Welcome to the Virtual Book Tour for The Promise of Pierson Orchard by Kate Brandes. The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Follow the tour by clicking on the banner image above. The more you comment, the better your chances at winning.
The Promise of Pierson Orchard
by Kate Brandes
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Release Date: April 22nd, 2017
In the novel, Green Energy arrives, offering the impoverished rural community of Minden, Pennsylvania, the dream of making more money from their land by leasing natural gas rights for drilling. But orchardist, Jack Pierson, fears his brother, Wade, who now works for Green Energy, has returned to town after a shame-filled twenty-year absence so desperate to be the hero that he’ll blind their hometown to the potential dangers. Jack also worries his brother will try to rekindle his relationship with LeeAnn, Jack’s wife, who’s recently left him. To protect his hometown and to fulfill a promise to himself, Jack seeks out his mother and environmental lawyer Stella Brantley, who abandoned Minden—and Jack and Wade–years ago.
When LeeAnn’s parents have good reason to lease their land, but their decision leads to tragedy, Jack must fight to find a common ground that will save his fractured family, their land, and the way of life they love.
Jack looked back at them only once. The baby and LeeAnn, slick with blood and afterbirth, the cord still connecting them, as though they’d both been born of the swollen creek and washed up on its banks.
The sight of LeeAnn with her arms around the child pushed Jack to move faster. He raced back the way he’d come. The ground was soaked and slippery. He fell several times, blindly grabbing onto rocks and trees, pulling and pushing anything that could move him forward. When he reached the cones across the road, his chest burned and his hands bled. Headlights came toward him and he stepped out into the middle of the road with his arms raised. The car slowed. Gabriel jumped out.
“Jack! I heard about the bridge and came right away. What’s happened? You okay? Where’s LeeAnn? I got no answer on her cell or at her apartment.”
“Call nine-one-one. We need an ambulance. She’s downstream, along the shore, straight ahead.” Jack pointed the way. “Stella and the baby, too. They’re alive, but there isn’t much time. The baby’s more blue than pink. I’m going back to wait with them.”
“Take this,” Gabriel said, removing off his coat and handing it to him after pulling his cell from its pocket.
Jack hurried. By the time he got to LeeAnn he could already hear the sirens. LeeAnn was awake, her skin as chalk white as the sycamore in the moonlight. Her lower lip bled.
“Hold on now, LeeAnn. Help is coming.” The rapid, shallow rhythm of the baby’s breath didn’t seem right even to his untrained eye. He wrapped them both in Gabriel’s coat and then went to Stella. When he shook her, her eyes flickered open. “Just lay still for now. Medics will be here in a few minutes.”
He moved back over next to LeeAnn, stripped off his shirt, and lay down under the coat beside her and the baby, wrapping around them to offer what body warmth he could. “Your dad’s waiting for the ambulance. They’ll be here very soon,” he said, kissing LeeAnn’s forehead. “I’m here with you. That’s all I’ve ever wanted,” he said, muttering it over and over, hoping she heard.
Please tell us a little bit about your book. What inspired the themes in your story?
Here’s a little synopsis of the book:
Green Energy arrives, offering the rural community of Minden the dream of making more money from their land by leasing natural gas rights for drilling. But orchardist, Jack Pierson, fears his brother, Wade, who now works for Green Energy, has returned to town after a twenty-year absence so desperate to be the hero that he’ll blind their hometown to the potential dangers. Jack also worries his brother will try to rekindle his relationship with LeeAnn, Jack’s wife, who’s recently left him. To protect his hometown and to fulfill a promise to himself, Jack seeks out his mother and environmental lawyer, Stella Brantley, who abandoned Minden–and Jack and Wade–many, many years ago.
In terms of inspiration, the themes of my book come from my career and my identification with rural life.
I’ve spent most of my working life, not as a writer, but as an environmental scientist. I didn’t start writing creatively until I was in my mid-thirties. I’ve always loved stories about complicated families and relationships. When I learned about fracking through my environmental science career, one of my first thoughts was that it would make a great metaphor in a novel about a fractured family. So that was the start. It took me eight years from there to get the novel to publication.
When I started this novel, almost no one had heard of fracking. I was fascinated by it early on because of my experience with looking at water problems deep underground. But also because I’m from a rural area much like the rural places where fracking has taken place in Pennsylvania. I could see the struggle from the rural perspective that I didn’t think anyone was really talking about it. It’s complicated and I wanted to explore it through fiction.
Do you outline before you write? or just dive right in?
I do a loose outline. I like to know where I’m starting and where I’m ending so I have a clear direction about where I want to go eventually. The part in between the beginning and end I keep more open since I don’t know exactly the journey my characters will take along the way.
I recently read Lisa Cron’s book, Story Genius, which I found really helpful. I’m applying her novel writing method to my work in progress.
Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you currently reading?
I love Kent Haruf, Richard Russo and Barbara Kingsolver. I’m currently reading a wonderful book by another debut writer, Elise Hooper, called The Other Alcott.
If you could visit any setting from one of your books, which one would it be and why?
I’d like to visit the orchard in my book. It’s completely made up, but I can see it very clearly in my mind. I can even smell the blossoms when I think about spring in the orchard.
If you were to cast your characters, which actors would you choose?
This is a fun question.
Jack – Patrick Dempsey,
Wade – James Norton,
LeeAnn – Angelina Jolie, and
Stella – Meryl Streep
How do you come up with the names of your characters?
I think about last names a lot. For example, my novel includes several members of the Pierson family. I chose the last name Pierson because I like that it sounds like it’s related to the word ‘pierce’, which ties in nicely with the fracture themes in the novel.
Name one item you can’t live without.
Coffee seems pretty essential.
What are some of your hobbies?
I love to do visual art (painting, textiles) as a counterbalance to writing. I get something out of the tactile work of making stuff as opposed to the deep thinking required for writing.
I also love the outdoors and nature and take walks that are much longer than most anyone else finds reasonable.
If you were presented with the opportunity to travel through time, which period would you choose and why?
I guess this is pretty boring, but I would stay right here. As a woman, I don’t have much interest in going back in time when women had less rights. And honestly, I’m not sure I want to know what happens in the future. I’d rather try to live the best I can right now.
What’s next for you?
I’m at work on my second novel, partly inspired by Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang. It will be another book club fiction novel with an eco-bent, but it’s a completely different story from my first novel.
In celebration of my upcoming book launch, I’m offering 8 signed paperback copies, 8 small prizes, a $25 Amazon gift card and a list of book-related discussion questions to one lucky book club member to share with your club. All you have to do to enter is tell one person about the book and sign up here: http://katebrandes.com/books/the-promise-of-person-orchard/ Contest runs through my book launch date, April 22, 2017. The winner will be announced the following day! Good luck!