Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Blog Tour: Author Interview with Cathy Marie Buchanan and Giveaway!

I am absoutely thrilled to have Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Day the Falls Stood Still, stopping by today. Not only is her book a Barnes & Noble Recommends choice, but it also is a Historical Novel Society Editor's Choice Title and it was one of Elle Magazine's September Reading Choices. It also recently debuted at #31 on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Cathy agreed to stop by today to answer a few questions that I had for her after I read The Day the Falls Stood Still (if you missed my review, I loved it!).

The Day the Falls Stood Still made me aware of some of the rich history of Niagara Falls that I hadn't heard before, despite the fact that I've visited many times. Was this your intention when you set out to write this book?

Born and bred in Niagara Falls, I grew up awash in an endless stream of local lore. With such a storied past and the staggering beauty of the falls themselves, I knew I would set my debut novel in Niagara Falls long before I had an inkling about character or plot. To begin, I read books surveying Niagara's history. What I was seeking, as I read, was the time period and narrative that best showcased Niagaras wondrous and quirky past. The story of William Red Hill, Niagaras most famous riverman, came up time and again, and with each telling I became more certain my main male character-Tom Cole-would be loosely based on him.

Bess, one of your main characters, is a strong woman who makes the best of her circumstances, despite the fact her life is not easy. Is she based on a real person?

In the very first bit of The Day the Falls Stood Still that I wrote (long since scrapped) Bess was an old woman, bitter and hateful of the river. I had conjured her up from the wife of real-life riverman Red Hill. She was quoted as saying that she hated the river, that she was afraid of it. In addition to being a hero, Red Hill was also a daredevil, risking his life by shooting the Whirlpool Rapids in a barrel three times. In 1951 the couples eldest son died attempting to go over the falls in a barrel and another son was killed in a hydroelectric accident. Clearly, she had cause to hate the river. She is where I started with Bess Heath, but once I decided not to incorporate the daredevil side of Red Hill into my riverman, Bess became purely a product of my imagination.

The ending of this book came as a complete surprise to me. Did you know how you wanted the book to end when you started writing it, or was that something that came later?

The ending of The Day the Falls Stood Still evolved as I wrote. Initially I thought the story would more closely parallel that of Red Hill and his family. In one instance, while Red Hill was shooting the rapids, his barrel became trapped in the whirlpool. Red Junior lashed a rope around his waist and plunged into the water, eventually hauling his fathers barrel to shore. According to local lore, Red Junior was paraded about on his fathers shoulders, a hero. Very early on, I thought this scene was how I would end the story. Along the way, Red Junior's impending death in 1951 would be foretold. The story would be about a father's culpability in his son's death. Once I made the decision that Tom Cole would not be a daredevil, the story I was telling and the ending of that story changed dramatically.

About Cathy Marie Buchanan:

CATHY MARIE BUCHANAN’s stories have appeared in several of Canada’s most respected literary journals ─ The Antigonish Review, The Dalhousie Review, Descant and The New Quarterly. Buchanan holds a BSc (Honours Biochemistry) and an MBA from the University of Western Ontario. She has been awarded grants by both the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council. Born and raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario, she grew up amid the awe-inspiring scenery of the Niagara River and awash in the local lore. She now resides in Toronto.

You can visit Cathy Marie Buchanan's website here, and and you can follow the rest of her blog tour here. You can also browse inside the book at Harper Collins Canada's website.

Thanks to Cathy Marie Buchanan I am able to give away one copy of this book! To enter, post a comment relevant to this post and leave your e-mail address so that I have a way to contact you if you win. This contest is open to residents of the US and Canada, no PO boxes please, and runs until September 30, 2009. The winner will be contacted by e-mail on October 1, 2009.


  1. I enjoy hearing about the process behind writing a book like this, and it is so interesting how changing one element of one character can affect everything else so strongly. Kind of like life, I guess!

  2. Thank you for the entry.


    I am excited you have this giveaway. I was interested in learning more about this historic event, as just last week I did a trivia question about it. It was the first time I learned of it. Now I wish to read more. This looks like a really great book indeed!

  3. Niagara Falls is beautiful. I would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks.

  4. No need to enter me. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted over at Win a Book for you!

  5. Sounds like a really great book. Would love to have it.


  6. HI Jonita, I am visiting for Book Blogger Appreciation week. Wanted to let you know that I really enjoy visiting here and reading your reviews. Thanks for sharing them.

  7. Please enter me in. Thanks.


  8. I love books about history and would really enjoy reading this.


  9. This is a great interview and makes me all the more curious about the book. As Melanie said, it's interesting to see how the author used real-life characters but then modified their stories in her book. Thanks for the giveaway!


  10. Great interview! I love getting to know the authors better! Thanks for hosting this wonderful giveaway!

    imsosweepy { at } gmail { dot } com

  11. Thanks, Jonita, for hosting. what I didn't say in the interview was that once I started writing, I think I fell a little inlove with Tom Cole, and I just couldn't bring myself to turn him into a daredevil.

  12. This is one great giveaway, I am
    a google follower and would love to
    win this book.

    cenya2 at hotmail dot com

  13. Thanks for this great giveaway. It sounds fascinating. I have been to Niagara Falls many times when I lived in that area. This historic novel interests me greatly.It is so amazing and beautiful. Not to be missed. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  14. This book sounds wonderful. I hate to admit this, but I've never actually been to Niagara Falls. It's so close and would make the perfect day trip, but I've never gotten around to it! But I do love learning about Canadian history, and would love to read this book.


  15. I loved the interview with Cathy Marie Buchanan...and a peek into the way a writer thinks when writing a book.
    It sounds like a fascinating read.
    pippirose59 at gmail dot com

  16. I didn't realize there was so much history about Niagara Falls. I also like stories about strong women. I really don't live too far from them and would love to visit someday.
    Carol M
    mittens0831 at aol dot com

  17. I was also born and raised in Niagara Falls. Even though I had lived there for 25 years I feel like I learned a little bit just through this post. Although I had heard of a few people that went over the Falls in a barrel, I had never heard about this family before. I would love to win a copy of this book. Please enter me
    mmmiluvchocolate@yahoo.com. Thank you. Marilu

  18. Niagara Falls, what a beutiful background for a story.