Giveaway + Author Interview: J’nell Ciesielski

Happy Monday, Reader Friends!

I’m kicking the week off with an author interview with the lovely J’nell Ciesielski. She’s joined me to talk about her novel, Among the Poppies. Have you read it? It’s gone in my TBR pile, now for the time to read. 🙂

About the Author

Believing she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days writing heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle.

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Toni: Thank you so much for joining me! I’m so excited to discuss your novel, Among the Poppies. Where did you get the idea for Gwyn Ruthers’ job?

J’nell: Like most of the world, I got swept up in the whirlwind of Downton Abbey. The manners, the fashion, the estates, but all that got put aside as the second season crashed into the Great War. I was particularly fascinated with the love story between Lady Sybil who became a nurse during the war and Downton’s chauffeur Branson. That’s when I got the idea for Poppies, but switched around the roles a bit to shake things up. Gwyn is the chauffeur’s daughter and William is from a well-respected family.

Once I decided who Gwyn was, I realized I needed to learn more about women’s roles in the war and discovered the female ambulance drivers. As far as I knew, nothing had ever been written about them in fiction, at least not as the main character, but it was a story that needed to be told! The bravery of those women was incredible! It was just the sort of go-get-‘em attitude that Gwyn has.

Toni: I love it! So excited to read the story for Gwyn’s job alone, lol. What made you pick World War I for a setting? What kind of research did you have to do?

J’nell: Like many Americans, my knowledge of WWI is sadly lacking, mostly because we didn’t enter the war until the very end. Everything I knew about the period was based off Downton Abbey and Titanic. 🙂 Not many stories are told about it although I think the popularity is starting to increase. It’s a fascinating time with many inventions and war mechanics such as the tank just being invented. It’s an interesting and sometimes volatile mix of old world and modernity that offers the perfect drama for fiction.

Since I was tackling an era somewhat unknown to me, I had to do a ton of research. No problem for me because I love research! It’s my favorite part of the writing process. I read every book I could get my hands on: fiction and non, biographies, diaries, first-hand accounts. I watched every movie pertaining to the period, listened to music of the age, and even spent a day watching videos on how to change a model-T tire. There’s nothing I won’t do to be as accurate as possible. Though I do leave room for fiction flourishes. 🙂

Toni: Sounds like you’re very dedicated! Tell us about Captain William Crawford? What would be his life verse?

J’nell: Semper Fidelis. That’s Captain Crawford’s motto to a T. Always faithful, always dutiful. Service before self, he’s the perfect soldier and leader. Yet, he longs for a calm life far beyond the battlefield where he can breathe in peace. Peace is difficult to find when Gwyn crashes into his life and sets his perfectly ordered world into a spin. He’s reluctant at first, but it doesn’t take long for him to realize that she’s the woman of his heart.

Toni: Love it! What are three things always present in your writing?

J’nell: Oh that’s an interesting question! I can’t say my stories are about X, or that they always have a message of X in them because that’s never my intent. I try to write good stories about interesting things and if a reader receives a message of hope/forgiveness/mercy then awesome! If I have to pin it down to three things you’ll always find in my writing its:

  1. A happy ending because we need more of those 🙂
  2. A sense of duty and honor which I suppose comes from the military side of me
  3. Interesting historical factoids. I can never get enough of those! For example, did you know that the Duchess of Westminster used to greet wounded soldiers coming to her hospital in evening gowns and tiaras? To lift their spirits, she would say.

Toni: That’s amazing! And hooray for the military. Would you choose vanilla or chocolate?

J’nell: Chocolate all the way!

Toni: I’ll take vanilla. Ice cream or frozen yogurt?

J’nell: Ice cream, Cherry Garcia to be exact

Toni: LOL. Sunsets or sunrises?

J’nell: Sunsets with all the pinks, oranges, and purples

Toni: Agreed. Amusement park vacation or off the beaten path?

J’nell: Ooh depends on my mood. We’re huge Disney people, but I love a good stroll around the Scottish countryside.

Toni: I like both of those ideas. Last but not least, what can readers do to support you on your writing journey?

J’nell: Fantastic question! Read my books, of course! Other helpful things (and this is for all authors really) would be to share your reading experience with others by posting, tweeting, instagramming, or however you wish. Just get the word out! Also, be sure to leave a review. The more reviews an author gets, the more likely their work is to be seen by others which means more of your favorite books by your favorite authors 🙂

Toni: Hear, hear! Readers, do you have any questions for J’nell?

About the Book

The Blurb: “Gwyn Ruthers longs for adventure far beyond the stifled life society restricts her to as a chauffeur’s daughter. With the war to end all wars exploding across the Channel, Gwyn signs up to drive ambulances on the Front. Rambling over bomb blasted roads and living in mud bogged trenches is far from the exotic travels she had in mind. A simpler life doesn’t look quite as bad as she once thought. Especially when a handsome captain has her rethinking her objections to settling down.”

Links: Amazon, Goodreads


J’nell is offering one randomly-drawn reader a free eBok copy of Among the Poppies. To enter leave a comment by 07/15/18 11:59pm EDT for a chance to win. I will use a random generator to pick a winner on 07/16/18 (be sure to come back and check if you won).

​*Giveaway Policy here.

18 thoughts on “Giveaway + Author Interview: J’nell Ciesielski”

  1. This book sounds amazing! As a History Major, I appreciate a good Historical Romance, and I was really touched at your detailed research process! Oh, and we need more WWI novels 😉 Thanks for the chance!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would love to read your book! I can’t even imagine the completely horror of living through wars, especially in those days. Carole Burant

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great interview! I just got through revisiting my favorite Downton Abbey episodes so I’m looking forward to reading “Among the Poppies” to get my next fix! Also a fellow Virginian here! Blessing to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This looks like a very interesting book. And I never knew women drove ambulances during the war! I really like the book cover, what made you decide to show only part of the character’s face? To me, it makes it more intriguing, like you want to know more about her!
    This book will be on my TBR list if I don’t win this! 🙂

    Thanks Toni for giving us an opportunity to win this book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Women did all kinds of amazing things to help the war efforts, and I’m so delighted I was able to shed light on their bravery that is too often overlooked. I’ve always liked book covers where you don’t see the model’s entire face. Like you said, more mysterious. Just enough to glimpse her but without clashing with the image I have in my head of the character.

      Liked by 1 person

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