February Grace is an author, poet, and artist from Southeast Michigan. In previous novels, she has introduced readers to characters with clockwork hearts, told of romantic modern-day fairy godparents, and reimagined a legend, centuries old. Now, in her fifth novel with Booktrope, readers will board the special at WISHING CROSS STATION and embark on a trip through time. She is more than mildly obsessed with clocks, music, colors, meteor showers, and steam engines.
AM: I love the title of your new book that became available to readers this month: Wishing Cross Station. It sounds like the famed London train stop, Charing Cross. Would you like to tell us how the title came to you and how it ties into the story?
FG: Thank you, that is very kind of you. As to how the title came to me, I can’t really say, truly. It was just there when I imagined a name for a fictional, fantastical sounding train station, which is certainly what Wishing Cross Station is in the book. I liked the idea of wishes being tied to it; it added to making it sound like somewhere not entirely of this world/time/reality.
AM: You’ve described the book as a “dark fantasy romance.” For readers who may not follow this type of fiction, could you explain what determines those three elements?
FG: I can’t really say that I feel qualified to give the definitive explanation of the genre. Without giving everything away, all I can say is that description is used in this case because I wasn’t sure how else to convey to my readers that this book, while still written in my style and in the genre of fantasy, is darker overall than my previous books.
I consider this book to be for an adult audience (though the ‘rating’ would still fall in the PG-13 range if anything in my view) whereas my earlier books are often classified as YA because my audience, while it covers a large range demographically, often starts with early teen readers.
That is not the audience I have in mind for this book, though honestly, if I’m lucky, they may still read and enjoy it. That’s not for me to say, it’s for them to decide if it’s a book for them or not. I just wanted to speak to the fact it is darker than what I’ve previously published.
So at the end of all that, I apologize I can’t explain the term completely. I can only explain why I used it, if that makes sense, which I hope it does.
AM: What draws you to the fantasy realm?
FG: I love telling stories not bound by the realities of everyday life in this world. I like bending timelines and ways of existing and even the people who seem to live as normally among us as you and I (in the case of my books about modern-day fairy godparents.)
I love the freedom it affords you to share what’s in your heart with fewer limits than writing standard contemporary fiction. I also love fantasy readers; who seem to have a great capacity for love and imagination. Writing for them is a pleasure, and it means so much to me when someone says one of my stories has touched their heart. That is the greatest reward any writer could ever ask for, in my view.
AM: What do you say to those who may consider fantasy a form of escapism, disengaged from important social questions?
FG: I couldn’t disagree more. I think the same people likely believe that writing for children is easy and that those who read romance novels should be reading something else. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, has an opinion on all forms of entertainment, reading included. You can’t please all the people all the time.
Fairy tales and fables have always, and fantasy stories often, carry heavy and/or important, deep messages if you pay attention to what they really say and what is between the lines as well.
In my case, the underlying message of all my books ends up being love: the importance of love; showing love in the service of others, sacrificing for love, fighting for love, the value of love, and so on. For me love in its varying forms is all there is that truly matters in life: whether romantic love or friendship or family or for your fellow beings.
Love matters, and people matter, and so telling that in my stories in one way or another is a huge reason why I write fantasy.
AM: Issues of genre are hotly debated in regards to contemporary fiction. Due to confusion (and maybe a bit of ill will), I hear many writers these days wishing such categories could be tossed out altogether. Where do you come down? Don’t readers expect some continuity: some basis for choosing a similar book to those they’ve enjoyed before?
FG: I’ll admit sometimes it’s difficult to pin a book down. With Wishing Cross Station it could be sci-fi but it leans more toward fantasy because of the way that the tale is constructed. It could just be a romance novel (as romance is at the heart of it) but it’s also a tale about time travel, and the consequences of actions of time travelers, willing or unwilling, that cause ripples far beyond their stay in a particular time.
I think that broad categories are necessary, but sometimes by drilling them down as much as most sites do now I think some readers could be missing out on books they’d really enjoy if they only gave them a chance.
AM: Is fantasy your exclusive genre, or have you published other types of books as well?
FG: I consider my first novel Godspeed to be a literary romance with Steampunk embellishments, not fantasy.
I have also been published as a poet, short story writer, visual artist, and non-fiction essayist, so I write and create many things.
I even wrote a contemporary romance novella that is available to read exclusively on Wattpad called Fireworks Flowers. So I enjoy writing more than just fantasy.
I wrote sci-fi exclusively for years in a collaborative setting, but romance always crept into what I was doing *laugh*. In my heart I’m in love with love, that’s all I can say.
AM: What is/are your main literary project(s) at this time?
FG: Right now my immediate plan is to focus for a while on getting the word out about the five novels I’ve already published with Booktrope in the past two years. I have been writing some poetry, and I blog a lot (nonfiction essays mostly about the life I live as a writer and a human being.) I would love to publish a book of flash fiction pieces and poetry one day. I also have a screenplay sitting around that I would love to turn into a novel. So time will tell…
AM: And, finally, I know you like to chat with authors on non-writing topics. So on a lovely summer day, what might we find you doing outside of your writing time?
FG: I love gardens but have no talent for gardening: so you might find me visiting a place with lots of flowers, or the historical theme park about an hour away from here which was a huge inspiration behind Wishing Cross Station.
I also like to take a day trip up to a town we have here in Michigan called Frankenmuth: it’s referred to as “Little Bavaria” and they have amazing food and little shops you could wander around forever.
I love art and craft fairs, so I visit those as often as I can.
Last summer I was lucky enough to see an exhibit of art from the Tuileries in Paris; that was the day I also saw my first Monet and Van Gogh paintings in person and I actually wept. So I’d like to visit more museums, and look at pretty, wonderful things.
AM: Thanks very much, February Grace, for being with us on the blog today. Best of luck with Wishing Cross Station, not that you’ll need it!
FB: Thank you.
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