Girls Write Out
Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Today we’re participating in a blog tour for a new book by award-winning novelist Susan Meissner who’s here with us today to talk about her newest book from Penguin NAL. A Fall of Marigolds is a part historical novel, part contemporary novel set on Ellis Island in 1911 and in Manhattan a hundred years later. 

Susan is a super writer and a terrific lady! I hope you enjoy meeting her. Make sure you read to the end of the post so you can find out how to get in on a drawing for a fabulous gift basket that includes a $100 Visa gift card.

1. Susan, tell us where the idea for A Fall of Marigolds came from.
I’ve long been a history junkie, especially with regard to historical events that involve ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. A couple years ago I viewed a documentary by author and filmmaker Lorie Conway called Forgotten Ellis Island; a hauntingly poignant exposé on the section of Ellis Island that no one really has heard much about; its hospital. The two man-made islands that make up the hospital buildings haven’t been used in decades and are falling into ruins, a sad predicament the documentary aptly addresses. The images of the rooms where the sick of a hundred nations waited to be made well stayed with me. I knew there were a thousand stories pressed into those walls, stories of immigrants who were just a stone’s throw from a new life. But unless they could be cured of whatever disease they’d arrived with, they would never set foot on America’s shores. Ellis Island hospital was the ultimate in-between place – it lay between what was and what could be. A great place to set a story

2. What is the story about, in a nutshell?
The book is about two women who never meet as they are separated by a century. One woman, Taryn, is a 9/11 widow and single mother who is about to mark the tenth anniversary of her husband’s passing. The other is a nurse, Clara, who witnessed the death of the man she loved in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in Manhattan in 1911.In her sorrow, Clara imposes on herself an exile of sorts; she takes a post at the hospital on Ellis Island so that she can hover in an in-between place while she wrestles with her grief. She meets an immigrant who wears the scarf of the wife he lost crossing the Atlantic, a scarf patterned in marigolds. The scarf becomes emblematic of the beauty and risk inherent in loving people, and it eventually finds it way to Taryn one hundred years later on the morning a plane crashes into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The story is about the resiliency of love, and the notion that the weight of the world is made more bearable because of it, even though it exposes us to the risk of loss.

3. Why a scarf of marigolds? What is their significance?
Marigolds aren’t like most other flowers. They aren’t beautiful and fragrant. You don’t see them in bridal bouquets or prom corsages or funeral sprays. They don’t come in gentle colors like pink and lavender and baby blue. Marigolds are hearty, pungent and brassy. They are able to bloom in the autumn months, well past the point when many other flowers can’t. In that respect, I see marigolds as being symbolic of the strength of the human spirit to risk loving again after loss. Because, face it. We live in a messy world. Yet it’s the only one we’ve got. We either love here or we don’t. The title of the book has a sort of double-meaning. Both the historical and contemporary story take place primarily in the autumn. Secondarily, when Clara sees the scarf for the first time, dangling from an immigrant’s shoulders as he enters the hospital building, she sees the floral pattern in the threads, notes how similar they are to the flames she saw in the fire that changed everything for her, and she describes the cascading blooms woven into the scarf as “a fall of marigolds.”

4. Are you working on anything new at the moment?
My next book is set entirely in England, mostly during The London Blitz. My main character starts out as a young, aspiring bridal gown designer evacuated to the countryside with her seven-year-old sister in the summer of 1940. Though only fifteen, Emmy is on the eve of being made an apprentice to a renowned costumer and she resents her single mother’s decision to send her away. She sneaks back to London – with her sister in tow – several months later but the two become separated when the Luftwaffe begins its terrible and deadly attack on the East End on the first night of the Blitz. War has a way of separating from us what we most value, and often shows how little we realized that value. I have always found the evacuation of London’s children to the countryside – some for the entire duration of the war – utterly compelling. How hard it must have been for those parents and their children. I went on a research trip to the U.K. in the fall of 2013 and I spoke with many individuals who were children during the war; some were separated from their parents, some were bombed out of their homes, some slept night after night in underground Tube stations, some watched in fascination as children from the city came to their towns and villages to live with them. This book explores issues of loss and longing, but also the bonds of sisters, and always, the power of love.

5. Where can readers connect with you?
You can find me at and on Facebook at my Author page, Susan .Meissner, and on Twitter at SusanMeissner. I blog at I also send out a newsletter via email four times a year. You can sign up for it on my website. I love connecting with readers! You are the reason I write.

