Author: Jana Richards
Narrator: Steve Wojtas
Length: 2 hours and 34 minutes
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Released: Aug. 1, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance
Anne Wakefield travels halfway around the world for love. But when she arrives in Canada from England at the end of World War II, she discovers the handsome Canadian pilot she'd fallen in love with has married someone else. Heartbroken, she prepares to return to London, though she has nothing left there to return to. Her former fiance's mother makes a suggestion: marriage to her other son.
Badly wounded and scarred during the war, Erik Gustafson thinks he's a poor substitute for his brother. Although he loves Anne almost from the first time he sees her, he cannot believe she would ever be able to love him as he is - especially as he might be after another operation on his bad leg.
Anne sees the beauty of his heart. The cold prairie winter may test her courage, but can she prove to Erik that her love for him is real?
When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist, and in 2018 “Lies and Solace” won Best Contemporary romance in the I Heart Indie contest.
In her life away from writing, Jana is an admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with their geriatric Pug/Terrier cross Lou. Jana loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.janarichards.com
- Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
My publisher, The Wild Rose Press, gave me the opportunity to turn my novella, HOME FIRES, into an audiobook. They made the process quite painless. All I had to do was to select a short passage from the book that would serve as an audition for the narrator. The publisher uploaded the information to ACX and forwarded auditions to me. I got to choose Steve Wojtas as my narrator and I couldn’t be happier.
- Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
Yes, I think so. I’ve listened to a lot of romance novels in audiobook form and I think they really work well in this format. So much of romance writing is in the character’s head, in deep point of view, and the intimacy of audiobooks suits the genre well.
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
Not even a little bit! I didn’t believe recording HOME FIRES as an audiobook was an option at that point. The only thing I was concerned with was writing the best story I could, and in my small way, making people aware of the women who came to Canada after WW2 as war brides.
- Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
The women who married Canadian soldiers and came to live in Canada during and just after the second world war were very real. Most came from Britain, but several originated from France, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands and even Germany. In total, over 48,000 war brides married Canadian servicemen and came to live in Canada. I’ve always been amazed at their bravery in leaving behind their homes and families to head into the unknown. In some cases, they barely knew the men they married; one piece of information I read said that the first time many war brides saw their husbands wearing something other than their uniforms was when they arrived in Canada. Some didn’t even recognize them!
But despite the hasty marriages and the differences in cultures, the vast majority of these marriages thrived, thanks largely to the determination of the war brides not to give up. I’m in awe of their courage.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
I’m absolutely an audiobook listener! I love the portability of audiobooks. I can listen to a book at the gym, while doing housework or on long car rides. The number of books I’m able to read has increased dramatically since I started listening to audiobooks. As I said above, there’s something very intimate about the audiobook experience; it’s just you and the narrator, and he/she is telling you a story.
- If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
Crazy as it sounds, I’d love to go back to the World War Two era in Britain. I’m fascinated with that time period, and, as a writer, I’d like to experience first-hand the terror of the blitz (from a safe bomb shelter, of course), to understand the shortages that all British citizens lived with, and to feel the uncertainty of victory for the Allies. I’ve done a lot of research on World War Two by reading books and looking up information online, but if I could experience the war first-hand (for a short period of time) it would be the best way to put authenticity into my writing.
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
I say that I respectfully disagree. An unabridged audiobook doesn’t cut any corners. Every word printed in the original book is read by the narrator, and you’ve got the added enjoyment of the narrator’s skill in telling the story. Audiobooks are simply another way to read, just as ebooks and print are different ways to read. I believe that each format has its time and place, and one isn’t inferior to another.
- How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
By beginning a new novel! After finishing a novel, it’s usually a whirlwind of sending it to publishers or editors or perhaps beta readers. And the next book to be written always beckons. It seems there’s no time for celebration. But lately I’ve been thinking I should stop and smell the roses a little more and celebrate the milestones in my writing career. Maybe when I finish my current WIP, I’ll celebrate with a dinner out or perhaps I’ll treat myself to a bouquet of roses. Finishing a novel is a monumental job and it deserves recognition and reward.
For over ten years, Steve Wojtas has voiced everything from audiobooks in the genres of non-fiction, horror, and romance, national television campaigns for Disney and Quicken Loans, to corporate narration for Google, Adobe, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft.
He obtained and MFA in Acting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied speech through Shakespeare. He has appeared at numerous Shakespeare festivals as well as Chicago PD & Chicago Fire on NBC, and Proven Innocent on FOX. He lives in Chelsea, MI with his wife, Shannon, one year old daughter, Lily, and their retired greyhound, Boondocks.
He can be contacted through his website at www.stevewojtas.com
From Author Jana RichardsMy novella, HOME FIRES, tells the story of Anne Wakefield, a young British woman who travels to Canada after World War Two to marry her fiancé. Though Anne and her story are fictional, the phenomena of War Brides is not. Some 48,000 women married Canadian servicemen during the war. The majority of war brides were British, but some came from France, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands, and Germany. Between 1942 and 1947, these women, along with their 22,000 children, traveled to Canada to begin their new lives.
Some were married after quick, whirlwind romances. Others had the luxury of getting to know each other before they tied the knot. But for all these couples, marriage was the only answer. The customs of the day demanded that if they wanted to sleep together, they had to be married. And so they did. The times were perilous with no guarantee of a tomorrow. A sense of urgency compelled them to grab all the happiness they could.
In my story, Anne is not married before she comes to Canada because a wedding couldn’t be arranged before her fiancé was shipped home. Though the majority of war brides were married in England, some were not, and married in Canada instead. These women would have had to pay for their own passage on the war bride ships.
The war brides traveled on special ships, usually former luxury liners like the Queen Mary that had been converted to carrying troops during the war. Depending on the weather during the crossing, and the young woman’s constitution, she either had a wonderful adventure or a miserable, seasick trip. Some made new friends with the other war brides and enjoyed the abundance and quality of the food onboard. Almost every account I read talked about how thrilled they were to be able to eat foods that had been scarce in Britain since the beginning of the war. Simple things like white bread, butter, fruit and eggs were mentioned.
Once they arrived in Halifax, the war brides were directed to special trains that took them to their new homes. For brides whose destination was one of the Maritime Provinces, the train ride was short. But for those who were on their way to the Prairies or the west coast, the train ride took several days. In my story, Anne is destined for Saskatchewan on the Canadian prairies, so her train ride would have been at least five days.
Finally, the war bride would reach her final destination. Her husband or her husband’s family would be there to greet her. In most cases, it was a happy reunion. But not always. I read stories of husbands who told their British wives to go home because they didn’t want them anymore. A friend of mine in her eighties told me of a war bride she knew who was rejected by her husband when she arrived. This is Anne’s experience. By the time she arrives, her fiancé has married someone else.
Despite the often fast courtships and hastily arranged weddings between people from different backgrounds and cultures, the majority of these marriages endured. These marriages and the families that were created helped to build post-war Canada, and are a testament to the strength of character of the war brides.
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