I am really happy to bring you an interview with best-selling fellow Ylva author, Jae! Her brand-new release, Shaken to the Core, went live on Amazon today. It’s also available from Ylva and Smashwords.
So, on to the good stuff!
Tell us briefly what this story is about?
Shaken to the Core is a lesbian historical romance set during the Great Earthquake and Fires in San Francisco in 1906. One of the main characters, Kate, is the only child of a wealthy family. She’s expected to marry well, but her true passion lies with photography—and with women.
The other main character, Giuliana, comes from a completely different background. She’s an immigrant from Sicily who barely makes ends meet by selling crabs at the harbor.
As you can imagine, Kate’s family isn’t very happy when the two become friends.
But then a devastating earthquake hits San Francisco and everything changes.
What prompted you to write a story set in this turbulent event in history?
For one thing, the turn of the century was a very interesting period in history. It was a time of great change. Many inventions were being made; automobiles and electricity became part of everyday life, and immigration thrived. People had an optimistic outlook on the future.
The Great Earthquake, followed by three days and nights of an inferno, suddenly tilted their world on its axis. Over three-quarters of San Francisco were destroyed; thousands of people lost their lives, and others had to flee from their homes. Wealthy families suddenly had to stand in the breadlines next to working-class people. That’s what prompted me to write Shaken to the Core—finding out what would happen if a rich heiress and a hard-working immigrant are thrown together, having to fight for survival on the streets of their burning city.
Tell us about the research you had to do for this story.
I started doing research for Shaken to the Core about two and a half years before I wrote the first word. I knew I’d have to do extensive research to make the story as realistic as possible. I spent countless hours researching how people lived in 1906. What kind of clothes would they wear? What food would they eat? What did they do for entertainment? What medicine was available? How did the servants live, and what did the houses of the rich look like?
I also spent a lot of time reading everything I could about the Great Earthquake of 1906 and about what dangers people would face in the city afterwards. Each and every adventure Giuliana and Kate live through in Shaken to the Core is based on events that really happened.
Which character in this story was your favorite and why?
That’s a difficult choice. I like both main characters, and I’m also pretty fond of Lucy Hamilton Sharpe, the book’s most important supporting character and one of few female physicians at the turn of the century. If I had to pick, I’d say my favorite might be Kate. She’s so determined not to be just someone’s wife but to achieve her own goals, mainly becoming a photographer for a newspaper. I found that really endearing.
What was the easiest part of writing this novel?
Probably the action-packed scenes once the earthquake happens and fires break out all over the city. It felt almost as if these scenes practically wrote themselves.
What was the most difficult?
I’d have to say the hardest part was getting Giuliana’s dialogue just right. Since she’s Sicilian and has only lived in the US for five years, I didn’t want her to sound like a native speaker, but neither did I want her dialogue be too hard to understand for readers.
I found it amazingly hard to write incorrect English, maybe because I, as a non-native speaker, worked hard to improve my own language skills.
But after a few editing passes, I think I achieved just the right balance. Giuliana now makes all the typical mistakes that many Sicilian people make when they speak English.
How smooth was the editing process for this book?
Pretty smooth, actually. I had a team of ten beta readers work with me on the first drafts of the novel, helping me to revise the plot and deepen characterization. I extended the ending a bit to make it a more satisfying conclusion for readers. So by the time I sent the manuscript off to my editor, the rest of the revisions were pretty painless.
Would you consider revisiting this setting in a future novel?
Actually, I’m already planning a sequel. I want Lucy, the female doctor, to get her own book. By the way, she’s the granddaughter of the Hamiltons from my historical romances Backwards to Oregon and Hidden Truths. Her book will be set a year or two after Shaken to the Core, so readers will get to see how Giuliana and Kate are doing and how San Francisco is faring after the earthquake.
Jae, thank you so much for giving us some insight into your newest book. I hope it’s a huge success, as all of your books have been!
Jae’s web site: http://jae-fiction.com
Jae’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JaeAuthor/
Jae’s e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org