Y’all, I am just tickled pink to finally have Joanna Davidson Politano five favorites on the blog! We met online and set this date months ago to coincide with the release of her debut novel then met at a Christian Fiction event. squeeeee! Congratulations, my friend!!!
About the Author
Joanna Davidson Politano freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. Her manuscript for Lady Jayne Disappears was a finalist for several contests, including the 2016 Genesis Award from ACFW, and won the OCW Cascade Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence.
She is always on the hunt for random acts of kindness, people willing to share their deepest secrets with a stranger, and hidden stashes of sweets. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her on her website.
Joanna Davidson Politano Five Favorite Facts in Fiction
Joanna: A woman’s male pen name—The idea for my entire story began with the Bronte sisters when I read a biography that talked about them approaching their publisher and revealing that they were the ones writing under those famous male pen names.
Picturing that scene so tickled me that I patterned my prologue after that concept. Aurelie has adopted her father’s famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll, and her publisher cannot believe she is the one behind the famous serial novels when she stands so quietly before his desk at the publishing office.
Beth: I love it! These ladies were trailblazers.
Joanna: Lynhurst Manor—The family home of my heroine that is filled with stories is based on a compilation of several houses I toured in the UK, but it’s mostly based on Tyntesfield in Somerset. It’s a huge gothic-medieval style home with a beautiful chapel that appears in the story in a pivotal moment for the heroine.
The home was built during the Oxford movement, in which people made great shows of their religious fervor with huge chapels and naturalistic décor, such as vine and flower designs carved into the wood everywhere—paneling, railings, and trim.
Beth: Visiting old homes is one of my favorite ways to experience history (after reading historical fiction, of course)!
Joanna: Aurelie, the heroine—This girl is basically me, just 150 years ago. With a deep love of words, quiet nature and a strong desire to help people, Aurelie probably resembles many bookish people.
Yet she has taken a page directly from my own life story—anonymous storytelling. When I was in grade school, I wrote crazy little stories that featured the people I knew. I wrote them into the plot and then punished or honored their characters as I deemed fit.
Like Aurelie, I spoke through my stories when my voice would not otherwise be heard. It nearly earned me lots of trouble when the stories leaked out into the classroom and my classmates started recognizing themselves!
Beth: Uh oh! It’s a problem you only have to worry about with the quiet ones 😉
Joanna: Charles Dickens—There are so many points of inspiration from this author, one of my favorites, from mentions of his books to the very idea of serialized novels. One of the more famous serial novelists, Dickens wrote about the social ills of his world and used his stories to teach and change.
Aurelie does the same, but mostly within the context of her household. She even spent time in debtor’s prison with her debtor father, as did Charles Dickens in his youth.
Beth: *shivers* I’ve read stories about those prisons, not a place I’d like to visit!
Joanna: My Dad—Since Aurelie is based on me, I had to give her a strong attachment to her father and make the man larger than life, heroic, and stunning to her. My dad has always been a remarkable storyteller, and I still remember the fanciful tales he told me in my childhood, just as Aurelie’s father did for her.
Also like Aurelie, I owe my love of stories and writing to my dad, who spurred my imagination with an abundance of wonderful made-up tales.
Beth: That is so sweet!
Tell us about your latest release
Joanna: Lady Jayne Disappears was actually meant to be purely a “practice” novel—an open conversation between God and I with no future beyond that.
As a new stay-at-home mom, I sat down during baby’s nap times and delighted in creating this lovely story that took any turn I wanted, included every feature I loved to read in a book, and had the very voice and tone I found most fun to write.
As it turns out, that’s a profitable way to write a book, because what the writer enjoys is normally what the reader enjoys!
Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano five favorites
When Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies in debtor’s prison, he leaves her just two things: his wealthy family, whom she has never met, and his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. Her new family greets her with apathy and even resentment. Only the quiet houseguest, Silas Rotherham, welcomes her company.
When Aurelie decides to complete her father’s unfinished serial novel, writing the family into the story as unflattering characters, she must keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden while searching for the truth about her mother’s disappearance–and perhaps even her father’s death.
Author Joanna Davidson Politano’s stunning debut set in Victorian England will delight readers with its highly original plot, lush setting, vibrant characters, and reluctant romance.
Lady Jayne Disappears excerpt by Joanna Davidson Politano five favorites
“Well, have you fetched them?” Lady Eudora Eustice Pochard huddled in her wheeled chair in the bay of heavily draped windows. The fireplace glowed behind her, giving a soft yet eerie light to this red-and-gold gilded room of her ancestors.
