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We're happy to welcome Johanne Levesque and her debut novel Trouble & Strife. Keep on reading to get to know the author better, and win a review copy in the Trouble & Strife Giveaway.
GIVEAWAY JULY 17 - AUGUST 15, 2018
Sometimes the smallest voices make the deepest impact.
Josephine Hadley, a 1930s Canadian housewife, fills her days looking after her children, her indifferent husband and a stream of Depression-era visitors. Her contribution to her guests is a bowl of stew and an open heart.
Her small world, however, is soon shattered by a tragic event which forces her to become the breadwinner. Can she run a business without sacrificing herself? And is it possible to act on a long-buried desire without remorse?
Johanne Levesque’s first novel, Trouble and Strife, is a poignant and heartbreaking look at a woman’s life in a fast-changing time. With intimate details and a deft poetic touch, Levesque has captured the spirit of an age where war and economic hardship altered the workplace, home and women’s lives forever.
What are you reading now?
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Was there one event that inspired your decision to become a writer?
Yes, it was the recession in 2008. My husband was a landlord and he lost a couple properties and he sounded like Eeyore from Winnie The Pooh. I told him, “I wonder what it was like for a landlord in The Great Depression. He challenged me to write about it.
Can you tell our readers more about your book Trouble and Strife, and who gonna love the story?
It is about a family with four children living in Toronto Canada during the Great Depression. The husband is a landlord and the wife stays at home to take care of four children and she find ways to help others during this financial crisis. Things get more and more difficult for the family and she struggles to cope under difficult circumstances..
How did the book story emerge?
Curiosity about what the Great Depression was like for people living in Toronto during the 1930’s. I riffled through archive newspaper for 10 years, going through microfiche to make the story as accurate as it could be with the historical events of the time included in the story.
You studied Psychology. Do you / How do you use your knowledge and experience from the psychological field to create your stories and characters?
Because I studied who what where how of human behavior I have a good grasp of motivation of my characters and why they act the way they do.
What are your writing plans?
I am in the process of writing the sequel of Trouble and Strife. The story will continue into the Second World War and we will see how the family copes during the difficult years of 1940-1945.
In your short bio we can read I only spoke French for the first 18 years of my life. I learned to speak English by reading One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest using a French English dictionary for most words. Does it mean literature was always important in your life and your life decisions?
Yes reading was my solace as a kid. Our house was filled with violence and chaos and my escape was books. Reading was my safe place where I could travel to other countries, immerse myself into a character and feel his or her thoughts and feelings. My only exercise was when I took my bike to the library and back. If I had to play dodge ball at school I placed myself where I could get hit right away so I could go back and read my books. I would get into a theme, like a whole series of books about a flight attendant and her adventures. I would read everything I could find about Apartheid, or Martin Luther King or the Holocaust before I was a teenager. I am afraid to say I preferred books over people. I am still a loner but I am much more social now...
Who are your favorite authors and genres? Have they influenced you and in what way?
I like the classics, Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Nathaniel Hawethorne, Gustave Flaubert, Wilke Collins, Louisa M. Alcott, Leo Tolstoy, Harper Lee. They have influenced me because I love the old English way of speaking and I feel it is a pleasure and an education to read such great works.
You mentioned running 7 marathons. What are you doing when not writing?
I injured my Achilles tendon twice now so I am retired from running long distance. I am lucky enough to have a beach walking distance and I try to swim for one hour 5 days a week. I have a 4 month old Doberman puppy that I walk three times a day and when he is fully mature I will take him on short runs and hopefully swimming with me. I take him to obedience classes and take him to all my book shows. When he turns one year old he will take a test with the Red Cross and if he passes, he will be a Therapy Dog and we will visit retirement homes together. I volunteer with the Alzheimer Society in a program called Minds in Motion where I facilitate a group of people who have Alzheimer to exercise physically and mentally through games. It is a lot of fun and I enjoy it tremendously.
Three titles for a holiday break?
In January we always go to Tanga, Tanzania to visit an orphanage which we have sponsored for the past 5 years. We make sure they can afford to go to school, have backpacks, uniforms, shoes, tuition money. When we have extra money we do repairs on their building. We take them out somewhere. Last year we took them to a resort to dance on New years eve. And we took them on a local safari.
Paper book or ebook?
Always paper. I love the smell, the touch and feel of a book, I have to say I mistreat them, they are earmarked, highlighted, water stained and food stained, I use and abuse them.
Shelfie time! Please share your home library photo. And your writing spot, as well :)
My library is in an unfinished basement and my books are in boxes right now. My husband will build me a library but in the meantime there is not much to see. I work on a recliner in my living room also unfinished. Sorry no pics this time, maybe in the future...
But I can give you a picture of my husband and I with the orphans. My husband and I with the orphans. We do a fundraiser on Go Fund Me before we leave every year and make sure each child can go to school. Even the ones who got older over the years we pay for their college too. One is studying to be a nurse and one to be a teacher. We pay for their tuition plus all things related to school.