Inspirational Stories of Love, Faith & Family Set in 19th Century America

Author Interview with Heidi Chiavaroli and a Giveaway

If you’ve been following Romancing History for a while, you know I”m a huge fan of timeslip (also known as dual timeline) fiction and no one does it better in my humble opinion than by guest today, Heidi Chiavaroli.

Heidi’s latest release, The Orchard House, will not only appeal to fans of timeslip novels but also to fans of Louisa May Alcott’s classic, Little Women.

Now that I’ve got your curiosity peaked, let’s learn a little more about The Orchard House before we chat with Heidi. Oh, and don’t leave without entering to win a print copy of The Orchard House by leaving a comment (see giveaway section for guidelines).


About Heidi

Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner, and grace-clinger who could spend hours exploring places that whisper of historical secrets. Her debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, was a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist, a Romantic Times Top Pick, and a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut. Her latest dual timeline novel, The Orchard House, is inspired by the lesser-known events in Louisa May Alcott’s life. Heidi makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.

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About the Book

Award-winning author Heidi Chiavaroli transports readers across time and place in this time-slip novel that will appeal to fans of Little Women.

Two women, one living in present day Massachusetts and another in Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House soon after the Civil War, overcome their own personal demons and search for a place to belong.

2001
Abandoned by her own family, Taylor is determined not to mess up her chance at joining the home of her best friend, Victoria Bennett. But despite attending summer camp at Louisa May Alcott’s historic Orchard House with Victoria and sharing dreams of becoming famous authors, Taylor struggles to fit in. As she enters college and begins dating, it feels like Taylor is finally finding her place and some stability . . . until Victoria’s betrayal changes everything.

1865
While Louisa May Alcott is off traveling the world, Johanna Suhre accepts a job tending Louisa’s aging parents and their home in Concord. Soon after arriving at Orchard House, Johanna meets Nathan Bancroft and, ignoring Louisa’s words of caution, falls in love and accepts Nathan’s proposal. But before long, Johanna experiences her husband’s dark side, and she can’t hide the bruises that appear.

2019
After receiving news of Lorraine Bennett’s cancer diagnosis, Taylor knows she must return home to see her adoptive mother again. Now a successful author, Taylor is determined to spend little time in Concord. Yet she becomes drawn into the story of a woman who lived there centuries before. And through her story, Taylor may just find forgiveness and a place to belong.

To purchase The Orchard House, click here.


Author Interview

Fast Five

  1. I Love Lucy or Get Smart? Considering I had to look up what Get Smart was, I’d have to say I Love Lucy!
  2. Chocolate Chip or Oatmeal Raisin? Chocolate Chip…chocolate anything. 😉
  3. Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy? Matthew MacFadyen (RH: If I’d known this it may have been a deal breaker for the interview, just sayin’!)
  4. Football or Soccer? Football, only to watch of course, and likely only on Super Bowl night. ;0
  5. Run, Bike, Hike, or Swim? Hike!

 

Author Q&A

RH: What five words best describe Heidi apart from being an author?

HC: Introvert, grace-clinger, nature-lover (hyphenated words count as one, right?), contemplative, creative.

RH: Hyphenated words, definitely count. Which historical figure, other than Jesus (because who wouldn’t want to meet Jesus?), would you like to meet? Why?

HC: This answer probably changes often for me, but this year it’d definitely be Louisa May Alcott. I’ve done so much research about her for the writing of The Orchard House that I would love to meet her. Maybe she could mentor me in my writing! 😉

RH: I think my answer would change as well. I think it would be very inspiring to meet Louisa May Alcott as well. What is your favorite historical romance novel and/or author? Why?

HC: A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers. I loved this book because it didn’t ignore the gritty and the hard. Hadassah is the most admirable heroine I think I’ve ever met. Love her!

RH: Redeemeng Love, also by Francine Rivers, is my all-time favoirte story and one of the few novels I’ve read more than once. The Orchard House is your fifth book to release in five years. Can you give us a glimpse into your day? How early do you get up? Do you have dedicated writing time each day or is each day different? How do you juggle your writing life with work and raising a family?

