Wednesday, June 21, 2017

HELLO, AGNIESZKA by Evy Journey Interview


Inside the Book

Author: Evy Journey
Publisher: Sojourner
Pages: 273
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Elise thought she knew her mother. Agnieszka Halverson is a caring woman, a great cook, and an exceptional piano player; but living in a secure, predictable world, she’s also a little dull. Her world is devastated when her oldest son attempts suicide, and Elise finds her mother has a past—both sweet and bitter—that she must now reveal to explain the suicide attempt. A past rich with a passion for music and shattered dreams, betrayal of a sweet but tragic first love, second chances and renewed hopes.
Born to immigrant parents weighed down by their roots, Agnieszka takes solace in learning to play the piano, taught by a sympathetic aunt who was a concert pianist in Poland before World War II. But when her aunt betrays her and her parents cast her aside for violating their traditional values, can Agnieszka’s music sustain her? Can she, at eighteen, build a life on her own?
When she finally bares her soul to her children, Agnieszka hopes they can accept that she has a past that’s as complex as theirs; that she’s just as human, just as vulnerable as they are. But do her revelations alienate her husband and can they push Elise farther away from her?


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Where are you from?
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tell us your latest news?
I’m writing a new book with many references to food and cooking.

When and why did you begin writing?
The first story I remember writing was for a high school paper when I was 14. Before that, I wrote little stories for English classes.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I’ve always been a writer. I told my parents I wanted to be a journalist, but they were paying for my college education and would only do so for a science-oriented career. Psychology was a compromise. Writing was necessary for psych grad school and a major task when I worked as a researcher and program developer. But I became a novel writer, maybe seven years ago.

What inspired you to write your first book?
I’ve always wanted to write a novel. I have the beginnings of novels stashed away in a box, but working to earn a living (during which I had to write research reports, etc.) and taking care of my family gave me no time for much else. But one day, I found myself with time on my hands. Just for fun, I started to write a sequel to Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, after I saw a serialization of it on TV. Well, I got carried away and Margaret of the North was born.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I suppose I do, like everyone else. But for my first book, I chose to write in a style as close as I could get to that of both Gaskell and Jane Austen. I think that style also found its way into my second book. Anyway, in every book, I focus on the internal world of main characters. Someone who critiqued my writing said emotional angst is what separates my books from most romance novels so I’ve categorized them as Women’s Fiction.

How did you come up with the title?
Hello Agnieszka is Book 2 in a series (Between Two Worlds) so the first word is from Book 1 (Hello My Love). “Hello” implies the beginning of getting to know someone so I thought that ordinary word sums up my focus. Agnieszka is a Polish name, the equivalent of Agnes and rarely used in the US. A couple of beta readers told me using that exotic name will turn readers away. To me, it sums up Agnieszka’s unique history.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Parent child relationships can be quite thorny and who we are sometimes interfere with doing what is best for our children. Also, cultivate something totally your own that can help you, that will nurture your spirit in very difficult  times. For Agnieszka, that’s the piano. 

How much of the book is realistic? Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I based the description of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania apartment Agnieszka lives in on my husband’s accounts of where he lived and what he did when he was a student at Duquesne University. My knowledge of student life at university comes from my own experience going to a couple of them.

What books have most influenced your life most?
I’d say Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamasov, without thinking too much about it.  I’ve read it a few times. His book Crime and Punishment also said a lot to me, mostly because of what it says about guilt. And Jane Austen helped me be observant of people’s little quirks and foibles, and find humor in them. You can say she balances the serious side of life that Dostoevsky presents.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
A contemporary writer I’d like to emulate is Anthony Doerr who wrote All the Light We Cannot See.

What book are you reading now?
Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. I’m currently into multicultural/intercultural perspectives. I usually have a fallback book I pick up when I want a break from the book I’m reading for my review blog. Right now, that one is The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Among contemporary writers, the one who’s piqued my interest most, in addition to Anthony Doerr, is Chitra Divakaruni. But maybe, neither is new. Diane Setterfield sounds interesting for how she dissects our relationship with books in her novel. She’s probably relatively new.
What are your current projects?
Writing wise, it’s the novel I mentioned above. I’m also doing sketches for a portrait in acrylics my niece requested for her two daughters. I love to do art when I’m not writing. The problem, of course, is sometimes they compete for my time.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members?
Sad to say, I can’t think of anyone. Most of my friends are painters, not writers. They don’t read much fiction. In general, though, the rise of indie authorship has kept my motivation going.

What would you like my readers to know?
If you’re either a mother or a daughter, Hello, Agnieszka will speak to you. Intimately, I hope. I wrote it from the point of view of one who’s experienced similar issues Agnieszka faces.


Meet the Author

Evy Journey
Evy Journey has always been fascinated with words and seduced by beautiful prose. She loves Jane Austen and invokes her spirit every time she spins tales of love, loss, and finding one’s way—stories she interweaves with mystery or intrigue and sets in various locales. SPR (Self Publishing Review) awarded Evy the 2015 Independent Woman Author bronze for her writing.
She’s lived and traveled in many places, from Asia to Europe. Often she’s ended up in Paris, though—her favorite place in the world. She’s an observer-wanderer. A flâneuse, as the French would say.
The mind is what fascinates her most. Armed with a Ph.D., she researched and spearheaded the development of mental health programs. And wrote like an academic. Not a good thing if you want to sound like a normal person. So, in 2012, she began to write fiction (mostly happy fiction) as an antidote.




Participating Blogs

Monday, June 5

Book Featured at The Writer’s Life

Tuesday, June 6

Interview at PUYB Virtual Book Club

Wednesday, June 7

Book Featured at What Is That Book About

Thursday, June 8

Book Featured at CBY Book Club

Friday, June 9

Interview at Book Bloggin’ Princess


Monday, June 12

Book Featured at Nicole’s Book Musings

Guest Blogging at Queen of All She Reads

Tuesday, June 13

Guest Blogging at Hart’s Reader Pulse

Wednesday, June 14

Book Featured at Bound 2 Escape

Thursday, June 15

Guest Blogging at Mythical Books

Friday, June 16

Interview at Confessions of an Eccentric Bookaholic


Monday, June 19

Guest Blogging at Dear Reader, Love Author

Tuesday, June 20

Book Review at Cheryl’s Book Nook

Wednesday, June 21

Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner

Book Featured at Mello & June, It’s a Book Thang!

Book Featured at The Bookworm Lodge

Thursday, June 22

Interview at Deal Sharing Aunt

Friday, June 23

Guest Blogging at Literarily Speaking


Monday, June 26

Interview at My Bookish Pleasures

Tuesday, June 27

Guest Blogging at The Story Behind the Book

Wednesday, June 28

Book Review at Booklove

Thursday, June 29

Interview at Nuttin’ But Books

Friday, June 30

Book Review & Interview at The World of the Blue Bells Chronicles



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