Sit-Down Saturday with Cerella Sechrist (The Way Back to Erin)

Welcome to Sit-Down Saturday! Today, I'm featuring my latest release, The Way Back to Erin, the third book in my A Findlay Roads Story series.



This is the third book in the A Findlay Roads Story series. Tell us a little bit about the town of Findlay Roads.

As I mentioned in my last post, the town of Findlay Roads is loosely based on several Chesapeake Bay area towns, including Havre de Grace, MD. Because I’m a history lover, I had to create the town’s early origins, even if they never made it into the story. But I was able to use that information in Harper’s Wish when Rory talks about how Findlay Roads came to be: “…it was founded by an Irishman. Donal Findlay came over before the start of the French and Indian War and brought his entire family with him. They settled this area, and old man Findlay’s descendants have been a rich part of this town’s history, participating in the Revolution, the War of 1812 and even ferrying slaves across the bay so they could escape to Canada and find their freedom.”

If you’re a history buff like me, I’d recommend researching other Chesapeake Bay towns and their history. There are some great stories out there!

Concord Point Lighthouse, Havre de Grace, MD (photo: Cerella Sechrist)


Do you have any actors in mind for any of the characters?

Many authors have someone in mind for the characters in their novels, and I'm no exception. In fact, I have a friend who is currently reading in the book, and she asked me (as she often does when she reads my writing!) who I imagine in the hero and heroine's role. I've always thought Jewel Staite had the strength but wholesome innocence that personifies Erin. And in case you're wondering, my friend agreed!

Burke is a little trickier, and I had a couple people in mind while writing the role, but I think Dan Stevens (any Downton Abbey fans out there?) makes a good choice to reflect Burke's wounded and wary nature but also his kindness and loving heart.

I'm a Pinterest addict, and I have an entire board devoted exclusively to the Findlay Roads series, so if you want more visuals on the cast, the town, and the story, make sure you follow me there!

What was the hardest thing about writing this story?

While each of the stories in the Findlay Roads series has some difficult, true-to-life element at their core, I think this one carried a lingering weight given all the grief both Burke and Erin have experienced in their life. I didn’t expect this book to be quite as challenging, on an emotional level, as the others. The other stories deal with some devastating subject matter such as Early Onset Alzheimer’s, fractured families, and infertility. But I underestimated the power of grief, which is the central conflict for Burke and Erin. As I said in my Reader Letter at the beginning of the book:

“Grief is a tricky thing. It has no timetable. It is not bound by the constraints of a five-step process. It will catch you unawares, lulling you into a false sense of security one hour, only to strike you savagely with the reminders of your loss in the next.”

But I ended with: “Grief will tie you up, cut you deep, and hold you down. But it will not keep you there forever.”

The best, but also the hardest, thing about The Way Back to Erin was bringing both Burke and Erin through the sphere of grief they were stuck in. It was a story with no easy answers because life itself is not easy. They had to work for their happily ever after, just as the rest of us do. But it was also extremely satisfying to wrestle with them and their emotions through the book and then see where they ended up and knowing they deserved to be there. You’ll just have to read the book to see what I mean!

Do you have any interesting trivia from writing the book?

I always find it fun when authors share "behind the scenes" tidbits about their works. One from this story is that Kitt, Erin's son, nearly went through a name change in the series’ first book. One of my editors pointed out that I had a lot of gender-neutral names scattered throughout the cast of the series (Kitt, Rory, Peyton, Jamie, etc. – all of which could be used for either a male or a female.) She requested I change several of these to eliminate any confusion. I very nearly changed Kitt's name until my sister made a request that I keep it because she felt it was a good choice for his character. As I wrote the book, I was glad I did. Kitt seems to fit Erin’s son very well. (In case you're wondering, Peyton became Paige, the oldest sister in the Worth clan, and Jamie became Connor, the hero in Harper’s Wish.)


Do you have a theme song for the story?

While I wouldn't say I have a theme song for The Way Back to Erin, there is one song I listened to many times when I was writing the book. It was Heart Hope by Oh Wonder. The mood of the music just worked for so many scenes in the story. I actually listened to it repeatedly when I wrote the scene mentioned below.

Do you have a favorite scene?

