Genre: Historical fiction, elements of romance
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Date of Publication: April 27, 2016
Number of pages: 339
Word Count: 100,000
Cover Artist: Fiona Jayde
In 18th century Ireland, drought forces Edward and Henry McConnell to assume false names and escape to America with the one valuable thing they still own–their ancestor’s gold torc.
Edward must leave love behind. Henry finds it in the foul belly of The Charming Hannah, only to lose it when an elusive trader purchases his sweetheart’s indenture.
With nothing but their broken hearts, a lame ox, and a torc they cannot sell without invoking a centuries-old curse, they head for the backcountry, where all hope rests upon getting their seed in the ground. Under constant threat of Indian attack, they endure crushing toil and hardship. By summer, they have wheat for their reward, and unexpected news of Henry’s lost love. They emerge from the wilderness and follow her trail to Philadelphia, unaware her cruel new master awaits them there, his heart set on obtaining the priceless torc they protect.
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/bNzrVFnl9Ts
About the Author:
Julie Doherty expected to follow in her artist-father’s footsteps, but words, not oils, became her medium. Her novels have been called “romance with teeth” and “a sublime mix of history and suspense.”
Her marriage to a Glasgow-born Irishman means frequent visits to the Celtic countries, where she studies the culture that liberally flavors her stories. When not writing, she enjoys cooking over an open fire at her cabin, gardening, and hiking the ridges and valleys of rural Pennsylvania, where she lives just a short distance from the farm carved out of the wilderness by her 18th century “Scotch-Irish” ancestors.
She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Central Pennsylvania Romance Writers, Perry County Council of the Arts, and Clan Donald USA.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in south central Pennsylvania, about ten minutes away from the farm where much of SCATTERED SEEDS takes place. This is a rural area, with fertile valleys wedged between the northern Appalachian ridges. Living here allows me to include bits like this in my novels:
Great slabs of rock broke up the forest and offered a panoramic view of the valley below. Dense cloud collected in a gorge and snaked its way northwest, obscuring the waters of a river winding through a succession of ridges, the northern Appalachians.
Tell us your latest news?
Soul Mate Publishing released my second novel, SCATTERED SEEDS, on April 27th. I love this story, because it features my own ancestors, Edward and Henry McConnell.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember. I wish I knew why, since, at times, it is about as rewarding as head-butting a cast iron cauldron. I have a day job forty-five miles from home, so in order to add to my word count, I have to wake two hours early, write in my car during lunch (while stuffing a sandwich down my throat), and spend every evening and weekend at the keyboard. I know that doesn’t sound pleasant or glamorous, but there is peace in creating something beautiful, and the sacrifice is worth it when I type my two favorite words: THE END.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Still waiting on that one. When my craft feeds my family, I might consider myself a writer.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Somerled of Argyll. Although much of his story has been lost to time, we know he was a hero long before Robert the Bruce and William Wallace. In fact, he’s the progenitor of many of the Highland clans so popular in fiction today. Without him, those clans may have disappeared altogether, since it was Somerled who wrenched Scottish lands from the hands of the Vikings. He is also credited with inventing the central stern rudder, which changed the way men sailed. I mean, if that’s not enough to warrant a spot as a hero, what is?
Do you have a specific writing style?
Readers tell me I do, although I can’t really identify it. I love lyrical writing, but today’s reader demands efficiency. I strive for a blend of both. It’s a difficult task, but possible with proper word choices.
How did you come up with the title?
My characters are connected to seeds in several ways. Because they descend from a king (Somerled from my debut novel), they consider themselves scattered seeds. My character puts it this way:
“His descendants are many, and scattered like windblown seeds. Many of them rooted in Scotland, some floated across the sea, and some, like us, blew into this godforsaken muckhole called Ireland.”
For Scots-Irish tenant farmers like Edward and Henry McConnell, prosperity always seems to hinge upon the next harvest. In the beginning of the novel, drought kills their expensive flaxseed, which plunges them into poverty. They flee Ireland for America, where they again look to seed to save them. They haul bags of it across unforgiving wilderness, and break their backs to plow and plant their fields. But my young character, Henry, endures the crushing toil and hardship, knowing that once the grain is winnowed and bagged, they will haul it back to civilization . . . where he hopes to find his lost love.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I hope readers will pause and remember the sacrifices of those who came before us, not just our ancestors who broke up the wilderness, but the natives cheated out of their lands by two warring nations. Henry ponders the unfairness in SCATTERED SEEDS:
It was a lot to take in. Henry saw now that Ulstermen were not alone in their exposure to tyranny. The natives of this land suffered it, too, maybe more so. Big Turtle and his clan were being forced out of neutrality, and their choices were less than ideal. They could stay and fight alongside the British and Iroquois, those overseers who treated them like dogs, or go west and join the rest of the Shawnee, a people now foreign to them. How did one make such a choice?
We owe a great deal to our forefathers. I had the great fortune to visit the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh, Ireland, where I took this photograph showing the berthing area of a typical immigrant vessel. Imagine families of six squeezing into those berths with everything they possess...and staying there for seven weeks or more. And yet, these berths were infinitely better than those afforded to the slaves shipped from Africa.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
They say you should write what you know, and I mostly do. For example, when I was a little girl, I attended a Halloween party at my church. Somehow, we ended up playing chase, and I became lost in the cemetery. At night. With teenage boys chasing me. Over forty years have passed since that night, but I still remember the terror of running blindly and tripping over headstones. I tapped into that memory for this scene:
His heavy footfall collapsed a shallow grave, plunging his leg into a rotted coffin and God knew what else. He gasped, jerked his foot out of the earth, then scrambled on hands and knees, fighting tears. Nearly a man or not, he wanted his father. He ran, mindless and wheezing, and tumbled over a decapitated headstone.
What books have most influenced your life most?
I can’t say that any books have influenced my life, but plenty have influenced my writing. Laura Ingalls-Wilder awakened my love of historical fiction with her LITTLE HOUSE series, and in my teens, I fell in love with the Brontës.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I love Bernard Cornwell, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, and Stephen King. That’s an odd combination, I know, but truly, I have learned something from each of them.
What book are you reading now?
I rarely read them one at a time. Right now, I’m reading JUNIATA VALLEY by Virginia Cassel, FORT ROBINSON by Roy Chandler, and LOVE’S DESTINY by Elizabeth Meyette.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I still believe my critique partner is the best writer I know. She’s under contract with a big-shot agent, so I can’t name her yet, but trust me, when her book releases, she’ll shoot to the top of the charts.
What are your current projects?
I have two. The first features Ann McConnell, who brings a gold torc to Scotland at the end of SCENT OF THE SOUL, my first novel. The story opens when she unearths it on her family farm in Pennsylvania. She has no idea how it got there, but readers of SCATTERED SEEDS sure do. ;-)
My second project is another colonial frontier story featuring a German widow who’s determined to recover loved ones taken captive by Indians. Picture LAST OF THE MOHICANS meets THE REVENANT, then throw in a love story.
What would you like my readers to know?
That I know they have choices, and when they choose my book, I am not only appreciative, but humbled. Also, sending a book out into the world is a bit like stripping naked and marching down Main Street. Until the reviews start coming in, I’m left shivering in my birthday suit in the middle of the town square. So, let me know what you thought by either leaving a review or contacting me directly. I love hearing from readers, and I try to answer each email personally.
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