Check out an interview with the author... The Second Life of Mirielle West by Amanda Skenandore (Interview & #Giveaway) #MirielleWest #AmandaSkenandore #HFVBTBlogTours @ARShenandoah @KensingtonBooks @hfvbt

Welcome to my tour stop! Check out an interview with the author and enter the giveaway below...

The Second Life of Mirielle West
By Amanda Skenandore
Adult Historical Fiction
Paperback & ebook, 304 Pages
July 27, 2021 by Kensington Publishing


In this thought-provoking and sensitive novel, inspired by the true story of a Louisiana leprosy hospital where patients were forcibly quarantined, acclaimed author Amanda Skenandore tells an extraordinarily timely tale of resilience, hope–and the last woman who expected to find herself in such a place…

1920s Los Angeles: Socialite Mirielle West’s days are crowded with shopping, luncheons, and prepping for the myriad glittering parties she attends with her actor husband, Charlie. She’s been too busy to even notice the small patch of pale skin on the back of her hand. Other than an occasional over-indulgence in gin and champagne, which helps to numb the pain of recent tragedy, Mirielle is the picture of health. But her doctor insists on more tests, and Mirielle reluctantly agrees.

The diagnosis–leprosy–is devastating and unthinkable. Changing her name to shield Charlie and their two young children, Mirielle is exiled to rural Louisiana for what she hopes will be a swift cure. But the hospital at Carville turns out to be as much a prison as a place of healing. Deaths far outnumber the discharges, and many patients have languished for years. Some are badly afflicted, others relatively unscathed. For all, the disease’s stigma is just as insidious as its physical progress.

At first, Mirielle keeps her distance from other residents, unwilling to accept her new reality. Gradually she begins to find both a community and a purpose at Carville, helping the nurses and doctors while eagerly anticipating her return home. But even that wish is tinged with uncertainty. How can she bridge the divide between the woman, wife, and mother she was, and the stranger she has become? And what price is she willing to pay to protect the ones she loves?


What inspired you to write about a woman with leprosy in the 1920s?

As a writer, I’m drawn to stories and voices left out of the traditional narrative of history. In the case of this novel, I came across this tiny book at my local library titled Carville: Remembering Leprosy in America. I was so struck by the heartrending stories it contained. Before that, I knew almost nothing about leprosy (which is now preferentially called Hansen’s Disease) and its history in America. I knew nothing about the laws that condemned those with the disease to lifelong quarantine. I knew nothing about the toll the stigma had on patients’ lives and the lives of their families. Their stories felt like something important to share with readers.

Would you tell us more about the main characters from THE SECOND LIFE OF MIRIELLE WEST?

As the title suggests, the main character is Mirielle West. She’s the wife of a silent film star, living a glamours but sorrow-filled life in 1920s Hollywood. Unexpectedly, she’s diagnosed with leprosy (a disease for which, at the time, there was no cure). She’s ripped apart from her family and sent to live in isolation at the National Leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana, hundreds of miles from her home. There, she meets the other main characters:

Frank, a WWI veteran who has been living with the disease for several years and is committed to bringing a measure of cheer to their bleak lives at the colony. Irene, Mirielle’s spunky housemate, who helps her adapt to life at the colony. And Jean, a nine-year-old girl, whose father left her at the colony when she was six and never looked back. These are not their real names, however. Almost everyone who came to the colony took a new name to spare their family the shame of the disease. They called them their Carville names.

What advice would Mirielle give about navigating her new world at the hospital?

When Mirielle first arrives at the hospital, she’s in complete disbelief and avoids the other residents. But once she comes to accept her situation, the advice she would give those new to the colony would be: have hope.

When researching the book, did you find anything that surprised or inspired you?

I was surprised by how committed many of the residents were to making a community at Carville. They started a newspaper, threw parties at Christmas and Mardi Gras and Fourth of July, raised money to support the troops during WWII, created bands and book clubs and sports teams. All of this with almost no access to the outside world. Of course, there were stories I read about during my research that surprised me by their sorrow and cruelty too. But it was residents’ support of one another and determination to make meaningful lives for themselves that truly inspired me.

What part or aspect of this story do you love the most?

There’s a scene with Mirielle and Frank frog hunting in the swamp that l love. The growth of their friendship is one of my favorite aspects of the story. Mirielle, a big-city socialite, is totally out of place in the swamp, and it’s fun for Frank (and the reader, I hope) to watch her squirm and flounder but ultimately succeed in snatching a bullfrog from the water. I also really enjoyed writing the letters back and forth between Mirielle and her husband, Charlie. There’s so much subtext in what’s said and unsaid between them. And it was a fun, albeit sometimes heartrending, challenge to chart their relationship this way.

What are you hoping readers will feel or get out of this story after they’ve finished it?

I was writing the second draft of the story when the Coronavirus lockdown began. In addition to writing, I also work as an infection prevention nurse and was called to the hospital a lot in those early days of the pandemic. Suddenly I could relate to my characters—their fear and isolation—in a much more visceral way. But I also found great hope and perspective in their story and the real-life stories of the patients at Carville. Despite their circumstances and the stigma surrounding the disease, they found ways to love and laugh and support one another. In THE SECOND LIFE OF MIRIELLE WEST I hope readers will find the same strength and inspiration.

When you’re not reading or writing, what do you enjoy doing?

I love being outside—walking, swimming, hiking. That can be tricky here in Las Vegas when it’s 115 degrees outside in the summer, though. So I try to bring nature indoors too by cultivating and propagating house plants. I’m still a novice, but I’ve managed to keep most of my plant babies alive so far.

What are you working on next?

I just finished the rough draft of my next novel. I still don’t have a title. (I’m terrible at coming up with titles!) It’s set in 1880s New York at America’s first nursing school. The main character is Una, a rough-and-tumble thief who’s wanted for a crime she didn’t commit. To evade the police, she disguises herself as a nurse trainee at Bellevue Hospital. But when a patient on her ward is murdered, she must risk expulsion and arrest to catch the culprit before he kills again.

About the Author

Amanda is the author of Between Earth and Sky, winner of the American Library Association’s 2019 Reading List Award for Best Historical Fiction, and The Undertaker’s Assistant, released from Kensington in July 2019.

She grew up in the mountains of Colorado and sang and danced her way through 68 cities on both sides of the Atlantic with the service organization Up with People before starting college. Her love of historical fiction started early with the stories of Kenneth Thomasma, Mark Twain, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

When she’s not writing, Amanda works as an infection prevention nurse. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and their pet turtle Lenore.

Amanda Skenandore is a historical fiction writer and registered nurse. Between Earth and Sky was her first novel. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Readers can visit her website at

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The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on August 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Second Life of Mirielle West

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