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An interview with Wishing Cross Station author February Grace

Today, I am am excited to present an interview with Booktrope author February Grace. She is here to discuss her latest book, Wishing Cross ...

Today, I am am excited to present an interview with Booktrope author February Grace. She is here to discuss her latest book, Wishing Cross Station. Enjoy!

Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:


Tagline: Don’t stay a moment longer than you have to. Don’t say too much. Don’t pollute the timeline.

Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

FG: My intended audience is anyone who loves fantasy romance and literary fiction, especially. Age doesn’t matter so much (I’d consider the rating on this book to be PG13) it’s more a matter of the book’s style matching the reader’s tastes. That’s what any romance between a reader and a book is about, isn’t it? Finding the right combination of reader and written work is a mysterious, magical thing.

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

FG: Wishing Cross Station’s gorgeous cover was designed by artist Greg Simanson, with a lot of input from me.

I have never been as direct in asking for what I hoped for in a book cover before, and luckily with my amazing publisher, Booktrope, we are allowed to make such requests. It is one of the things that makes it a blessing to work with them.

Greg is exceptionally talented, and he took my ideas and surpassed every expectation with the outcome. I asked him for an unmarked steam locomotive, a blue cold winter sky with stars, and smoke billowing all around. He gave me the perfect representation of the Aurelia Belle.

I drew the W symbol that is significant in the book on a chalkboard, snapped a photo of it and begged him to work it into the cover, and he did. He amazed me at every turn, and I am completely in love with this cover. It looks even more incredible in print than on screen.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

FG: This is very difficult to answer, and I’m torn! I think I have to say it’s Mr. Best, though. He is a secondary character, but plays a large part in the story and he’s got a very endearing quality to him. There’s just something so kind and gentle about the man. Readers have commented to me about how much they loved him, and the more I think about the way he took shape, the happier I am about it.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

FG: The description of the Aurelia Belle given in the first pages of the book began in my imagination, but really took shape after I visited and rode in an open passenger car behind a real engine called the Torch Lake, which resides at Greenfield Village, a real historical theme park.

I’ve spoken with people who worked in the roundhouse there (it’s one of the last 10 working roundhouses in the US: at one time, there were about 10,000) and they all agree with me that she has a unique whistle and the smell of her smoke is something other-worldly.

Torch Lake is also the oldest steam engine still in service in the US. She’s a real beauty, and I recently went back and posed for some photos with her while she was resting outside, taking in the sun. Every time I see her, she takes my breath away.

Also interesting is that I used real life facts in the book to add more detail (such as the fact that stationmaster’s families were expected to work for the railroad for free—the lines expected their stationmasters to be married men.) I tried to give just enough of these sorts of details to transport the reader without bogging them down in minutiae.

Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

FG: I don’t know if you’d call it unique, but I do love to paint. In fact a painting was the initial inspiration for Marigold in Wishing Cross Station, and from that one painting came another, then another, and then an entire novel.

Sometimes my writing inspires my visual art, sometimes the other way around. The fact I can paint at all (or read for that matter) is a miracle, as I went blind in my thirties and had to have six surgeries to get some use of my sight back. I am truly grateful to my surgeons and doctors at the University of Michigan for the gift they gave back to me. Use of my sight may still be limited, but it sure beats being blind.

How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

FG: You can find out more about me and my books by visiting my blog at . You can also find me on Twitter @FebruaryGrace

And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

FG: Happy to provide one! Here we go:


A man in full period costume greeted me. “Hello, and welcome to the Wishing Cross Heritage Railroad roundhouse.”

I paused to take a couple of photos with my phone. I knew they wouldn’t turn out pretty, but I wanted them anyway.

I directed my attention to the pit in the center of the roundhouse. It had no engine on the track above it. It must be the pit where they worked on the Aurelia Belle when she was in the shop, performing routine maintenance and such. Just as Seymour had said.

I only half listened as the man went through his spiel about the engines currently on display, including one with a full mock-up of a working cab so you could go and stand there and see what it looked like inside, take photos, all those tourist kinds of things.

In my head, an entirely different soundtrack was playing, and it had Seymour’s voice.

When you get to the roundhouse, pay attention to the center pit, he’d admonished, and made me write down. Aurelia Belle’s pit. Beneath it, just ahead of where they stop her when they pull her into the shop for the night, is where you’ll find the uneven cinderblocks in the floor. They wobble, just a little. The entrance to the tunnel is beneath them.

Suddenly, I noticed my pack vibrating against my back. I thought maybe it was my phone again, but then I remembered no, I’d stuffed it in my front pocket. Something in the bag was shaking.

A low hum emitted from it then, and I noticed people around me were beginning to stare.

“Sorry, alarm on my phone,” I lied, and I stepped to the back of the roundhouse, by the entrance. The farther away from the center of the house I got, the less the vibration, and I realized, thinking back on what Seymour had said, it could only be the book.

My heart leapt into my throat. Was it possible?

I set the bag down on the floor by a bench just inside the door for a moment, shook my head to try to clear it, and then moved closer again so I could listen to the man before me finish his presentation. When he asked for questions, I waited until the rest of the small groups within had wandered to the overhead platform to take photos before I leaned in to ask mine.

“So, there aren’t any hidden passageways in this place, are there? You know, for employees to use? Like they have in other theme parks?” I was beating around the bush, trying to circle inward.

He laughed, though it was a nervous sound. “No. We’re not like other theme parks.” He rolled his eyes, uttering the words with disgust. “We are a living historical monument. An educational beacon to people all over the country.”

“So you are,” I replied. Then I went for it. I leaned closer to him and whispered. “There aren’t any secret tunnels beneath the floor?”

“No, there aren’t,” he replied quickly, certain of himself. “That would make a great story, though, wouldn’t it?”

“Yeah, it would. Thanks.”

I pulled the guide map to the Park from my jacket pocket and unfolded it again. Looking it over, I realized something I hadn’t before. “You’re shutting down for the season soon?”

“Yes, we’ll spend a few weeks getting ready and then shut the place down entirely from late December to April.”

“A shame,” I replied. “I bet it’s pretty in winter.”

“It is, but it’s a nightmare to work here and horrible on the equipment.”

I nodded my thanks and moved on. I retrieved my backpack, slowly climbed the stairs up to the observation deck, and looked down. The man was busy giving his speech—the same one—to a new group of tourists who were all recording him with their smartphones and tablets.

I took in every detail of the roundhouse, and I had to admit, everything was still exactly the way Seymour had described it to me, even though he hadn’t officially worked there in two decades and hadn’t been well enough to make a casual visit to the Park in one.

What lay beneath the stained, sooty cinderblock floor? Why was the book vibrating when it got close to Aurelia Belle’s pit? Could it possibly conceal the way to reach a world I couldn’t begin to imagine?

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