I have published several picture books, MG and YA novels, and one adult novel. I have a McKnight Artist Fellowship in Children's Literature, an Association of Educational Publishers Distinguished Achievement Award, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and was a Minnesota Book Award Finalist in the YA category. I have taught at the Loft and mentor writers in my home.
- Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write this story?
Georgina is visiting her widowed father in England to celebrate is 77th birthday, decades after he fought in WWII. She is astonished when he asks her to accompany him back to Trieste. He has always refused to set foot in Europe again. What changed, and why now?
Captain James Drummond remained in Trieste, Italy after the end of the war as part of the Allied occupation force. On a summer patrol in 1945 in the disputed hills above Trieste, he encountered a group of Yugoslav partisans, bathing. When he glimpsed a woman emerging from the pool, water cascading from her body, a new conflict emerged with no clear lines. One he must navigate alone. The war-weary captain was faced with heart wrenching choices.
And Georgina must confront her own demons – a stale marriage, a secret affair, and her father’s new revelations. Weaving historical facts with fictional characters, The Sting of Love moves seamlessly between Georgina’s tumultuous life, and that of her father, viewed through the lens of their several weeks together in Trieste as they navigate father/daughter relationships, love, marriage, long-held secrets and the notion of guilt.
I chose to write this story in part because my childhood was colored by the war and its aftermath. So many of my school-friends daddies did not come home. As I grew older, I began to wonder how any relationship survived after so many years spent apart. When troops were deployed in WWII they either fought their way to victory, or died in the doing of it. And I more and more wanted to know how it was for both solder and civilian after peace was declared. Certainly, not singing, dancing, and a return to normality. Most of all I felt compelled to dig deeply into a brief comment made by my father. ‘No one understood how hard it was to come home’. After his death this became one of the main themes of the book.
- Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching, outlining, or planning before beginning a book?
I always know my settings in great detail before I begin a story, because they are places and homes where I have lived or spent a good deal of time, during my long life. But in general, I am not a great fan of outlining. I find it too restricting. As the story unfolds, I prefer to let the characters breathe, make mistakes, go where they will. Within reason! Depending on what I am writing, I generally research as I work through the first drafts, be it picture books, novels for children, or novels for adults.
However, for The Sting of Love I felt an urgent desire to spend time in Slovenia and Italy. So in the Spring of 2017 with a second draft of The Sting of Love tucked inside my suitcase, I boarded a plane for a several weeks’ long research trip to Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Trieste, Italy. It was most certainly a magical experience, as if a guardian angel had taken me by the hand and walked me through my story, scene by scene, page by page. Quite literally. I was Georgina, with my adored father at my side, working our way together through his imagined life in 1945-1946.
- Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
Because I was born and raised in England many of my most admired writers are British. Helen Dunmore, Claire Fuller, Hilary Mantel, William Trevor. But I also very much admire Sue Miller, Chris Bohjalian and Anita Shreve to name but a few. I am quite certain they have all influenced my writing in numerous ways.
- When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
When not writing, I enjoy going to the theater. I have been a subscriber to the/Guthrie for 50 years. I love eating brunch at the St. Paul Grill in the St. James Hotel, then walking across the park to an opera at the Ordway. And of course, reading. Reading, reading, reading. Beside a roaring fire, or on a beach, or snuggled up in bed. Anywhere at all!
- Do you have a website or social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) where readers can learn more about your work?
Please check out my website, janetgraber.com for tons of information about me and my work. And updates of appearances and more.