Today I'm kicking off the blog tour for THE FORBIDDEN ORCHID by Sharon Biggs Waller!!! I have an interview with Sharon to share with you today! And make sure to enter the awesome giveaway for a finished copy of the book!
Haven't heard of THE FORBIDDEN ORCHID? Check it out!
Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters living in a small English market town in 1861. The girls' father is a plant hunter, usually off adventuring through the jungles of China.
Then disaster strikes: Mr. Buchanan fails to collect an extremely rare and valuable orchid, meaning that he will be thrown into debtors' prison and the girls will be sent to the orphanage or the poorhouse. Elodie's father has one last chance to return to China, find the orchid, and save the family—and this time, thanks to an unforeseen twist of fate, Elodie is going with him. Elodie has never before left her village, but what starts as fear turns to wonder as she adapts to seafaring life aboard the tea clipper The Osprey, and later to the new sights, dangers, and romance of China.
But even if she can find the orchid, how can she find herself now that staid, responsible Elodie has seen how much the world has to offer?
Now on to the interview!
Hi Sharon! First I want to say welcome to Two Chicks on Books! I am so happy that you could stop by for a visit!
Thank you! So happy to be here.
For the readers: can you tell us a little bit about THE FORBIDDEN ORCHID and the characters?
ORCHID is about Elodie Buchanan, the eldest of ten sisters growing up in a tiny village in England in 1862. Their father is a plant hunter who they barely know or see as he’s always off adventuring through China, finding new plants for his employer. When he reneges on his contract to collect a costly orchid due to a terrible accident, Elodie has to take action to help her father return to China to hunt down the flower. She’s stows away on the tea clipper her father travels on with the help of a handsome Russian sailor named Alex. Elodie discovers that the world and her place in it are much bigger than she’d ever imagined. And she has no idea how she’ll ever go back to being the Elodie that everyone depends on.
This is a standalone correct? So what are you working on now?
Yes, a standalone. I’m working on a contemporary YA and an adult historical romance.
Who was your favorite character to write? What about your least favorite?
Aside from Elodie, I loved writing Alex. He’s such a strong yet vulnerable character who is doing the best he can despite his own history. Both he and Elodie have a hard time reaching out to other people for help. His dog, Kukla, is also so cute. I love to write a memorable “meet cute” type of scene with the MC meets her love interest for the first time. And this one was super fun to write. Kukla is sort of based on my dog, Daisy, who appeared on my doorstep two weeks after I wrote Kukla into the story. They look exactly alike and both are food thieves! It’s kind of eerie, really.
Least favorite to write…let’s see. I don’t think I have a least favorite character, although Mr. Howell, the journalist in China, was pretty odious. But I like writing characters like that too.
What is your favorite passage/scene in THE FORBIDDEN ORCHID?
I love the scene where Alex and Elodie are alone for the first time on the ship and have to work out how to be together in a small space for the first time. I wrote that scene early on, actually. Some scenes pop up out of order and I just go ahead and write them. Usually they end up being important turning-point scenes.
I also like the dialogue between Elodie and her sister Violetta. Violetta is really funny with a biting wit and she lends a lot of humor to the story. She keeps Elodie from becoming too serious.
What kind of research did you have to do for the story?
So much research! But I’m a non-fiction writer too and I adore research. It’s like going on an archeological dig for a story. I start out with an idea and then dive in with the research, and the story begins to develop from there. So I researched tea clippers, tea, orchids, china, opium, opium addiction in the Victorian era, the Opium Wars, Manchu custom, foot binding, plant exploration, torture and imprisonment in China, debtor’s prison and the workhouse in England, Victorian clothing, women’s rights in Victorian England and Imperial China. I own shelves of books!
This summer my husband and I returned to England for our son’s wedding and I went to Kew, Darwin’s home, and the tea clipper Cutty Sark. It’s always great to walk in my character’s footsteps. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go to China, but I’d love to someday.
What are you reading right now? Or what do you have on your TBR that you’re dying to read?
My TBR list is huge and I keep adding to it. I have several books on the go at once, both print books and on my Kindle. I’m currently reading Christa Desir’s OTHER BROKEN THINGS, which is downright amazing. And I’m reading ALEXANDER HAMILTON by Alex Chernow, which was the inspiration for the musical HAMILTON (so addicted to that soundtrack). I’m looking forward to INTO THE DIM by Janet B. Taylor, which is marketed as OUTLANDER for teens (my favorite book). I love anything time-travelly, so I have high hopes for that one.
Who is your ultimate Book Boyfriend?
Jamie Fraser from OUTLANDER. Hands down.
What inspired you to write YA?
Teen books were so important to me when I was growing up. I was super-shy and really bookish and I never felt comfortable in my own skin. I had no idea how to be, who I was, or what to do in the world. I found myself in the pages of a book and learned that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. I grew up in the 80s and some of my favorite books were LORI by Gloria Goldreich, Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden, DEENIE and FOREVER by Judy Blume. When I open these books today and re-read the stories I’m whisked back into teen me again.
Lightening Round Questions
Twitter or Facebook?
Oh gosh, um…Twitter? Only because I met my agent on Twitter!
What Hogwarts House would the Sorting Hat place you in?
I thought I was Gryffindor but the Sorting Hat put me in Hufflepuff, which makes more sense to me now that I think about it. Nymphadora Tonks is in that house, and she’s my favorite Harry Potter character. I actually named one of my goats after her!
Favorite TV show?
Series: OUTLANDER, DOWNTON ABBEY and GIRLS
Comedy: THE BIG BANG THEORY
Guilty Pleasure: DANCE MOMS
Sweet or Salty?
Clowns. Terrified of clowns.
Song you can’t get enough of right now?
Everything on the HAMILTON soundtrack
Upcoming Movie you’re most looking forward to?
Nothing that I can think of. I’m not a huge movie fan and so lots of things escape me. I’m probably the only person on earth who hasn’t seen AVATAR, for instance.
Thanks so much Sharon for answering my questions!
Sharon Biggs Waller grew up around artists and developed a passion for Edwardian history and the Pre-Raphaelites when she moved to England in 2000. She did extensive research on the British suffragettes for her novel, A MAD, WICKED FOLLY when she wasn’t working as a riding instructor at the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace and as a freelance magazine writer. She also writes non-fiction books about horses under her maiden name, Sharon Biggs. She is a dressage rider and trainer and lives on a 10-acre sustainable farm in Northwest Indiana with her British husband, Mark. Visit her atwww.sharonbiggswaller.com.
1 winner will receive signed finished copies of THE FORBIDDEN ORCHID, A MAD WICKED FOLLY & swag, US Only.
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