Monday, January 9, 2012

TBR welcomes Jennie Marsland

TBR: TBR is pleased to welcome its January Featured Author, Jennie Marsland. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Jennie: I’m one of those people who’s been writing since childhood. I fell in love with words at a very early age. I’m fascinated with history, especially the history of ordinary people, and I believe in happy endings. I guess that makes me a romantic.
I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a gem of a small city on Canada’s east coast, with my husband, a cranky elderly cat and two outrageously spoiled Duck Tolling Retrievers.
Some random facts about me – I love sushi, hate heights and have absolutely no sense of direction. I can get lost anywhere.

TBR: Tell us about Shattered and where it's available.
Jennie: I self-published my latest release, Shattered, in September. Shattered is a love story set against the background of a real event, the Halifax Explosion of 1917, one of the greatest disasters of the 20th century. 

Here’s the cover blurb:
Liam Cochrane no longer belongs. He lost his youth and his brother on the battlefields of Europe. Now he’s home in Halifax, Nova Scotia, trying to dull his pain with liquor and the occasional willing woman. He’s become a stranger in the North End neighbourhood where he grew up.
Alice O’Neill has never belonged. Able to read music, but not words, she dreams of teaching piano – and of Liam, who has held her heart for years and never known. But Liam has shadowy ties in England that he’s revealed to no one, and in that fall of 1917, Halifax is on a collision course with fate. On December 6, a horrific accident of war will devastate the city’s North End. What will be left for Liam and Alice when their world is shattered?

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Jennie: I’ll give you Alice and Liam’s first dance – and its aftermath.

He took Alice’s hand and drew her into his arms. Dancing and the heat had brought the blood to her cheeks, and her eyes sparkled like running brook water again. Although she blushed, he sensed no shyness in her body. She fit naturally in his arms, as if she belonged there.
Yeah. She sure isn’t a kid anymore.
Then, like a bolt from the blue an image flashed into Liam’s mind of Alice dancing close, nestled in his arms with her head on his shoulder. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, where did that come from? She’s Georgie’s sister! He loosened his hold on Alice but that didn’t dull his awareness of every slender curve, of her light floral perfume. Worse, he saw in her eyes that she felt the awareness between them, too.   
Before he could make an excuse and abandon her, the band ended the waltz with an extra flourish. The leader bowed to the crowd. “Catch your breath, ladies and gentlemen, while the chair of your Social Committee says a few words. I give you Mrs. Frances Henneberry.”
Everyone returned to their seats, Liam with a sigh of devout thanks. He angled his chair to put Stephen and Alice out of his line of sight. As far as I’m concerned, friend, she’s all yours. Good luck keeping her. Thin, sharp-faced Mrs. Henneberry stepped onto the platform with a self-conscious smile and cleared her throat.
            “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s wonderful to see you all here, supporting our parish’s efforts to ease the suffering of helpless civilians overseas. There is more than one person here tonight who could tell us first-hand just how severe those sufferings have been and what our sons and brothers have sacrificed in the effort to end them. The least we here at home can do is––”
            “Shut up. That’s the least you can do.”
            The words carried clearly from the corner nearest the O’Neills’ table. Every head swiveled. Georgie blushed deep red. Alice’s face blanched pearl-white. In the shadows just beyond the lighted platform, Carl leaned against the wall, his face flushed with heat and liquor. No one at the table had noticed him come in.
            An older, heavier Carl than Liam remembered, with a harder face. The tough kid had grown into a tough man, with an added belligerence. One look at his glazed eyes told Liam Georgie’s brother was a loose cannon.
            He and Stephen got up at the same instant and started toward the corner. Stephen got there first and planted himself in front of Carl.
            “You’ve said enough. Your sisters are here.”
            “I’m not leaving ’til I make my point.” Carl pushed Stephen back and raised his voice again. “That old windbag hasn’t got anyone at the front. She doesn’t have a clue.”
            The scathing words on Liam’s tongue died there. Up close, Carl reminded him too much of men he’d seen in hospital, men who woke in the night screaming as he’d done more than once. Men who spent their days looking at the world through vacant eyes. And Mrs. Henneberry annoyed the hell out of him, too.
            “You’re right, Carl. She doesn’t. This isn’t the place for either of us. Come outside and get some fresh air.”
            Fists clenched, Carl took a step forward. “Don’t bullshit me, Liam. I’m not going anywhere until I’m good and ready. Who do you think you are, anyway? Your little brother isn’t the only one who’s been killed overseas, you know. Just––”
Liam didn’t hear the rest of the sentence. Rage blotted out his compassion, rage and the memory of Michael-John’s wide, sightless dark eyes. His first punch landed hard in Carl’s belly. The second hit his jaw, knocking him backward and throwing Liam off-balance. They hit the floor, fists flying. The next thing he knew, Nolan was dragging him to his feet while his father and Stephen pinioned Carl. Liam shook his brother off and dove at Carl, only to have his bad leg collapse and land him back on the floor. Nolan helped him up again and got a firm grip on his arms.
“What the hell? Liam, stop it!”
The girls stood nearby now. Georgie’s eyes sparkled with anger, but the strain on Alice’s face did more to clear the haze from Liam’s mind. He stopped struggling with Nolan, took a deep breath and swallowed. The metallic taste of blood in his mouth made his stomach churn.
“The son of a bitch made a crack about Michael-John.”
Nolan released his hold and took a step toward Carl, putting himself in the man’s face. “If I ever hear of you mentioning my brother’s name again, I’ll finish what Liam started. Dad, Stephen, get him the hell out of here.”
Still winded from Liam’s first blow, blood trickling from his nose, Carl didn’t offer much resistance. Liam figured he’d gotten the worst of the encounter himself, a split lip and what would likely be a magnificent shiner. A couple of older women were on the platform trying to soothe Mrs. Henneberry, who looked on the verge of tears. He should go and say something to her, but at the moment he couldn’t find the words. He shrugged Nolan’s hand from his shoulder.
“I’m leaving. Apologize to Georgie for me, will you?” Without waiting for an answer, Liam walked out.

