Title: A Sound Among the Trees
Publisher: WaterBrook Multnomah
On a historic Fredericksburg street, Holly Oak stands in quiet elegance. The cannonball wedged between stone and timber is a silent reminder of what the house endured in the Civil War. When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and is transplanted from the arid west to her husband’s home, she’s soon led to believe that the house brings misfortune to the women who live there.
As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn’t believe that Susannah’s ghost haunts the mansion, but that the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past. As Marielle struggles to fit into her new role as wife and stepmother, unsettled by the strange sense of sorrow she feels inside Holly Oak’s walls, she must uncover the truth about Susannah, and reconcile her belief that it is people—not houses—that hang on to the past. History can’t be undone, but truth uncovered can set the women of Holly Oak free.
1. How did this story come to you?
I’m not a fan of war, but I am drawn to any backdrop of human drama where the stakes are high, courage and sacrifice go hand-in-hand, and relationships are refined by fire. You see that in spades with the Civil War. I’ve watched Ken Burns’ The Civil War on PBS several times over the course of my adult life; it moves me every time I see it. The backdrop of the Civil War is a proving ground for sacrificial love in the historical part of this novel. In the contemporary part, it is the hold the house seems to have on the past that is the proving ground for the people who now live in it.
2. Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
I pitched this idea verbally to my editor over the phone. I wanted it feel almost like a ghost story. I knew it wouldn’t actually be about a haunted house, but I very much wanted the characters and the house to be gripped by events in the past that changed them. I am grateful to WaterBrook Multnomah for giving me the green light to pursue this with just the idea and basic premise in hand.
3. Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
First, I’ve never had to deal with any of the tragic life events I put my characters through! Whenever I write about a dysfunctional family I always feel the need to mention that. I have a great family; wonderful parents, a loving soul-mate and kids I am so proud of. I am so incredibly thankful for the people in my life. Secondly, I really do not like mayonnaise. Or black licorice. Thirdly, I am finding that the more I write, the harder it gets. I seriously thought the more you did something the easier it became. Not so with writing novels. I think it’s because I raise the bar each time I start a new book but I start at the same place each time: on blank page with a whole lot of nothing staring back at me.
4. What are you working on now and what's next for you?
I am putting the finishing touches on a book called The Girl in the Glass which will release this time next year. This book is set partially in Southern California and partially in Florence, Italy. My main character heads to Florence for some complicated reasons and while there she becomes friends with a woman who claims she is the last Medici and that she can hear Florence’s amazing statues and paintings talking to her. . .
5. Parting comments?
Thanks so much for having me! I love, love, love spending time talking about books and writing.
6. Where can fans find you on the internet?
You can find me at http://www.susanmeissner.com/ and on Facebook at my Author page, Susan Meissner, and on Twitter at SusanMeissner. I blog at http://www.susanmeissner.blogspot.com/. I also send out a newsletter via email four times a year. You can sign up for it on my website. I love connecting with readers! You are the reason I write.