Saturday, February 1, 2014

"The Angel Connection" Joins the Book Lovers Giveaway Blog Hop

February 2014

Judi Barton is joining Shelf Stacker in celebrating the month of l'amour with a romantic giveaway and blog hop. 

Two winners will be chosen. US/CAN residents can choose from a signed print version or an ebook edition. Winners from all other countries will receive an ebook.

But first... please read a very special blogpost in which Judi describes the events that inspired her to write The Angel Connection.

What Inspired The Angel Connection
Authors are inevitably asked: “What inspired your book?” When I’m queried about The Angel Connection, my standard (and true) reply is that my own disillusionment with love spurred the longing to write the quintessential love story -- one that I could control! I was also enchanted by the historic village and environs that had recently become my new home. Finally, there was a fascination with the Pennsylvania Impressionist movement that had its roots virtually on my cottage doorstep.

But the real story behind the story is much less romantic and much more complicated. It began with fragments of relentless thought patterns triggered by two seemingly unrelated sources: a) a century old gravestone and b) a headline grabbing television news story. Initially I didn’t understand why I was obsessed with both, but I knew something important was brewing.

Shortly after buying a home in the village that’s the setting for The Angel Connection, I was exploring the local cemetery and came upon an obelisk at the highest rise of the graveyard. The carvings read as follows: “ETTIE SHAW… died on February 14 1874… age 22 years 6 months… 21 days. WILLIE… our only baby… died February 11 1874.” Immediately a vision of the tragedy appeared in my mind: the achingly young wife, giving birth to a child that lived barely a day, dying herself three days later, no doubt by hemorrhage, on Valentine’s Day of all days. I saw the bereaved young father whose world had been shattered. My imagination attached itself to the heartbreaking family drama that had played out one hundred and twenty years ago in this remote country village. I couldn’t shake the images. I played them over and over in my head, grieving as I revisited the grave countless times.

At the same time a tragedy was unfolding in the news media that similarly obsessed me. A married woman named Susan Smith was claiming that an African-American man had kidnapped her two little boys. She was all over the TV, granting countless interviews, sobbing and pleading for the return of her babies, her hapless husband by her side. The media was in frenzy, especially when the little boys’ bodies were dredged up from a nearby lake, strapped into their car seats in the back of Susan Smith’s own vehicle. The truth finally came out: she’d drowned them herself to be with her lover -- just drove the unsuspecting little boys into the lake before saving herself. The reporter in me was horrified and mesmerized by the story. How could she do it? Oddly, I found myself wondering how that murder would have played out one hundred years ago? Absent the pressure and unrelenting attention of modern media and the accompanying technology, would she have gotten away with it?  What kind of woman would sacrifice her own child over a love affair? What if she killed her child inadvertently and had to cover it up? How would she hide the body while simultaneously hiding her grief, her culpability?  Who is this woman who embarks on a course that can only lead to disaster?
Can she be a sympathetic character in spite of her deep flaws?

These human dramas, separated by more than one hundred years, were the bizarre, disparate seeds that took root in in the murky mysterious place where story incubates and, if we’re committed and lucky, ultimately blooms. 

And that’s the true story behind the story that manifested as The Angel Connection.


To enter the giveaway, please comment below and either like Judi's Facebook page OR follow her on Twitter

Facebook: /judithannebarton
Twitter: @jabartonbooks

... and please visit the other terrific blogs taking part in this giveaway!