Literary First Love – Sarah Jio

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, Sarah Jio | @SarahJio

Sarah Jio

My heart broke a little when I heard the news, recently, that Maeve Binchy had passed away. The legendary Irish author dazzled readers with her heartfelt stories, many of which have been made into movies and anointed by the likes of Oprah Winfrey. But I didn’t know any of that when I stumbled upon one of her novels as a 15-year-old  in Poulsbo, Washington. Opening her books was like stepping into the pages of another world. I loved how she made me feel as a reader, and I loved how real her characters seemed, how relatable they were. I didn’t know it then, but in those early years of reading Binchy’s work, I was learning about the type of novelist I wanted to be. Someday.

I had always been interested in writing, perhaps since my first grade hand-written and illustrated book titled “A Tug Boat Dream” won a young author award (if the judges at Silverdale Elementary School only knew how that little award ended up propelling a future career in fiction!). Over the years, I experimented with different writing styles, different genres and voices. And, in the deep, dark depths of my computer, there may be a novel or two that I pray never sees the light of day. However, in all of my literary experimentation, I always came back to the things I learned through reading Maeve Binchy’s books. And before I sat down to write what would become my debut novel, The Violets of March, I thought about what made Binchy’s stories so beautiful, and I decided that I wanted to be an author who made you feel, who wrote from the heart (rather than wrote what would “sell”), and who created beautiful scenes, places and worlds that readers wouldn’t want to leave.

I thank Maeve Binchy for teaching me these lessons through her books.

If you haven’t had a chance to pick up a copy of Sarah’s latest novel, BLACKBERRY WINTER, now’s your chance. We’re giving a copy away today. Just leave a comment on this post.

The story, which takes its title from a late-season, cold-weather phenomenon, continues Sarah Jio’s rich exploration of the ways personal connections can transcend the boundaries of time.

Seattle, 1932. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May snowstorm has blanketed the city, and that her son has disappeared into the heart of the storm. Outside, she finds his teddy bear lying face down in the cold snowy streets.

Seattle, 2010.  Seattle Herald  reporter Claire Aldridge is assigned to cover the May 1 “blackberry winter ” storm and its predecessor that occurred on the same date nearly eighty years earlier. Learning of the unsolved abduction, Claire vows to unearth the truth—only to discover that she and Vera are linked in unexpected ways.

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About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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21 Responses to Literary First Love – Sarah Jio

  1. Elisabeth Fox October 17, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    It is sad news, I havent read a Maeve Binchy book in a while, but I always enjoyed her books. I have read both of your books Ms. Jio and am looking forward to reading Blackberry Winter!

  2. Jeannie S October 17, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I would love to read this story, thank you!

  3. Nancy Reynolds October 17, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    What a lovely tribute to Ms. Binchy – she would be proud to think she influenced upcoming authors, I’m sure. I would love the chance to read Ms. Jio’s book, Blackberry Summer. It also sounds like a wonderful read.

  4. Sarah – Wonderful interview. I just finished The Bungalow and loved it. I feel a review coming on soon! I’m anxious to read your third novel, Blackberry Summer. Cheers!

  5. Polly Schneider October 17, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I would love to read your new book. It sounds great. Thanks for the opportunity to win it.

  6. Wanda October 17, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    What a great interview! Can’t wait to read the book!

  7. Lisa Evola October 17, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I agree, you write from the heart beautifully. I read “the violets of march” and really loved it. Put me in for “Blackberry Winter” Sounds awesome!

  8. Susan Coster October 17, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    So sorry to hear about Ms. Binchy’s passing as well. Thanks for the bookplate ~ all I need now is the book ~ Blackberry Winter to go with it!

  9. Linda October 17, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I am sorry to hear of the passing of your mentor. It is always interesting to me as a reader to read what influences the author. Thank you for following your dream and sharing your talent with us.

  10. Carl October 17, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    My sister is a huge fan of Maeve Binchy. With all those books in circulation her legacy will certainly live on for a very long time. Thanks for offering a copy of Blackberry Winter. I’m very much looking forward to it.

  11. Becky S October 17, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I always love reading about inspiration for different authors. Rest in peace, Maeve. Would love to read Sarah’s new book!

  12. Pauline October 17, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I would be delighted to win a copy of Sarah’s “Blackberry Winter.”
    I, too, am a Maeve Binchy fan and mourn her passing. I watched “Tara Road” just a week ago.

  13. Linda Anderson October 17, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I’ve read a few of Maeve’s books but might revist her again now. Sarah, I really enjoyed your book Blackberry Winter. There were parts in the book that made me cry. I have also read Violets of March and The Bungalow and enjoyed them very much. Keep them coming!!

  14. Chris Sanders October 17, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I love to hear these stories of how different authors/books have affected people! A Tree Grows in Brooklyn touched me greatly as a young adolescent. I’m overdue to read it again; excited to see how it will affect me as a woman in her sixties!! The older I get, the more I see and understand how God blessed me with “wiring” that is always–I mean always!–drawn to many different people and their “stories”!! Thanks for sharing part of yours today… Would love to read your book!!

  15. Marti Pieper October 17, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Maeve Binchy is one of my longtime favorites, too–a true queen of characterization. I enjoyed THE MAEVE BINCHY WRITER’S CLUB as well, with notes from Maeve and other authors. I have your book on my to-read list, so I’m excited for this opportunity. Thanks for an engaging post.

  16. Myra October 17, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    It sounds like a great book. I would love to win. Thanks for the chance!

  17. Deb October 17, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    This sounds like a great book. I really hve enjoyed reading Maeve Binchley’s books.

  18. Kathy October 17, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I just finished reading a Maeve Binchy novel called “Quentins” about a restaurant and the people who met there and impacted one another. She wrote in such a way that I wanted to meet some of these people and enjoy the Ireland she described. Reading has always given me ideas for new writing or just a satisfaction of being transferred to a new realm of life. Thank you for your great review of this author and how it propelled you into a great career of writing.

  19. Karen Gervais October 17, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    So sad to hear about Maeve Binchy. I have read some of her books.
    Would love to read Blackberry Winter. Thank you.

  20. Katherine Jones October 17, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    This is where I heard of Maeve Binchy’s passing. I haven’t loved all of her books, but I have liked most of them and loved a few. How sad to know we’ll be getting no more wonderful stories from this very gifted storyteller. Makes me want to go back and re-read a few of my faves.

  21. KayG October 19, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Didn’t know about Maeve Binchy’s passing until I read it here. May she rest in peace.
    Would love a chance to win “Blackberry Winter. ” Thank you.

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