February Grace, (Bru to those who know and love her around these parts), and I decided to do a little book swap, as we both have novels out. She's doing a quick Q & A for my REMEMBERING YOU on her blog (which you can find here if you want to swing by) and I'm doing a review and Q & A for her book GODSPEED.
This is my 5 star review I put up on Amazon.
What does one say when one reads such a profound and amazing book? GODSPEED is like nothing I have ever read before – part Frankenstein, part love story, part memoir – it is all these things and more.
When Abigail is dismissed from the only home she’s ever known and winds up in the street, the kindness of a stranger thrusts her into a strange fantastical world of one whom can only be called a “mad scientist.” Quinn Godspeed, with his brilliant mind and strange devices, saves Abigail from a weak heart. Without him and his “electric” shocks, she would die.
However, as Abigail comes to love him, she finds Quinn Godspeed is not a man so easily loved. He pushes her away for ethical reasons, he’s her physician after all, yet, it seems Abigail means more to him than he lets on. Unfortunately, there is another person who loves Quinn as well, and jealousy cannot be quelled. Not until the end of the book do we see the whole story unfold.
February Grace has done an incredible job of keeping us spellbound within the context of the mythical town of Fairever. Her prose is elaborate, but not purple; each and every sentence captivates and forms pictures in the mind. Pain, despair, hope, and in the end, joy, washes over you as the story draws you in. Part Victorian steampunk, the detail with which Grace writes about the machines is superb. The despair in which she feels her unrequited love for Godspeed made me weep. And the physical pain with which she writes, not only from Abigail’s point of view, but the other children as well, only shows how strong a character can be if modeled from personal experience.
If I could give this book 10 stars, I would. I look forward to reading so much more from February Grace.
And let me tell you what, I wish I had something else from Bru to read right now. I cannot believe how such a "BIG" book, came out of such a tiny woman. I truly could go on ad nauseum about GODSPEED, I really did like it that much. But I won't, I'll only tell you to get yourself a copy and read it. You won't be disappointed.
Here are a couple of quick questions that Bru graciously anwered for me.
1) I've read almost all of the interviews you've done for GODSPEED, and cannot wrap my mind around that you wrote it while in pain and (at times) blind. In processing Abigail's character, did you take from your own personal experiences in the hospital?
My characters always do the talking but there is no denying that my experiences with all those surgeries and medical testing I've had in the past twenty years of my life have played into making Abigail who she is, and lent a certain weight of realism to her voice. At times I didn't even realize it, it was a subconscious thing. After my husband read one scene he said to me, 'I bet you got the inspiration for the descriptions of her pain in that from that nerve conduction testing you had done years ago.' I thought, huh, maybe he's right but I didn't consciously do that. Nerve conduction testing is excruciating by the way- it is like being set on fire from the inside. Even doctors who'd had it themselves went pale with sympathy when I spoke to them of it. I also remembered that my beloved Grandmother, who had a pacemaker the last few years of her life and despised it, told me once without going into detail how painful getting shocked with paddles was when her heart had stopped before they put it in. So I think that Abigail, like all my characters, tell me who they are but they draw from things in my own head and heart that at times I can't even figure out until much later on.
2) Are the children in the book part of this same processing from personal experience?
One of the teenagers in the book was very vaguely inspired by someone I met in real life once, but I won't reveal which one. Aside from a few shared traits they are very different, the real person and the character. Obviously, when I wrote about Marielle's vision loss I had a lot to draw on personally. So the answer to that would be some, to some extent but this is after all fiction and not memoir. I'll write my memoir someday, it's on my 'to-do' list somewhere right after 'die'.
3) There is one character who is a revelation at the end of the book-- where did that come from? I mean I did not see that twist coming.
Neither did I, not at all. In fact, when I realized where the story and the character were going, I actually stood up and then sat back down and had to catch my breath. It was like seeing a real person evolve before your eyes- when you see someone is not who you thought they were and you understand them on so many levels after that. It was a moment of understanding, and there was something that character had to say, and I couldn't stop until the story had been told. I know which character you mean (I don't want to give it away for those who haven't yet read the book) and all I can tell you is that I love that character dearly.
(Don't you just love it when characters 'speak' so clearly?)
4) I know you've had recent publication for your poetry, and now GODSPEED, is there anything else in the works? I for one can't wait to read something new from you.
Thank you, you are very kind. Yes, I've been very fortunate to be published for the first time this year, first in The Rusty Nail literary magazine, then in Vine Leaves Literary Journal and just a few weeks ago in Rose &Thorn, where they were kind enough to also show one of my paintings that accompanied the prose piece. Then as you said GODSPEED, and the future?
Well I'm not working on a new novel right now-- I am actually taking stock of myself, my life, and where my writing is going and I know that at some point I want to do a collection of poetry and perhaps one of short stories. I wrote a screenplay a couple of years ago that I would really love to turn into a novel, too.
Right now there's a lot going on with me health-wise, and I am about to move so I'm not writing as much as I'd like, but hopefully in a while that will be set right. One thing I can tell you is that there is no planned sequel for GODSPEED. I know everything seems to be a series these days, but to me this book stands alone and to write a sequel would take away from the ending. Which means that I get to miss the characters horribly. And I do.
Aren't we an odd sort us writers? Missing people who only exist in our heads? Well, at least until we send them out into the world-- that's the greatest reward, isn't it, when they get to take up a little space in the minds, and hearts, of other people. I couldn't agree more.