Storytellers: The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I’ve been tagged in the Next Big Thing by fellow writer Mary Glickman. Mary is author of novels Home in the Morning and One More River, a 2011 National Jewish Book Award Fiction Finalist.

You can read Mary’ s Next Big Thing post here: to learn more about her work.

I have been invited by Mary to answer questions about my current book and then to tag five other authors about their Next Big Thing.

What is the title of your book and what is it about?


Ravenscraig, is an historical novel that pitches rich against poor as two families from different worlds become inextricably tied together.

Rupert Willows buries his cruel past and schemes his way to wealth and power. Zev Zigman, a devout Jew, mounts a desperate struggle to bring his family out of czarist Russia.

At the center is the feisty Maisie, who hides her Jewish roots to enter the world of “The English” and a better paying future at the opulent mansion, Ravenscraig Hall. Love, anger and determination fuel the treacherous journey ahead.

4366943480_83e8c25e9f_oWhere did the idea come from for the book?

Winnipeg, my home town, has a fantastically interesting history. It was a fur trading post that quickly evolved into a western saloon town and ultimately became one of the fastest growing cities on the continent.  A century ago at the height of the immigration boom, the city was divided with a strong wealthy class clashing against a burgeoning “foreign born” population.  My fascination with the social history of Winnipeg together with my background as a journalist ignited a passion for telling a fictitious story about real events in those interesting times.

What genre does your book fall under?

Ravenscraig is categorized as historical fiction, Jewish fiction and family saga.

Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

What a fun question.  Rupert Willows has been described by some of my readers as “the man you love to hate.”  He is very handsome, powerful and manipulative, and utterly charming.

I have most often heard suggestions of Daniel Craig who does such a great job as Bond, and Jon Hamm who is a favorite

Jon Hamm
Jon Hamm

among those who love the Mad Men series.

Josh Holloway
Josh Holloway

Personally, well, I am rather partial to Josh Holloway.  I was watching Lost while I was writing a significant scene in the book and somehow Josh Holloway’s character, Sawyer, became an influence in Rupert’s allure.  I think it was the southern accent that really got me.  Josh

Holloway is to be directly blamed (or credited) with Rupert’s stay in Atlanta during his youth.

For Chadwick the butler, I see Michael Caine.

As for the women, this is more difficult.

Someone special with the guts and grace would be needed to play Maisie.

The image I had of Beth Willows is Billie Burke, a fantastic actress of years ago.

I welcome suggestions from Ravenscraig readers!  Please voice your opinion in the comments below.

Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?

I am not represented by an agency.  Ravenscraig was published by Heartland Associates in Canada, and by Franklin and Gallagher in the USA.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About 7 years of researching and writing, followed by almost three years of rewrites.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Because this is historical fiction and a family saga,  Ravenscraig is appealing to fans of stories like Downton Abbey, the mini-sieris, and to books like Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, and the Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough.  Younger readers tell me it fits their appeal for books like Anne of Green Gables, by Lucie Maud Montgomery.

Nykola Strumbicky and Aksana (Shmigelsky) Strumbicky, Vita, 1936
Nykola Strumbicky and Aksana (Shmigelsky) Strumbicky, Vita, 1936

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I have a deep appreciation for the stories in my own family history.  My ancestors came to Manitoba to farm in 1896. I am very grateful for the many sacrifice they made and the great hardships they endured so that their children and grandchildren would have a better life.

I became interested in learning about the early days of Winnipeg and a fascination grew that led to creating story based on true events.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Old_Titanic_28If you happen to be a Titanic fanatic, you might enjoy this novel. The story about the Fortune Family in Ravenscraig is based on the true account of this wealthy family traveling on the Titanic. I spent a great deal of time learning about this disastrous shipwreck and continue to read about it.

Links to other authors I recommend:

Here are some of my favorite authors.  Please see their work and find your own next best read!

Sally J. Ling is author of The Cloak, the recently released Shea Baker biblical mystery, which is set in Florida and gives the reader a fast paced and inviting read about a likeable writer, and accidental sleuth. I thoroughly enjoyed The Cloak and look forward to other upcoming adventures in the series.  In the meantime, Sally’s latest book is a non fiction book that will be released this month.  Out of Mind, Out of Sight: A Revealing History of the Florida State Hospital at Chattahoochee and Mental Health Care in Florida.

Sidura Ludwig is the author of the novel Holding My Breath (2007), a wonderful book about The book has been published in Canada (Key Porter Books), the US (Shaye Areheart Books) and the United Kingdom (Tindal Street Press). Sidura was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and has lived in Toronto, Ottawa and Birmingham, UK.

Martin Crosbie is a Canadian Indie author who has created quite a sensation with embracing the Kindle Select Program on Amazon that led to more than a hundred thousand downloads of his first novel, My Temporary Life.  You can read about Martin’s new novel My Name is Hardly, here.  Martin already participated in the Next Best Thing Blog Hop, but because I am a fan of his work I could not possibly leave him off of this list.

And finally, two of the books I enjoyed reading most in 2012 were the first two novels written by Terry Fallis.  The Best Laid Plans, and The High Road.

Terry is a PR professional with a gift for humorous storytelling.  His first two novels are a delightful behind the scenes look at Canada’s Parliament Hill.  Wonderful and highly recommended.  His new novel, Up and Down, is on on my “to read” list.

Happy New Year to all!

4 thoughts on “Storytellers: The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

  1. menisino

    Just saw the photo of Aksana My mother Annie Shmigelsky just passed away @ 95 & was married to Wasyl {Bill} at vita where they owned Bill’s & after a fire The Shady Lawn Restaurant & Motel till 1969. My gedo & Baba where Steve & Dokia { related to the strumbitski /toffan families. We have just done an extensive timeline with photos of my parents . Would like to know more about aksana{ wish I had seen the photo before mom passed. Would have been interesting on what she might have said.

    1. Hi Martin,

      I am so happy you wrote to me. I have other photos to share and would like to learn more about your research as well. There is also a descendent of Rose, the youngest of the children of Petr Strumbicky and Irena Goyman who is doing extensive work on the family tree. Allison Wysocki is in California. I am in Florida. The two families Shmigelsky and Strumbicky were very close and knew each other in the old country. They were from Blishchanka and Zalischiky in Galicia.

      I don’t know much about the relatives of Aksana, but my mom, Mary Krawchenko in Winnipeg (82 and going strong) does. I do remember going to Vita as a child and visiting Bill and Annie. We called them Weico and Weina. I was born in 1956.

      I’m on deadline for a project, but will have more time to search next week.

      Here is a link to my blog that will get you to three posts that I wrote about family history. The chapter called Stalwart peasants in sheepskin coats in my novel Ravenscraig is based on the true story of Aksana and Nikola. skip the first post about the blog hop.

      Thanks so much for contacting me.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s