Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Alyson Richman is on cloud nine...plus a book giveaway

Alyson Richman Credit Jeanine Boubli
We're thrilled to have Alyson Richman with us to celebrate the publication of her latest novel, The Secret of Clouds. Thanks to Berkley, we have one copy to give away!

Alyson Richman is the #1 international bestselling author of seven novels including The Velvet Hours, The Garden of Letters, and The Lost Wife, which is currently in development for a major motion picture. The Secret of Clouds centers around the transformative bond between a mother and her son, and a teacher and her student. A story that will make readers examine what it means to actually live life with a full heart.

Alyson spent her childhood in both Long Island and Japan, and is the daughter of an abstract artist and an electrical engineer, and graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in art history and Japanese studies. She herself is an accomplished painter, and her novels combine her deep love of art, historical research, and travel.

Alyson's novels have been published in thirty countries and twenty languages. Her books have received critical acclaim in both the United States and abroad, where they, have been bestsellers in, not only the United States, but, also, several countries. She lives on Long Island with her husband and two children, where she is currently at work on her next novel, The Rivers of Grace. (Bio courtesy of Alyson's website.)

Visit Alyson online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Katya, a rising ballerina, and Sasha, a graduate student, are young and in love when an unexpected tragedy befalls their native Kiev. Years later, after the couple has safely emigrated to America the consequences of this incident cause their son, Yuri, to be born with a rare health condition that isolates him from other children. Maggie, a passionate and dedicated teacher agrees to tutor Yuri at his home, even though she is haunted by her own painful childhood memories. As the two forge a deep and soulful connection, Yuri's boundless curiosity and unique wisdom inspires Maggie to make difficult changes in her own life. And she'll never realize just how strong Yuri has made her—until she needs that strength the most.... (Courtesy of Amazon.)

How did you decide to write a contemporary novel after writing historical fiction?
I didn’t set out to write a modern-day story, but sometimes inspiration strikes and you just know in your heart that you need to pursue a particular subject matter.

The Secret of Clouds was initially inspired by a story a dear friend and teacher shared with me, about how every year she assigns her third-grade class to write a letter to their future eighteen-year-old selves, and she holds onto those letters until the week they graduate high school a decade later. One year, she tutored a child who was too sick to attend school, but she still gave him the same writing assignment as the rest of her class, keeping his letter with those of her other students. When it was eventually time for him to graduate, many emotional and poignant memories of those home-tutoring sessions returned to her, and she realized just how deeply this one particular student had transformed her. I was immediately struck by this profound and life-changing connection between a teacher and their students, which can transcend time and distance, and I wanted to explore that more deeply. Although the actual student whom my friend tutored had cancer, I decided to create a different backstory for my character that involved a little-known part of modern-day history, so that my readers who have loved my historical novels still felt they could learn something new while reading this book. I chose to have my student be a child of Ukrainian immigrants with a congenital heart defect that is believed to have resulted from his parents’ exposure to the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986. It was my hope to show how Yuri’s mother, a Soviet-trained ballet dancer, and his father, a scientist, find their lives in America unexpectedly turned upside down by the tragedy in their home country.

Which authors have been your inspiration?
Kristin Hannah and Alice Hoffman are huge inspirations for me, as each of them has written both contemporary and historical novels. I once had the privilege of having coffee with Kristin Hannah, and she told me that having written in the romance, contemporary and historic genres, every time she started a new project, she tries to give each of those differing readerships a little bit of what they all wanted with each book. I think that’s a smart and sensitive way to make sure that you can continue to keep the various segments of your readership interested and looking forward to each new book that you write, and to hopefully also bring in new readers as well.

If you could cast a movie version of The Secret of Clouds, who would play the leading roles?  
Maggie, as a young and enthusiastic teacher, is a very upbeat personality who is still trying to navigate the challenges of her professional and personal life. I can see Jennifer Lawrence or Emma Stone playing her very well. When I was writing Yuri, the 12-year-old boy that Maggie is called into tutor at home, I had the face of Jacob Tremblay in my head. He was so amazing in both Room and Wonder.

What is your go-to movie snack?
I’m definitely someone who prefers sweet to salty, so I’m going to have to say M&M’s would be my snack of choice.

What is the last thing that made you laugh really hard?
My children share a bathroom that is down the hall from their bedrooms. One night, my daughter came downstairs and said, “You’re not going to believe this!” I walked upstairs to find a trail of toilet paper running from the bathroom, down the hall and down two steps, toward my son’s bedroom. He was so tired that he didn’t notice that he had brought the paper all the way into his bed. I found him asleep with the paper still adhered to his foot!

What music is currently playing in your car (or on your iPod, mp3, etc.)?
Teddy Thompson, Adele, and Passenger, and I’ll always be an Ed Sheeran fan. I love that his songs are like short stories, much like Harry Chapin’s, which I’ve adored ever since I was a twelve-years old. His songs play a key role in The Secret of Clouds.

Thanks to Alyson for chatting with us and Berkley 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

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Giveaway ends February 24th at midnight EST.


Tricia Gilbert said...

I am so excited to read this book!

Elena Y. said...

Teacher Helena -5th grade (language teacher) has made a huge difference in my life. I am beyond excited to read this powerful novel!

Janine said...

I really didn't have a teacher that made a difference in my life.

dstoutholcomb said...

Mr. Craig, my senior English teacher, made a huge difference in my life.


Mary C said...

My first grade teacher who took the class to the newly opened branch library where I received my first library card.

diannekc said...

My fifth grade teacher is the one teacher that comes to mind. She always made learning fun and was very patient with us.

Mary Preston said...

I had a geography teacher who brought her love of travel into the classroom.

traveler said...

My teacher who taught the importance of languages and literature was a role model.

jean602 said...

Kindergarten teacher was the best.

Kate Vocke said...

Mrs. Hibbs First Grade. Taught me how to be a good friend and always be honest.

StoreyBookLover said...

Mrs. Calame, my second grade teacher was pretty amazing! She was the first (of many) teachers I respected in school! She related well to the students and always taught us that it was important to accept everyone as a unique individual.

bn100 said...

been a few

Kelly Rodriguez said...

My third grade teacher made a big impact on my life. She was so encouraging to me.

Bonnie K. said...

I've kept in touch with my middle school teacher from the Jackson Hearing Center program in Palo Alto that I attended through eighth grade. My family moved after that, and it was hard for me to adjust without the assistance of a hearing center. I attended regular classes full time and did the best I could. Keeping in touch with Mrs. Kennedy and my friends helped me get through the rest of high school. We wrote to each other until she died a couple of years ago. Many of us with hearing-impairment and deafness really treasured her as she treated us like a regular human being.

Amy C said...

This sounds like a wonderful read!

Amy C said...

Oh, my Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Rindlesbacker helped me to develop a love of reading.