Interview with the Author:
1. What inspired your book?
The inspiration for my book came from my mother’s side of the family. She was one of fifteen kids growing up on a farm in western North Dakota. Of course, there were dozens of stories throughout the years about all of these aunts and uncles, but two “bachelor” uncles came to mind. I was also influenced by Edith Wharton’s novel, Ethan Frome which I’ve read many times. The ambience of that book, the snow, the isolation, the dark beauty of the landscape. I wanted to write a love story involving two brothers in a faming environment and I wanted it set in a beautiful place. Northern Minnesota worked well and was also inspirational to the story. There is a beauty to the land up north, the snow, the wilderness … which leads into your second question:
2. What inspired your characters? Were they based on anything in real life?
The inspiration for the main characters, Hans and Jon, came from these two bachelor farmer uncles. These uncles worked as farmhands and neither one of them ever married. I thought that was so odd because when you think of farms most people think of big families, etc. or if you think of a “bachelor farmer” you think of an old man in coveralls. These two weren’t anything like that. They were young, noncommittal, free, did what they wanted to do - rode up to the small Lutheran church on horseback when everyone else either walked or drove. One of them did end up living with a Native American woman in the later part of his life, but they never married. I settled on making my characters two hunky Norwegian brothers who inherit a lot of land and end up involved with a beautiful half-breed Ojibwa woman.
3. What other books have you written?
I’ve been writing short stories for many years, but this is my first published novel.
4. I you could keep only five books because of some world ending event, which would you keep?
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
As you can see, I’m a huge Edith Wharton fan. I could read any of these books over and over and never grow tired of them.
5. What is your favorite food?
Hmmmm … good one! I would have to say lobster … Steamed or boiled with drawn butter, corn on the cob and coleslaw … crisp white wine, very cold - in the summer time in New England – heaven!
6. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I would have to say in Wilton, Connecticut or somewhere in that area. I have lived there most of my adult life. I now split my time between Dallas, where I live with my family and Wilton, where I like to spend summers. This works out great … I feel I get the best of both worlds. I do love it here in Texas, especially the mild winters and the friendly people. Connecticut is in my blood though and will always be special to me.
7. What are your favorite genres?
I enjoy fiction the most. I like all kinds of fiction and historical fiction is one my favorites. I also like biography and memoir, history …
8. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I wrote a small article for my blog which anyone can read on my website at: www.brendasorrels.com
called - How I Wrote a Book. Here are some of the highlights: Start thinking of yourself as a writer, create a sacred space, write every day, take a writing class, write a messy first draft, try a short story first, find an editor, find a publisher. All of these things are important. You must think you’re a writer to become one … that’s key. After that, find the discipline to sit down and get the words on paper … if you can get this far I would also add … don’t send your work out too early. This is a huge mistake that most of us have made. You must edit and rewrite and edit and rewrite. Most of the work is really in the rewrite. I would also caution new writers to be careful who they share their work with. When you’re first starting out, you’re very fragile and almost no one hits a home run the first time to bat. Find someone you can work with who believes in your work. Be gentle with yourself and have patience!
9. What is the best advice you have ever gotten?
Never give up!
Brenda Sorrels grew up in Fargo, N.D. and attended Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y. She's worked as an editor at Mademoiselle Magazine and in promotion with the National Media Department of The Fox Broadcasting Company. She now lives in Dallas with her family, including small dog, Charlotte - and spends summers writing in Connecticut.
My mother was the youngest of 15 children and when I was a small girl I used to visit her hometown, Halliday, in the western part of N.D. I had two bachelor farmer uncles who used to ride horseback to the white Lutheran church on Sundays! There was an Indian reservation nearby and I remember many stories surrounding the the Native Americans. The stories were mixed - involving their customs, the pow-wows, the drinking and bar fights! Later one of these uncles lived with a Native American woman who cared for him until he died. The inspiration for my writing comes from these experiences and the unending stories of childhood
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