Saturday, March 4, 2017

Sit-Down Saturday with Cerella Sechrist (A Song for Rory)

Welcome to Sit-Down Saturday! Today we’re talking with Cerella Sechrist, author of A Song for Rory, the second book in the Findlay Roads Story series.



In A Song for Rory, both the hero, Sawyer, and the heroine, Rory, are musicians. Are you musically inclined?

A little bit but not as much as I was when I was younger. I took voice and piano growing up, and I won several awards performing songs with my sister. Both my siblings have musical talent, and all three of us have written and performed original songs though not so much in recent years. However, with this kind of background, I was able to tap into how Sawyer and Rory feel about music and performing.

And an interesting bit of trivia about the book - all of the lyrics in the story are either my own or, more often, my sister's. She even wrote a new set of lyrics, which is Rory's song in the story.


What was the hardest scene to write in this book?

I’m tempted to say all of them! This book was bittersweet to write. The heavy themes – early onset Alzheimer’s and the loss of memory and recognition – is a brutal issue. I read all these personal stories about people who have been diagnosed or had loved ones diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and I cried and cried. Alzheimer’s is difficult enough, but when it happens as young as someone’s thirties…I can’t even imagine how much strain that puts on someone and their personal relationships. It’s like my one character in the book says – it’s not just a physical death, if anything, maybe that part is a relief. It’s the slow death of mind and memories, of losing your loved one day by day. But I think the most painful scene, for me, was in the climax of the story. I won’t tell you what happens, but it’s that point where reality just hits Sawyer because he really sees the future that awaits him if he has Early Onset Alzheimer’s. Seeing what his mother is going through strikes him the hardest – knowing that this is is the burden he might be placing on Rory in the future. When I finished that scene, I had to take a moment and just step back and cry – as much for the characters as for all the stories I had read about people who have been impacted by this disease.


What kind of research did you do for the story?

I did my share of medical research on how Early Onset Alzheimer’s is diagnosed – the most common treatments and medications, the symptoms, the genes, etc. That was the knowledge part of the story. But with a story like A Song for Rory, I feel like an integral part of research is the human interest component. A large part – perhaps the most helpful part – of my research was reading the message boards of various Alzheimer’s support groups. These people pour out their stories to raise awareness and encourage each other, and all of that really helped me develop how Sawyer (and his family) would have reacted to their situation.



A Song for Rory is the second book in the Findlay Roads Story series. Do any of the characters from the first book, Harper's Wish, make an appearance?

Absolutely they do! For one thing, Connor and Harper are planning their wedding in this story. Plus, some of the crew from the restaurant is back. There are plenty of familiar “faces” in this second book. But of course, you don’t have to have read Harper’s Wish first to dive into A Song for Rory. Each story stands alone in the series. It’s nice to read them in order, but you don’t have to. 


You talked in last month’s blog about your “casting” choices for the book and how well they fit the cover. Remind us who you’d like to see play Sawyer and Rory in the film version of the book.

I love having visuals of my characters and settings when I write. The two actors that I envisioned as Sawyer and Rory are Chris Hemsworth and Elaine Cassidy. I think the cover comes pretty close to reflecting my actor choices, too!




What do you want readers to take away from A Song for Rory?

That love is worth the risk. It’s great when other people get what you’re trying to say, and I think my editor, Karen Reid, summed it up well a few months ago on Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write blog. She said:

“What I found myself responding to most in this story is the very common emotion of heartbreak that our hero experiences, both when he discovers a family illness and when he realizes his future with our heroine is at true risk. Heartbreaking! Cerella manages to dig deep into her characters—who they are, what makes them tick, what makes them cry—and from there she pulls out the raw emotion and feeling that make up the human condition. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but this is a brilliant read that proves the fight for love—even if you have to get your heart ripped out and trampled on a couple times first—is completely, utterly worth it, 100%. And what more can you ask for?”

Karen gets it, which is why I love working with her!


What else would you like your readers to know?

That there are lots of giveaways going on to celebrate the A Song for Rory release! You have the chance to win the first book in the Findlay Roads series, Harper’s Wish, along with plenty of other goodies. You can check out the giveaways and enter to win at the links below. And make sure you check out the other releases this month from Kate James, LeAnne Bristow, Tara Randel, and our fellow author with Harlequin Love Inspired, Jill Weatherholt. The five of us are offering some great giveaways and features this month!

***

If you’d like to keep in touch with Cerella to learn more about A Song for Rory and find out when each new book releases, you can like Cerella on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, curate with her on Pinterest, or join her on Instagram. You can also subscribe to her author newsletter or email her directly through her website at cerellasechrist.com

Make sure you check out these giveaways - click each picture to be taken to the entry options!

***

Love is Blooming Giveaway

***

bit.ly/hqhwch
 ***

***

About Cerella:

 CERELLA SECHRIST lives in York, Pennsylvania with two precocious pugs, Darcy and Charlotte, named after Jane Austen literary characters. Inspired by her childhood love of stories, she was ten years old when she decided she wanted to become an author. These days, Cerella divides her time between working in the office of her family’s construction business and as a barista to support her reading habit and coffee addiction. She’s been known to post too many pug photos on both Instagram and Pinterest. You can see for yourself by finding her online at www.cerellasechrist.com. A Song for Rory is her fifth release and the second book in the Findlay Roads series.

