Today we’re thrilled to welcome Lisa Henry to 3 Chicks After Dark as part of her blog tour for the recently released Sweetwater from Riptide Publishing. Thanks for joining us, Lisa!
Hi! I’m Lisa Henry, author of Sweetwater! I’m touring the web talking about my inspiration, my writing process, and giving you a behind-the-scenes look at Sweetwater. And of course there’s a giveaway! You could win a title from my back catalogue, as well as a $20 Riptide gift voucher!
The Music of Sweetwater
Every book I write tends to have its own playlist. And that music becomes a shortcut to getting back into the right mood for writing that story. I sit down at the computer, headphones on, and within the first few bars of a song, the story is back. More importantly, the mood is back.
Usually when I put together a playlist, I choose music that my characters might listen to. Obviously that wasn’t going to work with Sweetwater – although I did look up enough old hymns to know that 1870s music does not agree with me. So instead I filled my playlist with songs that, instead of belonging to the period, evoked something of it for me.
Here are my favourites. You can follow the links to Youtube to hear them.
Lovely Creature, by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.
I love this one for the sheer creepiness. It’s all about the wilderness…and murder.
The Last Day on Earth, by Kate Miller-Heidke
Elijah thinks a few times that it’s last night on earth. This song is probably why.
But the song that fit Sweetwater just perfectly has to be Burying Davy, by The Decemberists. Sweetwater has a melancholy tone, and is the song that put it there. I hope you like it as much as I do.
Thanks for following the tour! To celebrate the release, I’m giving away an ebook from my back catalogue, as well as a $20 Riptide gift voucher. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a way for me to contact you, be it your email, your twitter, or a link to your facebook or goodreads account. Please put your email in the body of the comment, not just in email section of the comment form, because I won’t be able to see it otherwise! On October 8, I’ll draw a winner from all eligible comments! Be sure to follow the whole tour, because the more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win the prize!
Elijah Carter is afflicted. Most of the townsfolk of South Pass City treat him as a simpleton because he’s deaf, but that’s not what shames him the most. Something in Elijah runs contrary to nature and to God. Something that Elijah desperately tries to keep hidden.
Harlan Crane, owner of the Empire saloon, knows Elijah for what he is—and for all the ungodly things he wants. And Crane isn’t the only one. Grady Mullins desires Elijah too, but unlike Crane, he refuses to push or mistreat the young man.
When violence shatters Elijah’s world, he is caught between two very different men and two devastating urges: revenge and despair. In a boomtown teetering on the edge of a bust, Elijah must face what it means to be a man in control of his own destiny, and choose a course that might end his life . . . or truly begin it for the very first time.
Oh my, this book is INTENSE. The descriptive language and delivery simply engage and demand your attention. It’s such an emotional story of love and loss on many different levels. I was unprepared for the emotional onslaught that goes along with this kind of story. At the outset I wasn’t sure what to expect; maybe the heartwarming story of a guy looking to find his way in the changing world of the Old West? What I actually got was so multidimensional I’m not even sure how to classify all the ways it exceeded my expectations.
Lisa Henry does a phenomenal job of depicting life in this 19th century, Wyoming prospecting town. I can imagine the dusty roads, smell the crowded saloons and see the way the landscape stretches on for miles and miles. A large part of flawlessly executing this world is the characters she creates. I could relate to every single character, even the most vile among them. Naturally I didn’t always agree with their wicked ways, but Henry clearly conveys what drives them. They’re all colorful and complex, and she expertly plays on the hopes and fears of many individuals in these dangerous times.
Sweetwater centers around one main character: Elijah Carter. Life in a place like South Pass City takes all kinds – those who hope for more, those afraid to hope for more and those who take what they want to make their “more.” Elijah isn’t like the others. After losing his family to a bout of scarlet fever which he barely survived, he’s raised by the town doctor. This gave him a chance to thrive despite suffering from deafness caused him to be an outcast. The emotional impact of that affliction is evident everywhere: the way he’s treated, his attitude toward life, as well as his self-worth. My heart breaks for the way he views himself and how he considers his suffering to be deserved. So much of his struggle is Elijah trying to just find his place and a way to accept all that he is. He feels unworthy of the love and affection anyone bestows upon him because he is flawed and imperfect.
Perhaps the most amazing part of the story for me is the complete metamorphosis of Elijah. He starts out seemingly a quiet, gentle bred, mild-mannered guy trying to do the best he can. He’s weighed down by the decisions he’s made and circumstances beyond his control. As his personal struggles begin to escalate along with the criminal activity and violence, Elijah has to dig down deep to cope. He finds himself growing and changing until he nearly doesn’t recognize the man he’s become.
While Elijah might be orphaned and deaf, one thing he is definitely not is weak. He’s guarded and doesn’t accept affection easily, and maybe that’s the result of the somewhat rougher persona most men were expected to have back then? I feel it’s likely due to his lower opinion of himself. He finds flaws with himself, deeply rooted in his sexuality; he has some definite kinks and expectations that are hard for him to accept. Grady coming into his life could be the thing to change all of that, because there’s definitely something different about the way they connect.
Grady’s a complicated man, older and wiser than Elijah. When he looks at the world, he sees much more than the naked eye can behold. I think he, too, goes through an evolution of sorts, but he doesn’t have quite as much growing to do. Grady never expected to find the kind of pull that’s tugging him toward Elijah. It’s unprecedented and maybe a little unsettling, but one thing he realizes that I agree on – it feels right. Henry makes it easy to see all the ways Grady and Elijah complete each other even if they’re unable to understand it at first.
I can’t even begin to tell you how bad the book hangover is from this one. In fact, I think I still have it weeks later. There are moments when I’m driving in my car, and without even realizing it I’m thinking about Elijah, Grady, and even Crane. I’m still trying to grasp exactly what happened and come to terms with all that it means. Sometimes I’m pondering the deeper ramifications of what transpires, and sometimes I’m just really thankful it’s the 21 century. I’m just not sure how long I’d have survived in a stagecoach on that treacherous journey west.
About the Author:
Lisa Henry lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.
She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.
She shares her house with too many cats, a dog, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.
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