Evy Journey has always been fascinated with words and seduced by beautiful prose. She loves Jane Austen and invokes her spirit every time she spins tales of love, loss, and finding one's way—stories she interweaves with mystery or intrigue and sets in various locales. SPR (Self Publishing Review) awarded Evy the 2015 Independent Woman Author bronze for her writing.
She's lived and traveled in many places, from Asia to Europe. Often she's ended up in Paris, though—her favorite place in the world. She's an observer-wanderer. A flâneuse, as the French would say.
The mind is what fascinates her most. Armed with a Ph.D., she researched and spearheaded the development of mental health programs. And wrote like an academic. Not a good thing if you want to sound like a normal person. So, in 2012, she began to write fiction (mostly happy fiction) as an antidote.
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Elise thought she knew her mother. Agnieszka Halverson is a caring woman, a great cook, and an exceptional piano player; but living in a secure, predictable world, she’s also a little dull. Her world is
Born to immigrant parents weighed down by their roots, Agnieszka takes solace in learning to play the piano, taught by a sympathetic aunt who was a concert pianist in Poland before World War II. But when her aunt betrays her and her parents cast her aside for violating their traditional values, can Agnieszka’s music sustain her? Can she, at eighteen, build a life on her own?
When she finally bares her soul to her children, Agnieszka hopes they can accept that she has a past that’s as complex as theirs; that she’s just as human, just as vulnerable as they are. But do her revelations alienate her husband and can they push Elise farther away from her?
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We welcome you to My Bookish Pleasures! Can you tell us how you got started writing fiction?
I wrote my first story—a short one—when I was in high school. I did it for the school paper. Many of my classmates told me they liked it. So did the teacher-adviser for the paper.
I was then the editor-in-chief of the paper and my forte was supposed to have been essays, not fiction. But I found fiction a lot of fun to write. I could let my imagination take flight. When I did editorials, I always had to keep the facts of what I was commenting on in mind. After my modest success with my first short story, you could say I was hooked. I wrote a few more.
Can you tell us about your most recent release?
My most recent release in October, 2016, is Brief Encounters with Solitary Souls, a book of short stories on the truth contained in this Eugene O’Neill quote: “Life is for each man a solitary cell whose walls are mirrors.” The five stories are set in various locales, two of them in Paris where I’ve “lived” off and on for two to six months at a time.
How did you get the idea for the book?
Hello Agnieszka is Book 2 in a family saga that starts with her daughter Elise. I hadn’t initially intended to write a series but I got intrigued with the idea of finding out what kind of past Agnieszka might have had. That’s how Book 2 took shape.
Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
My main characters tend to be my favorites. I think I have trouble writing about people I don’t like. Better, or at least braver, writers than I may enjoy narrating the adventures of an evil protagonist, but I can’t spend months, maybe years, in the company of a protagonist who terrorizes me every time I put her in a scene. Anyway, Agnieszka’s passion for music speaks to me; so do the poignant events and heartaches she goes through.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
This was a relatively easy book to write. Maybe because the main character’s personality has been largely defined in the first book. So were those of two other characters (Elise and her father). Including certain aspects of Polish culture was the least easy part but research filled the gap in my knowledge so I could write those sections confidently.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m writing a fifth novel that includes many scenes involving food because the protagonist has a job cooking at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Her grandfather was a French chef. The novel has no title yet, though.
What advice would you offer to new or aspiring fiction authors?
One I learned from Francine Prose, a writer and professor of writing: Read fiction that has stood the test of time and pay attention to how great writers do it.