Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Fearful Symmetry by Gailie Ruth Caress – Blog Tour, Author Interview and Giveaway

Book cover: Fearful Symmetry by Gailie Ruth Caress
I’m very happy to be welcoming a new visitor to the blog today. Gailie Ruth Caress has published a book called Fearful Symmetry: A Pride & Prejudice Variaion with Quills and Quartos, and the blog tour for the book visits here today. Let’s take a look at the blurb and then we’ll move on to an interview with the author. There’s also a giveaway to accompany the blog tour. Read on for details!

Book Description 

Darcy had never known such a woman, one who could rush into an inferno and emerge as bold and brilliant as burnished brass, bright as any mirror.

Fitzwilliam Darcy had planned to leave Netherfield Park and all thoughts of the enchanting Miss Elizabeth Bennet behind him—until one night when he saw smoke rising from Longbourn and realised she was imperiled.

Elizabeth Bennet found Mr Darcy arrogant and insufferable right up until he became her hero, pulling her and her sister from the fire that devastated their home, and could have claimed both of their lives. Seeing how he put his own life at risk to pull her from the fire, how could she help but change her opinion of him?

Thrown together again in the refuge offered at Netherfield, Darcy and Elizabeth’s unexpected bond gains strength. But disapproval, debts, and doubts all arise when the costs in time and expense involved in rebuilding Longbourn threaten to widen the gulf in standing between Elizabeth and Darcy in the eyes of society. Amidst these perplexities of destruction and decorum, can love’s courage overcome calamity?

Author Gailie Ruth Caress
Author Interview with Gailie Ruth Caress

Thank you for having me here, Ceri! I feel so honored to be invited to come visit for an author interview.

I’ll do my best to be a good guest and behave myself. **Sits and pours some tea** Let me see if I can tackle these good questions on your list!

1. What inspired your Pride and Prejudice variation?

In 2012 when I began to write Fearful Symmetry, I was still actively processing what felt like the rather abrupt end to my carefree youth. My excellent father had passed away from a long and rough battle with cancer just a few years prior, when I was twenty-one years old—very close to Elizabeth Bennet’s age in Pride & Prejudice. In the weeks and months after his death, I graduated college and entered the workforce during the 2009 US economic recession. It was a rough year to say the least, and I felt like I’d had to hurry up and finish becoming a fully-fledged adult very quickly, and without a lot of support or stability. In Fearful Symmetry, the housefire that guts Longbourn in its early chapters similarly catapults Elizabeth out of her idyllic, sheltered life as a young country miss, and she must rise to new responsibilities and open her eyes to a deeper understanding of the real challenges of the world she inhabits. It’s ultimately a coming-of-age tale for her, and it served as a bit of “narrative therapy” for me!

The title of my novel comes from a line in a poem called “The Tyger,” a work pulled from William Blake’s collection called “Songs of Experience,” which he wrote as a counter-themed collection to his “Songs of Innocence.” Fittingly, the journey Elizabeth takes in my novel not only borrows from some of the fiery imagery from “The Tyger” (hello, housefire!), but it also moves her into a brand-new world of experience, and out of the innocence of her halcyon days at Longbourn.

This was a story I would compose in spurts and then set aside—sometimes for years at a time. But there was something healing for me in the experience of writing this new path for Elizabeth. The worlds and characters of Jane Austen feel “safe” to us since they are known and familiar, and I think that sense of safety helped me to gather courage as a writer to explore some of the more difficult parts of my own life within these fictional confines. Because I know, in Elizabeth’s world, I can count on making my way towards a resolution with a happy ending even when my own might be far more uncertain.

I think this form of narrative “therapy” worked; finishing the manuscript for this novel under pandemic lockdown definitely helped me retain some hope for the days to come!

2. Besides Jane Austen, what other books are your favorites and why?

I should start off by saying I’m a long-time fan of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South. I also survived my angst in middle school reading Jane Eyre; and then in high school, when I wasn’t working my way through The Lord of the Rings, I was diving into postmodern gothic-inspired works like Anne Rice (Interview with the Vampire) and Thomas Harris’s (Silence of the Lambs) novels.

I really loved Gaskell and Brontë’s narrative voices, which convey their leading characters’ keen emotional self-awareness without being cloying. I was fascinated by Tolkien’s world-building. And I was constantly in awe of Rice and Harris’s story craft. Each of their books’ plotlines feel like a rollercoaster! They launch the reader out of their seat with some kind of revelation or action sequence in the very first chapter, then the middle-plot develops a steep and unstable arc of conflict and growth, and finally the whole tale just rolls downhill at a gathering pace towards a breathless ending each time. It’s mesmerizing. Harris in particular knows how to pace his pages, and he never wastes a word.