24 comments:

  1. One thing I know for sure, I'll keep a box of Kleenex nearby while reading A Song for Rory. Having personal experience with Alzheimer's Disease, thank you for bringing attention to this horrible disease, Cerella.
    On a happier note, what an adorable apron!I love it...and I don't even cook.
    Wishing you the best on your release.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. After researching this story, Jill, I really hope A SONG FOR RORY does bring more attention to Alzheimer's. But like you, on a happier note, I think that apron is adorable! I'm going to have a hard time giving it up to the winner! :)

      Delete
  2. I am sniffling just reading ABOUT this story. I can't wait to read it. Off to download...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I admit that I got a little misty-eyed just writing this interview, Liz! Reliving the writing of some of those scenes got to me. I hope you enjoy it! (And that you keep the tissues handy as you read!)

      Delete
  3. Cerella, I was already looking forward to reading A SONG FOR RORY, but it's an absolute must-read now. I love what Karen said about the book. I also think your cover is exceptional. How lucky you are to have the cover models resemble your characters so perfectly! Unfortunately, most people know someone who has been impacted by Alzheimer's. I echo Jill's appreciation for you brining attention to the disease.

    My happy-note ending is to say that I'm somehow not surprised that you are musically inclined. Based on the information you shared, I'd say that if you've written songs, performed them AND won awards, being "a little bit" musically inclined is a huge underestimation.

    Congratulations on the release of A SONG FOR RORY!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kate, you are too kind, as always! One thing I forgot to mention in the interview (I might have to go back and add it quickly!) is that all of the lyrics in the book are either my own or more often, my sister's. She has far more musical ability than I do, and she was gracious enough to let me steal her words (and even wrote the title lyrics - a song for Rory!) I'm loving that we share a release month and can't wait for your interview next Saturday!

      Delete
  4. As you know I'd love to win Harper's Wish but I would also like to read about Rory. My mom is showing signs of alzheimers and it's fairly early stages. I've noticed she doesn't remember a person who she used to always talk about now she doesn't know who it is. She didn't know a coat that was her's and in her closet, other clothing that is her's . It's very hard on me right now. I think Rory's story might help me to understand a bit more about this disease. Every one say's it gets worse and that I do understand. Pam Hamblin

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know we've talked about your mom's situation, Pam, and my heart goes out to you with this. I think you'd enjoy A SONG FOR RORY - now, if we can just get you to win a copy of HARPER'S WISH! :)

      Delete
  5. They really did get it right with the cover Cerella. What a great match to your choices. This subject is such a tough one. My grandmother died two years ago and she had Alzheimer's. It's a cruel disease. Once I watched in sadness as she picked up a picture frame and stared at it, like she was trying to remember who was in it. I burst into tears seeing that. She was in very good physical health, but her mind and short-term memory was fading fast.
    Congratulations on your new release. What a brave endeavor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How heartbreaking, Laurie, I would have cried over that, too. One of the many things I learned while researching the book (which you probably already know, give your personal experience with the disease) is that Alzheimer's itself doesn't cause death but the compromised immune system that results from the disease often creates complications that lead to death. It truly is a difficult battle to right - for everyone involved. I do hope you enjoy the book, though! I tried to bring out the positive along with the negative in the story. Thank you, Laurie, for commenting and sharing your personal experiences!

      Delete
    2. Yes....she actually died of congestive heart failure.
      I know your book will accomplish everything that's intended. ( :

      Delete
    3. You have my condolences on your grandmother, Laurie, and thank you so much for your vote of confidence in the story. <3

      Delete
  6. This story will have you crying in several places, for sadness, for hope, and for joy. Great book Cerella.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Roz! I'm so glad you mentioned sadness, hope, and joy - I hope that's what this story conveys!

      Delete
  7. Cerella, what a tough issue to tackle. Alzheimer's is such a cruel disease. Looking forward to reading this one. It sounds like I'm going to need to have a box of tissues nearby. Congratulations on Book 5!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had to have the tissues handy as I researched and wrote it, Carol, so you might want to keep them nearby! Thanks so much, my friend!

      Delete
  8. This sounds like a great story, Cerella. I'm looking forward to reading it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Cerella, you have to be one brave person to plunge your heart and soul into writing about such a heartbreaking disease. My mother had Dementia for five years before she died, and I didn't think I could live through it. Inch by inch our loved ones are chipped away from us and the loss and pain is monumental. Kudos to you and your editor for going the distance on this one. I can well imagine the sorrow you felt writing it. To put so much heart into a book is what makes you such a fabulous author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Catherine, I can't even imagine what this was like, with your mother. I think this was my biggest concern in writing the story - making sure I convey all the emotions that go with this sort of situation. You are such a sweetheart for saying I'm fabulous. I think you're pretty amazing yourself! Thanks so much for sharing about your mother. My heart goes out to you. <3

      Delete
  10. I'm so impressed with your research. Can't wait to read the book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Beth! I got so caught up in the research. The medical component was interesting to me, but the personal stories both saddened and inspired. I hope you enjoy A SONG FOR RORY!

      Delete
  11. Wow. It looks like a gripping read. Congrats!

    ReplyDelete