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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51 Comments

  1. Winnie Thomas

    It’s been so long since I’ve read Little Women that I really can’t remember much about it. That happens a lot when you get as old as I am!

    Thanks for the fun interview and the chance to win. I’ve read a couple of Heidi’s books and loved them. This one sounds so fascinating!

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Winnie, I find I’m starting to forget some of the details of books and movies, too! I’m glad you stopped by!

  2. Megan

    I’m sensing a theme here, but I gotta say Jo was my favorite too. Her spunk and drive were so fun to read about.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Megan, Yep, Jo is outshining the competition as it were. I like reading plucky characters. It’s a trait I admire. Best of luck in the drawing!

  3. I think I would have to say Jo as have many already. But honestly I loved them all. I think they were all needed to make Jo what she was and the sister she was as well as the strong character she is. Just a great book and I even loved the movie I saw shortly before COVID. Yes, I am a fan and your book is on my “to read” list!

    • romancinghistory

      Hello Sunnie, Welcome to Romancing History! I love your insight into Jo. Aren’t we all “the people we are” because of the influences of those around us–good and bad. I think you will enjoy Heidi’s book very much. I hope you get the opportunity to read it.

  4. Jennifer

    My favorite was Jo because of her reading and writing. I also love doing both.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Jennifer, Welcome to Romancing History! It is fun to read books about other writers! I hope you’ll stop back and tell me what you’re working on! Best of luck in the drawing!

  5. Danielle Hammelef

    I’m a Jo fan all the way–I connected to her the most and she is the one I’ve always remembered best.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Danielle, Welcome to Romancing History! You’re not alone in the Jo March fan club! She is memorable and lively. I often wonder if LMA desired to be like her in some ways now that I’m reading The Orchard House and I get some insight into the writer and her life.

  6. Anne

    Beth is my favorite sister. She is wise beyond her years, thoughtful, kind and caring as well as very musical and talented. Mostly she has a very influential impression upon her sisters when she dies. Her character is beautiful. When the sisters lose her they become more considerate and realize their loss.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Anne, Welcome to Romancing History! You’re the first commenter who has mentioned Beth as a favorite! I think Jo’s personality leaps off the page and sometimes overshadows her sisters but I really like how you noticed the change her death brought — how it made them value each other and their relatioinships more. Best of Luck in the drawing!

  7. Debra J Pruss

    I have not read Little Women. I would think I would be more like Meg. Quiet and withdrawn. Thank you for the opportunity.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Debra, Welcome to Romancing History! I think sometimes quiet is underrated. Often the quiet ones are the thinkers. They are introspective and thoughtful.

  8. Sabrina Templin

    Actually I’ve not read Little Women yet. But i’ve heard of the sisters and i think i’m most like Jo except not as spunky lol

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Sabrina, I like spunky heroines a great deal, too! Good luck in the drawing!

  9. Jan S

    My favorite like the others is Jo for so many reasons, but I also appreciate Meg as she has to take on so many responsibilities as the firstborn and be the sensible one when it isn’t always fun to do so.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Jan, Welcome to Romancing History. I liked your comment about Meg. That is really true about being the eldest and eldest daughters in large families often mothered their younger siblings. I had a great aunt who passed on marriage because her own mother died and she chose to stay home and raise her younger siblings. She was the third child, but first girl, in a family of 12. She eventually married the same man who’d proposed when they were in their 70s, and he’d become a widower. Not sure why I went in to all of that now! LOL!

  10. Alicia Haney

    My favorite was Jo, I loved her spunk and her free spirited personality. She was also a very thoughtful person. Thank you so much for the chance. This book sounds very intriguing and I love the book cover. Have a Great weekend and stay safe.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Alicia, Isn’t the cover gorgeous? I think you’d enjoy the book. I like how Heidi gives both the contemporary and modern-day heroines similar journeys. Not their exact story lines but more like the issues they’re wrestling with. Thanks for visiting Romancing History.

  11. Melinda K.

    I’d have to say that my favorite March sister is Meg. I’m not a first-born, but have similar giftings regarding nurturing, patience, and responsibilities (I’m a Nanny). Along with those aspects, I also desire to be married and have a family but thinking it will never happen, just like she felt about herself.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Melinda, I’m commented somewhere about being the baby of three sisters and while that is definitely true, I’m also very much like a first-born child because my sisters are twins and nearly 12 years older than me. I’m a nurturer and extremely responsible person. Patience, well I have it in spades for others, especially children, but very little for myself. I hope that God grants that desire you have for a husband and family — until then, draw near to Him. Best of luck in the drawing!