3. What do you do when you are not reading or writing?

Right now, I am taking care of my two wild little boys, ages five and two, which is my main daily challenge as a mom. You might also find me trying not to fall on my face at Jazzercise class (yes, Jazzercise! I’m a former show-choir kid and musical theatre geek, so I fit right in). Sometimes I sew, bake, help people build websites, and sing. My husband is a pastor in a rural church, so I help organize church events and children’s ministry, gather community resources for folks in the margins, and sometimes lead Bible studies for adults that let me be nerdy in my hermeneutics by pulling in socio-historic and linguistic context for scripture. And that last bit involves me researching, which I also love to do. I’ll be looking to return to the work force in some form or other in 2021, but I’m grateful I could stay home during this terrible pandemic so my whole family could literally survive the virus (since we all had it in November, and it was awful!).

4. Do you have any plans for a second book?

Oh yes, but it’s not a sequel, if that’s what you mean. I’m trying to be secretive about it. I suppose I could tell you that it’s a “crossover” between two of Austen’s works—but I won’t give away which ones! I’m also working on a short story woven out of some side-plot threads I had cut away from Fearful Symmetry. I admit I have a soft spot for gothic tropes, and they’ll appear in this shorter tale featuring a bit of the paranormal. Doesn’t that sound fun?

Thank you so much for having me by to chat today! I really enjoyed this interview!

* * * 

I hope you enjoyed this interview, because I certainly did! 

I think all our experiences shape us but some big experiences are like a milestone in our lives that we can see as life changing when we look back, there is us before the event and a different us afterwards. It's amazing to me that Gailie Ruth has weaved her loss into something as creative and lasting as a book.

I am so glad Gailie Ruth told us about her reading habits, too, because that’s something I always find interesting. I have actually read all the books she mentioned, most of them more than once! Big thanks to Kristi from Quills and Quartos for her input to this post 😊

If you are wondering about the poem, I am sure you will recognise it. Here is the first stanza:

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

I am not a big one for poetry, but I love this one, it’s very dramatic! I know it's written by Englishman William Blake but if I read it aloud I go full on Welsh sounding. I think it's something we learn at school here, if we read poetry we all sound like Dylan Thomas!

Author Bio

Gailie Ruth Caress, author of Fearful Symmetry, never dreamed of writing a debut novel in her own pleasure-reading genre when she was a no-nonsense, 4.0-chasing English major who won prizes for her academic essays at Hanover College in her home state of Indiana. Forced to readily adapt after a pivotal loss in early adulthood, she became a dabbler in many forms of expression and relationship-building—from opera and ballroom dance to nonprofit education and mentoring. And yet, she committed mid-Pandemic to the challenge of completing the manuscript of the story that kept her up at night, driven by a need to borrow from the courageous vulnerability of her favorite Jane Austen couple in a landscape transformed by disaster.

Her everyday life continues to hold unexpected adventures. Her two small boys and a duo of sassy tabby cats run wild on the Illinois prairie around a parsonage, where they keep her busy alongside rural community and ministry work with her pastor-husband. Learn more about Gailie Ruth at gailieruthwrites.com.

Book cover: Fearful Symmetry by Gailie Ruth Caress
Buy Links

Fearful Symmetry is available to buy now in Paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. It’s also available in audio!

Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CA • Add to Goodreads shelf

Giveaway Time 

Quills and Quartos are giving away an ebook of Fearful Symmetry to a commenter on this post. They will choose the winner on 19 March.

If you have any problems adding your comment please contact me and I will add your comment for you :)


Blog Tour Schedule

Visit the other stops on the blog tour to learn more about Fearful Symmetry.

Blog Tour: Fearful Symmetry by Gailie Ruth Caress

* * *

If you don’t want to miss any of my future posts, please subscribe

Subscribe to Babblings of a Bookworm

If you'd like to be friends on Goodreads then please invite me - just say that you visit my blog when it asks why you'd like to be friends with me.

33 comments:

  1. Hi all,
    This sound like a very interesting story,one ably abetted by life experience and all that embodies.
    I look forward to reading how the Bennet clan rebuild their life and how Darcy and Elizabeth rewrite their history with a new and healthy regard for each other.
    Thank you for hosting,Ceri. Hope you and yours are safe and well.
    Stay safe. 🍀
    Mary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for checking out this interview, Mary! I hope you love the story. I absolutely adore the way Elizabeth and Darcy get on in it---a bit like a housefire! (bad pun, I know!)

      Delete
  2. I read and enjoyed this story. Don't include me in the giveaway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see you there, Sheila! Hi! Thank you for popping in to read "stop 2" on my blog tour! I appreciate your support of this story!

      Delete
  3. I have been eagerly awaiting this story's completion for years. Seems as if the author was too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it was a very long labor to get it finally into a complete manuscript! Life, sadly, got quite a bit in the way, as it does. But that just added to the adventure! Thank you for your patience, Ginna! I hope it does not disappoint. I am grateful to readers like you who remember this story back in the 'day' on DWG!

