Monday, January 15, 2024

Q&A with Teri M. Brown




Teri M. Brown is the author of the new novel Daughters of Green Mountain Gap. Her other books include the novel Sunflowers Beneath the Snow. She lives in North Carolina.


Q: What inspired you to write Daughters of Green Mountain Gap, and how did you create your characters Maggie, Carrie Ann, and Josie Mae?


A: Believe it or not, the impetus for Daughters of Green Mountain Gap was a wart on the pad of my thumb!


During a routine primary care visit, I asked my doctor if she could remove the wart on my thumb. She emphatically stated she could not, and I would have to see a hand specialist. Instead, I went to the local pharmacy, got a wart patch, and it went away.


A few weeks later, I was chatting with my brother on the phone, and we began to complain about healthcare. I told him about the wart, and he said, “Why didn’t you have someone talk it off?” I had never heard of such a thing and felt certain he was teasing me. He often tells me tales to see if I will fall for them.


Once we got off the phone, my curiosity got the best of me, so I did what I love to do. I Googled it. My kids call me Google Mom. I refer to myself as a #researchjunkie.


I couldn’t believe what I found. Not only are there people who talk off warts, but there are healers who can blow away thrush, turn breech babies, and talk the pain from a burn.


The more I dug, the more I found, which led me to the healers of the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. These healers were known as granny women. Before I knew it, Maggie began talking to me.


I love generational stories, so it seemed natural to tell one in this setting. Healers often pass down their art to someone in the family.  But to give it a little spice, I have Carrie Ann look into a different kind of healing, and Josie Mae unsure which way to turn.


Q: How would you describe the relationship among the three?


A: The McCoury family of women are healers who are in need of healing – both within themselves and with one another. I find them to be like most families I know. They exhibit an enormous amount of love and empathy, while at the same time, shake their heads at one another.


That’s why readers love my characters – I make them real, with relatable problems. Almost everyone knows what it is like to love someone but to disagree with them. How that love and disagreement are handled is what makes the story.


Q: How did you research the story, and did you learn anything especially surprising?


A: I’m so grateful for the Internet! I cannot imagine how difficult it was for authors of historical fiction to write before they could sit in the comfort of their home and find answers!


In addition to Internet research, I also read a few books on North Carolina history, Cherokee history, and medicine around the turn on the 20th century. Finally, I spoke with several people whose grandmothers were granny women.


Two things really surprised me. The first was that one plant can be used in many ways – roots healing one ailment and leaves another. The second was that when you picked a plant could change its healing properties.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from the novel?


A: I hope readers think about other cultures and what they have to offer. I hope that instead of instantly disregarding someone with a different belief, that we can look for the similarities and find connections. At the very least, I hope we can learn to respect those differences even if we don’t understand them.


I also want readers to think about old ways versus new ways. As a society, we often throw out the old as soon as something new and shiny comes along. Later, we are often chasing after the old again because the “new thing” wasn’t as all-encompassing as we thought.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Although I’ve written three historical fiction novels, I do not consider myself a historical fiction author. Instead, I see myself as a character-driven fiction author who introduces readers to characters they’d like to invite to lunch.


My hope is that my characters are so compelling that the reader will be willing to follow them regardless of the setting.


With that said, my new manuscript is a contemporary women’s fiction humor with a side of romance. Peg is 50-something, recently separated, and going through the throes of menopause. This is a humorous look at her life – and the lives of any woman who has lived with the hormonal swings of middle age!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I love getting to know my readers, so please reach out! Just head to my website and contact me through the contact page or click on the various social media platforms.


I also have a newsletter that goes out twice a month. One focuses on my writing and the other focuses on my reading. I try to offer at least four book recommendations each month. If a reader joins, they get a list of “The 10 Historical Fiction That You’ve Never Heard of That Will Bring You to Tears.”


Finally, I’m really grateful to everyone who has read Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, An Enemy Like Me, or Daughters of Green Mountain Gap. I truly appreciate your support!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Teri M. Brown.

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