The Inspiration for The Governess of Highland Hall

 

Edwardian WomanHi Friends, Many people have asked me how I came up with the idea to write The Governess of Highland Hall. So, I thought I would share a few questions and answers about the book’s inspiration today.

Watching the British TV series Downton Abbey stirred my interest in England during the Edwardian period, especially life on a grand country estate. I have a good friend and fellow author, Cathy Gohlke, who wrote a beautiful book set in England during this same time period, Promise Me This, and that also piqued my interest in the period. Cathy and I attended the American Library Association Convention in Philadelphia in early 2012. While I was there I had a discussion with an editor about the success of Downton Abbey, and she encouraged me to create a story set in England on an estate like Downton. That got my mental wheels turning. But I was hesitant to follow up on the idea at first because I knew it would take a lot of research to create a story that rang true for that period. But Cathy encouraged me and loaded me up with research books . . . and the journey to Highland Hall began.

Amy Carmichael, missionary to India with two of the children in her care

Amy Carmichael, missionary to India with two of the children in her care

Julia Foster was a missionary in India before her family returns to England because of illness. Was her character inspired by a real life missionary?

Julia was inspired by Amy Carmichael, who was a missionary to India in the early 1900s. I’d read Amy’s biography, A Chance to Die, a few years ago, and when I wanted to write a book set in England in the early 1900s, I remembered Amy’s story and took it down from my bookshelf to read again. I wanted to understand the mindset of Christians at that time and learn what prompted her to go to India and spend her life there. Amy’s true life experiences provided a rich background for my heroine, and I enjoyed bringing some of the elements of Amy’s faith and character into my story.

Julia Foster, heroine

Julia Foster, heroine

As fans of the popular BBC show “Downton Abbey” know, there is a prominent divide between the upstairs family and the downstairs help. Where does the main character, Julia Foster, fit in to this hierarchy as a governess?

A governess had a unique position. She was usually an educated, respected woman from a middle or upper class family, but she was still a paid member of the staff and considered below the family. She reported to the housekeeper, but she was above the other female staff. She usually ate her meals with the children in the nursery, so she didn’t spend very much time with the rest of the staff. In The Governess of Highland Hall, Julia Foster became close friends with Sarah Ramsey, the sister of William Ramsey, the master of Highland and hero in the story. But she is also friends with Ann the nursery maid, so we see her connected to those upstairs and those below stairs.

At Highclere Castle-Downton Abbey

At Highclere Castle-Downton Abbey

 

HighclereHave your travels inspired your writing?

Yes! Last summer my husband and I enjoyed a wonderful trip to England. We rented a car, and he drove over 400 miles on the wrong side of the road, seated in the wrong side of the car. He is an amazing man!  We toured the Oxford area and visited Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed. That was the highlight of the trip for me. Then we toured the Cotswold area that has several lovely little villages that look very much like they did 100 years ago. We ended our time in England up in the Peak District and attended a country fair at Chatsworth which is an amazing estate with a very large and elaborate house and gardens. It was used as Mr. Darcy’s home in the latest version of Pride and prejudice.  All of these travels were great inspiration for The Edwardian Brides Series.

Would you like to take a trip to England? What would you like to see there?

Happy Thanksgiving!

ThanksgivingHi Friends,

This Thanksgiving I am reflecting back over the many blessings that have come my way this year. I am very grateful to see the Lord at work in our family, especially in the lives of my grandchildren. What a blessing to see them excited about their faith, memorizing Scripture, asking to be baptized, and eager to serve the Lord at their church and in their family. Watching God at work in their lives is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received.

Hayden catches a fishThis month we spent a week with our three grandchildren, and much of the time was spent fishing. Even our three-year-old granddaughter was excited to try out her new princess pink fishing pole. Our two grandsons, ages nine and seven, caught several fish, and we made some very special memories together.

Time with family is a blessing and a treasure, and I am very grateful for that gift. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and make some special memories with your family and friends.

Carrie and HanalieHappy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Carrie

Surrendered Hearts on Sale!

Surrendered Hearts, by Carrie Turansky

Surrendered Hearts, by Carrie Turansky

Hi Friends,

This week my eBook, Surrendered Hearts, is on sale for 99 Cents! I hope you will download a copy and enjoy this inspiring story! It has over 100 great reviews on Amazon and was the winner of the International Digital Award.

Here’s a summary: Jennifer Evan’s life is changed forever when a gas pipeline explodes and causes a fire at her apartment. Losing her home and beloved dog are terrible blows, but the ugly scars that cover her arm, neck and shoulder steal her confidence and cause her fiancé to desert her. With her funds depleted and her job on hold, she heads for Vermont where she hopes to reconnect with her brother and find a way to rebuild her shattered life.

Bill Morgan, her brother’s roommate and the head naturalist at the Wild River Nature Center, is a strong, quiet man whose faith runs deep. His efforts to share his faith with Jenn seem to push her farther away. But caring actions sometimes speak louder than words, and Jenn’s heart is drawn to Bill in spite of the spiritual gulf that separates them. Will she hold on to her pain of her past, or will she surrender her heart and find the faith and love she seeks?

