Some Q&A with the author for The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller (Blog Tour Interview & Giveaway)


Welcome to my tour stop! Author Sharon Biggs Waller is stopping by today to answer some of my questions about her newest release. Read the interview and enter the giveaway below...

The Forbidden OrchidThe Forbidden Orchid
by Sharon Biggs Waller
YA Historical
Hardcover, ebook & audiobook, 432 Pages
March 8th 2016 by Viking

Summary

Staid, responsible Elodie Buchanan is the eldest of ten sisters living in a small English market town in 1861. The girls' father is a plant hunter, usually off adventuring through the jungles of China.

Then disaster strikes: Mr. Buchanan fails to collect an extremely rare and valuable orchid, meaning that he will be thrown into debtors' prison and the girls will be sent to the orphanage or the poorhouse. Elodie's father has one last chance to return to China, find the orchid, and save the family—and this time, thanks to an unforeseen twist of fate, Elodie is going with him. Elodie has never before left her village, but what starts as fear turns to wonder as she adapts to seafaring life aboard the tea clipper The Osprey, and later to the new sights, dangers, and romance of China.

But even if she can find the orchid, how can she find herself now that staid, responsible Elodie has seen how much the world has to offer?

 
  
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Author Interview

I love the cover and the sound of this story. After writing A MAD, WICKED FOLLY, what inspired you to write THE FORBIDDEN ORCHID?

When I lived in England I discovered a passion for gardening, which in England is basically their national pastime! Gardening is so popular that television shows, such as Gardener’s World, are on during prime time. My husband and I had a huge garden where we lived in Kent and I learned so much about plants and how they grow. I was at the Garden Museum in Lambeth one day and there was an exhibit on plant hunters, explorers who risked their lives to bring plants from foreign lands for their employers—wealthy men to fill their greenhouses, plant nurseries or botanical gardens, such as Kew. That exhibit really interested me and I sort of filed it in the back of my head. Once I’d written A MAD, WICKED FOLLY I started thinking about what was next. I asked my agent, John, M. Cusick, what he thought about plant hunters and when he sat up and cocked his head, I knew there was something there! I wanted to set the story in the Victorian era because that’s the time when plant hunting, in particular, orchid hunting was at its greatest and when women were expected to be very prim and proper. When I started researching China, there was so much there that fit perfectly into the story, especially the Opium Wars and the role the opium poppy, another plant, played in the country’s ruin.

I hadn't ever heard of plant hunters, or maybe even thought about them before this book. What were some interesting facts you found while researching the story?

I hadn’t realized how many orchids there are in the world and that they are the most highly evolved and adaptable flowering plants on earth. 25,000 known species exist all over the world apart from Antarctica. Many orchids rely on one pollinator and have evolved to attract that one creature to it. Charles Darwin predicted a moth with a foot long proboscis that evolved alongside an orchid called the star or comet orchid, which has a long nectary hanging behind the flower. In 1907 the moth was finally discovered. And in 1992, the moth was seen feeding on the flower, finally proving Darwin correct. Here is a great video about it

That is really interesting. I didn't realize there were so many species either until I tried an online search for a picture of an orchid and it pulled up so many varieties. China did play a role in orchids history and this story. As Elodie travels to China, what was her favorite new experience or place?

She loved riding her horse, Blossom. For a girl restricted to one little village in England, and exploring that on foot, riding gave Elodie a feeling of freedom that she’d never known before. She also loved learning how to throw a rock sling!

I didn't think how there were no horses at her home at the beginning of the story, which was unusual compared to other historicals I've read. How is Elodie challenged the most as she travels with her father?

Physically she’s challenged by the environment, the hard ground she has to sleep on, the mosquitos, the heat. But mentally, she has a tough time speaking up for herself and accepting help from others, especially her father who she doesn’t want to see her as weak.

It was a tough journey, but a huge opportunity for growth for sure. What was your favorite part of writing the book?

I loved writing about Kukla, Alex’s dog. The weirdest thing happened after I wrote her into the story.

We live on a farm and from time to time people abandon animals on the road outside our house. About two weeks after I’d created Kukla, I opened the backdoor and a little dog was sitting on the step. She looked exactly like Kukla and I learned later she is also a food thief! No one claimed her so we kept her. We named her Daisy and she’s now my constant companion. Aside from Kukla, I loved writing the interactions between Elodie and Alex. Those two were meant for each other. : )

Well, I have a thing for dogs, especially abandoned ones, and a thing for romances, so sounds good to me. :) What bookish thing (book, event, movie, etc.) are you looking forward to the most this year?

I’m really looking forward to season two of OUTLANDER. I’m a huge, huge fangirl of the books and the series. Cannot wait. Also I’m hoping to get tickets to see HAMILTON in Chicago when it arrives this fall. I’m so addicted to that soundtrack.

I still need to read OUTLANDER. I know, I know. I should have read it ages ago. I'll have to look up the soundtrack to HAMILTON . What are you working on next?

I’m working on a contemporary YA and a historical adult romance. Watch this space!

Looking forward to them! Thanks so much for answering my questions, Sharon!

About the Author


Sharon Biggs Waller grew up around artists and developed a passion for Edwardian history and the Pre-Raphaelites when she moved to England in 2000. She did extensive research on the British suffragettes for her novel, A MAD, WICKED FOLLY when she wasn’t working as a riding instructor at the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace and as a freelance magazine writer. She also writes non-fiction books about horses under her maiden name, Sharon Biggs. She is a dressage rider and trainer and lives on a 10-acre sustainable farm in Northwest Indiana with her British husband, Mark. Visit her atwww.sharonbiggswaller.com.


Tour Schedule

Week 1:
2/29/2016- Two Chicks on Books- Interview
3/1/2016- Bookish Lifestyle- Review
3/2/2016- IceyBooks- Guest Post
3/3/2016- Great Imaginations- Review
3/4/2016- The Book Belles- Interview

Week 2:
3/7/2016- The Eater of Books!- Review
3/8/2016- Addicted Readers- Guest Post
3/9/2016- Fiction Fare- Review
3/410/2016- Wishful Endings- Interview
3/1/2016- Mundie Moms- Review

Tour-Wide Giveaway

1 winner will receive signed finished copies of THE FORBIDDEN ORCHID, A MAD WICKED FOLLY & swag, US Only.

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