Jennie Marsland, Author of “Shattered”

Welcome, Jennie. What is your book about?

Shattered is the story of a returned World War 1 soldier who finds love and healing with a young woman who’s struggling to make a place for herself in her family and in her world, in spite of dyslexia. It’s a story of triumph over adversity, set in Halifax, Nova Scotia, against the background of the Halifax Explosion of 1917, which is still the largest non-nuclear, non-natural explosion in history. It occurred on December 6, when two ships, one of which was loaded with explosives, collided in Halifax Harbour. Half the city was devastated.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

Well, the Halifax Explosion was a major event in the city’s history, and I worked for ten years in the part of town that was most affected. During that time, a friend of mind told me about an unsettling experience. She came home from work one day, glanced in her kitchen window and saw a man dressed in old-fashioned clothes, sitting at her table. While she was looking at him, he vanished. The Explosion killed over 2000 people, so it’s not surprising that supernatural stories from that time abound, but my friend’s experience got my imagination spinning.

Tell us a little about your main characters.

Liam Cochrane, the hero, is trying to overcome the trauma of his experience in the trenches of World War 1. He’s coping with a physical wound and with the loss of his younger brother. He survives from day to day by keeping to the surface of life, because going deeper is too painful. Liam’s a quick-tempered tough guy, but he’s really hiding a soft heart. Alice O’Neill has always seen the gentleness beneath Liam’s tough exterior and she’s loved him for it for years, but her family has labeled her as slow because she can’t read, and she doesn’t believe Liam could ever care for her. I like both of them because of their inner strength in the face of adversity, and Liam’s I’ll-fight-you-in-an-alley-and-drink-with-you-afterward attitude makes me smile.

How does your environment/upbringing colour your writing?

My family roots are here in Nova Scotia, and I’ve always enjoyed hearing my parents and grandparents talk about what life was like when they were young. I’ve lived in Halifax for the last thirty years, and stories of the Explosion are woven into the fabric of the city’s culture. There’s endless material here for a history buff like me.

Also, I find the First World War era fascinating. There was so much change happening so quickly – cars replacing horses, people having electricity and telephones installed in their homes, women reaching for political power and sexual freedom. People felt as if their world was turning upside down. I tried to capture this feeling of restlessness and change in the story.

Have you ever had difficulty killing off a character?

The hardest part of writing Shattered was deciding who among my cast of characters was going to die. There was no way I could keep the story realistic if I let them all survive. The hero and heroine live and have a happy ending, of course, but I had to sacrifice some other characters that I loved. It’s the first time I’ve done that.

What do you like to read?

I grew up reading my father’s Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour collection, and I still enjoy Westerns. I enjoy historical romance by authors like Julianne Maclean, Anna Campbell and Pamela Clare, as well as everything by Jane Austen and the Brontes. I’m an avid reader who doesn’t really stick to one genre. One author I’ve loved since childhood is a fellow Maritimer, Lucy Maud Montgomery.

What, in your opinion, are the essentials of a good story?

Character and conflict. My writing is character-driven. The plot grows out of the personalities and flaws of the characters. A good story has a balance of action and character development.

What was the first story you remember writing?

I’m one of those people who started writing as a child. By the time I was ten or eleven, I had a binder full of stories, mostly about horses. I’ve written more or less all my life, with some long breaks here and there.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Not really. I usually settle on the living room sofa with my laptop and one or both of my dogs, and just dig in.

Have you written any other books?

Yes. My first novel, a historical Western entitled McShannon’s Chance, and the prequel, McShannon’s Heart, are both available as ebooks and in print from most online booksellers. The hero of Chance, Trey McShannon, is the twin brother of Rochelle McShannon, the heroine of Heart. Trey’s story takes place in post-Civil War Colorado Territory and Chelle’s takes place in the Yorkshire Dales in England. The McShannons are originally from Morgan County, Georgia, but the family is separated at the outbreak of the Civil War, Trey to join the Union army and Chelle to go with her father to his old home in England.

What advice would you give an aspiring author?

If you love to write, never give up. Keep writing, keep honing your craft, write stories from your heart and it will pay off.

Buy Link for Shattered:

6 Responses to “Jennie Marsland, Author of “Shattered””

  1. Annette Gallant Says:

    I really enjoyed reading this interview, Jennie and Pat. I’m looking forward to reading Shattered, especially as it takes place during one of my favourite time periods in historical fiction. I also love character driven stories, and can’t wait to read Liam and Alice’s.

  2. Deanna Jewel Says:

    Hi Jennie!! Your new book sounds like a wonderful story. I love when historic happenings are included in novels. It brings a little piece of reality to life. Congrats and good luck. May your sales skyrocket and you enjoy every minute of it! Hugs!

  3. Sheila Deeth Says:

    I really like the sound of your book from reading this. Thanks.

  4. Jennie Marsland Says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Sheila!

  5. Jennie Marsland Says:

    Thanks, Deanna and Annette, for the kind words!

  6. Neil B. McShannon Says:

    Looking forward to reading the “McShannon” books as soon as I can aquire them (and probably “shattered” )

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