Silas grimaced. Oh yes, he had fetched them. Both trunks . . . as well as the additional piece of baggage. “Yes, my lady. Every last belonging of a Mr. Harcourt of Shepton Mallet.”
“He is dead?” Digory’s faithful butler mask shattered. “No! Mr. Harcourt—”
A daggered look from Lady Pochard sliced the end off his sentence. The poor man’s Adam’s apple bobbed, wiry hands working at his sides.
Who was this Mr. Harcourt to the family, anyway? Silas tried again. “As to what I’m to do with—”
“I’ve told you. All the trunks are to be stowed in the rafters. Unless you have taken it upon yourself to look through the deceased man’s belongings to decide their value is greater than attic fodder.”
“I have only glimpsed one belonging, my lady, and you will hardly wish to keep it in your attic.” Why did he tiptoe around the truth? It wasn’t as if it was his fault, any of this.
“Out with it, then.” The woman’s aged mouth puckered. “I’ve no patience for your witticisms, Mr. Rotherham. Speak quickly.” He cleared his throat.
“A girl, my lady. A young woman of nearly twenty, I’d say.” Realization dawned on the old woman’s face in hues of white and ashy gray. “It cannot be.”
Beth: Oh, I enjoyed this immensely!!! I’m scrambling through my tbr to get to your story!
Tell us about your next release
Joanna: In the summer of 2018, Revell will be releasing my second book entitled, A Rumored Fortune. It’s another Victorian-era novel and the romance thread is based on the dynamics of my own love story. That part was so fun to write! Because of that, this book has a stronger romance element than my first.
I did not care for my husband at all when I first met him and said no to a second date. Slowly we became friends, though. During that time, he was smitten and very much desired to take care of me and serve me however he could… while still respecting my “no.” Here’s a small excerpt that shows a piece of poor Donegan Vance’s same internal battle:
A Rumored Fortune excerpt by Joanna Davidson Politano five favorites
After a moment of silent hesitation, she wilted into him. Donegan’s arms stiffened to keep from embracing her, for everything would unravel if he did. It seemed natural, almost necessary, to lift his arms and wrap them around her to comfort her, but one tiny indulgence and he wouldn’t be able to remain stoic. So there they stood, the weeping girl leaning against his chest, her enamored yet rejected suitor holding her up like an oak.
Finally, she spoke. “I can only take so much pruning,” she whispered. “Why is God doing this to me? He’s… he’s pruning the very life out of me.”
“No, he’s bringing you to life. Only the harshest summers produce good crops, and this is your summer.”
She pulled back to look up at him. “What am I to do then? How do I endure it?”
“When you feel you’re dying in the heat of summer, all a branch needs to do is to hold on.” He gripped her elbows and looked into her eyes to convey the importance of the truth he now uttered, for it was all he could offer her. “Cling with all its might to the vine. That’s all, simply hold on.”
In response, she squeezed his hand, and the touch pulsated through him. It was not an exciting embrace of passion, but the deep and lasting kind that connected two individuals at a profound level. What Donegan feared was that the connection would, for him at least, be permanent. The urge to reach his arms around her and anchor her close nearly overwhelmed him, so he stiffened against her touch and Tressa stepped back, hurt flashing in her eyes.
He hurried to cover the action with an explanation. “No man knows how to properly handle tears.”
A smile broke across her face before she dipped it away from him in embarrassment. “How foolish I am, crying before my field manager this way. I take your friendship for granted.”
He grinned. “It’s nice to see the little bird without her airs at times.”
Beth: Cheeky fellow! I like him! 😀
Describe Lady Jayne Disappears in five words.
Bookish, shadowy, Victorian, encouraging, romantic.
Beth: Ooooooo, shadowy! Obviously, I adore the other four words, too.
What do you want readers to gain from Lady Jayne Disappears?
I want readers to take away an eternal perspective on their lives and especially on their purpose here on earth. I also want them to turn that same eternal perspective on the people around them and see the value of every God-created person, no matter how the world values them.
Beth: Amen and amen!
What book are you reading right now?
I’m reading the Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner and it’s absolutely so much fun!
I am normally a historical girl, but Bethany’s honest, conversational tone just pulls me right through these delightful pages. I’ve laughed so hard while reading, mostly because the character’s voice is so strong and full of personality.
Beth: Yet another lovely book I’m looking forward to! Joanna, thank you so much for sharing your fiction facts, excerpts, and bookish news with us!
Tell us what y’all think of the excerpts and Joanna Davidson Politano five favorites, reader friends!