Monday, 12 December 2011
Author Spotlight - Q&A with Sadie & Sophie Cuffe
STEPH: I don't know much about "Faith in the Shadows." What's it about?
SOPHIE & SADIE: Set in the period right after the American Civil War, the story is about Alice, an independent woman of faith, and Hawk, a man who feels he lost not only his vision but his self-respect on the battlefield. The world around them is changed, and their lives are changing, too. Alice's brother will soon marry, and she feels the pressure to move out of the family home. Hawk feels the stress of providing for himself and not being a burden on anyone.
In 1866 society circles, the purple splotched birthmark on her cheek brands Alice a spinster. When a gentleman courts her, she jumps into a loveless engagement to Joshua, a braggart in desperate need of cash.
His groom, Hawk, knows Joshua's dirty secrets, but as a blind war veteran he has few choices. His employer's threats make it clear he'll be on the street if he breathes a word of the truth to Alice.
But when Joshua bullies Alice at their engagement party, Hawk steps out of the dark and becomes her champion. Torn between honor and need, Hawk comes to work for the Wainwright family. Alice and Hawk share the same vulnerability and pride. When friendship quickly turns to love, each is blinded by a dark secret. Joshua's interference plays on their insecurities and threatens their future together. Can they face the truth about themselves and each other before they're torn apart?
STEPH: How long did it take you to write?
SOPHIE & SADIE: Probably about three months. FITS was written in-between our real life of family, farming, freelance jobs, and work, so it wasn't completed all at once. It's also been sitting in the shadows for awhile and has undergone several changes over the years, which amounts to another three months of tweaking.
STEPH: What was the inspiration behind the story?
SOPHIE & SADIE: Sadie loves the Civil War and post-war era and has always wanted to write about it, and Sophie finally agreed. Originally, we wanted the story to be of a Yankee girl caught in a spy scenario. Alice didn't turn out to be a spy, and wasn't involved in the war, her life and passions are more like we imagine we would've been in that time period. Since FITS is the centerpiece in the trilogy, the spy story will be coming up next in the tale of Alice's brother and Hawk's sister. (The Seekers- release date 7/11/12)
STEPH: Alice is the main character. What are her strengths? Weaknesses?
SOPHIE & SADIE: She's intelligent and kind, has a quick wit and a good sense of humor. She possesses undying family loyalty and isn't afraid to try her hand at any kind of work or dare. Her weaknesses spring from her strengths. Alice is so independent she won't accept others' help or advice. Her stubborn streak causes her to doubt her strengths and question the love of her family and friends. She sets impossibly high standards for herself. Alice believes beauty is only skin deep for the entire human race, with the exception of one person -- herself.
STEPH: What does Hawk find attractive about Alice.
SOPHIE & SADIE: He loves her honesty, her sense of humor, her warmth, generosity, kindness, her courage, and friendship.
STEPH: What do you want readers to take home after reading the novel?
SOPHIE & SADIE: FITS and the Wainwright trilogy carry a theme of being deceived by appearances. This novel, in particular, shows us how often we project what we feel and think on others. We'd like the reader to come away from FITS with a realization of the dangers of trying to read other's minds, and a determination to be all God designed them to be, embrace the gifts He gave them, and not spend their lives keeping a low profile and living in the shadows.
STEPH: Hollywood is calling. Cast the lead characters.
SOPHIE & SADIE: As you can probably tell, we're way past our twenties and thirties and…so we aren't that in tune with the latest move stars. Our casting would be a blast from the past with Stephanie Zimbalist as our heroine and John Schneider as our hero.
STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one.
SOPHIE & SADIE: No, not yet, but maybe someday.
STEPH: What's your writing space like?
SADIE: At this time of year, it's more of a mess than usual, if that's possible. I have snippets of dialog and notes everywhere. My favorite Thesaurus is buried under a bunch of research booklets, but I can still see my favorite photo of my grandparents for inspiration. On my desk, I have a couple of heart rocks from the nearby beach, a wooden acorn to remind me "Even a blind pig (and a struggling writer) finds an acorn one day," and an old Babba Louie figurine from my childhood so I won't forget my roots. I also have a leather giraffe and a fake miniature Jack-a-lope sitting on my tower that help hold up a piece of poster board as a makeshift shield because the sun is at such a low angle right now it hits me in the eyes in the afternoon.
SOPHIE: I'm ashamed of my side of the office. The stack of papers on my desk was so high I moved it to the kitchen table to weed it out. It's still there, with even more on top, and I've got another pile on my desk that's steadily growing. grrrr. But the wall behind my monitor is plastered with photos, one of me and big brother beside the old family Nash when I was 5 (I still have the same bangs!). My favorite photo, though, is my daughter with her sleeping baby in the fleece baby sling I made for them. Kiwi looks like a little pea in a blue pod.
STEPH: Fun question: What are your favorite Christmas foods that you like to bake.
SOPHIE & SADIE: Christmas bread – our Aunt Mert used to make it for the entire family every year and we hope we do her justice in trying to carry on the tradition. This doesn't exactly qualify as baking, but our Aunt Shirley used to make her own hand-dipped candies and fudge, and Sophie's inherited the ability to make that same great fudge. We also love to make Chex party mix, our own beef jerky, and caramel popcorn balls. That's why we'll always be BMWs (Big Maine Women) and proud of it! For a copy of the Christmas Bread recipe, visit our website at www.cuffesisters.com under Cuffe Stuff.