Thursday, May 5, 2011

Q&A with Sally Gunning

I'm excited to share my Q&A with Sally Gunning, author of The Rebellion of Jane Clarke, which I just finished (and greatly enjoyed). Read on to learn more about her and her writing, and for a chance to win a copy of The Rebellion of Jane Clarke.

What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction?

My very first piece of fiction was a mystery novel called Hot Water. "The body had been dead for hours, but the bath water was still hot." Hmmm . . . I was fortunate enough to publish it with Simon and Schuster, along with the following nine books in the series. By the last few mysteries I kept stuffing in historical threads, so by book eleven I knew it was time to try something else.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I've been recently diagnosed with RA and have been put on a thirty minute restriction at the computer -- thirty minutes on, thirty minutes off. It's no way to write a book, may I tell you? Needless to say I cheat. But my old routine was to sit down and write until I couldn't move my fingers, or until my treasured husband said, "Dinner is ready," so this could be why I ended up in this mess.

Was The Rebellion of Jane Clarke the original title of your book?

Funny you should ask that! The original title was The Seeming Truth -- a quote from The Merchant of Venice: "The seeming truth, which cunning times put on to entrap the wisest." It's a book about truth -- how to know it when you see it lurking among the lies, how a young woman learns to develop her own opinion separate from those of the men she's looked up to all her life. But every time I said that title out loud I had to first spell it and then explain it. I loved it, but it was just too cumbersome, and my editor, who's much smarter about things like that and has to consider things I never pay attention to -- like actually selling the book -- finally got me to see the light.

As you were writing The Rebellion of Jane Clarke, was there a particular scene or character that surprised you?

My heroines always surprise me in some way. They're born out of the various circumstances I assign to them, but there always comes a point in the book where they start talking back -- "What are you, nuts? I wouldn't do that!" They find their voice, their heart. I never know what they'll end up deciding when I start writing, so yes, Jane surprised me, in part just by her common sense. Lyddie (Berry) Freeman took a route I hadn't foreseen when she first came to life, but it seemed the natural course once she came to it. Even John Adams, after all I swore I knew about him, ended up revealing himself to be more soft and hard-hearted than I'd first thought.

According to your website, much of your historical fiction has been inspired by your home in Brewster, MA on the Cape. Is there any place else in the world that has a draw for you like that?

There is nowhere as close to my heart as this place. My ancestors go back 300 years here -- it's in my blood. I didn't grow up here, but every weekend and vacation and summer we headed for this little town the minute school let out, so there's always that too. Not only was this our family's historical home and heart, it was the fun place to go, so it became the life goal, this place. It's not that I'm a complete stick-in-the-mud (although I don't travel so well these days) Both London and Paris struck a deep chord with me, but I liked London best. I think it's because I was better acquainted with the history. I love Boston for the same reason. I can't seem to get worked up about New York. Maybe it's all those Tories. And the Yankees. And the coffee. I just can't keep up. I've recently gotten into Philadelphia. More about that later . . .

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

Read, of course! Go on nature walks and hikes, kayak as long as someone else does the paddling. Swim. Red Sox! I play bridge badly but with enough wine and chocolate my partners don't notice.

Read any good books recently?

I'm just reading and loving Paulette Jiles' The Color of Lightning. She's amazing. Talk about research! And the characters are part of me and will be, I'm sure, long after I finish the book. The true test. I also loved The Three Weissmanns of Westport, The Imperfectionists, Wolf Hall. I'd better stop.

*** *** ***

My thanks to Ms. Gunning for her time; learn more about her and her books at her website.  To see more reviews of The Rebellion of Jane Clarke, check out the other blogs on the tour.

Giveaway!  To win a copy of The Rebellion of Jane Clarke, leave a comment with your email address.  Open to US/CA, ends 5/20.  For another entry, comment on my review.


  1. Thanks for the opportunity!! Love historical fiction!

    pocokat AT gmail DOT com

  2. Thank you for including me.
    tiredwkids at live dot com

  3. Nice interview :)
    I must have a look at those books you read and liked

  4. Great interview! I’ve awarded you a Stylish Blogger Award. Congrats!

  5. Would love to check this out.

    You can reach me at missivemaven

  6. I'm really looking forward to reading this one! Thanks!


  7. I love this interview, particularly the part where the authors says her heroines always surprise her. Great post. :)

  8. Great interview. I suffer with RA so I can relate to the very sore fingers with using the computer too much. This novel sounds wonderful and I love the cover as well!

    darreads (at) gmail (dot) com

  9. I really enjoyed the way you conducted the interview and the insightful questions you asked. The answers were enlightening as to the development of a character; something I have never considered as I haven't written a book. Great work!

  10. interesting tidbits. i do prefer the current title. it plays up to a sense of adventure starring a strong female character.