In war, she fell in love.
Vera Betts shouldn’t be falling in love with the enigmatic doctor she suspects of espionage. Reeling from her family’s betrayal, she’s faked her nursing credentials, invented a new name, and run away to the frontlines of the French battlefield. Four years into the Great War and she knows who she is and what she’s meant for—to save the living and sit vigil by the dying. When the cagey-yet-earnest Dr. Nicholas Wallace arrives, so do mysterious explosions destroying hospitals. Even as Nick raises her suspicions, he lowers her defenses. He wants the war to end. Are his acts of sabotage politically motivated or a desperate attempt at peace?
In peace, she fell apart.
A year later, Vera is back with her oppressive family, living under her real name, and Nick is on trial for murder. Trapped in grief and guilt, she cannot speak about the past and does not believe in the future. With Nick refusing to defend himself, she ventures to London to understand why he is so willing to embrace the hangman’s noose. Who is he trying to protect? What secrets does he plan to carry to his grave? And why does Nick insist upon hiding her true identity? To save the man she loves, Vera must tear open the past and confront the tragic price for peace.
– When and where do you prefer to write?
Before Covid-19, I used to write in a coffee shop next to a train station. When the train comes barrelling down the track, the shop shakes and everyone stops what they’re doing to stare as it rumbles by.
However, now that we are all trying to stay in, I tend to write in my home office. There is no train to add drama to the clacking of my keys. My dog occasionally barks or demands a cuddle. My children occasionally request a meal.
I actually find it harder to write at home. I think there’s something about not being in your home that gets the brain moving. There is people watching to do. There is a different host of scents and sensations to observe. And there’s the time it takes going from your house to a coffee shop that gives you a transition, it’s like a signal to the brain that you are moving from one role of your daily life into another role, that of the writer.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
I cannot write without music. Before I write even the first sentence in a book, I have to have a soundtrack for it. And when I’m facing down a difficult scene or if the words aren’t coming, I find that if I go in search of a song, once I find it, put it on constant repeat for a good 45 minutes, the words will start to flow.
For Blooms of War, two songs that I relied on were Chris Cornell’s version of “Nothing Compares 2 U” and Kate Bush’s “Women’s Work.” The way Cornell sings the lyric “All the flowers that you planted mama/ In the back yard/ All died when you went away” OOOF. It sets me to tears.
And the songs definitely show up in my writing. In the opening chapter of Blooms of War, the heroine takes a moment to look at at her mother’s garden, where all the flowers have died since her mother died.
– Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
Is there a food that doesn’t keep me company??? When I am at the coffee shop, there is coffee, turmeric lattes, the occasional coconut cake (very, very indulgent and only to be wolfed down when celebrating a milestone like writing the ‘dark moment’), carrots (if I’m tense and need the crunch), peppermint tea…
– What is your favourite book?
I have two. The first is Charlotte’s Web. My grandmother read it to me when I was six and I have never been able to eat pork since. My grandmother had a lovely three-martinis-and-a-cigarette voice and no one could imitate her impression of Templeton the Rat (he was such a snarky troublemaker) or sweet Wilbur and wise, world-weary Charlotte. So the book holds a very special place in the center of my heart.
THe second book is Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. It blew my mind. The prose is sheer poetry. The plot is—I cant’ even explain the plot. There’s a cat and a wig factory and a missing wife and a lady in a red trench coat and the art of cooking spaghetti and mobsters. It is mind-bending and I sit in awe of Murakami for putting all of these bizarre elements into one book and making it meaningful and inspiring and a true work of art. Will someone please give that man a Noble Prize? He so deserves it.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I have a few books percolating, but all of them are love stories. I believe in romance. I believe in love. I think it’s a journey that shapes, challenges, and changes us. Plus, with a love story, there is a happy ending (usually—I’m pointing at you, JoJo Moyes). So you can really make your characters suffer, but the reader will still feel safe knowing that no matter how hard the going gets, there is going to be joy at the end.
I’m a research junkie and so I love details. I could spend weeks tracking down books in a library. I love to confront logistical questions and then try to find the answers. For example, in Blooms of War, I wanted to set the hero’s murder trial at the Royal Courts of Justice, but since it’s a Court Martial, I had to know whether that was possible. I wrote to three military professors at universities in Engalnd and each kindly confirmed that I could set the trial anywhere!
For my next book, a Rolls-Royce plays a significant role, so I wrote to several Rolls-Royce clubs to ask them about what the car would look like in 1919 and I got essays worth of description and detail. Which again, is very kind of the people responding to random requests from a writer.
All of which is to say, I jump time periods, but my stories always will involve: a love story and history.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
NO! That would be such a mistake. I need plausible deniability.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
I do not. Should I? I don’t carry a purse. I guess I could write notes down on my phone? No, I tend to absorb by osmosis and later in the day or week or even month, something I’ve observed will come out in my writing.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
Writing is such a hard, vulnerable, experience, I don’t want to say there is a genre not to like. It’s a bit like types of tea. It’s not that I don’t like earl grey, it’s just that I gravitate toward peppermint. So to be fair, I do not gravitate toward science fiction or fantasy. The world building in those genres is a thing to be admired, but it might be too much for my brain, which prefers historical details. In all fairness, it might also be because my older brother is a genius and loves those genres and so I’m intimidated by them! (I hope my older brother is not reading this, he would never let me live the admission down).
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
Emily Dickinson. Her poetry is gorgeous. The depth of her feelings, the sensuality, the way she conveys so much in the twist of a line…I would love to write a book with her.
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
Since my books are set in England, I would like to be able to return to research all the corners and crannies that I write about. In my next book, I have a lot of chase scenes in churches, and I think it would be great fun and also enrich the writing, if I could wander about the old buildings.
I am also planning a series about three English sisters who are exiled to Taiwan at the end of WW2. While Taipei has become a modern city with very few relics, I still hope to travel there to experience the weather, culture, food, museums, and talk to families who fled mainland China to start a new democracy.
Thank you so much for having me at B for Bookreview! I had great fun contemplating lattes, long-distance travel, and the romantic notion of having a notebook and pen.
Thank you, Suzanne Tierney (love the little note 🙂 ) and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Writer of lush, historical happily-ever-after tales, Suzanne Tierney believes in true love. But she takes delicious pleasure in making her characters fight, flutter, and find their way to each other. Her books have won numerous awards and she has twice been a Golden Heart Finalist® with the Romance Writers of America.
Suzanne grew up in Oregon, adulted in the San Francisco Bay Area, and somehow ended up in Florida, where she is very much a cold-water fish learning to navigate humid, salty seas. She loves chatting with readers.
3 Winners each win a Donation of $15 to designated winner’s choice of frontline healthcare worker organization in the name of the designated winner – for example it could be the American Red Cross; etc.
*Terms and Conditions
Worldwide entries welcome
Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.