Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Emily Bleeker is on fire...plus a book giveaway

Amber Linderman Photography
We're pleased to introduce Emily Bleeker today and help her celebrate the publication of her latest novel, Working Fire. Thanks to Kaye Publicity, we have one copy to give away.

Emily Bleeker is also the author of the Street Journal bestseller When I'm Gone (March, 2016; Lake Union), and her debut novel, Wreckage (March, 2015; Lake Union), which became a Kindle bestseller. A former educator who learned to love writing while teaching a writer’s workshop, she found the courage to share her stories after surviving a battle with a rare form of cancer. Emily currently lives with her family in suburban Chicago. You can visit her at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Ellie Brown must abandon medical school to return home to help her married sister Amelia care for their widowed father after he suffers a stroke. But her monotonous days as a small-town paramedic are turned upside down when she receives a dispatch call to an address that turns out to be Amelia's home. Racing to the scene, Ellie discovers that Amelia and her husband have been shot in a home invasion. 

As Amelia remains comatose and in critical condition, Ellie uncovers dark revelations about her family’s—and her hometown’s—past that challenge her beliefs about what happened that morning and force her to question where her devotions truly lie. The story is told in two timelines--the present day, from Ellie's point of view; and for six weeks leading up to the day of the shooting, told from Amelia's point of view.

What is one of your methods for balancing life as a stay-at-home mom with life as a writer?
Balance? What is that? I think the biggest thing is reminding myself (and sometimes my kids) that writing is a job and just like other work from home moms I have to make actual time to do my job. Honestly, my kids are old enough to understand that there are trade-offs with this situation. We focus on fun and bonding or chores or learning for many hours of our day, and then I can say, “Okay, I need to get some writing done now!” They are very good about taking their down time at the same time I’m writing. Also, writing while they sleep works well but only if I can stay awake myself!

Which authors have inspired you?
Gosh, there are just too many to name them all. I think that I’ll focus on two that had a BIG impact in my life as an author:

Charlotte Bronte is my favorite author. I feel like she is the mother of Women’s Fiction in a lot of ways. Like other female authors of her time, including her sisters, she had to fight against so much to even have her words published. I first read JANE EYRE when I was in seventh grade. My teacher told me it had too many “big words” for me, but I read it anyway, almost seeing it as a challenge. I became enthralled by Jane as a person; her strength and her resilience after facing terrible abuse and neglect. Soon, any words that may have seemed overwhelming in chapter one melted away into the landscape of the gothic scenery. I finally met the first fictional person I felt must exist in some real world outside of my own. From Charlotte, I learned about characters and how important it is to care for them, cheer for them and maybe even wish you were them at times.

Jumping to a different genre, I was also inspired by Lauren Oliver’s DELIRIUM. The story was compelling, but it was her writing that moved me. It was so descriptive and beautiful. Just before reading this story, I'd been told by someone close to me that I’d never been a writer because my writing was too flowery. But reading Lauren’s words, I realized I just needed to hone and trim that part of my craft and perhaps at some point I too could share my work with the world.

What is something you've learned from writing your previous novels that you applied to Working Fire?
I learned that books are about people, not plots. I mean, it is great to have an awesome plot line with lots of fun ups and downs and twists and turns but it is more important to have characters that are relatable and emotions that invoke responses from your readers. So, that’s what I tried to remember when I wrote about Ellie and Amelia. I tried to help them be relatable and really evoke true emotions from their trials and triumphs.

If you could cast Working Fire as a movie, who would play the lead roles?
I am the worst at answering this question! So many authors cast their characters in their heads, but to me, they are real people and hard to put a different face on them. Hmmm, let me think.

For Ellie, I like Rachel Bilson from Hart of Dixie and for Amelia someone like Katie Holmes. They look a lot like sisters and Katie would have the maturity and vulnerability to play Amelia and Rachel would have that toughness Ellie needs. I like Josh Duhamel for Amelia’s husband, Steve, and Max Minghella from The Handmaid's Tale as Officer Travis Rivera.

Okay, that is the best I can do!! I LOVE hearing who my readers imagine far more than my thoughts, so please pass on your ideas!

If you could take us on a tour of the town where you currently live, what places would be must-see stops?
One of my favorite spots in my town is the Savanna by my house. It is filled with wildflowers and many species of birds. I love to walk the trail there imagining what it must’ve been like to stroll through that prairie one hundred years ago before there was a running path and benches and look out spots.