 HC: I’m usually up by six and I spend some time reading and in prayer, followed by some yoga (spending all day at the computer is physically hard!). After my two teen boys are off to school (or these days, off to their rooms for classes), I get to work either writing, editing, or marketing. I have a trusty calendar with tasks to accomplish, and so I try to get something from each category accomplished each day, though that doesn’t always happen. Thursdays are designated cleaning days. I actually don’t schedule any writing-related things on Thursday so whatever I get done feels like a bonus!

When I’m on deadline, I will add in a word count for each day, and that always gets done first. (At least that’s the goal!) Before email, social media, etc.

I think the major key to juggling writing, family, and work, is to take my writing seriously. It is work. Then again, it’s just work. Family is more important and I try to set time aside (like Sundays and nights) where I don’t write. When I first got a contract, I didn’t do that. I would be on my computer trying to market in every conceivable way every night of the week. It was too much. Carving out time during the day while everyone else in my home is either at school or work and thinking of it as my “office time” at home is truly helpful. So are a lot of hikes in the woods. It’s downtime, but I’m still writing a story in my head. 

RH: True Confession: I’m very good about making schedules, but not so good about sticking to them. That is something I’ve been working on lately. I love to read time slip fiction. I’m curious to know, is it more challenging to write the contemporary or the historical thread in your novels? How do you weave them together so seamlessly?

HC: Each novel seems to be different. There’s no question the historical thread is more work, as it requires more research, and yet at the same time the research makes the writing easier because I’ve been immersing myself in the setting and characters for so long!

Weaving them seamlessly is definitely the hard part! I think starting off with an object that will connect the two time periods (like a book of poems in The Orchard House or like a tea chest in The Tea Chest) that definitely helps for me. It also helps to have my characters wrestling with similar inner struggles. So even though they may be centuries apart, they are coming alongside one another in their common problems.

RH: I’ve wanted to try my hand at writing timeslip fiction. Thank you for those tips. What is the inspiration behind your recent release, The Orchard House?

HC: Like so many girls and women around the world, I’ve always been captivated by the story of Little Women—a seemingly simple domestic tale that, with its timelessness, explores the complexities of family, friendship, and love. But there was something else that made this tale come alive for me—a childhood visit to the very place where Louisa wrote her beloved story. Orchard House brought Louisa and her novel alive in a new way. I remember being completely captivated by this place where these fictional (and real life) heroines lived, of beholding the very desk where Louisa wrote her masterpiece. For a child who loved this story, and books in general, this made a real impression on me.

Setting out to write a story involving Louisa and Orchard House, I dug through her biographies, journals, and letters for some interesting, lesser-known morsel about this famed author. When I learned about her time as a nurse in the Civil War, her experiences nursing a certain young blacksmith for whom she held strong feelings for but who would end up dying, and her subsequent near-death experience with typhoid shortly after, I knew I’d stumbled upon something. I thought it might be interesting to have my historical heroine, Johanna, be the sister of Louisa’s “prince of patients.” What if these two women struck up a friendship? What if Louisa offered her a way to Massachusetts? What if Louisa became a mentor to Johanna, who found herself in a difficult marriage?

From this storyline came the idea of women helping women, both in a contemporary story and a historical story. Themes of sisterhood, friendship, forgiveness, and helping the downtrodden—all themes in Little Women—were brought to the forefront of the book to further tie in and give honor to this much-loved story and author.

RH: I confess, seems I’m doing a lot of that in this interview, I haven’t read Little Women. I’ve only watched movie adaptions but I do love the characters. Hmmm, I better add that to my ‘to do’ list. Which scene in the The Orchard House was the hardest to write? Which was your favorite?

HC: The one hardest to write was at the end of Johanna’s storyline. I can’t really say more without a spoiler, but when readers get to it they will probably be able to understand why. I don’t often shy away from the hard, and that scene was definitely hard.

My favorite was actually the epilogue. Even though I knew how it would all come together, I felt it in that scene and thought it was special how Louisa played into it all.

RH: Oh I’m glad you didn’t give us any spoilers. I hadn’t thought of that when I posed the question and I’m currently listening on audio book,  which I highly recommend. Which secondary character in The Orchard House do you think will resonate most with readers? Why?

