Author Interview (and Giveaway!): J’Nell Ciesielski & Among the Poppies

Posted June 11, 2018 by meezcarrie in Author Interview, Christian, giveaway, historical, J’nell Ciesielski, romance / 54 Comments

I love this author’s debut novel, Among the Poppies, which releases TODAY! And I’m delighted to celebrate release day with her here on the blog!

Believing she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days writing heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle.

You can connect with J’nell on her website, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads and Twitter.

Can their love survive? Or will it become another casualty of war?

The ideal lady wears lace, speaks quietly, and never—under any circumstances—fixes an automobile. But Gwyn Ruthers has never cared two snaps about being the ideal lady. With the war to end all wars exploding across the English Channel, she leaves behind her restrictive life as a chauffer’s daughter to serve in an all-female ambulance unit in France. She’s not about to let her social status or gender prevent her from serving her country. Not even a handsome captain can distract her from her mission. Most of the time.

Captain William Crawford wouldn’t wish the ravages of war on any man, much less the captivating woman who insists on driving into battle instead of staying safely at home. He can’t deny that the troops need more medical help, but not when it puts innocent women in danger. How can he lead his men against the Jerries while worrying about Gwyn’s safety?

Bound together by circumstances, Gwyn and William can’t stop the love growing between them. Can their relationship survive, or will it become another casualty of war?

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My Review

Hi J’nell! Happy release day & welcome to the blog!

J’nell: Now this is a tough one because they each have great things. Summer means cute dresses, but I do have this fabulous cobalt blue winter coat that makes me feel like Princess Kate every time I wear it so … can I call it a tie??

Carrie: Anything that gets a little love for winter is just fine in my book 🙂

J’nell: Cherry coke 🙂

Carrie: Yum!

J’nell: Ocean! A true Florida girl, I’ll take water over land any day. It’s so beautiful and soothing. Unless it’s in hurricane form which is not so soothing.

Carrie: I like the ocean too – but the colder climate oceans lol

J’nell: Gotta have my print. There’s something about holding an actual book, and then I can easily flip back to favorite pages, and use really cute bookmarks. My current favorite is a metal hook looking thing with a dangling heart saying Juliet and Romeo that my friend got me in Verona, Italy.

Carrie: oh i love that!! how cool!

Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?

J’nell: Not a typical superpower, but I’d love to be able to speak any language in the world. I’m so in awe of people who can zip off into French or German and then right back English. I can count to ten in a few languages, but that’s about it 🙂 My real goal is to speak Gaelic!

Carrie: Yes! When I taught English as a “Second” Language, it was always so humbling when I discovered that it was really the fifth or sixth language for many of my students!

Q: Tell me some good books you’ve read recently.

J’nell: Teetotaled by Maia Chance, My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray, Swept Off Her Feet by Hester Browne, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer (so excited for this movie!!), and the Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

Carrie: I can’t wait for that movie either!

Q: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever Googled while researching a book?

J’nell: I’ve had some doozies, most revolving around how to kill someone on a battlefield. One that stands out to me was looking up Hitler’s patio furniture. He had red and blue umbrellas in case you’re interested. Yes, folks, that’s the lengths I’ll go to for insignificant historical details 🙂

Carrie: haha! Well, you never know when that will come in handy 😉

Q: Which character from Among the Poppies was the most difficult to write?

J’nell: Gwyn, hands down. Heroines are always the most difficult for me to write because they should be tough yet vulnerable without coming across as catty or a pansy. I had to find just the right balance to keep Gwyn grounded while letting her spread her adventurous wings, giving her all the unique facets of a real person that readers can see a piece of themselves in.

Carrie: Gwyn is one of my favorite heroines that I’ve read this year! She made me smile and then made me fiercely proud soon after.

Q: Were there any songs that inspired you as you wrote Among the Poppies?

J’nell: Oh, were there! I always have a soundtrack playing depending on the era. For Poppies, the song If You Were the Only Girl was my anthem. They sang it on Downton Abbey (the inspiration for the book) and I knew immediately it was something that needed to happen between William and Gwyn. It’s so simple yet beautiful.

Carrie: I love it!

Q: From historical details to the battlefield to the medical-emergency and convalescence sides of war, what kind of research did you do to give Among the Poppies authenticity? What’s the most surprising thing you learned during your research? 

J’nell: I read everything I could get my hands on, fiction and non-fiction. Roses of No Man’s Land by Lyn MacDonald was invaluable for research. Movies, while not always accurate, help me to get in the feel of the era, as does music. I draw maps and trench outlines, practice hand-to-hand combat with my husband, watch videos on how to change a model-T tire. Research is my favorite part of the writing process and there’s nothing I won’t do to get it right.

One of the most surprising stories I came across was about the Duchess of Westminster who sponsored a military hospital in France during the war. She, along with her wealthy friends, would dress in their finest frocks and diamonds to greet the incoming wounded with a gramophone warbling in the background. Oh, to have such style.

Carrie: It really pays off in Among the Poppies! I felt like I was right there, immersed in the era and the trenches and the battle fields. And oh my goodness – I guess I can’t judge them since they were helping the soldiers but wow. lol.

Q: What do you most want readers to take away from Among the Poppies?

