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  18. Love the books susan writes. I think fall of marigolds is my favorite. Looking forward to this one.

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  19. This sounds like a really good book, I love that cover!!

    I've never been on a cruise but it's on my to-do someday list. Hubby wants to do the inner passage in Alaska and I would love to do a Caribbean one.

    I live on the Oregon coast so I see the Pacific ocean just about everyday. Only one I've seen :-) Would love to visit Florida someday and walk on the white sands and dip my toes in the Atlantic ocean!

    Thanks for the giveaway chance :-)

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  20. I have never been on a cruise... due to being thrown in a pool before I could swim I've always had a fear of water, so if I ever was on a big boat in the middle of the ocean I'd probably be wearing a life jacket and floaties at all times! Lol. Never seen any oceans either, I guess I prefer staying closer to dry land.

    I love what she said she would put on her tombstone. <3

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  21. I enjoy Susan's books. I'd love to read this one.
    I'very been on one cruise in the Caribbean. I've seen the Atlantic, been in the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific many times, and spent a week playing in the South Pacific.

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  22. I dreamed of seeing the ocean from around the time I was three. Finally, when I was 21 I dipped my toes in the Pacific ocean on a cold May afternoon in Washington. I got the chance to see my favorite lighthouse, as well as another, saw a lightship, crossed the Astoria bridge and went into Oregon for the first time, and I also got to see a storm start coming in in a seemingly endless wall of clouds. It was an amazing trip!

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  23. This book sounds intriguing! I've seen the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. I've never been on a cruise and have no desire to do so...unless it would be an Alaskan cruise! Then I might be tempted.

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  24. I've never been on a cruise. I have been to the Atlantic Ocean. Thank you for the chance to win one of my favorite authors.

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  25. I have never been on a cruise. I have been to and swam in the Atlantic Ocean. I've been to the Pacific Ocean I didn't get to swim in it, only walked along the edge.
    I loved the whole interview! The book sounds very interesting. Thanks for the chance to win!

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  26. I was interested in what you said about being a Christian who writes. I believe as a Christian, you can't escape from being who you are permeating avery arena of your life, it's as inevitable as your personality! I am just starting my first novel and wondering how to bring my faith across by my words so would be very interested to read your book now.

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  27. I was on a short little cruise from Florida to the Bahamas :) I have been to the Atlantic Ocean and have put my feet in the Pacific as well. I like how Susan talked about being a Christian who writes books. I always stumble over I'm reading a Christian book--how can a book be a Christian! Thank you for taking the time to share with your readers!

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  29. I have never been on a cruise.... not sure how I would do with motion sickness but I would love to try someday. I have seen the Pacific Ocean... sunset was gorgeous in San Diego the evening after seeing our oldest graduate from Marine Boot Camp. It was a day I will never forget! I love your writing habits... simple and common sense. I don't like writing with music and cold feet either. LOL I love your list of mentors, too... great inspiration!

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  30. I've read a number of Susan's book because I enjoy the richness and depth of her characters and the complexity of her plots.

    Cruise ships scare me. Correction, large bodies of shark infested waters scare me. I'd be up for a Viking River Cruise (because who hasn't watched Downton Abbey without thinking the same thing?).

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  31. Yes I have taken a cruise before. So nice. I have seen the Atlantic ocean. Good interview like the way you write books. With good story line.

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  32. I have never taken a cruise before, but would love to! My husband and I are just coming up on our second anniversary, so maybe in a few years, say our 5th anniversary maybe we will take a cruise.
    I have seen the Atlantic & Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico but that's about it.

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  33. Stop by Monday's blog on March 20th to see the winner. Thanks everyone who joined in. I hope you all get a chance to read Susan's book! :)

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  34. Thanks to one and all for these lovely comments! So glad to have been your guest here! xoxo, Susan

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