To purchase a copy visit this page: http://carrieturansky.com/index.php/books/surrendered-hearts/

• • • • • • • •

Reviews & Endorsements:

“Fire stole Jenn’s career, possessions, beloved dog, the affections of a fiancé who couldn’t see past her scars, and any remnant of faith she possessed. But struggling through her fears leads Jenn to an amazing God who cherishes her just as she is, and to embrace a love and life she could not have imagined. Surrendered Hearts is one more example of Turansky’s ability to draw a reader’s heart toward its Heavenly home, filling it with determination, hope, and romance for the journey.”

— Cathy Gohlke, Christy award-winning author of Promise Me This and Band of Sisters

“This is a book every mother should give her young teenage daughters to show them what to look for in a man. It’s a romance that shows the power of God when hearts are yielded to Him. It’s a story of God’s grace and healing. Carrie Turansky reminds me of a modern day Grace Livingston Hill, whose love stories enthralled an entire generation. The characters are so real, with hurts and preconceived notions about people … in other words, just like us. You’ll want the story to go on and not end. Novel Journey and I give it a high recommendation. It’s a must read.”

— Ane Mulligan, editor, Novel Journey

“This was my first book by Carrie Turansky and i am hooked. Loved the book. Just when you think you know what is going to happen there is a nice twist waiting in the next chapter!! I highly recommend this book!”

— Pier Shea, NJ

“I downloaded this book when it was free on Kindle and it was the best download I have made this year! I could really feel God’s influence in this heart warming story which I devoured in a couple of days. I loved Jenn’s transformation not only on a spiritual level but also dealing with the scars she had from the gas fire. As a “new to me” author, Carrie has won me over with her story and very believable characters. I plan on reading more of her books.”

—Kate, Utah

Blessings and Happy Reading!

Carrie

My Writing Journey

Stack of children's BooksHi Friends,

I am often asked how I got started writing, so I thought I would share my writing journey with you!

I’ve loved reading since I first visited the library as a young child and checked out a tall stack of picture books. I soon graduated to chapter books and spent many happy hours, lying on our porch swing reading. Those lazy days gave my imagination a chance to grow, and they helped me develop a love for well-told stories. My love for writing began when I penned my first novel at age twelve, Passport to Paris. I wrote it out by hand, and my mother typed it up for me. Now that’s love!

I continued to be an avid reader through my school years, and though I enjoyed writing, I mainly focused on art, and that became my major at college.

My husband and I were blessed with five children, and when our oldest son had some learning challenges, we decided to homeschool. That was a huge investment of time and energy, but it was a wonderful choice for our family. It revived my love for history and exposed me to great children’s literature as I read aloud to our kids each day.

Our family spent time in Kenya as missionaries in 1996-97. After we returned to the US I missed Africa so much that I decided to write a story set there as a way to relive some of our experiences. I poured out the story without knowing much about the art of writing fiction. I loved it! But when I showed it to an editor at my first writers’ conference, I found out I had a lot to learn about writing novels. I almost gave up writing at that point, but the Lord used a kind neighbor to encourage me with a gift of several writing craft books. I sensed the Lord telling me to press on and learn what I needed to learn to become a skilled writer.

Soon after that I read a novella by Beth White. I was so impressed with her story, that I emailed her and asked for her advice about learning how to write fiction. She was very encouraging and directed me to a new group that was forming online called American Christian Romance Writers. I joined ACRW in 2000, which later became ACFW, and I connected with a wonderful group of published and aspiring authors. There were less than 100 of us that first year. Now there are almost 3000 members.

Wedded BlissThrough ACFW I met Kristy Dykes, who became a dear friend and mentor. Her love for the Lord and encouragement were priceless! She critiqued my work and invited me to be one of four authors who submitted a novella proposal to Barbour. Wedded Bliss was accepted and published in November 2005. I joined a critique group, and those friends helped me polish my writing. A few months after Wedded Bliss was published I received a contract with Love Inspired for my first novel, Along Came Love.

During those early years before I was published I wrote five novels and two novellas. I call those my “learning how to write novels.” Since then I’ve had several more novels and novellas published, and I have two more contracted. Winning a Carol Award, The International Digital Award, and the Crystal Globe Award have been great encouragements along the way! But most of all I feel blessed that God has allowed me to share the stories He puts in my heart. My prayer is that readers will be touched with God’s love and truth, and they will be drawn closer to Him as they read my novels.

Carrie TuranskyI recently celebrated the release of my eleventh novel, The Governess of Highland Hall, Book One of the Edwardian Brides’ Series. I’m very grateful for all God has done to open up doors and help me along on my writing journey. I’ve wanted to write longer historical novels for several years, so this feels like a dream come true. If you like Downton Abbey and English novels like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice, then I think will enjoy The Governess of Highland Hall.

I’d love to hear more about your story. As you look back, what’s one important turning point in your life-journey?