Author Interview & Giveaway - Stephenia H. McGee

Monday, June 19, 2017

About the Book

Her heart sought shelter. Her soul found home.

Ella Whitaker rescues a newborn from the dying arms of a woman of ill repute and at long last she has someone to love. In need of a wet nurse, she arrives at Belmont Plantation just as Federal soldiers demand to speak to the owner. Thinking quickly, Ella masquerades as a Yankee officer's widow in order to have a roof over her head and a home for the child.

Major Westley Remington has dedicated his life to serving his country. The Civil War has divided his family, torn his thoughts of glory, and left him with a wound that may never heal. Westley returns home on medical furlough to settle his father’s estate at Belmont Plantation, only to find his home is being run by a fiery and independent woman—one many believe to be his wife. Now he is faced with a conflict he’s never been trained to fight, and one she has yet to conquer. (from Goodreads)

Welcome to Bookworm Mama, Stephenia! I am so honored to have you visiting with us today! 

Where did your love of STORY come from? 

Stephenia: I have always loved reading, which I started doing at three, and I wrote my first story from a list of first grade spelling words. My mother would drive me to the library once a week where I would fill up a paper grocery sack with books, which I would return the next week for new ones. I am enthralled by the power of story, and love not only to delve into the worlds others have created, but to craft my own as well.

Rachel: Oh I love stories like this! Books and libraries. Two of my favorite things.

When did you KNOW that you wanted to be an author? 

Stephenia: I actually have a degree in Animal and Dairy Science. I intended to go to vet school. But as I would tell my husband about story ideas on long car rides and he saw my passion for it, he encouraged me to go a different direction. This is truly where my heart is. I think I knew for certain that I wanted to be an author at my first writing conference. I loved every second of it, and I honestly cannot see myself doing anything else.

Rachel: That is INCREDIBLE! I LOVE LOVE LOVE that your husband recognized the gift of STORY in you! 😍

Emma Watson as Belle, in Disney's Beauty and the Beast
What literary character is most like you? Why? 

Stephenia: Does Belle from Beauty and the Beast count? I always loved her courage, tenacity, and appreciation for a stellar library!

Rachel: OF COURSE that counts! Belle is one of my FAVORITES (OK OK....she is my TOP favorite). I adored Emma Watson's portrayal of Belle so much!

Can you share some something interesting you learned while researching this book? 

Why Some Civil War Soldiers Glowed in the Dark

Stephenia: Well, during my research for the locations and battles I wanted to use, I got sidetracked by this fascinating article on “The Angel’s Glow”. After the battle at Shiloh, there were soldiers that reported glowing wounds. As you can imagine, this unnerved them quite a bit. Then, strangely enough, the soldiers who had glowing wounds healed far better than those who didn’t, so they dubbed the glowing wounds as being touched by angels. 150+ years later it was discovered that a bioluminescent bacteria happened to have just the right conditions in the soldier’s hypothermic bodies to feed on the infection. It didn’t directly have anything to do with this particular novel, but it really took me by surprise. That is one of my favorite things about writing historical fiction—all the interesting things I find during my research.

Rachel: Oh my word! That is fascinating...and gross...But WOW!!!

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?

Stephenia: Oh, wow, that’s a tough one! I read a wide variety of genres, and I have to say that they all affect me in some way. The cultures Margaret Mitchell captures, the depth and emotions of Charlotte Brontë, and the cultural implications of George Orwell all had an impact on my love of story as a child. Lately, I have been reading Tamara Leigh, Andrea Boeshaar, Brandy Vallance, Steven Lawhead, Jen Turano, and Sarah Ladd. All of them are masterful wordsmiths that can turn a phrase that impresses me. When I read things like that, I let it sink in. I think all of those things impact my own writing.

Rachel: Oooooh! I love it. Brings to mind the phrase that says you become like those who you surround yourself with. Surround yourself with AMAZING authors...and they are BOUND to rub off on you!

What secret talents do you have?

Stephenia: I like to paint. I have several paintings hanging around my house that I’ve worked on over the years.

Rachel: Ah!!! I love! It is important to have a creative outlet OUTSIDE of "work" I think.

What are you reading right now? What made you pick it up? 

Stephenia: I’m currently finishing Andrea Boeshaar’s Too Deep for Words. She was actually a critique partner that read the rough draft of In His Eyes, and she was generous enough to send me an early signed copy. With my busy schedule during the launch of In His Eyes, it has taken me a bit longer than usual to finish, but I am thoroughly enjoying the story.

Rachel: I love the title of this book! I think I would pick it up based on that alone. 

Do you have any unusual writing habits?

Stephenia: I have to work in silence. I know a lot of writers that can work in coffee shops or something, but I have to be nestled in my office or on my screen porch. No music or anything. I get so lost in the story that I live it as in unfolds, and any noise just distracts me.

Rachel: Hey that's not a BAD thing though. I HAVE to have music when I am working. I really like listening to the Neurologic Music to keep me focused.

What writing advice do you have for pre-published authors? 

Stephenia: Learn everything you can about the craft, and don’t be afraid to reach out to authors. A lot of them are willing to help point you in the right direction or offer advice. There were several people in the industry that helped me along the way, and I am very grateful to them. Also try to attend writer’s conferences if you can, and get involved in writer groups. Just be sure that you don’t let too much advice water down your voice. Then, when you are certain your writing is professional quality, diligently look into all the publishing paths available to authors to find what best suits you.

Rachel: So good! And so very important to stay true to who YOU are! There is only ONE of you after all. So why not be unique!

Before we go, can you share with us what is up next for you? 

Stephenia: My readers have been asking me for a couple of years for a new book in my Ironwood Plantation Family Saga, so my fall release will be set in the 1890s with Lydia and Ruth’s (from The Whistle Walk) daughters.

Rachel: Oh YAY!!!! I love LOVE series that carry on with the children. I get so invested and attached to the families that I just don't want to let them go.

Thank you so much for joining us today Stephenia! I just loved chatting with you and getting to learn about your books (and the glowing bacteria). 

About the Author

Winner of the 2012 RONE Best Inspirational Book of the year (2012) and author of six Historical novels, Stephenia H. McGee has a fascination with hoop skirts and ball gowns, Greek revival homes and horse-drawn carriages, quirky Southern sayings, and home-grown recipes. She currently lives in Mississippi with her husband and two boys, (accompanied by their two spoiled dogs and mischievous cat) where she writes stories of faith, redemption, and stories steeped in the South.
Visit her website at and be sure to sign up for the newsletter to get sneak peeks, behind the scenes fun, the occasional recipe, and special offers.



Stephenia is giving ONE lucky reader an eBook copy of In His Eyes! Just enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway ends 6/26/17 at 12:00AM PDT. Open internationally. Void where prohibited by law. Please see Policies and Disclosures for more information.

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