Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Heirlooms by Sandra Byrd, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!
ABOUT THE BOOKTitle: Heirlooms Author: Sandra Byrd Publisher: Tyndale Release Date: July 5, 2022 Genre: Dual Timeline Fiction, Christian Answering a woman’s desperate call for help, young Navy widow Helen Devries opens her Whidbey Island home as a refuge to Choi Eunhee. As they bond over common losses and a delicate, potentially devastating secret, their friendship spans the remainder of their lives. After losing her mother, Cassidy Quinn spent her childhood summers with her gran, Helen, at her farmhouse. Nourished by her grandmother’s love and encouragement, Cassidy discovers a passion that she hopes will bloom into a career. But after Helen passes, Cassidy learns that her home and garden have fallen into serious disrepair. Worse, a looming tax debt threatens her inheritance. Facing the loss of her legacy and in need of allies and ideas, Cassidy reaches out to Nick, her former love, despite the complicated emotions brought by having him back in her life. Cassidy inherits not only the family home but a task, spoken with her grandmother’s final breaths: ask Grace Kim—Eunhee’s granddaughter—to help sort through the contents of the locked hope chest in the attic. As she and Grace dig into the past, they unearth their grandmothers’ long-held secret and more. Each startling revelation reshapes their understanding of their grandmothers and ultimately inspires the courage to take risks and make changes to own their lives. Set in both modern-day and midcentury Whidbey Island, Washington, this dual-narrative story of four women—grandmothers and granddaughters—intertwines across generations to explore the secrets we keep, the love we pass down, and the heirlooms we inherit from a well-lived life. “This is women’s fiction as it is meant to be written with intriguing characters making decisions that ripple through generations.” – Library Journal, starred review PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound | Christianbook | BookBub
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bestselling author Sandra Byrd continues to earn both industry acclaim and high praise from readers everywhere. The author of more than fifty books, her work has received many awards, nominations, and accolades, including the Historical Novel Society’s Editor’s Choice award, two Christy Award nominations, Two Library Journal Best Book selections, and inclusion on Booklist’s Top Ten Inspirational Books of the Year list. Her traditionally published books include titles by Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, Tyndale House Publishers, WaterBrook Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House, and Bethany House. She’s also an independent author.Sandra loves walking, the beach, cooking and baking, photography, watching Escape to the Country, Fake or Fortune, and Chef’s Table, as well as spending time with family and friends – real and fictional!
Mary: Sandra, welcome to the blog. We are so eager to learn more about both your heart for Heirlooms and what it was like making the story come to life. But I’d like to start earlier than that, too, and ask you what your journey to becoming an author was like, and what advice you would share for aspiring authors?
Sandra Byrd: I was the always-reading kid. I wanted to be an author from the minute I could read, at about six years old. I read cereal boxes, advertisements, books, newspapers, and warranty instructions.
My first story, about a man and a woman from the North Pole who couldn’t get together because they repelled each other and couldn’t grow close, earned a rejection. I wonder why? Ha! But that, and poems, were the start of my writing passion and a long stream of rejections.
I went to college on a writing scholarship but then grew afraid. No one gets published, right? So I changed to a business degree and shortly after college went to work for… a publisher. I became an editor. Then I left to do what I’d been created to do. Write.
That journey took years and tears and also brought joy in a way that nothing else could – filling the book-shaped hole in my heart.
I would advise aspiring authors to press on. Reading, writing, and being well-edited are the only things that make anyone a better writer. To find mentors but trust their writer’s gut, too.
Mary: I love how you emphasized the importance of taking risks, pressing forward, and not living by what people say can or can’t be done. It does often take living under those restrictions to understand just how important it is to go after your goals.
What were some of the things (books, movies, ideas, experiences) that inspired this book?
Sandra: My grandparents were in the first generation of their families born in the United States, their parents having immigrated here from Italy, Lebanon, and Scandinavia. My great-grandparents sacrificed to establish new lives in the US, leaving culture, friends, family—in some cases even children—behind forever. Happily American, I am so grateful to them. As with many voluntary, adult immigrants, my forebears’ motivations included increased financial well-being, a desire to escape a dangerous or hopeless situation in their homeland, and a goal to achieve a new, happier, more promising life—the American Dream— for themselves and the generations who would follow. Although in Heirlooms these various paths are expressed through Dutch Americans to some extent and Korean Americans in a more significant part, each with their own unique culture, I peek at the broader emotional intersection of immigration and the American Dream.
My affection and respect for Korean Americans and their culture sparked when I taught in a Korean American Hagwon, an after-school prep school, of sorts. I taught English, essay, and preparation for the SAT. I grew in affection and admiration for my boss, my students, and their families as I knew them better and learned more about their culture. I not only came to love their delicious food, courteous manners, beautiful language, sense of humor, devotion to achievement, and customs, but my respect for the sacrifices made for the children made a huge impression.