I have several, but the one that probably moved me the most while writing was between Burke and great aunt Lenora, the woman who raised him after his parents died, and he and his brother had been shuffled around from home to home until Lenora took them in. Here’s a snippet:

***

She clasped her hands on the table. “I know you’ve never seen this place as your home. Gavin did. But not you.”

The knot remained lodged in his throat. “I’m not sure I could see any place as home, after my parents died.” He drew a breath. “And I’m sorry, that I wasn’t able to be more like Gavin.”

“More like Gavin?”

“Yeah. That I couldn’t…I don’t know. He just, he had a way…” Burke broke then, the tears for his brother rising unexpectedly. “He was a healer. Gavin had that gift of making the worst situation better because he had faith. I could never be like that. And I’m sorry. I know you loved him better, that everyone loved him better…and he’s the one that’s gone.”

He lowered his head and let the tears flow, so overwhelmed by his grief that he didn’t realize Aunt Lenora had moved from her chair and come to his side until he felt her lay her head on top of his.

“Oh, dear child.” He felt the weight of her small frame, leaning on him. He’d grown accustomed to her not touching him. It had never been her way. But feeling her so close to him now was soothing. “I never loved him better. Just differently. You were the one who captured my heart.”

These words stunned him. He straightened, and so did she.

“Me?”

She gave a short nod. “You and Gavin were so different. He saw the light in the world and tried to preserve it. I think that’s why he joined the army. He wanted to protect what he valued. But you…you see the truth. The only problem is you don’t always know how to live with that truth. Gavin may have made the world brighter, but you, sweet boy, make it matter.”

***

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?

I love celebrating the release of a book with themed giveaways, and The Way Back to Erin is no exception! I’m participating in a group giveaway with my fellow February authors to help four lucky readers “Warm Up this Winter”, but I also have another giveaway going on exclusively for my Author News subscribers. If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, you’re eligible to enter to win the prize package featured below. Make sure you enter soon, though, the sweepstakes ends on Monday! Just click the links to enter either giveaway for a chance to win!

Click here to enter my Author Newsletter giveaway!






Click here to enter the Warm Up this Winter giveaway!


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. 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. The Way Back to Erin, Book #3 in her "A Findlay Roads Story" series, is her fifth Harlequin Heartwarming novel.

Comments

  1. A poignant, emotional scene from “The Way Back to Erin”, Cerella. And I love the title as well as the cover. Congratulations on what will be a wonderful addition to your Findlay Road series!

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    1. Thank you, Janice! As always, the art department did an amazing job on the cover! I'm so spoiled by all the ones in the series! I'm so glad you liked the scene since it's one that's dear to me. :) Have a great weekend!

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  2. Great story, and you're right, Jewel Staite is exactly how I pictured Erin when I was reading. I was so irritated with Mrs. What's-her-name who followed Erin into the kitchen and lectured her. The characters had been through so much, they deserve a happy ending.

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    1. You are too kind, Beth! Isn't Jewel perfect for Erin?? But my heart did break for her being lectured. :( At least it all turned out right in the end. ;)

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    1. lol, thanks, Liz! I liked them all, too - both the ones I had to change and the ones I changed them to! I have a name obsession, I have to admit. I spend waaaaay too much time making sure I choose just the right one.

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  4. Cerella, this sounds like another fantastic story from you that I can hardly wait to read!

    Congrats and best wishes with your latest release.

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    1. Thank you, Kate! Your kind words, as always, are appreciated. :)

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  5. All the best on your new release. I enjoyed the scene and your thought process in terms of names and such. What a setting, too. Congratulations!

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    1. Thanks, Virginia! I appreciate that! The Chesapeake Bay area is such a lovely setting. So much so that Loree Lough set her latest series in the general vicinity as well! Have a great weekend!

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    2. My comment from earlier disappeared.
      Congratulations on your release, Cerella. It sounds like a wonderful story. I grew up going to the Chesapeake Bay area...it's beautiful

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    3. Thank you, Jill! You're right - the Chesapeake Bay area is lovely! As I believe we've discussed before. ;) Thanks for stopping by, my friend!

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  7. As you can see I’m really behind on my emails.

    I loved the excerpt Cerella. So emotional. And that’s interesting about the name changes. Congratulations on the new book! It sounds wonderful. ( :

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    1. Thank you, Laurie! You are always too kind. :) Than you for taking the time to stop by and comment!

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