6. This is your first general market novel after having written more than a dozen books for the inspirational market. Why the switch?
I got my start in the inspirational market and am immensely grateful for that experience. Every published novelist wants to connect with her ideal reader. We don’t all like the same genres and we don’t all like the same style and voice. I believe a great many of my ideal readers shop in the general marketplace because that’s where I shop. My favorite authors — among them Kate Morton, Geraldine Brooks, Lisa See, Jamie Ford, and Diane Setterfield — are all general marketplace authors. Add to this that my faith threads are always subtle rather than obvious, then the move to the general market place seems like a great way for me to connect with more readers. My approach to faith in my writing is one that I liken to the subtlety of God’s presence and influence in the Book of Esther in the Old Testament. The faith thread in the Book of Esther is as subtle as it can be – God is never even mentioned – and yet the story is powerfully told and the virtues of loyalty, trust, hope, and courage are obvious. I have never thought of myself as writer of Christian fiction but rather a Christian who writes fiction.

Thanks for stopping by, Susan! 

As part of the release of A Fall of Marigolds and this blog tour, Susan is giving to one lucky winner a gift basket that includes a $100 Visa gift card, a copy of the book, the DVD Forgotten Ellis Island, and a beautiful re-purposed infinity scarf patterned in marigolds and made from a vintage Indian sari. To be eligible, just leave a comment here between today and midnight Eastern on Friday, February 21. If you would like to see a list of the other participating blogs on this tour, just click here. Feel free to visit those blogs and increase your chances of winning by posting one comment on those blogs as well. One comment per blog will be eligible.
Additionally, there will be one winner of a signed copy of A Fall of Marigolds from among those who comment on this blog. Just leave a comment by midnight Eastern on Friday, Feb. 28 and you’re in the running for the grand prize as well as a signed copy of the book. Good luck!

Denise Hunter  
posted at 12:20 PM  
  Comments (48)
Delicious Delicious
At 12:22 PM, Blogger Amy said...

I've been looking forward to this release! Can't wait to read the latest Susan Meissner book. :)

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Pattie said...

This book is really good so far--I'm about a third of the way in as I leave this comment. If I were to win the signed copy, it would be a gift. Thank you to Penguin and to Susan :)

At 12:43 PM, Blogger Gidget said...

love her books!

At 2:13 PM, Blogger Pamela Nastase said...

Can't wait to read this one!

At 2:41 PM, OpenID itsjustme said...

I love her books and am excited about this one also :)


At 3:41 PM, Blogger Cheryl Barker said...

Would love to read Susan's newest book!

At 3:54 PM, Blogger Carrie Padgett said...

I'm so excited for this book. It sounds wonderful. I visited Ellis Island a couple of years ago and I still see it so clearly.

At 9:13 PM, Blogger Trudi Rose said...

I have always been fascinated by Ellis Island and the people who journeyed through it. I would love to read this book!

At 11:25 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

I like history a lot as well. It's like I can't get enough of history and learning about our history good or bad helps us to be better stewards of what we have. I watched a documentary on Ellis Island and it was sad and fascinating at the same time.
jennydtipton at gmail dot com

At 12:10 AM, Blogger Martha A. said...

I have enjoyed all of Susan's books and am looking forward to reading this one! This sounds like such a great story!

At 12:52 AM, Blogger Deborah said...

Sue, Rick and I really enjoyed being with you tonight! It was a treat to get down to Warwick's and spend some time with you talking about your latest book!! I would say that 90% of the people there tonight were from our church!! Yeah God.... You are a truly blessed writer and God has put you right where he wants you! Love you lots, Deborah xxx

At 1:28 AM, Blogger Susan Meissner said...

thanks for having me as a guest, Denise, and for all the wonderful comments here!

At 9:22 AM, Blogger Cindy Regnier said...

So looking forward to reading A Fall of Marigolds. Great interview Denise and Susan!

At 9:27 AM, Blogger ohiohomeschool said...

What wonderful contest. Thank you for the chance to win.
ohiohomeschool at gmail dot com

At 11:17 AM, Blogger Theresa Reeise said...

Would love to read Susan Meissner's new book!

At 12:13 PM, Blogger Gail H. said...

Would love to read,this. Thanks for such a wonderful giveaway!

At 3:53 PM, Blogger Patty said...

Sounds like a good book, I look forward to the opportunity to read it!

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Robin Prater said...

Susan is one of the authors who will forever stand out for me. She inspires me. My favorite book from Susan is, "The Girl in The Glass". I love what she says, "I have never thought of myself as writer of Christian fiction but rather a Christian who writes fiction." This sounds like another gem and one I would love to read and review.

