A Ukrainian rebel. Three generations of women bearing the consequences. A journey that changes everything.When Ivanna opens the door to uniformed officers, her tranquil life is torn to pieces - leaving behind a broken woman who must learn to endure cold, starvation, and the memories of a man who died in the quintessential act of betrayal. Using her thrift, ingenuity, and a bit of luck, she finds a way to survive in Soviet Ukraine, along with her daughter, Yevtsye. But the question remains, will she be strong enough to withstand her daughter’s deceit and the eventual downfall of the nation she has devoted her life to? Or will the memories of her late husband act as a shadow haunting everyone and everything she loves, including Ionna, the granddaughter that never knew him?
In Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, Teri M Brown explores the tenacity of women, showing that even in grueling circumstances, they can, and do, experience all the good things life has to offer - compassion, joy, love, faith, and wonder.
Author interview with Teri ~
Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.
I began my writing career by focusing on small businesses, writing articles, blog posts, and website content. I always wanted to write fiction, but I was too afraid. It didn’t help that I was in an emotionally abusive relationship and no longer believed in myself. Finally, when I got the courage to leave that relationship, I began writing fiction. That was in 2017. I remarried in 2019, and in 2020, we rode a tandem bicycle across the US - 3102 miles - to raise money for Toys for Tots. That ride also healed my heart and helped me to see that I was capable of anything I set my mind to. When we got home, I started querying Sunflowers Beneath the Snow.
What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
I have a long list, so I hope you are ready! I love to read, play word games, walk on the beach collecting shells, bicycle ride, swim, take photos, ballroom dance, play bridge, go bargain shopping, get together with friends and family, hang with the grandkids, cook, and get involved in my community.
Finish this: “I can’t write without…”
Everyday noise. I know that a lot of people need quiet or certain music, but I need life to be going on around me. I work best when I hear conversations, cooking, cleaning, etc in the background. Complete silence makes me crazy!
If I had to spend a week on a deserted island, I would need…
Music - everything from 1940s swing to pop. I would also need a comfy mattress because these old bones no longer sleep on the ground. Finally, I would need electricity or enough battery life to operate my computer - I rarely write using a pen and paper because it takes too long (and I can never decipher my notes later!).
Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?
I still work with small businesses writing content. So, even in my ‘day job,’ I’m a writer!
Where do you get your ideas?
Sunflowers Beneath the Snow came from a tiny sliver of truth told to me by my daughter’s friend. My second novel coming out late 2022 or early 2023 has some basis in my grandfather’s time serving in WWII. I have another partially finished manuscript based on a line from a country song, a completed manuscript based on a conversation with a stranger on the beach, and another from working at a homeless shelter. I also have an idea for two children’s books that came to me while riding across the US and seeing the trains and the natural gas pumps.
Do you have a manuscript(s) in your drawer? If so, will it ever see the light of day?
I have several. They won’t see the light of day as they are, but I may yet revive them. They were my first attempts at writing, so they will need a lot of editing.
How do you market your work?
I had no idea how much marketing I’d need to do to help my book find a voice. I guess I figured that I wrote a good book, and readers would just find it. That is completely untrue! I am doing most of my marketing through outreach including book reviewers and podcasters. I’ve also reached out to local media outlets and am doing some local guest appearances. Then, there’s my website, newsletter, blog, and social media.
What is a bestselling book you’ve been itching to read?
It’s not quite a best-seller, but I want to read The Moonshiner’s Daughter. A friend recommended it to me about a year ago, and then, in October, I had the opportunity to spend the week at a writers-in-residence program with the author, Donna Everhart. She also has a new one out, The Saints of Swallow Hill, which is on my radar as well.
Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?
Sunflowers Beneath the Snow follows three generations of Ukrainian women from Soviet rule through Ukrainian independence and ends right after Russia invaded the Crimean Peninsula. The youngest of the women, Ionna, is based on someone my girls met. She told me a tiny sliver of a story about something that had happened to her, and it was so amazing that I created 80,000 words of fiction so I could tell that ending.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I have three pieces of advice. The first is write. Just do it. You cannot learn to write unless you write. It probably won’t be that great, but it’s okay. No one writes the great American novel on their first attempt! The second thing is to be willing to listen to criticism about your writing. If you can listen to what others think, you can make your writing stronger. The last thing is to remember that not everyone is right when they criticize your work. Your writing will not be for everyone and there isn’t just one way to write. So, listen to the advice of others and give it a try. But if it doesn’t work for you, set it to the side. It’s okay to be true to yourself.
Place you’d like to travel?
I want to go Germany to see where my ancestors were from. I’d also love to tour some Greek islands.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you! Without readers, there would be no reason to have writers. I’m grateful for your support!
To connect with Teri ~
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