HC: I’m hoping Louisa May Alcott will resonate with readers! I did so much research, and really tried to do her character justice. I found out some little-known facts that I attempted to bring to light in the story, and so I hope readers find her as the interesting woman she was.

RH: I’m enjoying getting to know this literary icon as a woman. You are doing her great justice. Do you have a favorite quote from The Orchard House you’d like to share with Romancing History readers?

HC: I can’t think of one off the top of my head, but here’s one of my favorites from Louisa that is included in the book:

“When tired, sad, or tempted, I find my best comfort in the woods, the sky, the healing solitude that lets my poor, weary soul find the rest, the fresh hope, or the patience which only God can give.”

~ Louisa May Alcott

RH: That is a fine quote and one I whole-heartedly agree. I love to walk my dog and pray while enjoying His creation. What have you learned from writing The Orchard House? What do you hope readers will take away after finishing this book?

HC: I think this book has made me think a lot about my own spiritual walk. I’m hoping the themes of forgiveness, friendship, helping the oppressed, and finding a place to belong will resonate with my readers as these are all aspects found in Little Women and all things I’ve wrestled with over the last couple of years myself.

RH: I think those are timeless, universal themes that benefit us to visit over and over again. Thank you for visiting with us today, Heidi.


Giveaway**

This giveaway is now closed!

Congratulations to our winner, Sarah Taylor!

Heidi is graciously offering a print copy of The Orchard House to one lucky Romancing History reader. To enter, tell us which March sister (Meg, Jo, Beth, or Amy) was your favorite and why?

**Giveaway ends at midnight, February 17th, 2021**

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29 Comments

  1. SARAH TAYLOR

    So Excited that I won this giveaway Thank You so much!

  2. Perrianne Askew

    I have to be perfectly honest, that I am not a classics reader. So sadly, I couldn’t pick a favorite character. However, I do love Heidi Chiavaroli’s novels and have read everything that she’s published.

    • Donna A

      Awww. . .how sweet!

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Perrianne, I’ve only begun to enjoy them as I’ve gotten older. I didn’t like them in school when “I had” to read them one bit. And I couldn’t agree more about Heidi’s books! Thanks for visiting today!

  3. Melissa Merritt

    That’s a really tough choice for me, as I see myself in different ways in all of them, and they all have fun aspects, but I think I’d say Jo or Beth–Jo has my passion for writing and the spunk I don’t have, and Beth has my shyness and love for piano music.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Melissa, I’ve always wanted to play the piano. My mom said I would have none of it when I was little so I may have missed my chance! LOL! Thanks for visiting Romancing History!

  4. Hi Kelly & Heidi! Jo was my favorite! I loved her tenacious spirit and her love for writing!

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Cynthia, I love her her tenacious spirit too! Thanks for visiting dear friend!

  5. Jennifer K

    I’m probably most like Jo

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Jennifer, Jo has been hands down the most admired of the March sisters and I’m no exception. Thanks for visiting today.

  6. Vicki Wurgler

    my favorite would be Beth, she was shy and the peacemaker of their family

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Vicki, Thanks for visiting Romancing History. Beth is a delightful choice and being a peacemaker is an admirable quality. I have one of those among my three children. I’m probably more a “stir the pot” kind of person which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Best of luck in the drawing.

  7. Meagan Godsey

    Beth is my choice, simply because she was mostly content with who and what she had and she typically had a sweet spirit.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Megan, Thanks for visiting Romancing History! I think being content is the best quality a person can have. Life will deal us our fair share of successes and challenges, but a content person doesn’t rely on either to have peace and joy. Blessings to you!

  8. Erika Luther

    I would say Jo for her spirit and spunk.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Erika, Jo is definitely a fan favorite for that very reason. Pluck is an admirable quality in a person — helps you whether the storms of life. Best of luck in the drawing!

      • Laurie Brown

        Jo- for pursuing what she wants in life. Thanks for the chance- I need to reread Little Women!

        • romancinghistory

          Hi Laurie, Lots of visitors have chosen Jo but I really like your reason. It wasn’t til I was in my 40s that I realized how much I’d let fear make my decisions. How I’d often quit things I tried out of fear of failure. I admire that about Jo as well. Good luck in the drawing!