Blessings to all of you ladies,
Robin Prater


At 4:44 PM, OpenID randomamb said...

This book looks so interesting! I'd love to win!!

At 6:28 PM, Blogger Jackie Smith said...

Susan is one of my favorite authors....I have read ALL of her books! Thanks for this giveaway.
I am anxious to read her newest!!
jacsmi75 at gmail dot com

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Susan P said...

Wonderful post! Marigolds are a flower most people don't think of.
lattebooks at hotmail dot com

At 9:24 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

Sounds like a great book!

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Carla said...

Sound like a great book - thanks for the chance to win it !
littlebird(at)hur(dot)midco(dot) net

At 1:57 PM, Blogger Melanie Backus said...

This book sounds great. Can't wait to read it.

mauback55 at gmail dot com

At 2:14 PM, Blogger Michelle James said...

This sounds like an incredibly interesting story. 1. Marigolds have always been a favorite of mine, because they survive the hottest draught and even the cooler summers. They add a bright spot to any landscape, while chasing away the mosquitos. 2. Ellis Island has a personal link to so many people, and most are unaware of it. It has limitless stories to be told. 3. I love a good story with historical background. 4. I'm always looking for books by authors I haven't read before.

At 3:55 PM, Blogger Polly Schneider said...

I have never read Susan's books. I would love to change that. Sounds like a fascinating book.

At 8:37 AM, Blogger My heart is here said...

The cover is amazing! Can´t wait to read this one :)

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Lauren Eggers said...

It sounds really interesting, and I would love something new to read. neyabenz(at)gmail(dot)com

At 6:03 PM, Blogger Rita said...

Love the premise of the story.

At 12:51 PM, Blogger Cyndi said...

I really enjoy the way Susan combines two time periods! I'm definitely looking forward to reading "A Fall of Marigolds"!

At 9:08 PM, Blogger Mocha with Linda said...

Phenomenal book by an awesome author! And what a wonderful giveaway!

At 9:32 AM, Blogger Julie Valerie said...

I'm a book blogger also on the Susan Meissner Blog Tour - I don't need to win the package - let it go to a reader. I just wanted to pop in to say hello to Denise at Girls Write Out. From one book blogger to another: Hello! Hope you're having a great day. - Julie

At 6:46 PM, Blogger Lane Hill House said...

My very absolute favorite is the two-Jane story and Lucy should have a follow-up! She was sturdy-steady and a dear friend in Lady in Waiting. My ancestors came through Ellis Island. I am second-generation American born. I would love to win A Fall of Marigolds and your prize basket gifts! Thank you. Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

At 5:26 PM, Blogger Andrea said...

Ellis Island has always fascinated me. Can't wait to read this.

At 9:36 AM, Blogger Susan Johnson said...

This sounds like a wonderful book. What a great story.
susanmsj at msn dot com

At 7:11 AM, Blogger Prayer of Hope said...

Really can't wait to read this book. If I won the signed copy I would probably give it to my sister.

At 10:26 AM, Blogger Rebecca said...

Thanks for the chance to win!

At 9:40 PM, Blogger Susan said...

Would love to win. Thanks.

At 10:17 PM, Blogger Sarah Stewart said...

Would love to win a copy. Thanks!

At 11:24 PM, Blogger Karla Akins said...

I can hardly wait to read this book! It's an amazing premise. I'm entranced.

At 5:03 AM, Blogger Cindy W. said...

I absolutely love Susan's books and would love to win a copy of A Fall of Marigolds. Thank you for the opportunity.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

At 7:33 AM, Blogger Carol L. said...

I'm excited to read this book. I haven't read Susan before but love the premise and look forward to reading A Fall Of Marigolds. Thanks for the chance.'
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

At 10:50 PM, Blogger angela smith said...

sounds good thanks for the chance

At 1:56 PM, Blogger Ruth said...

This looks like a very interesting story, thank you for sharing!

At 9:48 PM, Blogger Debbie G. said...

Thanks for offering this giveaway! I love Historical Christian fiction and this book sounds very good!


At 8:01 AM, Blogger Carol L. said...

Thanks so much for this opportunity. I love the whole premise of A Fall Of Marigolds. I'm a History lover and I especially enjoy reading about Historicals with a mix of Contemporary.
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

At 5:31 PM, Blogger Britney Adams said...

Thank you so much for this fantastic giveaway opportunity! A Fall of Marigolds sounds like such a wonderful story! I would love to be a winner!

texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Jay Kay said...

Pick Up Attractive Women


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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