      Delete
  4. Congrats on your new release, Gailie! Thanks for sharing the ways in which your own journey over the years has influenced your writing. Have fun with your boys, Jazzercise (so awesome), community life, and writing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your kind well-wishes, Christina! This story felt important to write after all that upheaval. I hope it is healing for you to read after the dumpsterfire that was 2020! What a year! I am grateful for your readership.

      And yes...those boys sure do keep me busy. ;)

      Delete
  5. Sounds like a fascinating story. Trauma and upheaval have a way of making us really reassess our preconceptions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true, Riana. And I appreciate the way it challenges Elizabeth to really reassess Darcy. Their chemistry as a result really has a shift, and I just love the way they build a relationship from there. I hope you do, too. Thank you for commenting!

      Delete
  6. Enjoyed getting to know the author and her book through the interview. Brave her for tackling Jazzercise. :)
    Sounds like a good story variation and personal journey for Elizabeth. Looking forward to it.

    Please do not enter me, Ceri. Got a copy already.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for coming by just to hear me chat a bit, Sophia! I sure appreciate you reading the story, too. I hope you love it!

      Delete
  7. I have a comment to add from Glynis:

    I’m sorry you all suffered the virus but thankful you all survived! I have read some of the books you mention but now concentrate on stories about Darcy and Elizabeth (with the occasional reread of Georgette Heyer)
    I’m so pleased that Elizabeth’s opinion of Darcy improves early in this story along with her realisation of Wickham’s true character! I get increasingly frustrated when the misunderstandings go on and on. I’m looking forward to reading more about this book. 🥰🥰

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope Glynis can read this, and thank you, Ceri, for transcribing it here for her! You are the sweetest!

      I wanted to be sure to tell Glynis that I'm (mostly) recovered aside from some weird aftereffects of the virus. I hope you're staying safe wherever you are. And I hope you love the book! Thank you for coming by to learn more about me and my first-ever novel!

      Delete
  8. I am very excited for this release as I heard good things about it. Thanks for the giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fingers crossed for you in the giveaway! I've been delighted to see initial response to the story being so enthusiastic. I hope you enjoy it!

      Delete
  9. Carole in Canada9 March 2021 at 21:18

    Excellent interview! I enjoyed learning where your inspiration/life experiences had you writing this variation of P&P. Jane Eyre and Lord of the Rings were my favourites in middle school and high school. I didn't read North and South until a few years ago. It too has become a favourite Congratulations on your debut novel and I look forward to reading it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this little chat, Carole! It sounds like we have a lot in common. I really hope you enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed writing it! Thank you for commenting.

      Delete
  10. As soon as I saw the cover art and read the title, I knew I'd have to find out more about this book. Gailie, you wear so many hats in your life. I am always profoundly impressed when one can top off that list and become an author too. I love the premise of the story and book sounds like a wonderful read. So, congratulations on your book baby's launch into the world and all the very best on its success.

    Thank you Ceri. Stay safe and well.

    Michelle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How kind of you to say, Michelle! I feel like early motherhood is really just one big juggling act! I felt very blessed to have a supportive hubby to help me get the time and space to finish FS this year among all crazy years. It's been rewarding to put the story out there into the world, hopefully to delight and entertain readers like you! Thank you for following my story to the blog today.

      Delete
  11. Looks like another one for my TBR pile!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you love it, Lily! Thank you for coming by to read along today on Ceri's blog!

      Delete
  12. I love learning about how an author comes up with the plot/idea for a story. It’s fascinating. I’m glad that writing this story has been therapeutic for you. Looking forward to reading it. Congrats on the release.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a delight to write. I really hope you like it! Thank you for coming by and commenting today!

      Delete
  13. Thank you again for having me, Ceri! This was a wonderful collaborative writeup--love that you added that snippet from Blake's poem, too! I hope you enjoy many lovely stories this spring!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for hosting Ceri and thank you Ms Ruth for sharing about yourself. I am looking forward to reading this book (and already anticipating your second book - blended Austen stories)

    Thank you for the giveaway

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm excited by your enthusiasm for my story! Thank you for commenting. Fingers crossed for you in the drawing!

      Delete
  15. Loved the interview. Thanks for hosting it, Ceri. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so honored that the legendary Lucy Marin came by to read this interview! You are so kind, Lucy!

      Delete
  16. Thanks for sharing your thoughts while writing the book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And thank *you* for reading about me! I feel honored. I hope you like the story, Nightstitcher (cool screenname).

      Delete
  17. Great interview! Sounds like a book worth reading. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you love it, Cyndy! Thank you for coming by to check it out!

      Delete