  9. Natalya Lakhno

    I must confess…I haven’t read Little Women and haven’t watched movie either…

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Natalya, it will be our secret! Perhaps some day you’ll get the opportunity to read the book or see the movie. I haven’t read the book either, but reading Heidi’s novel is making me want to actually read Little Women since I cliff-noted my way through it in high school (there’s my confession).

  10. Faith Creech

    I like Amy, even though she was spoiled she was adventurous and not afraid to travel to Europe and paint at a time when women painters were not common. Thank you for the chance to win this book. I know it will be so very good!

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Faith, Welcome to Romancing History! And the last March sister gets a vote! As the youngest of three sisters, I was often teasingly labeled “spoiled” by my older sisters and while I don’t paint, I too, like Amy, am creative in that I write. I’m glad you recognized her determination to pursue her interests in a male-dominated field. That is an excellent quality.

  11. Donna A

    Well, I loved this interview, and of course I would because I am Heidi’s mother, and yet I learned some stuff that was different about Heidi that I have not read or heard previously. That is a nod to you, Kelly, for asking such interesting questions. Thank you for loving Heidi’s books.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Donna! Welcome to Romancing History! What a wonderful surprise and thank you for your kind words! If you see this response, I hope you’ll comment again because I understand that you lent some of your poems to the book. I’m listening on Audible and wasn’t able to begin before sending her the questions so now I’m curious about those poems and wish I could’ve asked her about them. Are you a writer like Heidi? How long have you been writing poetry? I’m assuming these are the poems Joanna’s character has written. What a wonderful talent you have! I also loved that Heidi mentioned in the Dedication how supportive you’ve been of her writing dreams. Thank you so much for visiting today!

      • Donna A

        Hi Kelly,

        Thank you, thank you for you interest in the poems in Heidi’s book. To answer your questions. . .I am not a writer like Heidi. Well, Heidi spent her childhood watching me fail at it. I once won a national short story contest in 1996, but that was the end of it. I have 2 and half unpublished novels, a plethora of short stories, and like Heidi said lots of poetry. Heidi is the obvious real writer.

        About the poetry. . . I started writing poetry as a teen. I’d ride my horse in the woods and plant myself under a circle of cedar trees and write. I don’t have those poems anymore, as they got all moldy in a notebook and I threw them away in my 20s. (I kick myself for that)!

        I haven’t written poetry in several years, probably 5 or 6. My brain and being is too settled and content now to write poetry. I guess that is a good thing. Poetry was always a way for me to sort out my tumultuous thoughts. . . a way to understand.

        I see now, the entire purpose of my trying to write, and writing poetry, was on behalf of Heidi. She has always been the best person I know, and I can’t tell you how proud and blessed I feel to be her mother. We have two daughters, both beautiful women inside and out, and that is my success.

        Thank you, Kelly, for you interest. I am so glad you are enjoying Heidi’s book and my poems. I would love to hear how it sounds on audio as well.

        I meant to mention, and thought I had, that I love your beautiful the cover photo for this blog. I am going to have to visit more often, now that Heidi has introduced me. Once again, thank you so much for your interest.

        Lots of Beautiful,
        Donna

        • romancinghistory

          Hi Donna, Thanks so much for coming for another visit and sharing about your poetry. I think you’re a real writer as well because we all write to understand and to share what we think and feel. Not all writing journies lead to publication and your writing no doubt enabled you to support Heidi as she pursued her own writing dreams. Thank you for your kind words regarding the cover website art. I blog fairly regularly regarding history, and historical fiction and romance and the authors who write books that challenge me to be better writers. I look forward to seeing you here on Romancing history.

  12. Patty

    I might have read an abridged version as a child, but I don’t think I’ve ever read the full book Little Women, I don’t think I’ve seen any of the movie versions=( so I can’t really pick a favorite.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Patty, perhaps you’ll get a chance to see one of the movie adaptations one day. I haven’t see the most recent one but its on my list. I don’t watch much tv or movies any more but I do hope to see this one.

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