27 January 2013

Guest Blog: Ginger Myrick

This week, we're welcoming author Ginger Myrick, whose latest title is The Welsh Healer: A Novel of 15th Century England. Ginger will offer a free copy of the book to a lucky blog visitor. Here's the blurb:

The Welsh Healer: A Novel of 15th Century England tells the compelling story of a young woman growing up in the midst of the Hundred Years’ War. Spanning the reigns of Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V, it touches upon historical events including the Welsh rebellion, the English army's invasion of France, and their triumph at Agincourt.

Arlais is the gentle and free-spirited daughter of a humble Welsh household. Though just managing to scrape out a living in the rugged hills of northern Wales, her loving environment and strong family ties make for a happy home. But there is more to her than meets the eye. She is endowed with a mystical gift passed down through an ancient line of healers. She has been told her entire life that she is the fulfillment of a prophecy and destined to preserve the bloodline of kings. Despite the wondrous expectations for her future, she is content to wait for her intended mate, a mysterious man seen in a dream on her tenth birthday.

But the Welsh rebellion strikes and turns her world upside down. Arlais is forced to journey across the whole of Britain to live with a distant relative. While the events foretold by the prophecy unfold around her, she settles into the unfamiliar country continuing her path toward fulfilling her destiny and experiencing companionship, heartache, and even love along the way.

**Q&A with Ginger Myrick**
How did you feel about adding a little magic into your latest historical novel? Did you have any misgivings about the reactions of your readers?

Actually, the thought never entered my mind! I can be extremely dense sometimes and rarely take my audience into consideration. I don’t mean to sound uncaring, but my inspirations come as they are, and I have no control over them. The storylines are pretty much fully formed, regardless of genre or what I would like them to be. And that’s probably a huge part of why I struggle with the marketing part of all this writing stuff! If I could choose, I would probably opt for a more commercial project! The only reason I included the warning about the supernatural element was because of a reader. She was someone who LOVED El Rey. I offered her a complimentary copy of The Welsh Healer, and she refused it, because she will not read anything pertaining to the supernatural. I completely respect her reasons. It really brought home to me how subjective people’s opinions are, even from one book to the next.

Do you believe that people like Arlais exist?

I do believe that some people possess a healing ability, even if not to the extent of Arlais in the book. I had to make the ‘magic’ fantastical enough to provide a bit of an escape and write it strongly enough for a reader to suspend her disbelief. Nobody wants to read about some woman giving massages in the woods! But the premise very much reflects my personal beliefs. I tried to portray the healer’s power as a gift from God, but I couldn’t flat out state that because people in that day and culture did not have the same organized ideas of religion that we do now. As with the medical folklore of the Welsh, I settled for a more practical mix of the ways. So far I haven’t had any complaints about the book not being believable, so I guess I did a pretty good job!

Both El Rey and The Welsh Healer cast a canine companion front and center—what draws you to this characterization, and can we expect an animal appearance in your future books?

I was a bit worried that readers might think, “Oh no. Here she goes with the dog again!” But from the very start, the canine in The Welsh Healer was integral to the story. The physical description of the dog was based on a giant black German Shepherd whom we loved for over 12 years (I still have trouble not crying when I think about him!) Palhaço was just a fun little thing I threw into El Rey, because I think he is so darned cute, although he did turn out to play an important role. There won’t be one in my next project (if it indeed turns out to be the same one I’m considering now!) But my Civil War novel does have a dog in it. The main character in that book is based on another of my dear friends, and she has a dog. I am an animal-lover through and through, and most of the people close to me also have animals.

What is the most exciting thing to come about in regard to The Welsh Healer?

Well, one good thing, I don’t know that I would call it exciting, is that I finally decided to make my books available in paperback. It is a lot of work, but I came to the realization that I am missing out on a huge potential readership. I cast aside my reservations and did the formatting over the holidays. Now I’m just making adjustments until I get to a point where I am satisfied enough to let the books go out in my name.

Another cool thing that happened is that the department head of Welsh Studies at the University of Rio Grande, where I had some translation done for the book, sent me a very complimentary email. She read The Welsh Healer over the winter break and really enjoyed it. She wrote that my depth of research into the Welsh culture and history of the period was surprising. She also stated that she could not put the book down and was sorry when she finished it! Those are the sort of comments that make the struggles fade into the background and keep a girl writing. I am going to send her a physical copy of the book, which she plans to put into the university library!

Do you think your characters will always be on the fringes of history, or do you plan to use a real historical figure as a main character some day?

I can’t say. As of now, I have four complete stories and seeds of ideas for a few more that need to get out of my head before I can think about something completely new. But I never know when—or by what or whom—I will be inspired next! I know it sounds crazy, but put I aside my Civil War book, of which I had already written 30K words, to pursue The Welsh Healer, which was actually the first book I began researching! Go figure! Regardless, my interests are rarely ever commercial, evidenced by the fact that I wrote a book about England set during a transitional period and gave Henry V, Katherine of Valois, and Owen Tudor only cameo appearances! I get tired of the rehashing of popular settings and characters. Any real historical figure I would care to write about would probably not be a popular one.

What is the most important lesson you have learned as a writer in the public eye?

Stay true to yourself and your readers will follow. Also, the only way to be convincing is to write what you know. I’m not saying that I’m an expert in medieval cultures or any of the things that go with them, but I am a keen observer of human nature. Most of the characters I create bear traits of someone I know very well. I had one reviewer say that the characters were somewhat predictable. I argue that those predictabilities stem from the commonalities of human nature and not from any lack of imagination. Another reviewer said that the same storyline was completely original. I have also learned not to put too much stock in reviews. There is a market for every book. As an author, it is my responsibility to find it!   

What do you have planned for 2013?

As soon as I finish all of my obligations for January, the most important of which is finalizing my paperbacks and getting them on the market, I will begin writing again. I have three projects planned for this year. The first is set in Manhattan during the Gilded Age, a Pygmalion/My Fair Lady type of story with a twist. Next in line is a contemporary love story, after which it’s back to finish up my Civil War project. Beyond that, I have ideas for a love story in Roman Britain surrounding the building of Hadrian’s Wall and sequels for any of my other books should they happen to take off! Fingers crossed!

Thanks to all of you readers for your time and interest, and a hearty dose of appreciation to Lisa J. Yarde and Unusual Historicals for the opportunity. Without an audience or a platform, there would be no point! Happy reading!

Ginger Myrick was born and raised in Southern California. She is a self-described wife, mother, animal lover, and avid reader and knitter. Along with the promotion for THE WELSH HEALER, and EL REY, she is currently crafting her third novel, which takes place during the U.S. Civil War. She is a Christian who writes meticulously researched historical fiction with a ‘clean’ love story at the core. She hopes to persevere with her newfound talent and show the reading community that a romance need not include graphic details to convey deep love and passion.      

Connect with Ginger on Twitter: @ginger_myrick    Facebook     Goodreads      Amazon