J’nell: When I first sat down to write Poppies, it was a love story between a girl and a soldier. As I dug further into research I realized it wasn’t so simple. Gwyn and William came to symbolize what was happening to millions of people caught up in the Great War. Their generation became known as the Lost Generation and for too long their story has gone untold or forgotten with the passing of time. This year is the centennial of the end of WWI and light is being shed on this incredible time and the amazing people who lived through it. I hope in some small way Among the Poppies honors those who lived and died, who sacrificed all to defend their country and brothers in arms, gives voice to the women who worked behind the frontlines, and the freedom they preserved for us today. Lest we forget.

Carrie: Amen ♥

Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.

J’nell: My next book, currently titled Iron Shepherd, is set to release February 2019. A music student is caught behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied France during WWII where she finds love and danger with a German spy who steals her heart.

Carrie: yay!!! ooo I can’t wait!

J’nell is offering a copy of Among the Poppies to one of my readers! (print for US winner, ebook if international) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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What about you? What interests you most about Among the Poppies?

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54 responses to “Author Interview (and Giveaway!): J’Nell Ciesielski & Among the Poppies

  1. Cathy

    Many aspects of the story are interesting, including the setting of WWI, particularly with a female character doing what was more often a male occupation. Thank you very much for the informative intewview.

    • J'nell Ciesielski

      Thanks for stopping by Cathy! Yes, in times of war women had to pull the weight of the men who had gone off to war. Often jobs like ambulance driver, factory worker, and farming were put into the hands of women. What’s most impressive about these incredible women is that they just got to it without a complaint! It was the way they could serve the men and their country.

  2. Anne

    Among the Poppies is profound, meaningful, memorable and interests me greatly since The Great War impacted so many lives and the losses were immeasurable. I am interested in this era and this novel would be a real treasure.

    • J'nell Ciesielski

      You’re right, Anne. The Great War changed the world forever! Politically, socially, economically, you name it. It’s shaped the freedoms we enjoy today.

  3. Melissa Andres

    First of all…LOVE the cover! Among the Poppies sounds so interesting. I love that even Hitler’s patio furniture was researched. Sounds so good! Can’t wait to read it!

    • J'nell Ciesielski

      Thank you Melissa! I’m pretty proud of the cover as my design team knocked it out of the park. Hitler’s patio furniture is featured in another book of mine that hasn’t been published yet (fingers crossed!), but I love researching that kind of stuff. It’s my favorite part of the process.

  4. Perrianne Askew

    I think the amount of research she did intnrigues me. To think that she looked up Hitler’s patio furniture is amazing.

    • J'nell Ciesielski

      Some people might call it OCD to look up patio furniture, but I call it a love of research 🙂 Things like that always fascinate me.

  5. Paula Shreckhise

    I love history and enjoy learning about it through books. This time period is fascinating and has not been covered too much. I’ll be anxious to read this one! Thanks for the interesting interview.

    • J'nell Ciesielski

      I love this time period too, and thanks to Downton Abbey it’s finally experiencing the limelight it so richly deserves!

  6. Dianne Casey

    I like that Gwyn isn’t the typical woman of the era. It’s an interesting time period and setting, sounds like a great read.

  7. Julianna Deering/DeAnna Julie Dodson

    This sounds wonderful. And, yes, so many people forget how much WWI affected everything after. I must read this book! I love well-researched novels. 🙂

  8. Faith Creech

    I love reading books about WWI and this book looks so interesting. Thanks for the chance at the giveaway!

    • J'nell Ciesielski

      WWI has fast become one of my favorite eras. So many things were happening at the time.

  9. Kay Garrett

    “Among the Poppies” by J’Nell Ciesielski sounds like an amazing read. Love the time frame of the story and the courage of Gwyn Ruthers for that time to break the gender rules to do her part in the war. I think the romance will be a great one with a lot of unusual circumstances. I know it’s a book I’d love the opportunity to read.

  10. Brenda Murphree

    I love that the heroine wants to do her part in the war and she doesn’t care about being a proper lady when there’s work to be done to help win the war.

  11. Vivian Furbay

    What an interesting story! Would love to see what happens to this couple in the book!

  12. Patty

    This isn’t a time period I have read much off, but I have been hearing/reading good things about this book!

    • J'nell Ciesielski

      Thank you Patty! WWI and the Edwardian period are fascinating eras and I’m so glad that they’re becoming popular.

  13. Sarah

    Sounds fascinating! And what a great way to remember those sacrifices made a century ago! Carrie, you lead us to the most interesting books! Thank you!

  14. Winnie Thomas

    I love historical fiction, and I’m so excited to read this book. Thanks for the fun interview, Carrie and J’nell

  15. Anne L. Rightler

    I love World War stories and this one sounds so interesting. Love the cover too.
    Thanks for sharing the interview and about the book!

  16. Rebecca Maney

    I haven’t read as many books with WWI as the setting as I have WWII. So that fact alone makes this book quite interesting. What a great interview!

  17. Lori Smanski

    congratulations. such a pretty cover. i really like that Gwyn stays true to who she is.

  18. Lori Smanski

    I am glad that writing is one way for you to perform. I am glad that those teachers encouraged you to write. It is important for people to encourage others when they see something good in others. Sorry your fairy story got lost, but it sounds like you learned from it and found something that you love doing. Good for you.

  19. Cheryl Baranski

    Gwyn reminds me of myself.
    I love reading war stories.
    Sounds like an excellent read.
    Thank you for this chance.

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