After reviewing Bitter Eyes No More, I had the opportunity to interview April Gardner and ask her a few questions about her writing. (Read my book review here!)
How long have you been writing?
Oh, I think it's been close to thirteen years now, but there was a stint of a few years where I hardly wrote a thing due to illness. I never stopped though, just pecked away at the keyboard slow and steady. Praise God that's behind me!
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Nope! I remember being five and my mom telling me I was going to go to college. I said, "No, I'm not. I'm going to be a mommy." It was all I ever wanted to be, so I did! My kids are 15 and 13. The writer in my came out all the same.
How do you come up with your ideas for stories?
I rely heavily on history's structure, building my plots around historical events. That helps a lot! As far as characters, I try to come up with opposing interests for optimum conflict, such as Phillip Bailey, (the army captain assigned to subdue a fort controlled by runaway slaves and return the slaves to their owners) paired with Milly, one of the runaways who can pass for white except for her African hair. That's the premise of The Ebony Cloak.
Do you have/Have you had any other careers besides writing?
If being a mommy counts, then yes! :-)
Let’s talk more about your new release, Bitter Eyes No More. Tell me about it:
Bitter Eyes No More is number one in my Drawn by the Frost Moon trilogy, which is set during the first days of the First Seminole War and the last days of Spanish rule in Florida.
Give us a Synopsis for the book:
Spanish Florida once sheltered Lillian McGirth from her fears. Now, it feeds them. Mercy is for the deserving; for Lillian, an unwed mother accused of treason, there is only battering and defeat, but her fall breaks softly in the arms of an unexpected arrival, a man too beautiful of soul to stain with her lost character.
Captain Marcus Buck sails in on a pledge to save Miss McGirth from herself and from her child’s father, a ruthless don. All the while, he’s to regard her as virtuous and worthy of protection and to guard said virtue from pilfering. But the terms are flawed since he must first guard her from himself. Regardless, he is determined. He will free her, repair her name—simple labor compared to dodging the army’s noose, mending wounds three years deep, and navigating a host of rebel Natives bent on inflicting more.
Through the steady crumble of his pledge, their friendship becomes a consolation, for she knows his pain as no other can or will. Their scars are one; their paths, however, might irrevocably become two…
What was the inspiration behind this story?
In my stories, the inspiration is always the history behind it. In this case, it’s the events surrounding Spanish Fort San Marcos. Today it’s little more than rubble, but the circumstances surrounding it changed the course of American history.
Tell us about your main character:
Lillian McGirth spent the first three books in the series creating trouble for herself and the protags of those books. Now, she’s paying the piper and trying desperately to free herself of the pit she’s dug. She’s beautiful, sensual, bold, and devastatingly weak. She’s also fiercely loyal and sacrificial, and she loves with her whole being. Once she realizes her worth isn’t found in men and God’s strength can fill her weaknesses, she’ll make for a rather fine woman.
Which is your favorite minor character and why?
My favorite minor character is Don Diego López de Aragón, viscount of Apalachee. He’s the antagonist, but how can you not be impressed by a guy with such a wowzers name? There’s also his cool 1800’s Spanish wardrobe to take into consideration: “pink velvet breeches, double-woof sleeves, and gold vest. A green cravat and matching sash at his waist completed the ensemble, making him the archetypal rich majo. Bold, conceited, defiant of conventions.”
Your character is at a bookstore. What book is in his/her hand right now?
Lillian would probably be holding one of Santa Teresa de Jesus’s memoirs. It’s required reading as part of her imposed canonical penance. In addition, she must spend “long hours in prayer and in a fast meant to purge her of fleshly desires.” Poor Lillian has it rough!
Please share a few favorite lines or one paragraph:
Marcus shoved the medical case under his arm. “Until tomorrow, Miss McGirth.” He wavered in a hungry study of her, then swiveled to Diego.
Fearlessly, he drew his weapon, raised it in a swordsman’s salute—cross guard brought horizontal beneath his eyes—and waited for Diego to return it. At its absence, he strode from the hacienda, bag in one hand, bared sword in the other.
Lillian’s heart tripped, lost its footing, and fell after him. With a sharp intake, she scrambled after the treacherous thing, fumbling miserably. Even while she admonished herself to keep after her heart, to lock it back in place, she was forced to admit that there was nothing to do with a man like Marcus Buck. Except lose her heart to him.
Of all the books out there, why should readers choose this one? (What makes your book stand out from the rest?)
The time period is unique, and with my books, like it or not, readers always come away having learned about a little-known historical event. Also, the content isn’t glossy or pat. My novels always have a solid edge of realism to them. I portray life in all its beautiful grit. No sugar-coating. That may or may not appeal to readers, but that’s what I look for in a book, so in my opinion, it’s a plus! ☺
Let’s shift gears and talk more about your writing.
What is your favorite song(s) to listen to while writing?
Ah, music, I can almost not function without it. I have a subscription to Slacker for my Sonos and write to spa music. Don’t laugh! It’s soothing and often Native American in flavor, which is perfect for my theme!
Have you ever named a character in honor of someone you know?
Yes! I named my heroine’s little brother after my own little brother Charlie. One day, he’ll probably get his own story. ☺
At what moment did you feel like you could say, “NOW, I'm an author?”
When I decided to go fulltime, but that wasn’t until about two years ago when I went indie. Hmm, I’m just now realizing that going indie was, oddly enough, what made me feel like a REAL writer. You’d think it would be if I got a contract with a large house, but nope. It was when I cut ties with my small houses and took the reins myself. No regrets. Not one.
What is one of your favorite/go-to writing resources?
Merriam-Webster.com. I’m in it all day, every day. A girl shouldn’t love the dictionary so much. It’s kinda nerdy.
What project are you working on now?
I’m starting book 2 of the Drawn by the Frost Moon trilogy. It’s always fun sitting down to dig into a new world, new lives, new romance!
Have you always liked to write?
Actually, I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was a kid. Reading came very hard for me. Writing, naturally, followed that pattern, but I’ve been creating stories in my mind since first grade. I didn’t discover the joy of writing until I was sixteen. The CALL to write didn’t come until I was in my late twenties, but I haven’t looked back since!
What book are you currently reading?
I’ve been on a classics kick lately, so I’m reading My Escape from the Auto de Fe. It was written in the 1800s and is set during the 1500s Spanish Inquisition. An eye-opening read for sure. Did you know the Spanish Inquisition lasted over 300 years? I’ve researched it a bit for my recent release Bitter Eyes No More, and even though I grew up in Spain, I had no idea about most of it. The level of depravity man can reach is simply astounding.
Do you write/read every single day?
I do without fail. Sometimes, though, my “writing” is plotting or editing. It all counts.
Do you have any furry writing buddies? (Or scaled or feathered?)
My fluffy buddy, Jackson (White German Shepherd), is usually nearby. He’s a rescue dog and fearful of everything, so if something has been added to the room (a bag or coat on a chair), he runs to his safe corner upstairs. He’s such a basket case! Which is ironic because the objects he fears most are laundry baskets. ☺ Can’t help but love the crazy dog!
April, thank you for joining us today and for sharing your stories and your writing experience! -Julie L. Spencer
Follow April W. Gardner on social media:
Twitter--@AprilWGardner OR https://twitter.com/AprilWGardner
FB author profile--https://www.facebook.com/AprilGardnerBooks/
Other books by April W. Gardner:
Who is Ian Taylor? Find out here!