Our Blog Hopping Guest today is Meradeth Houston, the author of Colors Like Memories. Meradeth has an unusually fine imagination and her book sounds very interesting. It is not only a story of redemption, but is layered with historical references to the American Civil War. She is sharing some actual photographs of the Civil War with us. Welcome, Meradeth.
Thanks so much for hosting me today, Barbara!
Tell us a bit about your book, Colors Like Memories:
Julia has a secret: she killed the guy she loved. It was an accident—sort of. In order to save her best friend’s life, she’s going to have to face her past, but her ghosts won’t make it easy. Especially his.
Julia is a Sary, the soul of a child who died before taking her first breath. Without this ‘breath of life’ she and others like her must help those on the verge of suicide. It’s a job Julia used to enjoy, until the accident that claimed her boyfriend’s life—an accident she knows was her fault. If living with the guilt weren’t enough, she’s now assigned to help a girl dealing with the loss of her mother, something Julia’s not exactly the best role model for. If she can’t figure out a way to help her, Julia’s going to lose her position in the Sary, something she swore to her boyfriend would never happen.
When Edison arrives at school, Julia’s plan to focus on her work is thrown into chaos. Somehow, he knows way too much about her past. To make matter worse, Edison sparks more than just her curiosity. But he’s one more distraction, and Julia has no time, especially when she accidentally reveals her true identity to her assignment. To help her grieving friend, she’ll have to face her past—it’s the only way she, and her best friend, will heal. But to do so she’s going to have to return to the scene of crime and relive every vivid detail of what happened the day of the accident. If she can’t accept what happened, she’ll be forced to leave the Sary and lose any chance she had at saving her assignment’s life. It’ll take learning to trust Edison, and herself, to face the true color of her memories.
Cover TBA J. Release by MuseItUp in May 2012!
I can be found at my website (www.MeradethHouston.com), and my blog (http://meradethhouston.blogspot.com/). I’d love to have people stop by!
Contest: comment here for a chance to win Colors Like Memories when it releases. Please leave a way for me to get in contact with you! Winner will be announced on my blog at the end of the month!
A bit about me: I’m a scientist by day, writer by night (well, really, whenever I can sneak it in). In my spare time, I like to travel with my husband and have recently gotten into photography more. I’m a pretty crazy-busy person, but writing is my passion, and I love books!
I greeted his tombstone the way I always did—with a swift kick. The release of frustration was more than worth the sharp pain in my toes. The polished marble tilted to the left because of all my visits; a crooked tooth in the rows of pearly white graves.
I folded my legs under me, shuddering as the chill of the damp grass seeped through my clothes. “I keep hoping one of these days you’ll be here waiting for me.” The words were tradition. Some small part of me still clung to the hope I’d come over the hill to find him leaning over his grave, wearing a sly smile. He died so very long ago, but I couldn’t stop wishing.
Leaning forward, I rested my forehead against my knees and closed my eyes, longing for a few minutes of rest. A few minutes to pretend it was someone else buried beneath me. I tried to explain this to him, but tonight I didn’t have the will to pretend it was more than starlight that listened.
It took a long time to notice, building imperceptibly until I finally looked over my shoulder. Someone was there, watching me. It hadn’t been a sound that alerted me so much as the feel of their gaze, heavy in the darkness. After so many nights spent here, I knew the difference.
Civil War era Women
Nurses and Officers at Fredricksburg, Virginia
A word about research: I haven’t mentioned this much, but about a third of Colors Like Memories is set during the past—the Civil War, actually, when Julia loses Derek. (The Sary can be kind of old, though they generally don’t act that way.) Anyhow, when I first started writing the historical part, I was really nervous. I mean, I know how much of a stickler I can be about facts in other books, so making sure I had things correct in my own was a big concern.
So, what’s a writer to do? Well, first, I wrote the historical part J. I know, a little backwards, right? Well, I knew what I wanted to have happen, so I started out there knowing I could layer details in later. Then, I turned to books and the web. Honestly, I couldn’t believe how much information was out there on the Civil War! I spent a lot of time pouring over lists of names, tiny details, random information, anything you can imagine.
There were a few things I knew I’d need: the state of medical knowledge and practice at the time (Julia’s a nurse back then). Thankfully I know how to work with chloroform myself (thanks to my time in the lab), so I could use those little details, too! I also found as many pictures and other sources to try and get the clothing right. I’m writing in the Gone With The Wind era, but Julia would never be caught in one of those get-ups. (Well, maybe, but certainly not while she’s working.) Anyhow, those made for some fun times.
The hardest part about this was working out which battle to set things in. I knew I needed a couple of things: a big fight where one of the armies was camped in an area for a while ahead of time; a place for Julia to work nearby; a early morning battle; a forested area; a cemetery where they buried the dead; and I had a general year in mind. This item took forever! I finally settled on the Battle of Fredericksburg (which I found a little ironic, seeing as Derek’s full name is Frederick). Anyhow, more information about this cool site can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Fredericksburg. From there, it was easy to pick up more details about the time and place (like, it was foggy on the morning of the battle, which played in perfectly to the story).
I still worry about whether or not I managed to get everything right! Still, it was a blast to write, and I learned a whole lot in the process!
Meradeth, I know all the history buffs and historical fiction buffs are going to love reading your version of the Civil War. And with Sarys, yet! Sounds like a winning combination.
Thanks for being with us today, Meradeth, and especially for the photographs. When you get your book cover, let me know and I will display it for the enjoyment of my readers.