Mothers sometimes lived in the US while their husbands remained in South Korea so that the children could get the best possible education. Fathers sometimes slept at their businesses, so they didn’t need to hire additional employees, saving money to educate their kids and bring relatives to live with them. Many well-educated people took jobs for which they were overqualified to be the proverbial foot in the door for their families.
Mary: Wow, that really does put a high premium on good education and opportunity. It must have been such a treasured time for you as you helped them prepare to succeed and experienced those relationships.
What was a memorable moment or milestone for you over the process of writing Heirlooms?
Sandra: God provided for me at every intersection in researching, writing, and publishing this book, providing the people and resources I needed in extraordinary and supernatural ways. One difficult period, though, was when my daughter lost a baby when I was writing/editing about another woman who did, too. I had to set the book aside for a bit and grieve, but it also helped bring clarity and compassion to my book.
Mary: Such a wonderful and beautiful thing, to be provided for every step of the way at all times, and to see the fruit that comes from difficult times. Praying for you and your daughter as well. <3
Which of the characters was the first to steal your heart?
Sandra: Eunhee, I think. When I write, I “am” the point of view character. Starting out writing, “I” was Helen, and Eunhee was such a great, fun, deep, and meaningful friend to Helen that she stole my heart first.
Mary: Ah, she is such a dear, and I love that she gives freely of her time, knowledge, and resources to meet needs and care for others.
What feeling did you want to leave readers with through this book?
Hope. God plays a long game, and we should, too. He is always attentive. Grace’s grandfather asks her, “What are you doing today that fulfills the hopes and prayers of someone yesterday?”
How we live our lives matters to those around us, and those who come before us and after us, even when we can’t see it. Two passages explain this for me:
“Under the puzzle boxes was my old spirograph. I lifted the lid and then pieces of paper with spheres and swirls, loops and circles, a rainbow of rings and coils overlapping and entwining. You couldn’t see where one pattern began and the others ended, as they all fed into and overlaid one another exquisitely. Through the years and generations, lives circled and overlapped in ways that couldn’t be separated.”
“I knew if I blew on a spent blossom the fluff would carry my wishes far and wide, so I puffed myself into lightheadedness until Gran told me to stop seeding the garden with mischief. Twenty years later, I plucked a spent dandelion and blew once again. Older and wiser, I prayed, not wished, knowing those prayers would land and take root, even if I never saw them flower.”
Mary: Beautifully put, and I like the emphasis that hope is more than a feeling, that it ought to be put into action to influence the way we live our lives and go on to affect generations.
What do you look for in the books you read, and what are some that you come back to time and time again?
Sandra: The ones I come back to time and again are usually childhood comfort books. I re-read the Little House books, Shogun, and old Victoria Holt or Jean Plaidy books. I’m now re-reading On Rue Tatin because I love well-written narrative nonfiction books.
I don’t read fiction while writing fiction, so now that Heirlooms is complete, I can go on a fiction-reading binge. I look for tightly plotted books that don’t have implausibilities, beautiful writing, and characters I love and relate to. Overall I prefer historical to contemporary, except for narrative nonfiction or timeslip.
Mary: Standing ovation for this answer! I grew up on the Little House books and still pick them up to enjoy and be inspired by the way Laura Ingalls Wilder made her experiences come to life for so many others to live. It warms my heart to see others delight in her works. Enjoy your well-earned fiction binge!
And finally, what’s the best way for readers to connect with you?
Sandra: Through my website (and all of my social links are on there, too). I’m more likely to see people requesting an Instagram follow just because there are so many on FB: https://www.sandrabyrd.com/
Thank you so much for stopping by, Sandra. Readers, though our time with Sandra has come to an end, the journey continues. You can follow the links below, take some time this summer to dive into Heirlooms, and enter the giveaway below. And may you have a blessed Independence week.Connect with Sandra at http://www.sandrabyrd.com, http://www.sandrabyrdbookcoach.com, or through social media platforms. CONNECT WITH SANDRA: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
(1) winner will receive a King Arthur Cinnamon Roll Kit, including the heavy-gauge pan, plus a $25 Starbucks card!
Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight July 5, 2022 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on July 12, 2022. US only. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.
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Sounds like a great read.
great interview! thanks so much for sharing!
My pleasure! Thanks so much for joining the conversation.
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Thank you for sharing the author’s interview and book details, I have enjoyed reading this post and I am looking forward to reading Heirlooms.
That’s wonderful, Beatrice! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing. I hope Heirlooms inspires and uplifts you as you do others.
Sounds like a wonderful read.