      • Melinda K.

        I saw your comment regarding being the baby of three sisters. I’m the fourth girl with a younger brother, so that makes me the baby girl of the family.
        Thank you so much for the kind words and encouragement. I’ve been trusting Him for these dreams for a long time. I know that He knows what is best, so I continue to lean into Him as I love on all of my Nanny kiddos and families; I work for multiple families on a semi-on-call basis, so I trust God for my income as well.

  12. Joye

    Jo because she was so determined to help her family.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Joye, I liked that about Jo, too! Thanks for stopping by today.

  13. Vivian Furbay

    I liked Jo and also read the book Jo’s Boys.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Vivian, you’re the first person who said they’ve read other books by LMA. Good luck in the drawing!

  14. Anna B.

    Bonus my favorite because she’s snarky and headstrong and oftentimes doesn’t think before she just jumps in feet first. We share a lot of similarities, but I’d like to think that I think before I speak a bit better than she does. Maybe. It’s a lesson I’m still in the midst of learning.

  15. Anna B.

    Bonus my favorite because she’s snarky and headstrong and oftentimes doesn’t think before she just jumps in feet first. We share a lot of similarities, but I’d like to think that I think before I speak a bit better than she does.

    • Anna B.

      Ugh autocorrect. Jo is my favorite.

      “Bonus”. Lol.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Anna, I figured it was Jo you were talking about! I have a tendency to speak too quickly myself so I can relate to that. Thanks for visiting Romancing History!

  16. Kate Ritz

    Jo b/c she writes like me. She has spunk!

  17. SARAH TAYLOR

    I haven’t read Little Women Love the cover of this book Thank you for the chance!

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Sarah! Yes, isn’t that cover gorgeous! Thanks for visiting!

  18. Elizabeth Litton

    I like Jo because she is passionate about life and stands up for what she believes to be right. (But I also like Beth because she makes me want to be more like her.)

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Elizabeth, I like that she stands up for what she believes is as well.

  19. Megan L.

    All of the March sisters were interesting, but I think Jo is the most likeable because she is so sensible and seeks to help others in most situations.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Megan, it seems that Jo is by far the favorite of my blog commenters at least! Thanks for visiting Romancing History!

  20. JOAN ARNING

    I am ashamed to admit that I have not read Little Women! Especially since I’m an old lady! I will pick Jo since we are both “Jo”. jarning67(at)hotmail(dot)com

    • romancinghistory

      That’s as good a reason as any, Joan! Thanks for stopping by today!

  21. Caryl Kane

    I haven’t read Little Women.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Caryl, I haven’t either but have seen many film adaptations of the book. Thanks for visiting.

  22. Nancy

    Hi Ladies,
    I would have to say that my favorite March sister is Jo!
    Why? Because she writes and I would love to be able to write a book. P!us she has such optimism for all thr possibilities that could unfold.

    Thank you for this opportunity to win “The Orchard House” which sounds very intriguing.

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Nancy, I think Jo is probably a fan favorite. Thanks for visiting Romancing History today!

  23. Hi Kelly & Heidi!
    Jo was my favorite. I just loved her tenacious spirit and also her love for writing! =) Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

    • romancinghistory

      I think Jo is my favorite as well! Thanks for visiting today, Cynthia!

  24. Perrianne Askew

    I’m going to be perfectly honest and say that I am not a classical reader. I know I’ve read a little bit of Little Women but not enough to pick a favorite. I will say, though that I’ve read everything Heidi Chiavaroli has published and thoroughly enjoyed them all!

    • romancinghistory

      Hi Perrianne, well I’m so glad you’ve read Heidi’s books! I wasn’t a fan of the classics in school when we “had” to read them but have enjoyed many later when I chose to read them, but certainly haven’t read them all myself either. Thanks for visiting!

  25. Alison Boss

    Jo was my favorite. I enjoy her spirit and zest for life.

    Thank you for the chance to win a copy of The Orchard House! It sounds AMAZING!!!

    nj(dot)bossman(at)gmail(dot)com

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