Our downtown area is a must-walk! You can walk the whole thing and go to a variety of awesome restaurants and a weekly farmer's market. I like ending the night at the local Tastee Freeze. The town’s historical museum is within walking distance as well as the fire house and a delicious specialty bakery.

Finally, Central Park has all my kids’ favorite places including a splash park, two regular parks, the library, a running path, an outdoor stage, the community pool and a Frisbee golf course. Also, from Central Park, you can see the smokestack of the old gelatin factory. My kids love to make up stories about the uninhabited structure, especially since it is surrounded by “No Trespassing” signs. What do kids like more than abandoned factories and warnings against entering them? Sounds like the start of a good book….

With school starting back up, tell us about a teacher who made a difference in your life.
When I started at Benedictine University, I went into my first literature class having no idea how hard I’d fall for the complex beauty of classic literature. The books themselves were inspiring, filled with humanity and giving me a window into the lives of those who lived ages ago. But it wasn’t just the books that inspired me in that class; it was also my professor—Dr. Julie Duggar (also known as author Julie Salmon Kelleher). She led lively discussions about our course material, and suddenly I found out I had opinions on poetry, that I would read and reread the same page just to test out some theory dancing through my mind. Eventually, I even started to look forward to writing term papers. Yeah. It was like that.

Dr. Duggar ended up being my professor another three times as I finished up my degree in education and minor in literature. I have to admit that the reason I was in her class so often was because I wanted to be. I carried this passion for literature into my classroom as a teacher, trying to help younger students to find the same fascination with books and poetry that are often seen as boring or out of date.

As an author, I often think about how those stories taught me that human emotion, mortal trials, and heartfelt passions have no expiration date. We may have different clothes, different struggles, and better teeth, but we are all the same even with three hundred years or more between us. Dr. Duggar helped me learn that whether it is a story of Domestic Suspense, Women’s Fiction or a classic masterpiece, your words must strike at that central core that is in all of us, it must touch on what it is that makes us human—our hearts.

Thanks to Emily for chatting with us and Kaye Publicity for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends September 4th at midnight EST.


Anonymous said...

vera wilson

Ms Calhon 2nd grade teacher. She had a way of making learning fun.

Anna loomis Russell said...

My math teacher was the best would not let us leave class til we all did a problem on board

Janine said...

I honestly don't remember any teachers being special. When I was young, I really don't even remember them. And when I was older, I hated school (skipped every chance I got) and no teacher really stood out to me. I guess I was such a bad kid, they just didn't care to try to help me.

Kristy F said...

For starters, Mrs. Wood, my kindergarten teacher. She made me want to be a teacher.

traveler said...

My grade 4 teacher was exceptional and very helpful. When I needed assistance she tutored me in math.

Melanie Backus said...

My first grade teacher, Miss Ford, eased my fears and was always kind. She developed a good foundation for the years of education ahead of me.

Grandma Cootie said...

Mr. Young, 7th & 8th grade English and Literature. I already loved to read, but he was such an innovative teacher, challenging us and opening so many doors.

diannekc said...

My favorite teacher was Miss Deeb. She really made school fun.

diannekc said...

My favorite teacher was Miss Deeb. She really made school fun.

susieqlaw said...

My English teacher made every class fun and enhanced my vocabulary. I was never bored in her class.

Susan Roberts said...

My 7th grade English teacher let me read from the senior high reading list to keep me from being bored.

Rita Wray said...

I grew up in Australia and my 3rd grade teacher in primary school was someone I will never forget. She looked like a young Queen Elizabeth and made learning such fun.

Letty Blanchard said...

My 7th grade science teacher. He was pretty awesome.

Mary Preston said...

My father taught me for the 7 years of primary school. Each time he got a promotion and we moved to a new school he ended up as my teacher. Very cool.

Linda Kish said...

My second grade teacher, Mrs Buchman, is the one I remember most. She taught me to read. Back in the 50s,that was when it was taught. Obviously, it was a most important skill.

bn100 said...

high school teacher was fun

Dianna said...

My 6th grade teacher Mr. Price gave me confidence in myself.

Carol D said...

My first grade teacher. Her name was Miss Camp. I had a very
tough time in school because of my tonsils affecting my hearing.
After I had them removed she helped me catch up with the rest
of the class and took extra care and time with me. It made
a big difference on how I looked at school.