TBR: What inspired you to write about the theme?
Jennie: Well, the Explosion was a huge event in Halifax’s history.  Two thousand people died and the face of the city was changed forever. I worked for ten years in one of the few buildings to survive, a block away from Ground Zero. That part of town has a unique energy. A few years ago, a friend of mine who lives in the area told me she came home from work one day, looked in her kitchen window and glimpsed a man in old-fashioned clothes sitting at her table. He vanished. Her “visitor” was my inspiration for Liam Cochrane.

TBR: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Jennie: Pantser all the way. I’ve tried to plot but my characters won’t let me.

TBR: How do you develop your characters?
Jennie: By writing about them. Sometimes I write pages about my characters in order to get to know them, pages that never end up in the story.

TBR: Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
Jennie: I love this one by Mark Twain: It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.

TBR: Did any music inspire your book? Do you have a playlist?
Jennie: I love music, but I don’t use it when I write. I find it distracting.

TBR: What's next for you?
Jennie: I’m working on a companion book to Shattered, called Deliverance. It features Alice’s brother Carl, who, as the excerpt shows, is even more in need of healing than Liam.  I’m enjoying turning Carl into a hero.

TBR: Any other published works?
Jennie: Yes. My first novel, McShannon’s Chance, was put out by Bluewood Publishing in 2009, and the prequel, McShannon’s Heart, was released by Bluewood last winter. Chance takes place in Colorado Territory after the Civil War, and Heart takes place in the Yorkshire Dales in England during the war. The hero of Chance, Trey McShannon, is the twin brother of Rochelle, heroine of Heart.

TBR: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Jennie: For me, the middle of a book is the most challenging part of writing. I start off fast, then slow down as the plot gets more complicated. As for the most rewarding thing, without a doubt it’s hearing from readers who’ve been touched by my stories.

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
Jennie:  I have a brand new website at and I’d love to meet readers there.

TBR: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Jennie: Yes. How important to you is the hero’s POV in a romance? To me, it’s very important.

TBR: Readers, Jennie is giving away an ebook of Shattered to one lucky commenter. She'll pick a winner next week and announce the winner here.
Thanks for visiting TBR, Jennie! Best of luck to you.

Jennie's also our January Featured Author - visit here for more about her


  1. Hi Jennie! Great question. I'd love to hear those responses too. :)

  2. Hi Jennie! Enjoyed this interview - always something new to learn about a frequent lunch partner.

    As for hero's POV - I personally like hearing from both the male and female perspectives. That's my favorite to read and write, both.

  3. Congrats, Jennie on a great novel and a wonderfully heated except.

    To answer your question, it's very important to be in either the hero's or the heroine's POV. It pulls me in faster, hooks me quicker. Something about being so close to the energy is intoxicating.

  4. Hi Jennie, Love the excerpt you shared and your cover is beautiful! Your book sounds really good and my tbr list is growing out of control, but I have to add this one.

    As for your question, I love the hero's POV...I enjoy a nice split between the hero and heroine's time on the page, but I think getting into the hero's head really adds to the story.

    Congrats on your book :)

  5. Hi Julia - no matter how many times we lunch, there's always something new to learn, lol! Like never to ask me for directions. Never.

    Angela,I agree that being in a main character's POV is vital. I like to use both 'his' and 'hers', with maybe a little more of the hero's POV than you often see in romances.

    Christine, I love my cover too. Kim Killion at Hot Damn Designs did a wonderful job. In Shattered I spent a lot of time in Liam's POV. I love a flawed, tortured hero.

    Thanks for droppy by, everyone!

  6. HI Jennie, wonderful interview and awesome book. Best wishes for much success. The Mark Twain quote is one of my favorites and I don't listen to music either when I write. So good to get to know you better!

  7. Congrats on the release of your book! It sounds most intriguing! Loved your quote!

  8. Hello everyone, I'm sorry it took me so long to get back here to announce the winner of a copy of Shattered! The fact is, I've been immersed in a new day job and it simply slipped my mind. The winner is TANYA HANSON! I'll contact Tanya and get the copy off to her ASAP


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